What is Nutritional Cosmetics?: An Esthetician’s Guide

Image of natural products that can be used in nutritional cosmetics

Do you have a holistic approach to skin care? Interested in learning more about nutritional cosmetics? Many estheticians understand that skin care is about more than the topical ointments and the makeup someone puts on the outside of their bodies. Skin care also involves the diet and nutrients someone puts inside their body. This is called nutritional cosmetics.

What is Nutritional Cosmetics?

Nutritional cosmetics involve a holistic approach to healthy, glowing skin. The concept is based on how our diet affects our appearance. It focuses on certain dietary ingredients that are marketed as products that improve the skin’s appearance and health.

Traditional care of the skin involves choosing the best makeup for your skin type as well as the level of SPF protection your skin needs when you’re out in the sun. Taking excellent care of your skin is essential for your well-being and overall good health. The skin creates a protective barrier against toxins that can be harmful.

What Does Skin Do for Our Bodies?

The skin is the largest organ in the body, encompassing approximately 20 square feet. The skin allows the sensations of touch, cold, and heat. Our skin helps to regulate our body temperature and protects us from the elements and microbes. There are three layers to the skin, including:


The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. The epidermis creates our skin tone and provides us with a waterproof barrier. The color of the skin is created by melanocytes, which are cells that produce the pigment known as melanin. The melanocytes that produce pigment are located in the epidermis.


The dermis is beneath the epidermis hair follicles, sweat glands, and has a tough type of connective tissue. The dermis contains blood capillaries, hair follicles, connective tissue, oil and sweat glands, and nerve endings. The types of tissue that are within the dermis are elastic tissue, collagen, and reticular fibers. The special structures and cells that are within the dermis are apocrine and endocrine glands, nerve endings and blood vessels, sebaceous glands, and hair follicles. Lamellar and Meissner corpuscles transmit sensations of touch.


The hypodermis is also referred to as deep, subcutaneous tissue, constructed of connective tissue and fat. The hypodermis or subcutaneous layer is constructed of collagen and fat cells. This layer of skin also contains nerves, larger blood vessels, connective tissue, and fat. The hypodermis layer protects the internal organs from injuries. This layer of the skin absorbs shock to the body and retains heat. The reason that the skin begins to sag as we age is due to the deterioration of the collagen.

What Is Our Skin Made Of?

Our skin has many different components that include chemicals, lipids, minerals, proteins, and water. The epidermis is made up of five different layers.

Stratum basale is the bottom layer of the epidermis. The cells in this layer push up to the surface of the skin, where they die off and shed.

Stratum spinosum is the thickest layer of the skin. This layer contains proteins known as keratinocytes that are designed to strengthen the skin. This layer of the skin also contains cells that are meant to ward off infection.

Stratum granulosum contains even more keratinocytes that gradually move to the skin’s surface.

Stratum lucidum is the layer of skin that’s only on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands.

Stratum corneum is composed of dead cells that shed approximately every two weeks.

What Are the Effects of Aging on The Skin?

As we age, our skin is more susceptible to various forces including time spent in the sun. Harsh weather conditions and our dietary habits can be contributing factors. How the skin ages depends on several different factors, including personal habits, heredity, diet, and lifestyle. Nutritional cosmetics focuses on these factors in an effort to reduce the effects of aging on the skin.

Aging biomarkers can provide a true biological age rather than the chronological age. Biomarkers of aging could more accurately predict how functional cells will be at a later age rather than using chronological age as a benchmark. The factors that may contribute to skin that’s wrinkled or has age spots include exposure to the sun, the loss of the fatty tissue between the muscles and the skin, sleeping positions, obesity, and stress. Some of the changes that happen as a result of aging are:

  • Rough skin
  • Loss of collagen and elasticity
  • Thinning of the epidermis
  • Fragile or transparent skin
  • Skin that bruises easily

Ultraviolet rays from the sun can break down the elastin fibers in the skin and cause it to sag. As we age, the skin is more susceptible to tearing, bruising, and takes longer to heal. It’s possible to delay damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays by limiting the amount of time spent out in the sun.

Changes that occur below the skin may include the loss of fat beneath the skin. The result in the skin becoming loosened makes the eyes appear to be sunken and gives the face an overall appearance of being extremely underweight. The areas most affected are the temples, chin, cheeks, eyes, and nose areas.

As we age, we experience some bone loss, especially around the chin and mouth areas. Bone loss can usually occur sometime after the age of 60 and has a puckering effect in the skin. When there’s also loss of cartilage, the bony structure around the nose is affected.

