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“Clean Plate, Clean Slate, Clean Mind”, with Dr. Trevor Holly Cates

Clean Plate — avoid trigger foods like sugar and dairy and replace with more skin nourishing foods like avocados and bone brothClean Slate — replace toxic skincare ingredients with natural actives. For example, use organic essential oils instead of fragrance and zinc oxide mineral sunblock instead of oxybenzone-containing sunscreensClean Mind — manage stress with mindfulness […]

Clean Plate — avoid trigger foods like sugar and dairy and replace with more skin nourishing foods like avocados and bone broth

Clean Slate — replace toxic skincare ingredients with natural actives. For example, use organic essential oils instead of fragrance and zinc oxide mineral sunblock instead of oxybenzone-containing sunscreens

Clean Mind — manage stress with mindfulness practices like meditation, breathwork and movement. Stress is a big trigger for skin issues, so this is key.


As part of my series about health and wellness leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Trevor Cates.

Dr. Trevor Cates is author of the bestselling book Clean Skin From Within and founder of The Spa Dr. natural skin care line. She was the first woman licensed as a naturopathic doctor in California, appointed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to California’s Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine Advisory Council. She has been featured on various TV shows, including The Doctors, Extra, and PBS, and she is host of The Spa Dr. Podcast. She believes the key to healthy skin is addressing the root cause with inner and outer nourishment. Dr. Cates lives and practices in Park City, Utah. For more visit www.thespadr.com


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I’ve always had finicky, sensitive skin. I had bumps, hives, and eczema as a child, acne as a teenager, and rosacea in my 30’s. You name a skin issue, and I’ve probably had it. The itching and discomfort I experienced as a child was awful, but what really hurt was the hit to my self-esteem. I was embarrassed by my skin and never felt like a normal kid.

I tried so many medications, which made me feel worse, and I developed allergies to a lot of them. But, after years of antibiotics, antihistamines, and topical steroids my parents introduced me to a natural, holistic approach that changed everything.

As if by magic, my infections, allergic reactions, and itchy skin rashes disappeared. My skin cleared up, and I finally found some relief, both physically and emotionally. For a time, my skin was healthy, happy, and glowing. That all ended the day I started using makeup and skin care products.

Little did I know how bad my skin reactions would be to most skin care and beauty products. Just when I thought my skin problems were behind me, my body made it perfectly clear that the typical approach to self-care and skin care routines were not going to work for me.

I needed to take a closer look at what I was putting in and on my body.

This journey lead me to pursue medicine and becoming a Naturopathic Physician. And during my studies, I realized that I wasn’t alone. I discovered many people suffer from skin conditions, and seek conventional help only to not get the results they hoped and paid for. And some people end up worse off than when they started.

Over the last two decades, I’ve helped thousands of patients improve their self-care, lifestyle, and overcome underlying issues plaguing their health and skin. And, I became known as “The Spa Dr.” after working in world-renowned spas like the Waldorf Astoria Spa, Park City.

The concept that’s guided my practice, and now The Spa Dr., is simple. Your skin is a magic mirror that gives you great clues about your overall health. Pay attention to the clues your magic mirror gives you, and you’ll be able to improve your health and enjoy clear, glowing, more naturally youthful-looking skin.

When you combine inner nourishment with a high-quality skin care routine, changes will appear right on the surface of your body — on your skin (aka your magic mirror).

As a woman in my mid-40s, I realize having radiant skin doesn’t get any easier with age. But, that doesn’t mean you have to look older than you really are. You just need some inner and outer nourishment to support graceful aging, a clear complexion, and your natural beauty. And, here’s some more great news… all of this gives you the confidence to let your inner radiance shine even brighter. After all, that’s where your real beauty is!

You can learn more about how to improve your skin from the inside out on our blog or in my book, Clean Skin From Within. And if you want a high-quality skin care routine, I suggest you try our Daily Essentials Skin Care System.

