More Than Skin Deep

July 6, 2006

The beauty supplement market takes some tricky turns, but the trend stays strong.

More Than Skin Deep

The beauty supplement market takes some tricky turns, but the trend stays strong.

Ava Caridad
Associate Editor

You are what you eat...and what you don’t eat! The majority of Americans are not getting enough vitamins C, E and some B vitamins, according to Dr. Andrew Shao, vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).

“If diet is not adequate, it’s possible that skin health can suffer. Adequate consumption of nutrients is important for skin health, and this includes diet as well as supplements,” he said.

This inside-out approach to beauty, the use of supplements to enhance the appearance of hair, nails and skin, has surged in popularity during the past several years. According to Chicago-based Euromonitor International, much of the recent interest in health and wellness has been driven by aging baby-boomers who want to live long, healthy lives, as well as look good. Manufacturers have moved into supplying complete “wellness systems” and expanding beyond cosmetics and toiletries to “beauty” products to enhance health from the inside.

Dermatologists N.V. Perricone MD and Dr. Howard Murad started this trend when they launched both skin care and dietary supplement lines promising a more beautiful appearance. This idea was picked up by Avon and Procter & Gamble’s Olay brand, and more recently, Estée Lauder’s Origins, which now offers vitamin supplements to help consumers become beautiful from the inside out. The trend has innumerable iterations with the U.S. market and consumers are becoming ever more convinced that beauty starts with “wellness.”

“Exponential growth in the natural and organic personal care category has really fueled the re-emergence of supplements marketed for beauty, a concept that’s not new,” commented David Seckman, executive director and CEO, National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA). “Increasingly, the natural health and beauty consumer is attracted to products that pack a therapeutic punch but do not contain potentially irritating or harmful chemicals, whether in a supplement or topical treatment.”

But the road can be as bumpy as consumers’ skin. According to Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), Chicago, IL, sales of Olay’s vitamins dipped considerably for the year ending May 21, 2006. Sales of Olay mineral supplements tumbled 80%, while sales of its Total Effects 7X multi-vitamins fell almost 37%. Furthermore, sales of Olay 1 & 2 Letter vitamins fell 65%.  And according to San Francisco-based Spins, information provider on the natural products industry and its consumer dynamics, sales of supplements formulated to treat acne fell 2.7% to just under $20 million. However, supplements for healthy nails grew a respectable 10.5% to almost $13 million.

Watching Trends Develop

In spite of these figures, Happi discovered the trend is far from moribund, as a number of marketers continue to launch oral beauty supplement lines and extend existing ones. And the demographics are changing. As with most appearance-related products, the traditional target market was aging women, but according to Dianne Holland, director of marketing, Astavita, the main focus for its Skin Defense Complex is directed to females and, more recently, males in their early 30s to 50 and over.

Astavita Skin Defense Complex uses AstaReal astaxanthin, harvested from Haematococcus pluvialis plants, helps protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.
“However, we are finding there is a growing concern among young adults in regards to early skin care and protection,” she added.

Dr. Shao commented on the explosion at the retail level of whole product lines dedicated to internal skin care, including more sections and products dedicated to the beauty/wellness market.

“Specialty health food stores now have a beauty section, with an area for supplements. Hair, skin and nail supplements are very popular. They are usually the same ingredients that have always been available, but now packaged as a name brand, for example, Olay.”

Dr. Shao said the current trends in oral beauty supplements are those formulated for smokers, sun protection and anti-aging. Baby boomers, he pointed out, always took an outside approach to skin care, but now are catching on to the benefits of a dietary approach.

Ms. Holland noted that with increasing free radical production, environmental toxins and poor diets, coupled with increasing time constraints, the consumer’s search for simple, effective skin care has created a demand for nutritional supplementation specifically designed for improving appearance of the skin. Consumers are also becoming more proactive in their health care by looking for scientific proof to support claims made by supplement manufacturers.

Mark C. Sysler, vice president of sales, Bio-Botanica Inc., agreed that the consumer is demanding more information on products and more natural materials in the manufacture of the supplement. In addition, the consumer is focusing on specific areas of health so the supplement must have targeted areas of benefit.

Once a Day...

Dr. Shao explained that skin problems “don’t just happen,” they are usually a result of a diet deficient of nutrients.

There is a sub-population that has an increased need for supplements as a result of lifestyles that cause the skin to suffer, such as smokers (who have a low antioxidant status) and sun worshippers. These are two sub-populations who may benefit their skin by taking supplements,” he noted.

“Clinical research studies show vital carotenoids can protect skin from sun damage, working in a different way than sunscreen through antioxidant protection. Smoke is a pro-oxidant, so loading the skin with antioxidants helps protect it.”

