What a Pill

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | July 7, 2010

As the link between outer beauty and proper nutrition strengthens, new supplements and other ingestible beauty products continue to expand in the U.S.

With 65% of adults reporting that they take dietary supplements, it’s clear that when it comes to improving their overall health with supplements, Americans get the concept. The daily vitamin is as much a part of their morning routine as coffee. If they feel a cold coming on, they’ll down some Echinacea. Lacking energy? Maybe they’ll add iron pills.

But when their hair or skin looks lackluster, U.S. consumers are more comfortable turning to topical products. According to a 2009 Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) survey, just 15% of supplement users take dietary supplements for skin, hair and nails.

Yet industry insiders say this is changing—and many of them are putting their money where their mouths are in terms of product development and investment in the marketplace. Nutricosmetics and nutraceuticals continue to debut—albeit at a slower pace than in 2008-2009, most likely in reaction to the recession—and the retail scene is evolving too. Companies pushing the beauty from the inside out message are expanding their distribution online and setting up brick-and-mortar operations, too.

All of this, stakeholders contend, is boosting awareness and should help further educate U.S. consumers about the connection between well-balanced nutrition and outer beauty—and ultimately increase sales.
Making the Connection

Any dietician will tell you that you are what you eat—and what you don’t—and this plays a role in health, both inside and out.

According to Douglas “Duffy” MacKay, vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs for CRN, a lot of things that are good for us in general—like omega-3 and antioxidants—are also good for skin, hair and nails.

“Skin is a mirror to inside. It really is ‘this bone is connected to that bone.’ If the internal stuff is working well and feeling good, the skin reflects that,” MacKay said.“Looking into some of the science, it makes a lot of sense—skin, hair and nails are constantly turning over and growing; skin cells slough off. Having the right biochemical tools, nutrients and bioactives to support that growth is a basic principle.”

Those who have been at the front of the nutraceutical and nutricosmetics movement have witnessed the evolution of the marketplace; U.S. consumers have become much more receptive to those basic principles.

“I don’t have to knock people over their heads to get them to understand,” said Scott-Vincent Borba, the celebrity esthetician who created his eponymous company in 2004 and for years has pushed the inner health-outer beauty philosophy. “This is not a phenomenon; it is a sustainable category.”

Another personal care company that’s been a proponent of balanced nutrition is Nu Skin, having offered its Image HNS (Hair, Nail and Skin), a nutritional product, since the early 1990s.

“Nu Skin has always maintained that the source of beautiful, youthful skin is as much from within as from outside influences on the body,” said Mark Bartlett, Nu Skin vice president of global research and development for Pharmanex, the company’s nutritional supplement line.

“As we study the aging process and work to identify and target the sources of aging, we are intrigued by the role that genetics plays not only in our looks, but in how we age. A key insight for us was that in actual fact the expression of our genes is quite flexible. How we treat our skin, and how we treat our bodies with respect to our nutritional regimen, can have a dramatic impact on our individual gene expression signature. We have capitalized on this science to help guide our product development,” said Bartlett.

In recent years, Nu Skin’s R&D team has had laser focus on gene expression and gaining greater knowledge of the aging process, which in turn has led to the development of AgeLoc, a skin care series designed to target the sources, rather than simply address the symptoms, of aging.

This fall, Nu Skin will connect the dots between AgeLoc and Pharmanex when it takes AgeLoc inside, so to speak.

“The new paradigm is that we should develop both of our brands of products with consideration of their effects on gene expression for a youthful state,” Bartlett continued. “Our AgeLoc skin care system launched last October addresses a key aging concern, the visible signs of aging on skin. Similarly, the AgeLoc supplement due for launch this October, AgeLoc Vitality, is designed to address another key concern of aging,” he told Happi.

Doctor’s Orders

In the topical skin care market, derm lines have clout with consumers. Supplement firms are also making medical connections to grow their businesses.

Along those lines, Herbarium Group has recently secured direct consumer points-of-sale for its flagship product herbal supplement, AcnEase, via a “recognized group of New York dermatological clinics.” The all-herbal product has been sold online for five years.

