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Natural Foods Merchandiser

3 emerging nutricosmetic ingredients for healthy skin

Experts suggest three emerging nutricosmetic ingredients that can help improve skin's appearance from the inside out, including probiotics, pycnogenol and lycopene.

The cosmeceutical concept—that specific ingredients can improve the skin’s appearance—dates back to 1961, with the founding of the U.S. Society of Cosmetic Chemists. Its inception sparked a flurry of new topical products to combat everything from aging to cellulite to acne, and by 2007, cosmeceuticals had become a $55 billion global industry, according to international market research firm Kline & Co.

By comparison, nutricosmetics—products that improve skin health, elasticity and appearance from the inside out—are relatively new. In fact, the term nutricosmetics was coined just in the past decade. Now, Kline values the global nutricosmetics market at $1.5 billion, with Europe capturing 55 percent of the market share, Japan following at 41 percent and the U.S. bringing up the rear with only 3 percent. And these numbers are growing steadily: International market research firm Mintel estimates the global nutricosmetics market will reach $2.5 billion by 2012.

The combined cosmeceutical-nutricosmetics category has become so significant, in fact, that it was the sole focus of the inaugural NutriCosmetic Summit in Las Vegas last June, which drew more than 120 manufacturers, suppliers, formulators, marketers and innovators.

Here’s a look at three emerging nutricosmetic ingredients.

Nutricosmetic on the rise

While dozens of topical and orally ingested ingredients demonstrate skin benefits, one of the newest on the scene, probiotics, has been shown to combat eczema. A 2008 study in New Zealand demonstrated that Danisco’s Howaru Rhamnosus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001, cut the occurrence of infant eczema in half and reduced the severity of symptoms in children who had already contracted the skin condition by age 2.

More than 230 studies and clinical trials have been done on Pycnogenol, Hoboken, N.J.-based Natural Health Science’s pine-bark ingredient, over the past 40 years. In 2009, the American Botanical Council published a monograph of this research that focused on 17 human clinical studies and evaluated a wide variety of Pycnogenol’s applications, including its anti-inflammatory, circulatory and joint-health properties.

Regarding skin care, studies show that Pycnogenol helps protect collagen and elastin from enzymatic degradation. It also improves skin elasticity and the microcirculation of blood, while offering a photoprotective effect against ultraviolet ray–caused damage. Pycnogenol is a strong antioxidant as well.

“The Pycnogenol brand is included in more than 700 dietary supplements, cosmetic products, and functional foods and beverages worldwide,” says Victor Ferrari, CEO of Natural Health Science.

’s Lyc-O-Mato lycopene complex has been shown to help prevent UV-induced skin damage, according to numerous studies in Israel. “Lycopene is more scientifically backed than any other nutricosmetic ingredient,” says Udi Alroy, vice president of global marketing and sales for LycoRed, which has offices in the U.S., Europe and Israel. “Lyc-O-Mato is being used in more than 50 nutricosmetic products.”

Lyc-O-Mato is a naturally occurring mixture-based product extracted from proprietary lycopene-rich tomatoes. Along with lycopene, it contains other active phytonutrients—phytoene, phytofluene, beta-carotene and vitamin E—suspended in tomato oil. It comes in soft gelatin capsules for oral dosing.

Lyc-O-Mato has been evaluated in four clinical skin-protection studies, both as a single agent and in combination with other vitamins or phytonutrients. “Each of these studies indicates efficacy at a Lyc-O-Mato daily dose containing 6 to 10 mg of lycopene,” Alroy says. “This includes improving parameters of skin health—thickness, reduction of number of sunburn cells—as well as reducing skin damage within weeks of starting dosing. In one study, superiority of Lyc-O-Mato was observed over synthetic lycopene.” None of these studies reported any significant adverse effects.

Outer beauty

While probiotics, Pycnogenol and lycopene deliver outward beauty benefits when taken internally, the following herbs found in topical skin care products contain antioxidants that scavenge free radicals to keep skin cells young. 

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is an antiseptic that heals burns and wounds.

Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) may protect against ultraviolet light–induced damage.

German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) has anti-inflammatory properties. Its broad content of flavonoid constituents supports elasticity in small capillaries for couperose skin (tiny broken blood vessels in the face).

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) can be applied preventively to reduce UV-caused cell and tissue damage; it increases microcirculation to the skin and inhibits scar-tissue formation.

Ginseng (Panax ginseng) moisturizes and increases skin hydration and elasticity. 

Licorice (Glycerhyizza glabra) is an effective anti-inflammatory for atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.          –Mindy Green

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