Beauty supplements are having a moment. Though the concept of outer beauty being affected by what you consume is nothing new, consumer interest in beauty
supplements–and their availability–is rapidly increasing.
While a number of beauty supplement brands have been around for a while, new launches are plentiful. Take beauty mogul Bobbi Brown, for example, who launched Evolution 18, a supplement brand that touts “gorgeous skin, strong bones and overall glow.” Even social media influencers are jumping on the bandwagon. Tati Westbrook, the popular vlogger known as GlamLifeGuru, recently launched bright pink supplements with antiaging properties in her Halo Beauty line.
If you’ve had any doubt about the power of the growing supplements category, the numbers speak for themselves. According to market research firm Goldstein Research, the global supplements market is expected to reach $220 billion by 2023, with the beauty supplements category expected to grow from $3.5 billion (in 2016) to $6.8 billion by 2024.
BUT, DO THEY WORK?
In 1992, Serge Renaud, a professor at the University of Bordeaux, introduced the “French paradox,” which highlights the apparent contradiction between the nutrition of French people and their general health. In the southwest of France, food is fairly rich in fat and wine is readily consumed–yet the overall health of the population is good, the prevalence of heart attacks is lower than in the U.S. and life expectancy is higher than it is in the northeast of France. One proposed explanation for this phenomenon is the high consumption of polyphenols, which have powerful antioxidant properties and are abundant in red wine. What you consume impacts your health. Though this is not exactly news, it does shed some light on the idea of beauty supplements.
“Beauty supplements have now become essential to one’s daily beauty routine.”
–Natalie Jones, senior product formulation scientist, Direct Digital
So what about supplements’ impact on skin? A number of scientific studies have shown that various compounds do increase overall skin health. Here are three examples that show promising results with specific antioxidant and collagen supplementation:
Study #1: Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG)
To investigate the effects of oral EGCG, a powerful antioxidant in green tea, a study examined the minimal erythema dose (i.e., how long it takes skin to become red from UV exposure) and UV-induced skin damage on subjects who supplemented a normal diet with EGCG for eight weeks. By the last week of the study, the consumption of EGCG increased the minimal erythema dose significantly–meaning it took a lot more UV radiation to make the subjects’ skin turn red. The study concluded that oral EGCG helped protect the skin from UV damage and the correlated signs of skin aging.
Study #2: A Mixture of Antioxidants
Thirty-nine volunteers with healthy type II skin were divided into three groups and asked to take supplements every day for 12 weeks. The first group received a mixture of lycopene, lutein, beta-Carotene, alpha-Tocopherol and selenium. The second group took the same mixture of antioxidants but without lutein. The third group ingested placebos. The volunteers’ skin density and thickness were determined using ultrasound measurements. The study concluded that skin roughness decreased while overall skin health improved from supplementation with antioxidant micronutrients in both groups taking the supplements–while the placebo group did not experience any change in their skin.
Study #3: Bioactive Collagen
Clinical research using a bioactive, collagen-based beauty supplement with 32 ingredients developed by Swiss Alp Health showed promising results. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 114 women ages 45 to 65 for eight weeks. One group received daily standardized bioactive collagen peptides, while the control group received a placebo. After just four weeks, positive effects were observed in the group receiving collagen. After eight weeks, the appearance of the skin improved significantly: dermal procollagen type I increased by over 65 percent and elastin by 18 percent (compared to placebo). On average, wrinkles around the eyes decreased by 20 percent with a maximum reduction of up to 49 percent.
TRENDS ON THE RISE
Established nutritional supplement manfacturers who haved evolved into the beauty-wellness space often for- mulate effective products. For example, Swiss Alp Health, featured in the last study, was originally founded in Switzerland by Rudolf Bar after he suffered from severe arthritis and chronic pain caused by a football injury. Seeking an alternative to surgery, he founded the company to focus on collagen supplementation for joint, cartilage and ligament health. With collagen also benefitting the skin, beauty supplements naturally followed suit.
Another example, Direct Digital, a company primarily focused on supplements for joint health, mobility, sleep, men’s health and digestive health, will soon offer beauty supplements. Natalie Jones, MS, CNS and senior product formulation scientist for Direct Digital, predicts that in the beauty space, there will be a strong emphasis on clinically validated ingredients, gut microbiota, multipurpose supplements (that improve skin, nails, etc.) and the convergence of the beauty, health and wellness categories.
“The growth in this category over the past few years has been tremendous.”
–Natalie Jones, senior product formulation scientist, Direct Digital
“The growth in this category over the past few years has been tremendous as consumers are becoming increasingly interested in finding ways to target beauty from within and are starting to equate beauty with health and overall well-being,” Jones says. “Beauty supplements have now become essential to one’s daily beauty routine. Considering that various factors (such as diet, environment and lifestyle), in addition to the aging process, affect the health of our hair, skin and nails, the consumption of dietary ingredients that help to maintain internal cellular and metabolic health should be a focus of one’s health regimen because this reflects our outward appearance.”
Towards the end of the year, Direct Digital will launch a product that will be a “total beauty from within” solution for consumers. It targets multiple areas associated with aging and general health. “This product is backed by strong science and contains clinically validated ingredients to support hair, skin, nails, metabolism and response to stress.” she says.
While the Food & Drug Administration regulates prescription drugs, it’s important to remember that beauty supplements are not regulated. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of retailers to do their research in order to supply customers with effective products. Ideally, look for ingredients that are supplied in adequate amounts, have been scientifically evaluated and are backed by human clinical trials.
SELECTING SUPPLEMENTS FOR YOUR STORE
1. Look for supplements with the following ingredients that have been proven to be healthy for the skin:
These are some of the most studied ingredients in the beauty supplements space.
2. Research the brands you already carry to see if they have added beauty supplements to their range.
3. Visit a health food or specialty nutritional store and look at the best-selling beauty supplement brands they carry, which will help you discover reputable brands to stock in your store.
[Photo courtesy of Ada S. Polla]