Nutrients and foods positioned as “beauty-enhancing” are a newer concept in Western countries. Nutricosmetics are aimed at improving one’s outward appearance. Nutraceuticals, on the other hand, are foods, drinks and supplements that are consumed to improve inner health.
To date, demand for nutraceuticals is strongest in Japan, but manufacturers are now looking to introduce them to new markets. Skin care stands to benefit most from the nutraceuticals trend.This is because skin care generally has become a major priority for consumers worldwide at $60.1 billion in 2006, according to Euromonitor International.
Since food helps maintain skin health, it is assumed that supplements also improve appearance. The science behind beauty supplements is in its infancy, although growing rapidly. This article will provide a dermatologist’s and a nutritionist’s assessment of commercial inside-out products, their cost, claims and their recommendations.
Dr. Amy Newburger, a dermatologist in Scarsdale, NY and the author of Looking Good at Any Age and Dr. Wahida Karmally, the director of nutrition at the Irving Institute for Clinical and Transitional Research at Columbia University, evaluated four inner beauty brands (Table I).Their verdict? Take a multivitamin—Dr.Newburger gets hers at Costco—and eat more fruits and vegetables instead.
In a second study, dietitian Keri Glassman and Marie Claire editors evaluated inside-out beauty products positioned as anti-cellulite or anti-acne (Table II). Every inside-out beauty products promises to enhance the skin. When you review the claims and results shown in Tables I and II, you realize that there is little scientific validation for the idea that dietary supplements can beautify well-nourished healthy people.
“We would all love to get smoother, younger, more elastic skin in seven days just by chugging drinks, eating candy bars or chewing gummi bear vitamins,” said Dr. Karmaly. “But skin does not work that way. There is no magic bullet.” She added that a diet of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and “plain old water” helps skin stay healthy. It is wise to consult your doctor before taking any supplements because mega-doses of certain vitamins can be unhealthy.
Table I: The Face, New York Times, 12/23/07
Table II: Beauty, Marie Claire, March 2008.