According to Agnes P. Olszewski, president and chief executive officer, expanding beyond e-commerce is an important milestone in the Saddle Brook, NJ company’s plan to increase AcnEase sales and brand recognition and grow its share of the $3.5 billion OTC medicated skin care market.

Noah’s Naturals has added a new anti-aging dietary supplement in powder form.

Medical professionals appear to be coming around—on a personal level, at least—to the connection between balanced nutrition and outer beauty. One of them is Shirley M. Madhere, a New York-based plastic surgeon and a contributor to The Expert’s Opinion on Happi.com.

“When I first started practicing, that wasn’t the philosophy I embraced, primarily because I wasn’t fully aware or completely convinced whether [it] would have significant enough impact to be worthwhile,” Madhere told Happi.

But experiences related to post surgical recovery (bruising after liposuction, for example) pushed her to delve deeper into how both homeopathy and nutrition could further improve patients’ outcomes and expectations.

While proper diet is part of Madhere’s discussion with potential body contouring patients, she recognizes compliance isn’t always possible.

“I looked into perio-operative supplementation during this short-term period where I could help to optimize my patients’ preparation and address the pre-op preparation from a more complementary perspective. If the body is better prepared for surgery on many levels, there can be a better outcome,” she said.

Taking a holistic approach in this regard, Madhere specifically has sought out Isocell North America for its GliSODin Skin Nutrients, a new range of ingestible skin care products developed to support treatments and procedures within the medical aesthetic industry.

GliSODin Skin Nutrients includes four different variants, including an Advanced Pre/Post Formula (Phase I and II), which supports medical aesthetic procedures to minimize bruising and swelling, promote a healthy microcirculatory and venous system, and support the immune system and reduce oxidative stress.

I’ll Drink to That!

Making it easy for consumers to comply with a supplement regimen is key, and one way to insure that is to make the nutricosmetic as easy as possible to incorporate into their routine. Borba and Glowelle made big splashes with beauty beverages, and other firms—from niche natural companies to corporate giants—are adding SKUs that can help consumers improve their skin as they sip.

Noah’s Naturals has entered the inner beauty market with its new Anti-Aging Beauty Beverage, a daily powder drink. The formula, which hit retail shelves in January, features a new anti-wrinkle ingredient called Collactive, an all-natural ingredient composed of marine collagen and elastin peptides in the same ratio found naturally in skin. When taken orally, collagen and elastin have shown a synergistic anti-wrinkle action, stimulating skin to lift and tone in sagging areas and minimize lines and wrinkles while increasing skin moisture retention, according to the company.

Even corporate food giant Kraft has gotten into the mix with Crystal Light Skin Essentials, which hit shelves in 2009. The powdered beverage, which Kraft says was developed with dermatologists and nutritionists, contains lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids, which help enhance skin elasticity and hydration, plus vitamins A, C and E to help maintain healthy skin when consumers“drink two 16.9fl.oz. bottles per day.”It comes in two flavors and is stocked with the rest of the Crystal Light range, usually in the beverage section of the supermarket.

Hair Issues

When it comes to thinning, lackluster or graying locks, consumers have come to rely on gels, conditioners and dyes. But there’s a new wave of products targeting hair-related issues that help internally.

In May, Bosley Professional Strength rolled out its new Healthy Hair Vitality Supplements for men and women in tandem with daily-use topical products designed to maintain fuller-looking hair. The men’s formula revitalizes fine or thinning hair, weak hairlines or areas of low hair density with a mix of saw palmetto; iodine to nourish hair and follicles; vitamin E, designed to help improve blood circulation to the scalp; and vitamin B6, which may inhibit DHT and may help avoid hair loss, eczema, psoriasis and dandruff. The women’s formula includes horsetail extract, copper, riboflavin and cysteine. Both versions are being sold at beauty salons and barbershops.

Also targeting the salon market is Total Nutraceutical Solutions, Stevenson, WA, which in May debuted Gröh, a proprietary combination of natural mushroom powders plus vitamin D2 that has been shown to promote hair and nail growth.