Aqua-less Crystalline packets from Borba, loaded with nutrients, can be added to water.
After creating a niche in the Japanese nutraceutical industry as a producer of natural astaxanthin, a super-antioxidant, Fuji Chemical Industry Co. began distributing its supplements in the U.S. in 2004 under the name of Astavita (formerly Go For Life Labs), Mt. Laurel, NJ.

Astavita Skin Defense Complex, first developed and used in Japan as internal nutritional support for skin health, is designed to protect skin from free radicals and includes tocotrienol and AstaReal astaxanthin, harvested from Haematococcus pluvialis, and backed by research indicating its ability to help protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.

Nature’s Answer is a line of herbal extracts that the founders of Bio-Botanica, Hauppauge, NY, introduced to consumers more than 30 years ago. Their newest launch is ORAC Super 7 Berry Blend formulated for optimal defense against destructive free radical damage.

ORAC stands for “Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity.” The greater the amount of free radicals a food or nutrient can combat, the higher its ORAC score. ORAC Super 7 Berry Blend contains a combination of powerful, high ORAC scoring berry and fruit extracts such as acai berry, mangosteen, goji berry, pomegranate, red coffee fruit, muscadine grape and blueberries. To further enhance the antioxidant formula, additional ingredients, such as organic apple, pear and agave nectar were added.

The latest launches from Nature’s Answer include cod liver oil and deep sea fish oil.
Other new supplements from Nature’s Answer, all enhanced with Quik-sorb (ginger rhizome, amla fruit and capsicum fruit) to maximize absorption, are Liquid Multiple Vitamin & Mineral, L-Carnitine, Norwegian cod liver oil and Omega 3 fish oils. The oils naturally provide essential Omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA and ALA, as well as vitamins A, C, D and E.   

A long-time folk remedy of grandmas everywhere, fish oil apparently really is good for you. And the educated consumer knows it, boosting cod liver oil sales to over $98 million in 2005, up from $37.5 million in 2000, according to Euromonitor International. Sales of fish oils termed “other” jumped from $40 in 2000 to a whopping $206 million in 2005.

Also promoting a new fish oil product is none other than beauty supplement veteran N.V. Perricone, which recently launched Wild Sockeye Salmon oil supplement soft gel capsules in 1,000 mgs, retailing for $97. According to Dr. Perricone, Omega-3s are essential fatty acids—meaning they must be obtained via diet-and are known to play a crucial role in brain function. The supplement improves overall appearance of the skin and body and imparts shine and luster to hair. It also aids in weight loss, increases energy and elevates mood.

N.V. Perricone’s Wild Sockeye Salmon oil benefits hair and skin.
The latest skin treatments from Scott Vincent Borba are Skin Balanced Water and Aqua-less Crystalline packets. The patent-pending formulas were created through a special maturation process that injects nutrients into water molecules. They are calorie- and carbohydrate-free, vitamin packed and enhanced with skin care benefits that improve the overall quality of skin. The on-the-go skin care powder drink mixes are specifically formulated to work with body chemistry to provide visible skin benefits in just 28 days.

In Tandem with Topicals

According to CRN’s Dr. Shao, there is no magic bullet for good skin, but most supplement products don’t claim to be.

Added Mr. Seckman of NNFA, personal care products lend themselves to being marketed as “systems,” supplements sold alongside personal care products, such as an antioxidant vitamin sold alongside a cream that utilizes the same ingredients.

“There has been an increasing interest among the larger personal care companies in developing their own nutritional supplement line,” said Ms. Holland. “You’ll also find many of these companies forming partnerships with supplement manufacturers, such as Astavita, to create cosmetics containing ingredients beneficial to skin health.”

Dr. Perricone concurred that many more companies are starting to carry their own lines of supplements to go along with its topicals. Last year, Olay debuted a line of vitamins to complement its range of facial care products. In October of 2005, Estée Lauder entered the market with the launch of the Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins product collection, designed to optimize skin health with dietary supplements and encourage healthy aging.

Nature’s Answer’s ORAC 7 comes in a tasty Berry Blend.
Ingestibles in the line include Plantidote Mega-Mushroom supplement, with certified organic hypsizygus ulmarius, cordyceps and Lion’s Mane mushrooms, featuring a pleasant tasting fruit flavor comprised of fresh berry, citrus fruits, black cherry, peach and spicy ginger. Plantidote retails for $35 for 1.7 fl. oz.

Nite-trition Restful Sleep supplement helps restore skin’s vitality overnight. The liquid supplement contains melatonin (a substance that keeps inner rhythms synchronized), lavender (known for its calming effects), American ginseng (an adaptogenic herb that promotes energy and boosts resistance to stress) and chamomile (a soothing relaxant). Suggested retail price is $35 for 1 fl. oz.

