Nutricosmetics: Opportunities to Meet Modern Health Needs

Discerning consumers are demanding unique products backed by supporting science.

By Danielle Rose, Contributing Writer, Nutraceuticals World

The market for ingestible beauty products has had a few starts and stops in Western markets. Is there still potential for growth? This article will assess the market direction for nutricosmetics, demographic targets, their health goals, and product expectations.

Euromonitor, a market research provider, has defined “beauty from within” as “the aggregation of health and wellness foods and beverages (also known as nutricosmetics) developed to promote healthy skin, nails, and hair.”

Beauty products have a long and accepted history in topical applications, and have traditionally been geared toward women. Anti-aging products in general have largely been the domain of an older population. However, many consumers today understand that beauty is more about how they feel than appearance, and the healthier they are, the better they look. This premise has opened up the beauty market to a far broader range of consumers, and has uncovered a unique need that the nutricosmetics industry is ready to meet.

“The concept of nutricosmetics is that beauty starts beneath the surface and includes understanding of the relevance of balanced nutrition including various antioxidants, skin-active vitamins, along with botanicals that offer protection of environmental stressors including sunlight, pollution, and stress,” said Tamara Rausch, European product manager at Lycored. “People understand that well-nourished skin is the prerequisite for a healthy and beautiful appearance.”

There has been a growing trend surrounding knowledge of how nutrients act to improve skin health, as well as better understanding among consumers that the skin is an important barrier to outside influences. This, combined with recent research and understanding regarding gut health’s role in visual appearance, has allowed for cross marketing of products and ingredients.

As a company that works primarily with the food industry through fruit juices, purees, and concentrates, as well as essences often used in the flavor and fragrance industry, iTi Tropicals has a unique perspective on nutricosmetics. Kristen Farr, innovation and marketing manager at iTi Tropicals, said some of the company’s customers are distilling food-grade juices for use in their topical beauty products. This use speaks to the underlying acceptance of food as a part of a beauty regimen stemming from nutritional health.

“The whole beauty from within [market] is growing and getting a lot of attention,” said Elyse Lovett, marketing manager, Kyowa Hakko. “Things happen within your body that affect the outside of your body … and there’s going to be growth in that.”

A Growing Market

The skin care products market is valued at $121 billion globally, and is estimated to reach $179 billion by 2022, according to reports published by Euromonitor and Allied Market Research, respectively.

“Ingestible beauty products in the Western market has its ups and downs due to consumers habitually getting their skin care regimen in the form of topical applications,” said ExcelVite. “On the other hand, the younger generation are more inclined to try new things, which is a good sign for the nutricosmetic market.”

Data from Euromonitor indicated waning interest for dietary supplements positioned for beauty between 2012 and 2017, whereas U.S. sales are growing by as much as 40% since 2012. Continued growth in the beauty from within category is also expected throughout the next few years.

“We live in a fast-paced world and have many choices when it comes to ingestible habits,” said Spencer Shimon, marketing coordinator at Connoils. “The ingestible beauty product market did not grow as quickly as the potential demand, so that resulted in a few starts and stops in the marketplace.”

As a concept, beauty from within isn’t a new one, Ms. Rausch added. As early as the 1990s, products for hair, skin, and nails linked nutrition and appearance.

“For over 20 years, the actual beauty from within category remained an unmet promise, especially when it comes to the U.S. dietary supplements market,” Ms. Rausch said. “Year after year, market experts suggested that the revolution is about to take place and that pills are going to take makeup off the chart.”

The past two years have suggested a change is on the horizon, however. This is due in part to consumer awareness about the role of nutrition in skin wellness and appearance, Ms. Rausch said, as well as the overall connection between wellness and beauty.

The Future of Nutricosmetics

Ms. Farr with iTi Tropicals predicted the beauty industry will begin formulating with fewer, more recognizable ingredients to meet demand for clean labels. “Instead of using the chemical compound names, they’ll use the common botanical name and market it more like a food and less like a compound to be put on your body.”

Ultimately, people are already beginning to realize the food they eat and the cosmetics they put on their body are connected. The closer the connection, said Ms. Farr, the more ready the consumer will be for nutricosmetics. She cited a Sephora campaign as an example of this movement. Instead of pictures of perfume bottles or makeup brushes, the company recently decorated its windows with pictures of fruits and vegetables. More consumers want whole, recognizable ingredients in their skin care products, said Ms. Farr.

“Once consumers realize that ‘beauty from within’ is as important as a quick beauty fix offered by topical application, the market for ingestible beauty products will boom,” according to Mr. See of ExcelVite.

