Skincare and nutrition go hand in hand, so talking to your clients about their diets could have a significant impact on their skin health.
But how do you take a deep dive into nutrition, often a very personal lifestyle aspect, without crossing outside of your expertise as a dermal therapist?
Fiona Tuck is the ultimate skin health multi-hyphenate and the perfect person to offer advice on talking to your clients about nutrition. She’s a nutritional medicine practitioner, podcast host, author and founder of Vita-sol, a range of inner beauty and wellness supplements that call many popular clinics home.
With decades of experience to offer us, we asked her best advice on why it’s so important to incorporate nutrition advice into your service and the safest way to do it.
Let’s start with the basics, how does diet and nutrition affect skin health?
The skin relies on a plethora of nutrients to be able to function at its optimum. If the skin is not receiving adequate nutrients then we may see skin anomalies such as skin sensitivity, follicular erythema, impaired barrier function, breakouts, devitalised skin and slow wound healing to name just a few.
Do you think it’s important for dermal therapists to be talking to their clients about their nutrition during skin services?
Good nutrition is an integral component to healthy skin and so it is important to have a good understanding of a client’s dietary habits, lifestyle and stress levels. It’s imperative however that a therapist stays within scope of practice. Advising on health concerns and recommending major dietary changes that involve removing particular foods or advising on therapeutic supplements is something that should be left to a qualified nutritionist or dietician.
A therapist should not be telling a client to remove gluten for example as this can lead to poor food choices of highly processed gluten free options that may be low in fibre and nutrients. It may even be worsening a condition rather than helping it if the exact correct advice is not given.
What kinds of questions should they be asking to help advise clients on using their diet to improve their skin?
What clients think is healthy eating and what healthy eating really is, is often misconstrued. My advice is not to ask a client ‘what is your diet like?’
Most people will say they have a good diet but on closer inspection they may be on a restricted diet; low carb, lots of processed foods (which are often marketed under the guise of health foods) and follow diet and food trends that may not actually be beneficial for the health of the gut or the skin.
What a therapist needs to know is if there are any dietary restrictions as this may lead to a lower intake of nutrients. Ask about stress levels which can affect gut health and nutrient status, the amount of processed foods daily (which tend to contain emulsifiers, additives and preservatives not great for gut health when consumed in excess), saturated fat intake and fresh wholefood intake.
How can skin clinics and spas incorporate supplements into their in-clinic service and at-home regimes?
Look at supplements as inner skincare support. It’s important to know that some high dose nutrients/supplements can have side effects such as flushing, breakouts and blood thinning. They can even react with certain medications, so my advice is only recommend food grade products.
If you are treating inflammatory or hormonal skin for example, you would recommend topical skincare alongside inner gut and liver support from Vita-Sol. For ageing or sun damage we would be looking at antioxidants, polyphenols, and vitamin C for instance. And for anyone concerned about collagen, we can recommend collagen peptides to help stimulate the fibroblast cells to produce type 1 & 3 collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin.
Match the products and the nutrients to the skin condition rather than get too caught up in going down the rabbit warren of complex nutritional advice. Otherwise, it is stepping into the realm of a nutritional consult.
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