The buzz about berries is everywhere, on radio and television, in newspaper and magazine articles, and in health food and grocery stores. Everyone knows fruits and vegetables are essential to optimum health and well-being, but a deeper understanding of how and why berries can improve our skin and aid in healthy aging is worth a closer look, especially for skin care professionals.
While spa clients are likely aware of the nutritional rewards provided by strawberries, blueberries or raspberries, imparting wisdom about some of the lesser-known varieties of berries serves a dual purpose—learning about how eating these berries promotes good health and offering knowledge on how these tasty fruits support clear, glowing, radiant skin. See Loaded Berries for more information on berries’ bountiful health benfits.
“Eating berries provides the skin with powerful antioxidants to help the skin protect itself from the outside elements,” according to Jeannette Graf, MD, a leading skin science expert and board-certified clinical and research dermatologist. “Berries are one of the top beauty foods with their vibrant colors and nutrient dense phytochemicals.”
New berries on the block
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The goji and açai berry have been two of the more popular berries included in supplements and skin-related products during the past few years, and after hearing about their considerable benefits, it’s not hard to see why.
The goji—pronounced go-gee—berry, which is sometimes referred to as a wolfberry, is native to certain remote regions of China, Tibet and Mongolia, and has long been used in Chinese medicine. Rich in antioxidant properties, it has one of the highest oxygen radical absorbance capacity, or ORAC, ratings. ORAC ratings are a method of measuring antioxidant activity in any substance, and the higher the ORAC score, the more efficient the food is in wiping out free radicals and slowing the aging process. Goji berries are also chock full of vitamins B and C, as well as polysaccharides, which bolster the immune system.
Goji berries can be consumed by drinking goji berry juice—often mixed with tea, water or other juices—or by being taken in capsules or dried forms, such as in nutrition bars or trail mix. In China, goji berries are known as a longevity fruit. Because of the high content of antioxidants in goji berries, its disease-fighting powers are in great demand. Also said to support liver and kidney health, adding goji berries to your diet stimulates the pituitary gland to release human growth hormone, helping you to look and feel younger.
Anthocyanins, compounds that give pigments to fruits and a class of phytochemicals, is one of the main substances in the açai—pronounced a-sigh-ee—berry, grown in a unique palm tree in the Amazon rain forest of Brazil. Nicholas Perricone, MD, a board-certified clinical and research dermatologist who is considered a leader in the inflammation theory of aging, is a huge proponent of the unique properties of the açai berry for vibrant skin and its numerous health benefits.
“Açai has a fatty acid ratio that resembles extra virgin olive oil. It is rich in monounsaturated oleic acid, which helps the omega fatty acids penetrate the cell membrane, or the outer portion of the cell,” Perricone says. “Together, they make cell membranes more supple. When the cell membrane is kept supple, all hormone, neurotransmitter and insulin receptors function more efficiently, helping to inhibit an inflammatory state and thereby slowing down aging.”
Berries and phytonutrients
Berries that have been around are adding great skin care benefits at the spa, as well. Blueberries, widely known as a superfood, are flavor filled and very low in calories. Along with cranberries, açai berries and strawberries, blueberries contain concentrated amounts of phytonutrients, a major player in the fight against inflammation. Phytonutrients are nutrients concentrated in the skins of many vegetables and fruits, and these components are thought to promote health and well-being throughout life.
Many spa clients will sit up and take notice when you mention the anti-aging properties of berries. Suggest they research phytonutrients online or at their local library. Perricone states, “My research has shown nutrients that possess antioxidant properties act as natural anti-inflammatories. This is important because antioxidants are nature’s anti-inflammatories. These nutrients offer anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, fat-metabolizing and peptide-boosting benefits, and help prevent and reverse oxidative damage on a cellular level, which is of critical importance as we age.”
Berries in skin care
The numerous benefits of berries such as goji, açai, naseberries and seabuckthorn berries have certainly not been overlooked when it comes to the production of new skin care products. The nutricosmetics trend, a category that was born out of the creation of food and drink products that are marketed for their beautifying properties, directly encompasses the you-are-what-you eat theory. Manufacturers figure if it is healthy to put inside your body, it is healthy to put it on the outside of the body, too, particularly because the skin is the body’s largest organ.
Berry-formulated skin products address such issues as redness, inflammation, acne, wrinkles, dry skin and skin discoloration. Oftentimes, cleansers, moisturizers, masks and other treatment products containing berries are popular in spa treatments and for at-home use.
Berry benefit education
Sharing information with your clients about the benefits berries offer for skin radiance and for overall healthy aging is a vital part of the complete experience they enjoy when visiting you. Even though they may not ask outright, many clients do want input concerning ways they can improve the look of their skin through diet and exercise regimens, and not just through the use of various skin care products, treatments and spa visits. Educating clients about the important role of nutrition as it relates to their skin is yet another building block to help solidify your role as a skin care authority.
Graf explains, “I think it is essential for estheticians to speak about the health and beauty benefits of berries through their phytonutrient wealth and extraordinary ability to provide the body with alkalinizing energy. It is not only important for estheticians to dispense skin care advice and products but also internal beauty supplements—the most important being alkalinizing powdered green and powdered berry drinks.”
One way to showcase berry benefits in your workplace is by offering fresh berries as a snack, along with water and green or berry teas. Have a weekly or monthly berry-related recipe your clients can take home or included a printed fact sheet about the advantages of berries in their diet. Also, having berry-related supplements, such as capsules, powdered drink mixes or nutrition bars, available for purchase in your spa shows your strong commitment to the increasingly powerful role berries can play in a healthy lifestyle.
Other tips on boosting berry consumption are also helpful. Keri Glassman, a registered dietician and founder of the nutrition counseling and consulting practice A Nutritious Life, offers these suggestions:
- Inquire about clients’ diet and advise them on ways to incorporate more berries into their meals.
- Educate clients on the importance of healthy snacking and encourage berries as a snack.
- Use products that contain natural ingredients and real fruit extracts, and educate your clients about the products.
- If you feel your clients do not have a proper diet, refer them to a dietitian to learn more about eating right.
Also, encourage your clients to buy local berries whenever possible, as fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutrients as soon as they are picked. With a much shorter time between picking and consumption, local berries are the healthiest and most flavorful berries you can eat.
Be berry bold
Berries can make an important difference for you and your clients in the areas of skin care and in healthy, natural aging. Suggest your clients taste various berries they might not be familiar with, and educate them about skin care products that contain berry ingredients suited to their skin type and specific requirements.
Rewarding on many levels, a diet rich in berries and berry products could easily be called very berry good.