Consumer Trends

Although, historically, the cosmetics category has been reserved for middle-aged women experiencing visible signs of aging, Heather Arment, marketing coordinator for North America at GELITA, said today’s consumers also include men, and those in their 20s and 30s who are taking a more proactive approach to beauty. Ms. Lovett agreed that younger generations are the ones interested in nutricosmetics—from millennials, to mothers in their late 30s/early 40s.

“More than living longer, consumers want to live better, and look better while aging,” Ms. Arment said. “Healthy aging is relevant to all consumers, independent of age.”

Mr. See warned against dismissing the older generation’s buying power when it comes to nutricosmetics, however, particularly as one in five adults globally will be age 60 or above by 2020.

“Therefore, there are actually two extremes of the spectrum for skin health supplements that companies need to consider when developing products, expanding their product lines and revenue,” he said.

Expectations & Needs

Today’s consumers are seeking familiar products with plenty of scientific research to support their claims, conclusive marketing, natural formulas that are chemical-free and speak to whole-body nutrition and wellness, as well as clean labels and transparency. They’re also seeking non-animal tested, and non-animal derived products and ingredients—already a long-standing trend in topical cosmetics. Overall, they want a product they can get behind, that will provide results, and that they can feel good about consuming.

“The heath-conscious consumer now wants the most bang for their buck,” said Ms. Farr. “They also want added functional benefits. Not just vitamin C, but vitamin C with fiber or probiotics. They’re also seeking adaptogens or herbs.”

In addition, Ms. Lovett said consumers want to understand how different ingredients within a formulation are working together.

“Consumers are expecting a product that can do more than they need,” commented ExcelVite. “They want a product that could not only enhance their beauty, but also promote good health. A nutricosmetic is a combination of nutraceuticals and cosmetics, hence the consumers hope that this ingestible beauty product could deliver what it promises—beauty through a healthy body.”

They’re also seeking convenience, particularly in the beauty category. “Nutricosmetic products delivering beauty through oral supplementation is increasingly popular in the skin health category, because of the convenience of use,” said ExcelVite.

The oral beauty beverage Shiseido Pure White Beauty Care Drink with EVNolMax full spectrum palm tocotrienol complex for skin whitening, for example, is one of the top cosmetic brands in Japan for its convenience.

“A challenge for products targeting this category is bringing consumers to understand that nutritional support for beauty from within is not a quick fix,” noted Tim Hammond, vice president of sales & marketing at Bergstrom Nutrition. “While perhaps not slow enough for some of us, scientifically speaking, aging is a slow and steady process. Healthily embracing the aging process is best accomplished in much the same way—slow and steady.”

Topical cosmetics offer hope for more immediate results versus using internal cosmetics, Mr. Hammond said. However, the beauty from within category speaks clearly to those seeking holistic solutions to health and wellness, he suggested.

Many pharmaceutical companies now own natural product companies/brands, Connoils’ Mr. Shimon noted. This indicates consumer demand for solving, rather than simply treating health issues. Today, preventive health begins in the womb, with parents wanting to give their children the best leg-up before they’re even born. Mr. Shimon said all-age, preventive health will be a major trend for the industry.

Appealing to Men

Growing awareness of natural cosmetic options among men stems from the beauty from within category, according to Ms. Lovett. “I don’t necessarily think a man will consider a new skin cream for wrinkles,” she said. “But knowing what ingredients do within the body, and having other claims for the ingredient within the body, (antioxidant formulas or immune health, for example) makes for more of an attractive formulation for a man to pick up off the shelf.”

Ms. Rausch agreed that men are an ideal market for ingestible skin care because they are less likely than women to spend time applying topical products. Yet there is a growing interest among men in beauty and cosmetics. With convenience as an important factor, Ms. Rauch said, “Nutricosmetics offer various opportunities for brands to develop the male segment of this promising new market.”

One of the most poignant differences between men and women when it comes to cosmetics is a cultural one, Ms. Rauch added. “There are various cultural pressures on men to take a pragmatic, solution-oriented approach to things, which might explain why many of them like the idea of taking a pill or a supplement to meet their skin care needs. Men are demanding products that are well positioned and translate the solution to their unmet need easily. Time is a major aspect for men requesting beauty products. They are into the all-in-one concept for sustaining long-lasting benefits for their appearance.”

There are also key differences in men and women’s skin that require different formulations and marketing tactics. For example, men’s skin tends to be thicker and oilier, while daily shaving can cause sensitivity, he said. Men are also more prone to baldness. “Hence, a nutricosmetic containing ingredients that could promote healthy skin and promote hair growth is now being pursued by most men.”

Educating Consumers

Consumers, especially younger generations, are reading more and educating themselves about the science behind ingredients on the market, especially as access and availability of information increases. Taking this self-education into consideration is important for marketing and placement of all nutraceuticals, but particularly with a category as fluid and overlapping as nutricosmetics.
Gelita’s Ms. Arment said consumers not only want good nutrition in combination with supplementation, but they want to know how different ingredients work with each other.

