Beauty in a Pill?

July 6, 2007

Beauty-enhancing supplements infused with nutrients command shelf space.

Beauty in a Pill?

Beauty-enhancing supplements infused with nutrients command shelf space.

LaToyah Burke
Associate Editor

Consumers increasingly associate good nutrition with beauty and it’s presenting new growth opportunities for manufacturers. While supplements are gaining recognition worldwide, marketers in the U.S. are hoping that consumers—young and old—can make the connection and subsequently, the purchase.

The U.S. Nutritional Supplements Market a report from Packaged Facts, a publishing division of MarketResearch.com, indicates that nutritional supplement sales are set to reach $6 billion by 2011. “Expect functional foods and beverages to continue stealing some of the thunder from traditional supplements,” said Don Montuori, publisher, Packaged Facts.

Packaged Facts asserts that the U.S. nutritional supplements market reached $4.7 billion in 2006, a 1% increase over 2005. It seems that the industry has been able to ward off negative press while manufacturers are focusing on new product introductions to drive home the therapeutic benefits of supplements.

“In this emerging market, there is an opportunity to differentiate on the basis of technology and performance,” said Susan Babinsky, senior vice president and head of Kline & Co.’s consumer products consulting practice. “The nutricosmetics industry offers a number of opportunities for companies looking to break into this market.”

Industry Heavyweights Ease Concerns

Negative media reports about efficacy and risks associated with—still somewhat unfamiliar—nutricosmetics have consumers scratching their heads in the quest for beauty enhancements.

Nutricosmetics have to take the guesswork out of the equation when it comes to treating beauty from within. Since trust is an issue, ensuring credible yet enticing claims is a delicate balance that must be resolved for beauty-oriented nutrition products, according to the Datamonitor report, Seeking Beauty Through Nutrition.

A Datamonitor consumer survey found that 52% of adults did not trust health-boosting food and drink product claims. This is directly related to a consumers lack of knowledge of the ingredients that have really been proven to produce an effect on  appearance. Unfortunately, their confusion is compounded by conflicting evidence from scientific researchers. Though manufacturers back up their claims through independent studies, other researchers simply play down the results, according to the Datamonitor report.

“In the consumers’ minds, the differences between vitamins, dietary supplements and nutrition-based cosmetics are unclear,” said Vispi D. Kanga, president, Cosmet-Pharm Consultants, LLC, Cresskill, NJ.

The ingredients in beauty supplements are not unlike those in a standard multivitamin, except that they tend to have especially large amounts of vitamins A, C and E, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and copper. “Vitamin C is especially effective at protecting the skin from overexposure to the sun when combined with vitamin E. Vitamin A promotes proper repair and maintenance of the skin, however, it’s best to consume vitamin A from natural food sources because it can be harmful if taken in excessive amounts in supplement form,” noted Mr. Kanga.

While many consumers are aware of the benefits that certain supplements contain, they aren’t accustomed to taking them as part of their daily routine. Trust must be gained and may best come from an esthetician or dermatologist before the consumer takes the risk.

Having built a trustworthy brand, N.V. Perricone offers the Super Berry Powder with Acai, which is made with blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries and acai berries. It contains high amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories to promote healthy, glowing skin.

Super Berry Powder with Acai, when mixed with water, is said to  help maintain and promote cell health and its high level of antioxidants help combat signs of premature aging. Amino acids within the powder sustain healthy muscles. Essential fatty acids found within this ready-to-mix drink also aid in the absorption of Omega-3 fish oil, which makes cell membranes supple and in turn optimizes cellular function and health.

Omega-3 can be found in many foods, but most consumers prefer supplements.
The Physician’s Super Antioxidant is described as the most comprehensive nutraceutical blend of health insurance. Two supplements taken orally each day provides metabolic support to remove or minimize causes of cellular damage.

Although oral beauty supplements are coming from trusted sources such as N.V. Perricone, consumers who are already familiar with supplements are unlikely to believe that they can achieve real cosmetic benefits from them.

