From the Inside-Out: Beauty Supplements

November 22, 2005

We always hear that beauty is only skin deep, but in reality external beauty—a smooth, blemish-free complexion, healthy, and youthful skin—is exactly what everyone wants and desperately wishes to hold on to, whatever the cost. Intrinsic and extrinsic skin aging are two biologically independent processes.

Intrinsic refers to the changes that result from the passing of time and it is at a genetically pre-determined rate. Extrinsic aging occurs by exposure to the elements and pollution. These two factors are somewhat under our control. Photo-aging is an example of extrinsic aging. This can be reduced by wearing sunscreens, avoiding smoking, pollution and other environmental toxins and using milder, gentle skin care preparations. The pursuit of maximizing one’s beauty may lead one to dermatologists, plastic surgeons, yoga class or trips to the spa. Consumers have realized that beauty and health go hand in hand. For the effect to be long-term, one can take vitamin supplements designed to nourish from within, known as nutraceuticals, which are oral supplements with specific cosmetic effects.

Table 1: Vitamin Consumption is Still Rising
Usage of product by the general population in 2003 vs. 1999, along with compound annual growth rate (CGAR). All percentages are rounded.
Product 2003 1999 CAGR
Vitamins 89% 86% .8%
Minerals 56% 59% -1%
Herbal supplements 34% 42% -5%
Condition-specific supplements 29% 22%* 9%
Weight loss products 28% 28% .1%
Homeopathic remedies 16% 18% -3%
*-Not asked in 1999; datum from year 2000
Source: The Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), Harleysville, PA.

Market Demand
Cosmetic and skin care companies both in the U.S. and overseas have responded to the aging consumer’s desire for products that combine cosmeceuticals and nutraceuticals to moisturize and improve skin. Consumers are seeking alternative measures to plastic surgery and Botox; and they’ve discovered that vitamins and supplements are a more natural solution. Consumers are realizing that what’s consumed is just as important to skin as what is applied to it. Consumers now readily blame stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, smoking and pollution for their dull skin and other signs of premature aging.

According to the National Marketing Institute (NMI), Harleys-ville, PA, there is a general recognition among consumers that people are not as healthy today as they ought to be. According to NMI's Health & Wellness Trends database (HWTD), two-thirds of Americans believe that “vitamins and minerals are effective in preventing and maintaining certain health conditions.” (see table 1)
A market research company, The Freedonia Group Inc., Cleveland, OH, in a recent report entitled “Anti-Aging Products,” indicated that the demand for formulated appearance-enhancing products is projected to increase over 12% a year through 2007 to $2.5 billion. New product introductions and the passage of the relatively affluent baby boomer generation through middle-age will stimulate demand for value-added, age-defying products. The report further states that for the skin, Botox and age-defying lotions will experience stellar growth with gains of 16% and 11% per annum respectively through 2007. (see table 2)

Meanwhile, according to Datamonitor, a UK-based market research firm, there is growing awareness among consumers about beauty from the inside out. Europeans recognized this link years ago, but it is getting stronger in the U.S.

Table 2: Demand for Anti-Aging Products
In millions of U.S. dollars
Product 1997 2002 2007
Appearance 670 1420 2510
Chemicals/formulated product 0.17 0.16 0.16
Anti-aging product chemicals 1,045 2,765 4,690
Pharmaceutical active ingredients 375 1,495 2,665
Hormones 160 305 348
Vitamins and antioxidants 182 270 390
Herbal extracts 95 177 300
Glucosamine 31 86 113
Botulin toxin 12 85 190
Minerals 66 75 92
Proteins 45 73 110
Other 79 199 482
Source: The Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), Harleysville, PA.

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This ad for Vitabiotics demonstrates that, in many instances, Europe is far ahead of the U.S. when it comes to concepts such as “inside beauty.”

Hot Anti-Aging Actives
Anti-aging materials are expected to record double-digit growth through 2007. These products include memory-enhancing neurological agents, botulinum toxin for wrinkle reducing applications, co-enzyme Q-10, soy extracts and a host of small volume herbal extracts including lutein, lycopene, black cohosh and red clover, all of which are used in both dietary supplements and cosmeceuticals. We all know the important role that vitamins C and E play in the never-ending war against free radicals. Now researchers are optimistic about the benefits of supplements such as alpha lipoic acid, bioflavinoids, co-enzyme Q10, flaxseed oil, ginkgo, melatonin, pycnogenol, soy, green tea, vitamins A, B6 and D, folic acid, kinetin, copper peptides, amino peptides, kojic acid, DMAE, human and plant growth factors, vitamin K, grape seed extract and alpha-, beta- and polyhydroxy acid. Promising minerals include chromium, magnesium, selenium and zinc.