Graying hair is another key area being targeted by nutricosmetics, spurred on by recent scientific findings surrounding catalase. According to a study published by researchers at England’s University of Bradford, hydrogen peroxide accumulates and “bleaches” hair due to the age-related absence of catalase.

Detroit, MI-based EXT Life Sciences, Inc.—a biotechnology start-up company spun off from Wayne State University that develops proprietary, targeted antioxidant treatments to slow the aging process—has developed a cell-penetrating catalase derivative that eliminates the fundamental cause of graying hair. EXT’s new compound, Catskl, is a targeted catalase technology that reintroduces the enzyme into peroxisomes of aged cells to reestablish the balance of pro- and antioxidants.

According to Stanley R. Terlecky, a pharmacology professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, the discovery and extensive research on targeted antioxidants present a platform for anti-aging products of the future, including shampoos to keep hair from turning gray and creams to keep skin smooth, by counteracting the natural oxidant damage that occurs with the aging process. Research points directly at the importance of this equilibrium in thwarting the progression of certain aging parameters. Their work, they say, has clear implications for the cells of aging hair follicles—where the first visible sign of deterioration occurs (as gray hair), as well as in cells corrupted by diseases associated with the aging process.

According to Terlecky, EXT’s research takes the Bradford study further.

“EXT not only understands the process that turns hair gray but offers a potentially powerful antidote. Through our research, we have shown that Catskl overcomes the catalase deficiency in a variety of human cell types, including those of the skin, scalp, and hair follicles,” Terlecky said in a press statement. “We are ahead of the game in terms of nearing the point where we can act on our research and take a product to market.”

Rise-N-Shine, LLC is already selling a catalase supplement. Company founder Cathy Beggan told Happi she was also intrigued by the research study, and has since created Go Away Gray. The Sparta, NJ-based firm contends Go Away Gray won’t change the gray hair that’s already grown out, but it will change the new growth at the root back and prevent further graying. Currently sold online, Go Away Graycapsules will make their way to Rite Aid this summer.

“They are testing it to see if sells better in the vitamin aisle or hair color aisle,” Beggan said.

The Retail Scene

And therein lies another issue with many inner beauty products—where do they get stocked at retail? With the vitamins? Near skin care or hair care? One wonders if Glowelle would get a boost if was marketed at the cafés often found within high-end department stores rather than just at the beauty counter? Should Go Away Gray be on the shelf next to Grecian Formula?

Taya Tomasello, director of Beauty Innovation, U.S. at Mintel, likened the current retail situation to the

Inside In&Out Different Beauty’s new retail spotin New York City.
early days of the natural and organic movement in personal care.

“Do we have a separate aisle for these products or display them alongside the other choices? When you think about the natural/organic, we started off in many retailers with a separate aisle or section of the store, now they are alongside all the other products,” she said. “There is not really an option, however, to create a separate aisle for nutraceuticals within stores. Nutraceuticals could logically be stocked either by vitamins or skin care—what would be helpful is to pick one and have all retailers follow suit so that the consumer is not confused.”

For now, it remains brand- and retailer-specific. Borba’s nutraceutical beverages, for example, are stocked with other drinks, while its snacks are often housed in the skin care section.

“This is likely to continue as the category grows until the industry sees a large jump in sales from one placement or another, or one break-away brand brings other consumers to the category,” noted Tomasello.

Naturally, the internet offers unlimited shelf space. Bliss, for example, has expanded its inner beauty offerings, recently announcing plans to stock Functionalab’s Advanced Nutricosmetics at its online store next month. Products will includeBeauty Doses, a line of beauty supplements, and Nutrient Tonics, a drinkable supplements range that includes a formulation to fight the effects of aging by protecting cells against free-radical damage.

In&Out Different Beauty, however, is going the brick-and-mortar route. In April, the Switzerland-based prestige skin care brand entered the North American market by opening a flagship boutique in New York City to complement stands in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

In&Out Different Beauty teams traditional skin care with treatments that target main skin concerns—acne, anti-aging, whitening and sensitivity—and slimming with food supplements known as“In Products.” These supplements are said to increase efficiency of the treatments and restore and repair any skin and body issues, according to the company.

