For manufacturers and formulators, the beauty of the nutricosmetics market is in part due to its "age." Because the market is still relatively young (new entirely to many consumers in the United States), there aren't many players saturating the space. Nutrition Business Journal reports that nutricosmetics posted a respectable 7 percent annual growth in 2009, but the core market still falls short of $1 billion in total U.S. sales.
The upside: Beauty is definitely in, and innovation in food, supplements and beverages are all still fair game for manufacturers interested in bringing new – and tried-and-true – ingredients into the market for women and men. And innovate with these ingredients they do: ingestibles in the form of chocolates, gummy bears and especially beverages are taking off in the inner beauty world.
But first, back to the beginning of the nutricosmetic delivery system: the pill.
Beauty hidden in supplements
Nutricosmetics already can be found in the dietary-supplements aisle – if you know where to look. Several ingredients, such as pTeroPure's pterostilbene, may not be marketed for beauty, but savvy consumers familiar with antioxidants know that this ingredient protects against oxidative stress in the body.
"Traditional ingredients that you take for one aspect [of your health] have other good side effects that you didn't even think about," explained Jeremy Bartos, Ph.D., pTeroPure's ingredients product manager. This is the case for pterostilbene, a phytoalexin that is naturally produced by plants when under attack by pathogens such as bacteria or fungi. Pterostilbene is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its protection against oxidative stress. In that, the compound is similar to resveratrol, helpful for reducing swelling and wrinkles. However, according to Bartos, when pterostilbene is taken orally, it is 70 to 90 percent bioavailable, compared to 20 to 30 percent for resveratrol. "You see resveratrol already in nutricosmetics, but it falls short in terms of its bioavailability," said Bartos.
Ingredients such as these are working their way into topicals and ingestibles, but launching a supplement-turned-nutricosmetic does have its hurdles. "There are different rules and regulations about getting compounds into nutricosmetics than the nutraceuticals industry," said Bartos. "We're traversing the landscape right now to figure out what it's going to take." Bartos conservatively estimates that acne-fighting topicals containing pTeroPure will be available in early to mid 2012.
Nutricosmetic ingredient trends
New formulation activity in nutricosmetics involves other antioxidants to repair the skin, including some not-so-common botanicals in the supplements category such as lotus and tomato extracts and even things like squalane, which is extracted from olive oil, said Chris Fields, vice president of scientific affairs and technical marketing for Applied Food Sciences. These ingredients give the benefits of whitening, toning, firming and anti-aging.
"On delivery systems, I think the most controversial [ingredient] right now is the use of stem cell technology to transform aging skin from the inside by stimulating the generation of new skin cells while repairing DNA," said Fields. Dior and RéVive are two brands delving into this space with topicals.
But beyond supplements and topicals (which, by definition, are not classified as a nutricosmetic but are often used in tandem), beverages are the delivery system to watch.
Beverages are an easy play when it comes to nutricosmetics, noted Fields. "Beverages formulate well, provide for quick delivery and provide that tandem approach consumers love in products with benefits – quench my thirst and give me healthy skin, why not?" she said.
Nestle's Glowelle is a pioneer beauty drink. But on February 2, Glowelle announced via its Facebook page that the product was being reformulated and that its current iteration would no longer be sold. The company said they're hoping for a 2012 relaunch, but declined to give further details on the future of the product.
Why so hush hush? To date there is little competition when it comes to nutricosmetic beverages, something that Jacque Gibson, CEO of Beauty Foods, noticed while walking the show floor at the 2011 Natural Products Expo West.
When Gibson learned about Glowelle, she said, "I'm not surprised – did you taste it? When I was developing my product I knew it had to taste great – it was one of my top three things. And out of every single person that tried it [at Expo West], everyone loved it except one."
Gibson began Beauty Foods in 2010 and just launched Nightly Beauty, the supplement disguised as hot chocolate in three flavors: chocolate, chocolate chai and vanilla – just add milk. Gibson said nutricosmetic beverages that are served up in cold delivery systems have more sediment, but having the product hot will help with that.
"In the beginning we had a different ingredient as the beauty enhancer," said the former fashion trend director. "In the process of trying to educate consumers in a new category, we decided to take that particular product out and replace it with the Biocell Collagen because collagen was known to the average consumer." Gibson said she still has plans for that initial ingredient, which she's keeping under wraps. Garden State Nutritionals, based in N.J., is Beauty Foods' contract manufacturer.
"Being ahead of the curve can be nerve-wracking, but I'm excited," said Gibson. "I've known that [this market] is coming. It's just a matter of time and education."
Not just for women
Jules Birch, MD, founder of Works With Water Nutraceuticals, also chose a sachet that can be poured into a beverage. The company is a pioneer in the U.K., first to market with 100 percent natural, soluble food supplements that improve skin blemishes (as well as other formulations that aid blood pressure and cholesterol).
When the "help: clear skin" line was launched, there was only one other product available on the U.K. market using Praventin, said Birch, but it had very limited distribution and was available in capsule format. Praventin is a milk protein that has been shown to have antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
"Our ingredient partner DKSH sourced the product for us and helped to develop the final formulation," she said, noting that consumer research indicated the demand for the delivery system. Help: clear skin can be added to water, milk, tea and juice. The nutricosmetic also contains high-extract Aloe vera and oligofructose, which is a natural source of soluble fiber.
The line is sold in pink and now blue boxes even though the formulations are the same. "We had a high number of men buying the product, but feeling rather bashful about purchasing such a ‘pink' product – so we had to listen to them!" said Birch.
Besides packaging, the main barrier to overcome when choosing a nutricosmetic delivery system is ensuring that it is something a consumer will enjoy taking regularly. Explained pTeroPure's Bartos: "A lot of times you don't realize they're [nutricosmetics] working until you stop taking them and you see the effects come back." Whether a beverage, chocolate or even a pill, taste is paramount when it comes to satisfying consumers who believe that beauty is more than skin deep.
Nutricosmetics as surgery adjuncts
One oft-ignored medical sector with a growing interest in nutricosmetics is aesthetic practitioners and dermatologists. Increasingly, dermatologists and skincare specialists who regularly use modern techniques like lasers, botox and chemical peels are recommending nutricosmetics before and after procedures. "Nutricosmetics can offer additional modalities to topical treatments to further protect the skin from endogenous and exogenous stressors, while preserving the healthy biochemical functioning of the skin," said Paula Simpson, R.N.C.P., executive director of Isocell North America. Simpson said aestheticians are open to hearing about clinical, science-based research that points to the role of nutrients, amino acids and antioxidants as agents to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation and accelerate healing.
Simpson helped develop a line of professional products designed specifically for aesthetic practitioners under the GliSODin skin nutrients brand, including Advanced Skin Brightening Formula, Advanced Daily Formula, Advanced Detoxification Formula, and Advanced Pre/Post Formula (Phase I and II). GliSODin is a blend of vegetal superoxide dismutase (SOD) covered by Gliadin, a wheat protein that protects SOD from being destroyed by stomach acids and digestive enzymes.
–Kimberly Lord Stewart