Anti-aging hormones such as DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) are now available in health food stores. Pregnenolone, the precursor to DHEA, is another hormone. These hormones are usually promoted for boosting immunity, vitality and memory and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Vitamins Improve Skin
To maintain healthy skin, nutrients play an important role; a few critical ones are detailed here. Vitamin C helps build collagen, which is the foundational structure between the body tissues, thus maintaining skin strength and elasticity. But be sure to take only the recommended daily allowance, since in large doses it affects vitamin B12 and folic acid absorption.

B vitamins help speed wound healing and prevent dry flaky skin, hence preventing premature wrinkling and skin roughness. Vitamin D curbs symptoms of psoriasis. Zinc, as well as vitamins A, C and K, help heal and repair cuts and scrapes. Ample intake of water keeps skin moisturized and helps regulate function of sebaceous glands. Vitamin A repairs and normalizes epithelial tissues such as skin, hence helping to prevent skin roughness and premature wrinkles. Large doses of vitamin A could lead to dermatological problems and birth defects. The safest form of this vitamin is beta carotene. Healthy red blood cells are built by nutrients such as iron, copper, protein, B vitamins, folic acid and vitamin E. Skin becomes pale and appears dull when there is a deficiency of any of these nutrients. In small amounts, linoleic acid helps maintain moist, smooth skin. Antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins C, E and beta carotene have shown satisfactory results in slowing the rate of free radical damage to the skin.

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Avon Healthy Remedies Balancing lotion alleviates the discomforts of menopause.

Global Launches
Many cosmetic researchers understand the important role that vitamins can play in skin care lines. Here are a few examples. The Avon Wellness line “is a destination for women and their families that promotes a healthy lifestyle,” according to company literature.

The one-stop shop that is Avon Wellness focuses on products that help people feel healthier, look better and slow down the effects of aging. Avon Wellness line has launched Healthy Remedies Balalancing lotion and Vit Advance AquaNew. The one is applied topically, while the other is to be taken orally.

The lotion was created for menopausal women to help alleviate the discomfort associated with that particular time in women’s lives.

“Avon’s Healthy Remedies Balancing Lotion is proven to reduce the discomfort of night sweats and hot flashes in 14 days when applied twice daily to the entire body,” said Avon spokesperson Andrea Mielnicki.

Among other ingredients are black cohosh, soy extract and vitamins A and E. Other claims include diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, uplifting the neck area and moisturizing dry, sagging skin. Vita Advance AquaNew is promoted as an “easy to swallow tablet that is a high-quality skin supplement.” The supplement is designed to replace “moisture generating components” that diminish as women age. Enhancing the skin’s natural moisture balance is a nourishing complex containing hyaluronic acid and a revival complex containing green tea leaf extract and glutathione. Consumers should take the product once a day to enhance an anti-aging skin care regimen.

According to Bill Brace, Olay marketing director, Olay became intrigued with the scientific research linking nutritional intake and skin health. According to the company, women can expect to see improvement in the appearance of their skin after four weeks of taking Olay vitamins.

Olay’s Even Complexion is a nutritional supplement created to even skin tone and soothe skin. The line includes vitamins A and E, selenium and lycopene to help neutralize free radicals which can cause uneven color, pycnogenol to sooth skin and vitamins C and D, zinc and copper to boost skin’s ability to retain water and form new collagen and elastin.

Shiseido, a major Japanese cosmetic company, offers products that promote beauty from within. The lineup includes nutritional supplements and drinks to beautify the skin and body. Shiseido’s “Beauty Foods” consist of 18 products, each addressing different beauty issues. Gymrind is a weight loss tea containing magnesium and vitamins B1 and B2.

CollagenEx is promoted for stimulating the body’s collagen production with a combination of marine collagen, elastin and nucleic acid (DNA), chondroitin and vitamins B2, B6, C and E. This product claims to provide a younger, firmer complexion. In the near future, Shiseido, in partnership with Coca-Cola in Japan, is introducing products that target “body conscious” consumers. The initial products will include a beverage called Body Stylish Mist, which contains grapefruit juice and caffeine.

L'Oréal has teamed up with Nestlé to form Laboratories Inneov to develop nutritional supplements that provide cosmetic benefits. The joint venture has launched “Inneov Firmness” and the company claims that it can improve the quality of skin, hair and nails by supplying nutrients essential to their physiology. The product is primarily intended for women over 40 who are concerned with sagging skin. It is formulated with lactolycopene in combination with vitamin C and soy isoflavones. It is commercialized as a pill with a recommended dose of three pills daily for three months. The benefits include firmer skin with enhanced vitality. Perfectil is a nutritional supplement available in the UK for skin, hair and nails. There are 24 nutrients formulated into each tablet to provide optimal cell performance and cell renewal along with antioxidants, plant extracts, vitamins and minerals.

According to the manufacturer, antioxidant vitamins C, E and beta carotene all play valuable roles in preventing damage to the skin. Vitamin C plays an integral role in collagen synthesis, while carotenoids help bolster the skin’s resistance to UV damage.