Consumers often insist that their health and beauty needs require specific attention and treatment. A 2006 Datamonitor survey found that 51% of consumers would be tempted to try oral beauty supplements if they were convinced of their benefits. Furthermore, 45% of consumers say they are open-minded to new types of skin care delivery systems versus 21% who are not, according to the survey.

Encouragement Breeds Reception

Consumers have become increasingly open-minded and receptive to the idea of achieving beauty through nutrition. New skin care delivery systems have the ability to encourage consumers who have more holistic health beliefs due to a surge of emphasis on natural personal care.

Credited as being one of the first makers of edible skin care, Scott Vincent Borba is proof positive that consumers in fact want to improve the appearance of their skin via new delivery systems. His Borba Healthy Skin from Within is both a nutraceutical and cosmeceutical line that juxtaposes topical and edible skin care.

Skin Balance Waters contain various vitamins, plant extracts and are touted as “skin-gestibles.” At $2.50 each, it’s clear that this isn’t your average bottle of water. Even more obvious are the descriptions that adorn each formula—Replenishing is marked “scientifically proven to improve moisture levels by an average of 66%.” Clarifying contains a bio-vitamin complex that helps skin regenerate its natural support system, remove toxins and improve clarity of the dermis. It targets breakouts, oily skin and clogged pores.

Borba also manufactures skin treatment-infused gummy bears and powders that help improve the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks in seven days.

New Borba Atomizer is a linen, face and body reviving mist.
Borba’s Skin Balance Confections contain a cultivated bio-vitamin complex that helps the skin regenerate its natural support system, as they help remove toxins and improve skin clarity. The gummies are used for boosting all Borba drinkable and topical skin care actives. Made with acai and green tea extract, the gummy treats help strengthen the capillary walls to reduce irritation, and restore the skin’s look and feel.

Joining other products already sold on QVC is Borba’s latest development—Atomizer Linen, Face and Body Reviving Mist, infused with mangosteen and grape seed extracts. It is the first multi-purpose spray engineered to both revitalize skin and freshen linens and sheets. The mist infuses bedding with skin care ingredients for a relaxing night’s sleep. When used on the face and body, the mist revitalizes and renews skin. 

Mr. Borba makes the idea sound so simple that manufacturers might feel ashamed that they didn’t think of it sooner, “People are getting it now, the major players will be able to bring it home by emotionally arresting the consumer, disguising the benefit with a familiar and pleasant taste and branding with luxury,” he said.

Is Age a Factor?

Baby Boomers continue to spur growth in the market. “Long-term health benefits and prevention are the leading motivators, particularly for baby boomers, who are big on supplementation as a means to wellness,” according to Mr. Montuori. “Age-related condition-specific products, including weight, diabetes, joint and eye health, as well as heavy emphasis on the O’s—Omega-3’s and organics—will continue to proliferate. Functional foods and beverages continue to steal some of the thunder from traditional supplements.”
Older women are able to afford the often-pricey ingestible treatments. The most important consumer groups driving the beauty from within trend are women 35-64, according to Datamonitor.

“Acceptance is driven by baby boomers’ desire to look and feel younger,” agreed Carrie Mellage, industry manager, Kline & Co. “Many tend to pursue health and beauty products together.”

An integral aspect of anti-aging that has resonated with baby boomers, antioxidants play an important role in protecting skin against free radical damage. “Free radical damage caused by UV alone is estimated to be responsible for around 80% of skin aging,” according to Brenda McAnally, U.S. area manager, Ferrosan, Inc, maker of Imedeen.

Ferrosan, based in Denmark, is a developer of personal care supplements. “Imedeen’s Time Perfection and Prime Renewal contain the unique Biomarine Complex that works to revitalize the dermal layer of the skin. In addition, our supplements include targeted antioxidant complexes that help shield the skin against free radical damage,” said Ms. McAnally.

