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Food for Your Skin

By: Elaine Linker
Posted: June 6, 2008, from the February 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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The touting of vitamins and other nutrients to beautify the skin has certainly become very popular, but diet should be your first line of defense in supporting the body. Eating a variety of foods every day or over the course of a week helps to ensure an adequate mix of nutrients. In this body-image society, supplements are replacing food, but supplements can vary greatly in quality, potency and formulation. Foods supply a synergistic balance provided by nature; formulators of vitamin supplements can only guess at that balance.

Skin care professionals are responsible for the overall well-being of their clients. If you don’t understand the full medical history of your client and are not knowledgeable about prescription/herb interactions, you may not be servicing your clients’ best interests. If you want to bring supplements into your spa—as they can greatly add to your revenue—you should consider having a registered nutritionist on staff who can carefully evaluate each client. Be as careful when recommending supplements as you are when deciding which skin care treatment is most appropriate for your clients.

The nonprofit, nongovernmental United States Pharmacopeia (USP) has begun certifying dietary supplements for label accuracy. USP is one of several independent certifiers who have stepped up in recent years to help set standards for dietary supplements. Under the program, manufacturers voluntarily submit and pay for their products to be tested. Supplements are tested for integrity—the declared amount of correct ingredients; purity—acceptable limits for contaminants: dissolution—proper breakdown absorption; and good manufacturing practices—sanitary conditions. Those products that pass this testing and an on-site audit and manufacturing plant inspection may display the USP Dietary Supplement Verified mark. USP randomly retests products to make sure that quality is maintained.

For a list of verified manufacturers and more information about USP’s verification process, go to www.uspverified.org.

Food sources in skin care products

The idea of adding food nutrients to skin care products is based upon the proven dietary science that all cells need proteins, carbohydrates and fats to enable the body to optimally function. Every minute of every day, thousands of chemical reactions occur in every cell. The goal of biochemistry—the scientific discipline that studies these reactions—is to harness the synergy of the building blocks of nature to revive cellular metabolism. In order to do this, cells use amino acids from proteins, simple sugars from carbohydrates and fatty acids, and glycerols from oils and fats. Some food sources act to nourish and protect cells from free radical damage, while others act to supply energy and feed metabolic activity. Some very select proteins have the ability to mimic the body’s natural growth factors and act as cell messengers. Direct application of food-based skin care is thought to bring these nutrients directly to the skin and, in combination with other skin care, can be effective in supporting skin health.