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Professional Views
Howard Murad, who markets a wrinkle-reducing dietary supplement pack, is also the author of Wrinkle Free Forever.

“As we age, loss of water directly translates into sagging, wrinkled and damaged skin,” writes Dr. Murad. “It is essential to maintain a healthy internal balance by constantly improving cells and connective tissue.”

He explains his scientifically proven Water Principle: If there is a sufficient amount of water in the skin, it will be thicker and smoother. There is a new resiliency and firmness to skin after using the dietary supplement pack. Damaged collagen and skin cells are repaired.

Amy Newburger, author of Looking Good At Any Age, agrees that the addition of nutraceuticals to existing cosmetic lines is a good idea. Furthermore, she reports an improvement in the health and appearance of the skin of her patients who used Olay Vitamins.

Lynn Laboranti of Pharmarite predicts that dietary supplements will gain momentum in the future as baby boomers age. She also expects rising health care costs will lead women to take supplements for prevention, and also women will seek alternative measures to plastic surgery, Botox injections and other invasive procedures. According to Ms. Laboranit, vitamins are more of a natural solution.

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Benefits and Side Effects
The vitamin-beauty category holds tremendous potential because consumers are beginning to realize that the traditional aging process does not have to be inevitable. Many supplements are powerful antioxidants which can neutralize the free radicals that damage cell membranes and impact vital enzymes that damage cellular DNA, which leads to aging. Health benefits are provided because some antioxidants dissolve in both lipid and water, empowering them to neutralize free radicals wherever they occur in the body. These supplements may delay the onset of age-related degenerative diseases.

Recently researchers at Johns Hopkins University found health risk for consumers taking larger doses (400IU or greater) of vitamin E. Not all vitamins providing good skin health have been rigorously studied. The FDA regulates only the safety of the supplements and not their efficacy. The companies do not have to perform clinical trials to make certain kinds of cosmetic claims. Instead, manufacturers cite existing independent studies of ingredients as the evidence of efficacy for their products. Companies also cite consumer research studies where users perceived improved effects, but some dermatologists are not convinced. Many studies on vitamins and skin have been done on consumers with skin disease or vitamin deficiency rather than consumers with normal skin and healthy diets. There are few clinical trials for various supplements which are broadly advertised in the media.

Furthermore, relative strengths of the actives studied in clinical trials are at a much higher level than found in the commercialized product. Some label claims are made which are not based on the outcome of clinical research. It is well recognized that daily consumption of multivitamins might be helpful for those consumers with unhealthy diets or some mild skin conditions.

Overall there is still no agreement whether regular consumption of vitamins is advisable for healthy consumers, since the foods they eat should be the best source of nutrients.

Also, it appears that there are no significant differences between skin companies’ supplements and those offered by pharmaceutical companies.

According to dermatologist Gervaise Gerstner, vitamins for the skin remains questionable.

“I wouldn’t add this on top of other vitamins that you may be taking,” advised Dr. Gerstner. “In extreme cases, nutrient intake can affect the skin.”

There are antibiotic treatments, which affect the skin from the inside, that she prescribes in cases of problem skin, though treatment is usually the first step. Topical treatments target the zone you want.

“I would prescribe an antibiotic topical ointment before an antibiotic (pill),” Dr. Gerstner added.

According to Nina Han Cheigh, an assistant professor at University of Illinois Chicago School of Pharmacy, (consumers should understand that increased costs don’t necessarily mean better results.

“In the strictest terms, these vitamins do not necessarily offer anything that is substantially better than a multivitamin, which contains many similar ingredients,” she insisted.

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Ayurvedic Controversies
Ayurveda is a science of diagnosis and treatment that uses herbs in partnership with breathing, meditation and yoga. It has been practiced in India for more than 2,500 years. It derives its name from the Sanskrit words ayuh, meaning “longevity” and veda, meaning “knowledge.” Proper therapeutic remedies are prescribed only after determining a person’s physical and mental characteristics (dosha). Throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia gentler herbal Chinese and auyervedic remedies are experiencing renewed interest. But lately, they have fallen under a shadow of doubt and uncertainty. A recent study by Dr. Saper at Boston University, published in the latest issue of the Journal of American Medical Association, found that about 20% of ayurvedic herbal supplements sold over the counter contain heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic at levels that are sometimes well above limits.

These herbal medical supplements are not subject to regulation or approval by the Food and Drug Administration and can lead to serious medical conditions such as some types of cancers, skin disorders and, in some children, lower IQ or reduced growth. Additional studies should be undertaken to examine this further.

Consumers need to know what is hot and what is not. Information continues to play a vital role in building business. Consumers rely on product labels for information. If marketers more often look at some of the health and beauty concerns of consumers and then launch products to address that need, they will experience success while also benefiting the consumer. Consumers are more proactive than we realize. The inside-out beauty trend will build momentum and will move from a niche to a mass category because consumers now firmly believe that true beauty has to come from within.

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