Healthy Choices: Nutrition & Skin Care

Most of us educate about the products and treatments used in client care, but when our clients walk away from us, what understanding do they have of the nutrition needed for great skin? It is not yesteryear when skin care consisted of cleansers, toners and moisturizers. It is much different today and turning away from what is ultimately going to have a large impact in this industry is not good business. Putting it on the back burner until another time may leave you wishing you had begun long ago to understand the importance of nutrition in skin care.

I receive many e-mails from those in the industry wanting to know more about the process known as glycation that contributes to wrinkling and sagging of the skin. This glycation that occurs in the body (from a process caused by too many wrong dietary choices) has not only a detrimental effect on the skin, but can cause many problems in the body as well. As aestheticians, we are concerned mainly about the skin as it pertains to what is seen on the outside, but should we consider more?
My concern is this: If we do not understand how the organ is affected by daily dietary choices, then how can we deliver our best work? The impact of how the nutrients from our food choices are digested and ultimately delivered to the cells and body during the process of digestion determines our state of health. This includes the skin. Eating a diet high in white anything (as in processed foods, potato chips, cookies, baked potatoes, candy, or even white breads or pastas) impacts not only the body but the skin. What occurs is a process known as inflammation. In fact many feel this inflammation as shoes get tighter or a waist band needs to be loosened. This occurs in every cell and affects every organ. In fact, inflammation is a contributing factor in most major diseases today including diabetes, cancer, and you bet… obesity.

Nutrition and Inflammation Within
Beautiful skin: that catch phrase you hear everywhere, and often see in plastic surgery, dermatology, or spa advertisements. It often states, "beautiful skin... from within." Many times, when I delve deeper into that advertisement or call, I find that what they are selling are supplements. It is a wise addition to every skin program, however I wonder how much time is spent in truly educating that client about the choices she makes daily in her foods. This is important because the internal impact from her dietary choices will ultimately be seen externally in many different ways, one of them being wrinkling. I believe too many of us do not consider education about nutrition important. However, if dietary choices are causing inflammation and glycation, as skin professionals we have a situation where we are treating problems topically that should and could be tackled at the source. In other words, prevent the inflammation internally (on the cellular level) through proper nutritional choices, before it occurs and is seen externally (on the skin), or it becomes more difficult to treat.
Within is often overused. It is not just how well our products are working topically; it means that we must affect deep within the dermis, within each sell, nutrient-rich cellular replication, so that when those cells come to the surface they contribute to a more youthful appearance. We in fact need to teach our clients – through nutritional education – how to keep that wrinkling and sagging from occurring at the point of origin deep in the cell so that our products do the very best they can for the client.
The choices in lifestyle, as well as dietary choices the client makes, ultimately impact her skin for months, and even years later. Helping clients understand the impact these choices will have on skin will give them a sense of being in control of the results.

Moving On to Do More
Again, with every dietary choice made, we either contribute to a healthy cellular division or one that is compromised. A topical cream or treatment can stimulate cellular exfoliation or collagen, but the desired effect will be far superior if that client understands how excess circulating sugar (bad) or antioxidants (good) impact that skin from within, through nutritional choices. Achieving that goal is something every aesthetician who is concerned with client retention should understand, for it is the point of difference. It is that edge that separates us within the industry into either looking at the skin topically or understanding what is going on from within.
Go beyond what you have learned about treatments and products and seek out the courses about nutrition so that you can better affect the health of not just the skin, but the body as well, for the body will go along for the ride; a ride to better health that occurs through understanding the skin as an organ. Making a difference in the skin of the client through understanding nutrition is a choice to make a difference in the body. That is because what is seen on the skin (inflammation, glycation, hyperpigmentation, even wrinkling), is often what is occurring on a much deeper level within other organs of the body. In other words: healthy skin, healthy body.

Follow up and Understanding
How many of us simply sell a treatment package, allow a client to leave with hundreds of dollars in products, and never see them again? What have we sent the client home with that would have her returning for more? In fact, are the treatments or products even working as they should for that client, for if our products do not give her satisfaction, she will have many other choices.
Consider also, if clients do not realize the impact nutritional choices have on skin, some may begin to complain that products are not working. They may circumvent all the food that the treatments and products may be trying to accomplish due to wrong choices in foods. Consider this one fact: The blood can only hold a few teaspoons of "sugar" at a time. This includes potatoes, rice, and of course, that all delicious candy bar. A little fact here is that a potato will send more circulating sugar into the body as it is digested than an Almond Joy bar and that is because that candy bar has almonds. Almonds contain the good fats that help to slow the digestion of the sugar which allows a lower glycemic response from the body. This is good, but a better option would be eating the almonds alone. Remember that when there is excess circulating sugar, there is more inflammation, which means more insulin is secreted by the pancreas. How that impacts us as aestheticians is that when excess circulating sugar does occur through diet, the response by the body is an attack on the collagen and elastin in the skin and that causes wrinkles and sagging.

A New "Age" for Skin
Some of us may wonder how we can speak to the needs of the skin concerning nutrition, when it is such a vast unknown area to many. Our licenses say aestheticians, not dieticians. Yet years ago, supplements came into play within the skin care industry. I remember being overwhelmed trying to decide which ones to buy or advise my clients on. There are so many supplements at the trade shows. Many of us have money tied up in supplements that no one buys because we do know of the importance (knowledge), but we do not understand how to apply it.
Supplements are just what they are – a supplement – to our diet! We were designed to obtain our nutrition from foods as they are digested. The digestive system is responsible for our health. The health of all our organs, skin included, works the same for all of us. Understanding how that system works and learning how food choices impact this system (and ultimately the skin) makes a lot more sense than trying to decipher what nutritional supplements to sell, to correct a skin problem that may or may not be helped by a supplement we know little about.
Let us realize that our client's concern is skin. Skin is an organ of the body and what is put into that body affects that skin both inside and out. This fact alone is enough for those that work within our industry that truly care about delivering the best skin care, to move toward the education needed to better serve clients, or those clients may be lost to a more educated aesthetician.

Be the face of the changing skin care professional whether you work in a spa, for yourself, or a doctor. An aesthetician who is not only the best in providing treatments and products, but one that truly educates the client to understanding that the way to beautiful skin on the outside does come from understanding how the body works within. You will not only change your client's skin; you will see a change in the health of the client as well, and that is a feeling unlike any other.

norma-jeanNorma Jean, N.D., is an author, aesthetician and educator in the field of nutrition and wellness. Her focus is to raise the bar for those in that field of aesthetics. To incorporate into their practice more education about the roll that nutrition plays in the short- and long-term so that information further impacts and health of the client for the better. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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