“Consumers are getting very resourceful these days, and are fast to search for information with their mobile devices,” said ExcelVite. “As such, it is only through strong research support that an ingredient may stand up to various challenges.”

“[Consumers] will favor products with the greatest amount of scientific research and substantiation to support them,” Ms. Arment added. GELITA touts the importance of leadership in helping consumers understand the research and science of how ingredients work, and why the best beauty benefits come from the inside out.

“Western consumers are no dummies,” she warned. “Intuitively, they understand, ‘you are what you eat’. However, in past years, the industry has not offered consumers a strong body of scientific evidence. Today’s consumers demand assurances of quality and efficacy.”

Lycored believes that it’s the industry’s responsibility to educate the consumer, as well as design the right products based on science. Campaigns such as Lycored’s “Re-think Beautiful” aims to spread awareness about what dietary ingredients can do for overall wellness and beauty. This, in conjunction with innovative product positioning, points to the growing consumer trend of beauty from within as a movement, rather than a product on a shelf, Ms. Rausch said.

ExcelVite, meanwhile, campaigns for the industry as a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and by supporting the production of sustainable palm oil through purchasing RSPO Credits. The company also presents research to customers through leaflets, and online communications efforts.

Nutricosmetics clearly straddle product categories. Ms. Rausch indicated that an important role of manufacturers is finding the right distribution channel for today’s educated consumer, particularly because the industry tends to focus on either nutrition or cosmetics—rarely both. Breaking into the market means being innovative, and crossing barriers in the industry as needed in order to speak to consumer needs.

“[Nutricosmetics] is a product category that requires knowledge in both cosmetics and nutrition,” Ms. Rausch said. “Potentially, our industries need to reshape in a way to better understand the consumer needs. Experts might also cross between industries, moving from cosmetics companies into health and wellness companies, or vice versa.”

“Today’s consumers are more informed than ever about the importance of exercise, proper nutrition, and supplementation,” Ms. Arment said. “They strive to optimize mobility, health, and appearance—at any and every age—and they also recognize that what they do today affects their quality of life today and tomorrow.”

Ingredients & Research

In addition to science, safety, and efficacy, consumers seek recognizable ingredients in product formulations.

“In general, antioxidant ingredients such as vitamins C and E, including tocotrienols and alpha-hydroxy acids, have been and continue to be the most recognized ingredients in skin health products. Another popular skin health ingredient is collagen, which is well accepted by consumers.”

Antioxidants. The effect of oxidation on the skin is indisputable, resulting in a variety of issues such as photosensitivity, cancer, and inflammation. Ms. Rauch said antioxidants are highly relevant to the nutricosmetics market, due to their role in halting visible signs of aging. Their efficacy is supported by a growing number of clinical trials.1

Meanwhile, Ms. Farr said high-antioxidant fruits such as mangosteen, acerola, acai, and guava offer antioxidant properties that can appeal to the whole food movement.

Ms. Rausch said Lycored’s Lycoderm combines antioxidant ingredients such as lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene, vitamins A and E, and carnosic acid derived from rosemary, to increase antioxidant activity and protect against UV rays and other environmental stressors.

Naturally present in vitamin E, tocotrienols are a potent antioxidant.2 ExcelVite’s EVNol natural palm tocotrienol complex is a lesser known form of vitamin E. It is not as prevalent in the western diet as tocopherol, although it has been found to be 40 to 60 times more potent.3 It can increase skin moisture, lighten skin spots, and accelerate the healing of wounds and scars, as well as provide UV protection.4-6 It has also been found to promote hair growth.7

When combined with astaxanthin, tocotrienols were also found to increase skin moisture, improve natural oils, as well as reduce fine wrinkles, puffy eyes and blemishes while improving elasticity.8

As with other beauty from within ingredients, glutathione is an antioxidant that works via varying health pathways, supporting immune health and detoxification as it improves skin health and beauty. “Glutathione is a master antioxidant, which can regenerate other nutrients like vitamins E and C,” Ms. Lovett said.

It is found in every cell, and is made by the body. However, its levels decrease with age and through poor lifestyle choices.

A 2017 study focused on oral intake of glutathione found that it improved melanin index and wrinkles, plus other skin properties such as elasticity in women age 18-45. It had effects on skin brightening and lightening across all age groups.9

Collagen. According to Euromonitor, collagen is the triple helix protein found in fibrous tissues in mammals, fish, and plants, including skin, tendons, and cartilage. Once hydrolyzed, it can be added to beauty care products to prevent aging. As a food ingredient, it is called gelatin.