I created the Daily Essentials Skin Care System really out of necessity. I never planned on creating a skin care line. But, when I couldn’t find or recommend skin care products that were natural, non-toxic, and really worked… I either had to continue using and recommending problematic products or create my own.

Can you share the interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I remember patients telling me after completing the 2-week program I was offering out of the Waldorf Astoria Spa in Park City… “Dr. Cates, I’ve lost weight with your program and feel great but what really surprises me is my skin! I didn’t know it could look this good…”

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Wow… Well, I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes along the way. I embarrassed myself so many times as a young doctor. I don’t think my patients even realized it though, and certainly it wasn’t anything that turned out to be harmful. Just a silly choice of words!

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

We are about to launch our new natural body care products more supplements to help address underlying issues behind skin problems. I’ve got an idea for my next book… but that’s still in the works ☺

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My father. Oh this makes me sad though… He passed away last year. He was my biggest cheerleader. He was the one who introduced me to natural medicine and encouraged me to attend naturopathic medical school. He was always excited to take a phone call from me and give guidance and encouragement. He was so wise and was constantly reading new books and articles that he would share to inspire me.

Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that will help people feel great?

  1. Clean Plate — avoid trigger foods like sugar and dairy and replace with more skin nourishing foods like avocados and bone broth
  2. Clean Slate — replace toxic skincare ingredients with natural actives. For example, use organic essential oils instead of fragrance and zinc oxide mineral sunblock instead of oxybenzone-containing sunscreens
  3. Clean Mind — manage stress with mindfulness practices like meditation, breathwork and movement. Stress is a big trigger for skin issues, so this is key.

Is there a particular book that made an impact on you? Can you share a story?

The Beauty Myth — This book came out in 1990, and I was in my first year of college when I read it. I remember feeling angry about how images of beauty negatively impact women. At the same time, I was relieved that the conversation was happening in the book to help bring awareness to the topic.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would start a skin movement to bring awareness of how the skin is an outer reflection of inner health. That’s why I call skin our “magic mirror.” Often the temptation is to cover up or suppress skin issues, but, instead, I’d like people to see skin is giving you important messages. I cover what these signs are and how to address them in my book Clean Skin From Within. Everyone struggles with skin issues at some point in their life and it’s often the first warning sign that something is out of balance.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We get amazing feedback from my readers, followers, patients and customers every day on how my book, podcast, products, services and programs have given them relief, hope and confidence. It feels amazing to read every one of these.

We also often give a portion of sales at the end of the year to a good cause that supports women and girls.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Don’t give up with a perceived failure. Each “failure” is an opportunity for growth and to do it even better. When I first started submitting my book, it was rejected. I took it back and rewrote it. It was so much better the second time and that’s when I got my book published.
  2. If people tell you something isn’t possible, you don’t have to believe them. When people told me natural skincare products don’t work. I didn’t believe it. Instead, I dug into the research and that’s what led me to create my own skincare line.
  3. If something is painfully hard and you continue to hit the same road blocks, try going at it another way. Often I’ve found that if I keep hitting a wall and my progress is stalled, I sit back take a look and try a different direction. When it flows freely, that’s when I know I’m definitely on the right track.
  4. Take care of yourself. If you keep pushing yourself hard and neglect your self-care, it will eventually backfire. I noticed at times when I’ve deprived myself of quality sleep, nourishing foods, exercise and stress management, I just end up getting sick or I’m so tired and cranky that I can’t get work done. In the end, it backfires. It’s better to keep those daily self-care practices going!
  5. Set goals. It’s amazing how successful you can be when you set clear goals. And when you add gratitude to the mix, it amplifies the success!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would be honored to have lunch with any of these women who have done amazing work in the natural beauty/skincare industry:

Jessica Alba, Bobbi Brown, Gwyneth Paltrow and Tata Harper

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

instagram: https://instagram.com/thespadr

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrTrevorCates

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/thespadr

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