Additional factors on the way we age include our facial movements, sleeping positions, and gravity. Lines that appear due to facial movement are usually become evident when people are in their 30s and 40s. The skin begins to lose its elasticity, and lines may appear on the forehead, around the cheeks, and the temples. Gravity causes fullness and loose skin beneath the jaws and cheeks and makes the eyelids and eyebrows droop.

The way people position their head on the pillow causes sleep creases that are more visible when the skin begins to lose elasticity. The creases commonly appear along the sides of the forehead and in the middle of the cheeks.

Inflammatory Network

The term anti-inflammatory is used a lot in conjunction with our nutritional needs. However, many people don’t understand why inflammation is harmful. When the body is injured or is suffering from an infection, inflammation is the natural response of the body. However, sometimes inflammation can spread and become a chronic condition. Nutritional cosmetics understands that chronic inflammation puts us at risk for disease.

One way to fight the effects of aging in the skin is to use skincare products with serum. These products are designed to hydrate and moisturize the skin and give it a brighter appearance. Whole plant foods contain the nutrients the body needs to stay healthy. The best way to reverse the effects of aging in the skin is to consider nutritional cosmetics and eat whole grains, legumes, and fresh fruits and veggies.

Doctors and nutritionists agree that processed foods aren’t healthy. Food that’s fried, cereals, and drinks that contain a lot of sugar all contain a lot of fats that contribute to inflammation. Menus that contain beans, grains, whole fruits, and veggies can cut down on inflammation.

Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in regulating how the body responds to inflammation. Foods high in Omega-3 may help to control the pain that’s associated with inflammation. Fresh fish and smaller servings of soy, flaxseed, pecans, and walnuts all contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Soy-based proteins, nuts, and fish are a healthier alternative to red meat. If you love burgers, you might substitute one of the other options several times a week.

Different Nutrients and Their Effect on Skin Health

There are many different nutrients that have an effect on skin health in the field of nutritional cosmetics. These nutrients include vitamin C and E, zinc, selenium, coenzyme Q10, antioxidants, whey protein, rosemary, soy, green tea, and milk thistle.

Vitamin C and E

Vitamin C and E are both antioxidants whose purpose is to protect the skin from harmful rays of the sun. Both vitamins protect the skin from free radical damage. When the body absorbs vitamin E, its antioxidants protect the cells from damage. Vitamin E is beneficial in treating inflammation and helps to prevent wrinkles. Vitamin C is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s found in many healthy foods, including citrus fruits like oranges, strawberries, spinach, and broccoli.


Zinc aids in transporting vitamin A from the liver to the skin. The use of this is beneficial in reducing inflammation, damage from free radicals, and aids in the production of collagen.


Selenium, especially when used with vitamins C and E, can protect the skin from damage from the sun and help to reduce the signs of aging.

Coenzyme Q10

When we’re young, our skin cells use oxygen to get energy from mitochondria. As we age, our metabolism changes. CoQ10 aids mitochondria in making energy for the skin cells.


Antioxidants are an excellent way to prevent damage to tissue and cells. In some cases, they may be able to repair the damage that’s already done. Avocadoes, beets, berries, leafy, green vegetables, and colorful fruit all contain antioxidants. Other sources of antioxidants include green tea, turmeric, ginger, lentils and beans, and whole grains.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is a polypeptide that’s high in amino acids and aids in rejuvenating the skin. Using this can also restore the Ph balance in the skin.


Rosemary has anti-inflammatory properties that can lighten dark spots on the skin and improve the complexion.


Soy contains amino acids and proteins that improve the texture of the skin and enhances photoaging.

Green Tea

Green Tea rejuvenates the skin and is an excellent skin toner.

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle is an excellent treatment for acne and rosacea. It provides antioxidants to fight free radicals.

How to Keep Skin Hydrated?

One of the most effective ways to hydrate the skin is to drink a lot of water. Drinking fluids helps vitamins to get absorbed into the body. It also helps to remove toxins from cells. Using a serum on the skin that contains high concentrations of Cassia Angustifolia Seed is excellent for hydrating the skin.

Final Thoughts

As an esthetician, you have the power to help your clients improve their skin health and reduce the signs of aging. Taking a holistic approach to skin care is important to healthy skin, and nutritional cosmetics can be the cure.

If you have a passion for skincare and nutritional cosmetics, you could begin your career as an esthetician at the Minnesota School of Cosmetology (MSC).  Our Esthiology Diploma Program is designed to be completed in under 5 months (600 clock hours) with full-time enrollment.  Our esthiology diploma program has been developed by talented, caring, real-world professionals, many of whom still work in the field.  We give our esthiology students experience in skincare, waxing, make-up, application of facials, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming an esthetician and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

*Completion time for this program is defined by 35 hours per week.

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