It’s been all over the news that Heidi Montag, star of “The Hills,” recently underwent 10 cosmetic surgeries in one day. While that may be horrifying, what’s even more shocking is the fact that she’s just 23!
But in one respect, the actress is not that unusual. Women are seeking to look good and they’re starting at a younger age—often in their early 20s. But they’re mostly taking a different approach, and addressing their beauty needs with foods, beverages and supplements.
And lucky for them, manufacturers are at the ready, offering everything from teas to chocolates to pills—frequently paired with complementary topical creams—that they claim will make users more beautiful, improving their skin, hair, nails, or maybe even all three.
Recent Beauty-from-Within Innovations
These products are resonating strongly with young women, who take them with a good spoonful of prevention, but they’re also popular with their older counterparts—especially women aged 40 and up who are already seeing fine lines appear and either want to get rid of them or prevent more from showing up.
The Republic of Tea in Novato, CA, has two herb teas that are specifically designed to help people look better.
The first, “get gorgeous” is designed to rejuvenate the skin. It contains rooibos, which is rich in both antioxidants and natural alpha-hydroxy acids; skin-soothing chamomile flowers rich in anti-inflammatory azulene; orange peel with bioflavonoids to strengthen veins and cell walls; hibiscus flowers for vitamin C; hormone-balancing chasteberry; and cleansing burdock root.
Then there’s “get growing” for hair, nails and bones. It also contains rooibos, as well as mineral-rich herbs such as horsetail, which provides silicon and silicic acid to increase the absorption of calcium; nettle leaves, which encourage hair growth and shine; and oatstraw to promote nail growth.
“These teas are great adjuncts,” said Caroline MacDougall, founder of The Republic of Tea. “They support other actions you are taking in your life.”
These two products, she said, contain very small doses of minerals but there are enough to see benefits, and they’re synergistic with the antioxidants in the tea.
To really see benefits, she recommended drinking two to three cups of the tea per day. That’s probably not difficult since it’s mostly people who are already looking after themselves that purchase the teas.
Ms. MacDougall thinks people are becoming more aware of the beauty inside-out concept (improving your looks through what you consume) and the teas allow them to make a small change if they’re looking to get healthier.
“The [move] toward optimal health can be done in several small steps,” she said. “So even if your diet’s not that healthy, one step can trigger another and another one. So if you start having herbal teas they can replace something else like sodas that aren’t as healthy, so they’ll help you as you increasingly feel healthy.”
Another beauty beverage is Jusuru, a fruity liquid nutraceutical that promotes healthy aging, active joints and younger looking skin.
Along with phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids, this beverage also contains the patented ingredient BioCell Collagen II, a liquid form of collagen.
Jusuru was launched late last year, and is already doing well. It’s popular with women, said company president Asma Ishaq, because of the anti-aging effects. But she’s also found success with men. “This allows them to make the connection between their diet and their looks,” she explained, adding that it is also more manly than applying night cream!
And while Jusuru is an obvious alternative to cosmetic surgery, it’s also serving a purpose in that field.
“Some surgeons recommend that people take Jusuru in between surgeries because they’re realizing they need to be more holistic in their approach and while it’s great to look good on the outside, it’s what’s inside that counts,” said Ms. Ishaq.
Irvine, CA-based Arbonne is not only serving the beauty-from-within-market, but it is also addressing beauty from the outside. Last March, the company launched its RE9 Advanced Collagen Support Dietary Supplement, which is designed to be used with the company’s RE9 Advanced skin care line.
The supplement promotes the production of collagen in the body and contains vitamins A, C and E, bilberry fruit extract, quercetin, alpha lipoic acid and CoQ10.
Of course the supplement can be taken alone, but it’s designed to work in conjunction with the skincare line and in fact, according to Merrilee Ferguson, district manager for the brand, in clinical studies it’s been shown to improve the results of the RE9 Advanced skin care line by 98% within a week.
Arbonne is seeing clients range in age from their late 20s to their 70s, with the biggest demographic in their 40s. “People are realizing it’s nice to be healthy on the outside as well as the inside,” Ms. Ferguson commented.
A range of beauty supplements are also available from Morristown, NJ-based Glisodin, developed by Isocell Laboratories in Paris. There are three daily-use products that are all-natural or derivates of natural products.
There’s a Skin Nutrients Advanced Detoxification Formula, which contains potent antioxidants and botanical extracts that help eliminate harmful toxins to promote clear skin.
Also from the company is Glisodin Skin Nutrients Advanced Skin Brightening Formula, which promotes even skin tone and protects the skin against the effects of the sun. And Glisodin Skin Nutrients Advanced Daily Formula, which the company claims helps rejuvenate and hydrate the skin, reduces damage from environmental factors, and reduces fine lines and wrinkles as well as inflammation that causes flaky, dry skin and redness.