The line of accompanying Plantidote Mega-Mushroom topicals include face serum ($65), face cream ($60), face cleanser ($25) and a four-week starter set ($65).

Founded in 2002 and based in Boca Raton, FL, Santica USA is a subsidiary of Medestea Internazionale, a Turin, Italy-based European marketer of nutraceuticals, cosmetics and cosmeceuticals. According to Santica, beauty supplements are wildly popular in Europe; in 2004 in Italy alone, annual sales of beauty supplements reached upward of $235 million. Medestea estimates that approximately 60% of women aged 25-60 in European countries, including Italy, Germany, France, Spain and the UK, have used oral supplements as part of their daily beauty regimen, which translates to almost eight million women per year.

During the next three years, Santica USA plans to move aggressively into the U.S. beauty market, launching up to four additional product lines with 300 SKUs. Its new Beauty Recipes line of nutritional beauty supplements and topicals include Anti-Wrinkle, Deep Skin Hydrating, Facial Firming, Anti-Blemish, Anti-Cellulite, Strong Hair, Flaky Scalp & Oily Hair, Couperose (spider veins), Flat Tummy, Lighter Legs and Tan Perfect. Prices range from $29.99 to $38.99 for either a two-week or one-month supply.


An integrated approach to beauty is really the future, explained Dr. Perricone. He indicated that, as the success of beauty supplements continues to grow, companies will soon be developing foods that are marketed to the beauty side, which are creative while containing active ingredients.

That day is already here with the launch of the tempting Borba Clarifying Anti-Blemish Chocolate Bar. Scott Vincent Borba and chocolatier Kristy Choo of Jin Patisserie have defied the oldest myth in skin care with a dark chocolate skin enhancer that helps remove toxins and improve skin clarity.  

Each piece of handmade chocolate costs $8 and is infused with Borba’s Skin Balance Clarifying Aqua-Less crystalline powder. The formula contains a cultivated bio-vitamin complex which helps the skin regenerate its natural support system and improve   the face’s appearance. Independent respondents reported a reduction in breakouts by an average of 52% in just 28 days.  

According to Borba, walnut husk extract stimulates the removal of epidermal toxins, helps clear pores and promotes skin clarity and moisture levels. Pomegranate extract and green tea extract strengthens capillary walls and reduces epidermal related irritation.

Adrienne Crossley, senior research analyst for healthcare and vitamins at Euromonitor International, added “With the rise in popularity of green tea, we’ve seen green tea supplements spring up, and green tea being used as an ingredient in a number of combination supplements.”

Viactiv, from McNeil Nutritionals, Ft. Washington PA, whose tasty chocolate calcium chews help deliver strong bones to consumers, recently launched new flavors French vanilla and raspberry. McNeil also unveiled multi-vitamin chews in milk chocolate and Tropical Fruit Splash.

Future Growth

Chocolate that clears skin? Borba’s Clarifying Chocolate Bars propose to eliminate toxins and help keep skin blemish-free.
Dietary supplements are not new by any means, nor are ones designed to deliver beauty benefits. What is new, however, is the relatively recent jump of the trend into more mainstream markets. But where will it go now?

Avon is phasing out its Wellness line of beauty supplements, and execs tell Happi that they will be relaunching the entire line late in 2007. While they have seen growth with the brand, the industry is evolving so much that they want to introduce a bigger, better category, Avon said.   

NNFA’s David Seckman insists that with the aging of the population, more products will be developed to help baby boomers regain and maintain a youthful appearance.

“It’s a trend we see with other supplement products specifically marketed for age-related conditions, such as joint and heart health,” he said. “Additionally, as the functional foods area expands, I think we’ll see products in that category developed and marketed to improve both inner health and outer appearance.”

Astavita execs said men will become much more interested in anti-aging products and more natural, less invasive treatments in skin care as they recognize that beautiful skin should not be limited to women.

Mr. Sysler of Bio-Botanica explained that while products that can target skin and cardio health seem to top the list of popular supplements, products offering high antioxidants for eye health will be highly desirable, too.

Dr. Shao indicated that new beauty supplements will have to be based around advanced, solid research to take them to the next level.

“Carotenoids help protect against sunburn in people. An in-vitro skin model, which tests products on skin samples and not people, is relatively new,” he explained. “There are other non-invasive ways to measure carotenoids in skin.”

According to Dr. Shao, a relatively new instrument, similar to one that measures carotenoids in eyes, helps make skin research easier. Innovations will help facilitate research, which will result in better product development and product claims.

Dr. Perricone concluded, “The old way of looking at beauty was as something topical; we were fixated on the outside. Consumers and suppliers are now really realizing that beauty comes from the inside out, and that it’s important that we take supplements in addition to a good diet to maximize benefits for an attractive appearance; we really need to be healthier.”