Europeans and Japanese consumers of beauty and wellness products have embraced this notion of “beauty from within” so much so that these demographics have accounted for the majority of nutricosmetics sales and growth. North Americans have been slower to adopt this philosophy of achieving beauty through nutrition. Nevertheless, companies are beginning to invest research and development dollars based on the notion that demand for such products will continue to increase.
A hybrid of cosmeceuticals and nutraceuticals, nutricosmetics are a category of oral beauty supplements that help to bring about beauty, whether as anti-aging or condition-specific agents. These functional products are thought to have an effect (once digested and metabolized), either reactive or preventive, on outward appearance.
This past year has seen an upswing in nutritional beauty products launched within North America. Products come in many forms, including tinctures, beverages, powdered stick packs, gummies or functional foods (vs. traditional pill forms). Although the therapeutic value of such formulas may be compromised (over capsule, soft gel forms,) the flexibility and convenience of these products resonate well with the hectic lifestyles consumers lead today. However, as research and technology continues to advance within this arena, such formulations will continue to evolve and prove more effective too.
There are several factors that are impacting the expansion of the nutricosmetic market.
The Inside-Out Approach to Total Beauty. With sophisticated and credible ingredients in the market today, nutricosmetics are proving there are fortified options through functional foods and supplementation to promote healthier skin, hair and nails. Consumers are becoming more educated about the overall health benefits of balanced nutrition and are more interested in protecting themselves from accelerated aging through more natural and non-invasive protocols.
Aging Population. As we live longer, consumers want to “age well” in overall health, energy and beauty. Globally, the mature consumer is seeking products to help “prevent” illness, while looking and feeling his or her best. Antioxidants and other premium ingredients in nutricosmetics support this consumer demand.
Natural Health & Organic Beauty Trends. Consumers are more interested in “natural” alternatives to skin health and beauty. This coincides with eco-friendly and organic beauty brands. Nutricosmetic ingredients are usually naturally sourced, making them appealing to this type of consumer.
What Sells & Why?
Collagen type ingredients are hot right now. Stemming from Japan (which created the nutricosmetics market), collagen-based products are making their way to North America in several forms. Many companies with traditionally branded joint health products are bringing their formulations to the nutricosmetic sector for healthy skin, hair and nails. Applied topically, collagen is not readily absorbed, so oral supplementation makes more sense as we lose collagen with age.
Pre/probiotics for inflammatory skin conditions such as acne are of interest in this arena due to recent clinical data demonstrating the correlation between gut and skin health (the gut-skin axis). Previous systematic reviews have shown effective treatment with probiotics in adults and children with psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis.
Antioxidants continue to exhibit a protective effect from the degenerative effects of UV-induced oxidative stress (photo-aging). Antioxidants will evolve within this sector as strong clinical data unveil mechanism of action and efficacy of ingesting certain ingredients in oral form. Through direct (topical) and indirect (oral) application, key antioxidants promote skin immunity and protection against UV-induced stress.
Omegas for skin health will also evolve. Above and beyond omega-3s, watch for new evidence and support for other classes of fatty acids and their contribution toward healthy skin.
Along with the eco-health market, professional channels will continue to grow as a crossroad for inner beauty supplementation. An aging population, environmental concerns, the shift toward less invasive cosmetic procedures, a rise in spa culture and an increasingly sophisticated consumer are key driving factors behind this unique category of products in the spa/wellness market. Rather than relying on prescriptions, consumers are seeking an alternative approach to healthy skin and beauty. Nutricosmetics offer a complete approach to spa beauty programs that may enhance end results.
Nutricosmetics complement medical and surgical aesthetic procedures as well. Aesthetic treatments involve many different intervention tools that aim to rejuvenate skin health and beauty. However, to attain a desired result, such treatments involve increasing oxidative stress to offset the radical/antioxidant balance in the body. For example, laser resurfacing, chemical peels and dermabrasion are the most common techniques for improving the texture and appearance of the skin. Laser, like other electromagnetic radiation, can produce photothermal, photomechanical and photochemical reactions in skin. Although these techniques use different methods, they have basically the same effect on the skin in that they destroy and remove the upper layers to allow for re-growth.
Endogenous nutrients and antioxidants can help to minimize treatment side effects, help to protect the skin from photosensitivity and promote dermal rejuvenation to enhance overall treatment results. Some ingredients of interest include the following:
- Proteolytic enzymes have been reported to moderate the inflammatory cycle and may up-regulate the healing process.
- Vitamin C is an essential cofactor for collagen synthesis by dermal fibroblasts and, consequently, may contribute to the maintenance of healthy skin (including wound healing).
- Gotu kola seed (Centella asiatica) is used traditionally in the successful treatment of wound healing and burn injury. It is involved in several mechanisms, including antioxidant activity and increasing wound collagen matrix.
- Sodium hyaluronate is an important glycosaminoglycan constituent of the extracellular matrix. It has been implicated in angiogenesis, improving hydration and healing of wound margins. It has also been shown to promote hydration and the structural integrity of the skin.
- Horse chestnut seed (Aesculus hippocastanum L.) has shown evidence of clinically significant activity in chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), wound healing and post-operative edema.
The most successful brands will offer sophistication and therapeutic value in more convenient and less complex formulations. Fewer ingredients, simple branding and effective communication in how a nutricosmetic works within the body (over topical ones), will be critical to a brand’s success.
A nutrition, product development and branding expert, PAULA SIMPSON has dedicated her time in educating both the medical aesthetic and beauty industries of nutrition and supplementation to support natural beauty and healthy aging. With her background in medical aesthetics and product development, she advises leading cosmetic and natural health companies to bring forth competitive and innovative brands. She is regularly sought after as an industry speaker and media expert. E-mail: email@example.com; Website: www.paulasimpson.com