Glisodin also has a Phase One and Phase Two system to support cosmetic procedures by helping prepare the body for them, and to help recovery afterwards. It can help prevent bruising and swelling, for example, which are often a temporary reaction to surgery. “When you prepare your body before surgery, you have a better chance of fighting the after-effects,” said Corina Crysler, Glisodin co-founder and formulator.
To prove the claims behind it, only professionals sell Glisodin—physicians and medical spa personnel. “It would have been easier to go retail but we wanted to create a line that’s very therapeutic and a line that’s therapeutic has a certain price point,” said Ms. Crysler. “In order for people to understand why we formulated it this way, we wanted a health professional [to back it]. We wanted them to provide a product that had the foundation of education and could also help their patients.”
Glisodin has 20 clinical studies behind it, and this strong science background is what the health professionals are looking for, she added, so they feel comfortable recommending the Glisodin products.
These types of products require a new way of thinking, Ms. Crysler added. “We are starting to see the industry accept this type of product. It was a slow start and there was a lot of education involved. There was a lot of breaking down doors and people’s views.”
The three daily products, she said, “are all about anti-aging, hydration, structural support for the skin—we looked at how to fortify aging skin with nutraceuticals.” It’s primarily women who are 35-plus using the supplements—women who are starting to see changes in their skin.
Supplements and beverages are one thing, but what about if you could eat yourself beautiful? Well these days, according to the companies that make the foods, you already can.
And it doesn’t get any better than chocolate, if you ask most women. Two years ago Frutels was launched. They’re small chocolate balls that stop acne before it starts, thanks to the vitamins and minerals they contain.
Blending these nutrients into premium dark chocolate makes them more easily available by the body because the gastrointestinal tract can more readily absorb vitamins in a powder form, as they are in the chocolate, than in a pill form. And of course they taste much better in chocolate!
Ellie Sawits is CEO of Frutels and is based in New York. Before the chocolates were launched she had a line of gummi candies, but she switched to the dark chocolate form because she said it disguises the aftertaste that the B vitamins can have, and also had less sugar, which can counteract vitamin activity.
Frutels doesn’t just play on women’s desire for chocolate. It has 70 research papers behind it and has been tested for efficacy on around 170 people (and was discovered to be 73% efficacious).
People who wish to clear up their acne need take just two chocolate balls a day, although a few more are recommended if the acne is very severe. Ms. Sawits pointed out that it’s mostly teenagers who take her product, but acne also hits menopausal women who are dealing with hormonal fluctuations.
“This was created because we believe acne is an internally created condition,” said Ms. Sawits. “Creams and lotions treat acne after it’s occurred. Frutels treats acne inside and treats the causes. We’re trying to hit the causes of acne like things that moderate hormones, or stress, or diet (primarily excess sugar consumption).”
Another beauty-from-within sweet comes from Borba, a Woodland Hills, CA-based company whose goal is exemplary skin. Its Gummi Bear Boosters contain acai, which is said to contain potent antioxidant flavonoids that protect the skin from free radicals that cause premature aging. The candies also contain green tea extract and grape seed extract. It’s recommended that consumers eat at least six candies per day, and of course that’s easy, since they’re the ultimate in portability.
Borba also has a Skin Balance Water that’s infused with flaxseed, acai and noni berry and also contains four essential B vitamins. The water’s also available in powder form, called Crystalline, to be simply added to regular water. The company recommends drinking a bottle of the water daily to reduce wrinkles and enhance the skin’s natural glow.
People are looking for more natural ways to look good, said Robert Lachman, spokesman for Borba, adding that many prefer to steer clear of harsh drugs. “Not everyone has the time (and money) to have prescriptions filled, plus prescriptions are sometimes accompanied by unwanted side effects.”
Borba’s attracting a range of consumers with its products, but particularly women in the 18- to 42-year-old bracket, said Mr. Lachman.
In the future, he said, we’re likely to see all kinds of foods, even ‘junk foods’ such as gummi candies, snacks and beverages, fortified to give those consuming them a beauty boost.
Do Beauty Foods, Beverages and Supplements Have Staying Power?
So these products are out there. Are they gaining traction and are they here to stay? Yes, according to Taya Tomasello, director of beauty innovation with market research firm Mintel, Chicago, IL.
Beauty-promoting products are the hot ticket in Asia, she said, and they’re slowly migrating west.
In fact, according to Tom Vierhile, director of product launch analytics for Datamonitor, Canandaigua, NY, Japan is by far the world’s largest market for these products, and companies continue to innovate with consumable products formulated with ingredients like collagen and hyaluronic acid.
It’s still the smaller companies that are making beauty-enhancing products, said Ms. Tomasello, although there are the Glowelle beverages (two flavors, Pomegranate-Lychee and Raspberry-Jasmine) from Nestle, which are said to promote even skin tone, reduce the damaging effects of the sun, and fight the signs of aging below the surface.