The new In&Out boutique features an interactive motion sensor touch screen in the front window, so those walking by the store will be invited to interact with the diagnostic software that provides customized skin care recommendations based on their responses to a series of questions.

“We believe that our innovative approach to beauty—treating how we look on the outside by addressing how we feel inside—will be very well received by the growing number of consumers who believe in an integrated approach to well-being,” said Alain Obadia, the founder, president and chief executive officer of Innovative Biotechnologies Laboratories, the company behind In&Out Different Beauty. “So far, we have an amazing response from our customers who seem to have a firm grasp of our concept, ‘being beautiful on the outside also means feeling good inside.’”

Blurring the Lines

The increased activity in nutricosmetics is blurring the retail lines when it comes to where women can do their beauty shopping. Not typically an outpost for skin care, Pittsburgh, PA-based General Nutrition Centers (GNC) is devoting more shelf space to this category. For example, while shoppers at 1,300 of the retailer’s corporate stores have already been able to purchase Sibu Beauty Revitalize and Renew Liquid Supplement, GNC recently announced plans for 600 of those stores to also carry Sibu’s topical products, including Cellular Support Gel Caps, Repair and Protect Daily Face Cream and Cleanse & Detox Facial Soap.

“The consumer is finally starting to realize that beauty and healthy skin start from the inside, hence the interest by nutrition-focused retailers in carrying the Sibu Beauty line which has consumable supplements and topical products that work together to achieve healthy, younger-looking skin, hair and nails,” said Peter McMullin, vice president of sales and marketing for Sibu Beauty. “Sibu desires to be a trailblazer in the beauty and skin care industry. This can be seen from the unique products we develop to the varied distribution channels we choose.”

And GNC is also addressing the inner beauty market itself, having last year rolled out WELLbeING. The range addresses wellness and other health concerns via vitamins, supplement shakes, vitamin-infused water mixes, energy/protein bars and therapeutic bath soaks. The line includes GNC’s be-Beautiful, a hair, skin and nail formula that contains biotin, L-cysteine, L-methionine, lutein, alpha-lipoic acid and green tea.

Room for Growth

Whether it comes via CVS, GNC or Sephora, any purchase is good for the nutricosmetics marketplace, especially as the economy recovers. In fact, some proponents contend the shift in consumer attitudes during the past 18 months might pan out well for this business.

“Consumers are recalibrating themselves, their perspective on what they will spend on, and what is good for them. They are looking for products at affordable price points that are delivering multi-benefits,” said Borba, who has a substantial launch and new book due out this fall.

But some research shows there’s still plenty of room for improvement in terms of getting the masses on board with the idea of inner beauty. Among the women who use nutricosmetics, just 19% think they really work, according to Mintel’s February 2010 global report on nutricosmetics.

Industry executives like Obadia of Innovative Biotechnologies Laboratories have faith in the U.S. inner beauty marketplace—even though his company has opened its doors at a time when prestige markets are still reeling from The Great Recession.

“We have studied the market and have been planning to open a New York location for a while. We believe the uniqueness of the brand, the integrity of the products and the competitive pricing position us well for growth in the U.S. Although the timing can be seen as a challenge, especially for prestige, we are enjoying significant success. We hope to move forward with aggressive development plans within the U.S. as well as in other international markets,” Obadia said, noting that the future plans for In&Out may include distribution via selected specialty and department stores.

Executives at niche nutricosmetic and supplement companies that Happi interviewed spoke about their continued growth, and how they serve the marketplace well. But they also acknowledged the ever-lurking presence of personal care companies eager for new revenue streams.

For now, the biggest names in beauty remain on the sidelines, but it most likely won’t stay that way. “We wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the big firms enter,” said Tomasello of Mintel. “As the economy picks up and larger firms start to take risks, again we will see more nutraceutical products.”

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