“Nutrition Business Journal named collagen the 2018 hot ingredient in the beauty from within supplements category with sales growing 7.2% over 2016-2017 reaching $1.1 billion in 2017,” according to Ms. Arment. “U.S. collagen supplements sales grew 30% to $98 million in 2017 with double-digit growth expected to continue to reach $122 million in 2018.”

With age, the quality, and quantity of collagen in the body reduces and degrades. Collagen has been found to increase the efficiency of formulations for anti-aging, pigmentation, promotion of hair growth, as well as anti-inflammatories.10 It can also support hair, nail, and eye health, said Ms. Arment.11

“While collagen has been successfully used for years in topical beauty and personal care products such as body lotions, face creams, and more, recent scientific evidence confirms that the highest efficacy can be achieved when collagen is ingested orally,” Ms. Arment noted.

MSM. The sulfate MSM, found in Bergstrom’s OptiMSM, has been found to affect key genes associated with the structure and function of skin, as well as improve skin’s appearance and condition.12 Sulfur also supports the cross-linking of collagen and supports connective tissue where the building blocks to healthy skin are formed.13

In addition to supplementing with collagen, certain extracts, such as marigold methanol extract, and Angelica acutiloba, can help stimulate collagen production within the body.14, 15
Since collagen synthesis has been connected with oxidative stress, the combination of collagen and antioxidants may help mitigate this effect.16

Probiotics. Probiotics do more than enhance digestive health and support immune function. They have been found to protect and serve as treatment for skin conditions such as allergies, UV exposure, and infections.17 They restore skin function, improve skin quality, and reduce the instance of dermatitis and other allergic skin conditions.18 They have also been found to improve or reduce the likelihood of eczema in children if the mother supplemented with probiotics while pregnant.

Omega-3s. Omega-3s are important for inflammatory and immune responses and may also help protect the skin from the sun, and protect against non-melanoma skin cancers.19 Studies show its use for inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis.20, 21 Oral use may enhance protection of skin cells from UV radiation when used in combination with a topical sunscreen.22
In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3s work to protect against skin cancer through immunomodulation, making its addition in a nutricosmetic far more beneficial than topical application alone.23

Although omega-6s often receive bad press due to overconsumption in the American diet, omega-6s may work alongside omega-3s to help treat skin disorders such as dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, and even skin cancer. They work together by maintaining the structure of the skin, elevating the threshold of sunburn, reducing inflammation, promoting wound healing, and halting the progression of skin cancer cells.24, 25

“Omega 3 are a promising ingredient group, as they are integrated within the cell membrane (in between the double layer membrane of the skin) and provide protection right where it counts,” said Ms. Rausch.

Biotin and Keratin. As an essential micronutrient for cellular function, growth, and development, biotin helps the body create keratin, and is important for overall skin health.26 It has also been studied and used for the treatment of fur and skin conditions in dogs.27

Keratin is a naturally occurring protein essential to skin and hair follicle function.28 Studies have shown that many suffering from certain skin conditions such as dermatitis and hair loss have some level of keratin deficiency, making it an important contribution to a beauty from within product.29

Botanicals and other considerations. Euromonitor noted the trending use of the following common ingredients for beauty from within: aloe, collagen, evening primrose oil, fish oils, glucosamine, green tea, royal jelly, and saccharinum, and sulphur. Mr. Shimon also indicated saw palmetto, hemp, pumpkin, flax and sunflower, black currant, borage, evening primrose, echium, and seabuckthorn are notable options.

Meanwhile, Ms. Farr said coconut oil, which is used externally to moisturize, freshen breath, and whiten teeth, can be taken internally as part of a beauty from within regimen. “Coconut oil and water have data to support that they work the same both internally and externally,” Ms. Farr said.

Growing in popularity in the supplement market, hemp can also be applied to beauty from within produts. Mr. Shimon said Connoils’ hemp extract blend benefits neurological and auto-immune systems, and is naturally anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, while helping the body achieve overall wellness.

Delivery & Bioavailability

Lycored has found success with the use of unique delivery options such as confectionery, soft gels, shots, and sachets. Ms. Rausch said gummies are a well-accepted delivery form especially for collagen supplements. Meanwhile, ExcelVite added that non-pill formulations have been met with much success in Japan and Asia.

Bioavailability is also a concern regarding delivery formats, and Mr. Shimon said topical or sublingual products can deliver up to 30% higher bioavailability than ingestible options by entering the blood stream quickly and efficiently.

Ultimately, consumers are seeking convenient products, with a unique experience provided by a novel flavor, texture, or delivery method, according to Ms. Arment. Efficacy, however, is a leading demand from discerning and educated consumers.

For a list of references, please go to original article published on Nutraceuticals World.

Disclaimer: The statements in the above article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.