“We’ve not seen as many of the larger brands [with beauty products] because there’s been uncertainty in the consumer goods space,” she said. “The food companies haven’t produced beauty products before and the beauty companies haven’t produced foods before.”
While Ms. Tomasello sees the market for these products as potentially huge, she said success might come a little easier to beverage companies, especially waters and teas, because these products are already inherently healthy.
“And beverages might hold a little more weight than food because they’re a little more convenient,” she added.
But to hit the mainstream, these products will have to be available in grocery and drug stores, she said. Glowelle, for example, is sold in department stores and Borba’s products are for sale in upscale salons, prestige department stores and high-end grocers.
As for who is, or will be buying, these products, Ms. Tomasello said she imagines it skewing young. “The 18- to 24-year-olds are most likely to try these products,” she said. “I think older consumers are more likely to be set in their ways and have been using one thing for a long time so don’t want to change. It’s also more difficult to reverse the signs of aging than to stop it.”
And men are the next frontier, but we’re not there yet. “The products need to be more manly and go to the natural and organics side. You’d have to make beauty as masculine as possible.”
But the category won’t really take off until the economy bounces back, said Ms. Tomasello.
However, Ewa Hudson, research manager, Euromonitor International, Chicago, IL, hasn’t really seen a change in the beauty market, despite consumers having less money.
She pointed out that even while the economy plummeted, sales of anti-aging and nourishing creams like anti-wrinkle products did not drop in concordance with the stock exchange, so foods, beverages and supplements are also unlikely to be affected by a recession.
“People may buy cheaper brands but they don’t stop because they think they’ll start looking worse the next year,” said Ms. Hudson. And, she added, consumers realize that using these products (or consuming them) is far cheaper than the alternative, which is to have cosmetic surgery.
The analysts may be optimistic about the category but the nutritionists aren’t backing it.
“I’m a firm believer that natural food contains the right combinations and proportions of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals for the body. These products may have some benefit for some people, but overall I think the best way to look and feel better is by eating natural foods,” said Christen Cooper, MS, RD, a nutritionist in Pleasantville, NY.
“It may also be detrimental to take high doses of some micronutrients, since many of the foods we eat are already highly fortified. Doing this really deluges the body with manufactured nutrients, not necessarily in a way the body can use,” she added. “The bottom line is that we just don’t know what mega doses of vitamins and minerals can do the body long-term and they probably do not improve your looks.”
Chicago-based holistic health expert and owner of a wellness company, Karyn Calabrese, is of the same opinion.
“It’s hard to go wrong with Mother Nature. The vitamins and minerals in nature are the best fuel for our bodies and our beauty. Our hair, skin and nails feed off of vitamins and antioxidants the same way the rest of the body does. There’s always a hot new superfood on the market that becomes all the rage but there’s nothing new about it.
“These products have been utilized by people around the world for hundreds of years and once they are ‘discovered’ someone finds a way to market them to the public. It doesn’t mean the claims are wrong, it just means they’ve been exposed to the mainstream for the first time. These superfoods can be valuable for enhancing beauty. Soil and mineral depletion in our environment makes it very difficult to get all the nutrients we need just by eating a balanced diet.”
Nevertheless, the market for these products is likely to continue to grow, especially as claims get more specific, said Datamonitor’s Mr. Vierhile.
“We are seeing this market grow up somewhat as earlier generation products with a more general beauty positioning give way to products that provide more specific benefits and features. On one level, we are seeing the number of products touting the term ‘beauty’ decline significantly over the past couple of years, but products geared toward providing benefits in specific areas, including the skin, hair or nails, are on the rise.”
For the market to grow beyond its current niche status, more work will have to be done on the ingredient front and on the branded product front, Mr. Vierhile added.
This Market Needs a Champion
“This market sector lacks a new product champion like Danone’s Activia has become for probiotic yogurts. That product has been a huge rallying point for the probiotic concept, a contrast to the ‘beauty-from-within’ niche, which lacks a clear leader at the present time,” Datamonitor’s Mr. Vierhile explained. “Nestle’s Glowelle may be the best known product to industry participants, but it is really far from being a household name at this point.”
In terms of ingredients, there are some promising developments, Mr. Vierhile pointed out. Resveratrol is becoming better known and more used, and there’s Dermaval, which manufacturer FutureCeuticals claims is the first ingredient that inhibits elastase activity in the blood. Elastase is an enzyme that breaks down elastin, a protein that is part of the elastic fibers of the skin. Clinical testing in humans has found that this ingredient can inhibit elastase activity by 10%. The product also works relatively quickly in the body, unlike most other “beauty from within” products and ingredients.
This speed could also help the industry, Mr. Vierhile said, especially since most beauty-from-within products only work after being consumed for a considerable period of time, often frustrating the average consumer.
Whatever happens, consumers won’t stop searching for the elixir of youth and beauty, whether that comes from a cream, a fortified food or beverage product or supplement, or simply a better way of living.