Harking from exotic locales like the rain forests of Brazil and the Himalayas in Tibet, superfruits have been at home on natural products stores' grocery shelves for a long time now. But turn a corner and enter the personal care aisles, and you'll find them there, too. Yes, superfruits such as açai, mangosteen, camu camu and goji are traveling a bit farther and finding a new home in everything from facial masks to scrubs and moisturizers.
Personal care manufacturers are putting two and two together and realizing that these fruits that are getting so much attention for their health benefits when ingested are also rich in skin-nourishing properties. "It makes sense that if you're putting superfoods into your body, [some might be] beneficial on your body as well," says Joshua Onysko, founder of Pangea Organics, a skin care company in Boulder, Colo. "Many of these fruits will supply antioxidants, detoxify [the skin], clean pores out and regenerate," he says.
The benefits that fruit provides to the skin are nothing new to Myra Michelle Eby, founder of Mychelle Dermaceuticals in Frisco, Colo. Since its inception in 2001, the company has been featuring fruits such as blueberries and pumpkin in its skin care line. When superfruits became available in this country, it didn't take long for Eby to formulate products using them, too. "They're packed with antioxidants, they support skin function, and their naturally occurring acids help dissolve dead skin cells on the skin's surface, supporting cellular turnover," she says.
The superfruits are featured in many of the company's peels and masks. Mangosteen in the Tropical Face Lift "has fantastic antioxidant benefits. It's really more potent than what we're used to," Eby says. The camu camu, used in the Tropical Skin Smoother, has the most potent vitamin C of any fruit, she says. Numerous studies have shown that topically applied vitamin C can combat the signs of aging.
Eby says it hasn't been difficult to get retailers and consumers to discover these fruits' unique benefits to the skin. One way has been through Mychelle's consumer-friendly sampling program that allows customers to experience the fruit-based product firsthand, and for free, Eby says. The company provides retailers with blister packs of four products to give to customers based on skin type.
Her company also educates retailers about how these fruits work and why antioxidants from different sources help fight the variety of free radicals at play in our bodies, Eby says.
Superfruits are on the radar at Nature's Gate in Chatsworth, Calif., also. Formulators there thought the Amazonian rain forest fruit açai was the perfect ingredient to highlight in the company's new U.S. Department of Agriculture certified organic Rainwater line, says Shelley Rubenstein, marketing manager. "We chose to utilize the purest and most efficacious botanical ingredients, and acai was ideal for this purpose," she says.
The company uses the fruit's oil in its lotions because it's especially rich in fatty acids and contains 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes and up to 30 times the anthocyanins (flavonoids that are present in grapes and some berries) of red wine, Rubenstein says. The oil also has a high content of vitamins A, B and E.
Also joining in the superfruit personal care trend is Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based Home Health. The company launched a goji berry skin care line at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore in September. "The line represents something fresh, new and exciting for [health and beauty care] departments, especially in the growing age-defying skin care category," says Dorie Greenblatt, director of sales and marketing.
Using exotic berries such as goji in personal care formulas offers customers the excitement of trying something new, especially when the product features an ingredient sourced from a far-away, "exo?tic" region of the world, she says.
But more than just sounding alluring, goji berries are effective in skin care and have a long history of traditional use, according to Greenblatt. "[Goji berries'] powerful antioxidant properties have been recognized for thousands of years. Research is showing that goji berry contains properties that are beneficial for skin complexion and anti-aging as well."
The new line includes a goji berry eye cream, skin cream and body lotion featuring oil from the berry and other anti-aging ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, green tea and arnica. "They were developed to protect, hydrate and rejuvenate prematurely aging skin," Greenblatt says.
At Pangea, a lot of research and development went into its Japanese Matcha Tea mask, which contains goji and açai, Onysko says. And it's paid off. The product, which has been on the market for about a year, has won four awards and is now the company's No. 1 selling SKU. Why the success? "[Natural products customers] are getting used to the idea that a lot of the [healthy] stuff you can buy to eat you can also put on your body," he says.
Because demand for many of the superfruits has exploded so quickly, they are not always available as organic and fair-trade. Onysko tries to find organic, sustainably harvested superfruits for Pangea's products. The company's goji berries are from Nepal, and although they are not yet fairly traded, they will soon be 25 percent organic and wild-crafted. Pangea sources its açai from Brazil. "It's organic and wild-crafted and fair-trade," Onysko says.
Although not a personal care product, St. Paul Brands recently introduced a red gac skin revitalizer supplement. Gac is a red fruit that grows in Vietnam and other parts of Asia. The gac fruit is rich in beta carotene (it has 10 times more than carrots) and 70 times more lycopene than tomatoes, says Twee Pham, vice president of marketing.
These nutrients help assist the skin's cellular-rejuvenation process and can protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun, Pham says.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 12/p.44