Consumption of vitamin and mineral supplements increases with age and not unlike other facets of the personal care industry, usage is higher with women than men. According to Datamonitor’s report, seniors are key targets in the beauty supplement sector. They already believe in the benefits of supplementation and are likely to trade up to oral beauty supplements. Their motivation to trade up is going to hinge upon stronger cosmetic positioning that reinforces benefits.

Beauty companies are marketing their vitamins to women in their 20’s and 30’s, a group that rarely takes multivitamins, unlike Baby Boomers.

Still, young consumers are starting to care more about what they put into their bodies.

“Ten to five years ago, we saw that after consumers started to buy organic and hormone-free foods and beverages in their journey toward a wellness lifestyle,” according to June Jo, ethnographic research manager, The Hartman Group.

Millennials, or the group of consumers described as Generation Y, are already using natural personal care products and natural household products, reflecting their lifestyles. They have also explored the minimalist look and interest in looking natural these days. “It’s the anti-Paris Hilton look,” said Ms. Jo. “Millennials are into natural brands that offer a more relevant and alternative brand experience to traditional brands that their moms used.”

International Consumers Get It

Cosmetics companies worldwide suggest that their products are an inside-out strategy, a literal reflection of the adage that beauty comes from within. Boosted by accelerated sales in Europe and Asia, nutricosmetics are changing the competitive landscape and according to Kline & Co., Fairfield, NJ, the sector is expected to post double-digit growth through the next five years.

Although doctors and scientists are skeptical about what these treats offer in terms of substantial skin care, the numbers don’t lie. According to Kline, growing opportunities and the changing competitive landscape in this emerging industry total nearly $1 billion and that number is expected to grow due to increased interest in holistic medicines and organic lifestyles.

“Consumers are seeking a more holistic approach to beauty and the dominant trend is to combat skin, hair and nail damage from the inside out,” explained Ms. Mellage.

 “In Japan, there are specialty stores and department store counters devoted solely to the sale of beauty supplements. Nutricosmetics are widely available in pharmacies in Western Europe,” added Ms. Mellage.

Consumers in Europe and Asia already understand that blemish-free skin, strong nails and healthy hair—all signs of good internal health—can be attributed to proper nutrition and use of supplements, it is the consumer in the U.S. that needs coaxing. Mr. Borba believes that American consumers need to be retrained. Yet, “in Asian and European countries it’s as simple as geometry,” said Mr. Borba.

Interest in skin care supplements, or beauty foods, has been strong in Asia, and that trend is growing fast in Europe as well. “Pretty soon Borba will be a household name and will link with other companies causing a trickle down effect,” according to Mr. Borba.

Consumers are drawing the conclusion that they can kill two birds with one stone. By satisfying a thirst or hunger they can simultaneously treat their hair, skin and nails. No doubt the personal care industry is mostly focused on female positioning but there has been increasing interest from men who are investing more in their appearance.

Despite the trend, men would rather no one notice just how much effort is going into their appearance, according to Datamonitor.

Beauty nutrition products have a strong opportunity to target appearance-conscious men since supplements are not seen as being feminine. Benefits for women are still the biggest selling point but in this category, positioning according to age group is of more importance.

“Let’s face it, consumers are becoming better educated on the benefits of caring for themselves from within. Nutritional supplements are not a substitute but an “add-on” literally taking personal care to different-deeper levels,” said Ms. McAnally.

“From the perspective of a consumer, the current definitions for personal health care are likely to be entirely ridiculous,” according to Frank Schonlau, Ph.D., director of scientific communications, Natural Health Science. “The consumer will exercise more common sense and understand that nutritional supplements are equally important for their well being as ‘exterior’ personal care products,” explained Mr. Schonlau.
The supplement beauty market is still underdeveloped; however, as these types of supplements gain support and major players come into the game, it should pick up. With their increasing awareness and education on benefits of personal care from within, consumers are showing increasing interest in these double duty drinks, treats and supplements adding validity to the saying, you are what you eat.