Nutricosmetics: Defining ‘Beauty From Within’



by Paula Simpson, BASc, RNCP

The concept of “beauty from within” is otherwise known as a category of ingestible products known as nutricosmetics. Japan is the most mature in this market. Nutricosmetics are now widely accepted among Japanese consumers as ingestible products and are a critical component to their beauty regimens. In Europe, this market is mainly concentrated in France, Italy, Germany the United Kingdom and Spain. It is believed the European consumer is driven to nutricosmetics mainly by anti-aging concerns. In a recent report by Kline Group, nutricosmetics is tiny in comparison to other personal care markets but is growing significantly faster than other beauty sectors. 

Recently, nutricosmetics has made its way into the U.S. market through a variety of nutraceuticals, beverages and functional foods targeted to beautify the body from within. These products are often derived from vitamins, minerals, isolates, botanical extracts and antioxidants.

They are generally formulated to:                                             

  • Promote healthy skin through antioxidant protection, hydration and control inflammation
  • Photo-protectant properties (protecting the skin from UV oxidative stress)
  • Promote healthy hair and nails
  • Promote slimming

What is the driving force behind nutricosmetics?

An aging population, environmental concerns, the shift toward less invasive cosmetic procedures, rise in spa culture and an increasingly sophisticated consumer are the key driving factors believed to have influenced this unique category of products.

The general consensus among experts is the American consumer is becoming more adventurous with tastes and textures and is becoming more open to trying out new products that claim to promote beauty. The consumer has typically shown great interest in supplementing their diets with products that claim to help lower cholesterol and boost immunity, and are now open to opting for products that claim to promote healthy skin and enhance overall beauty. Typically, middle-aged women have been the primary target for this category but it has been recently noted that the growth in nutricosmetics is being generated by two additional consumer segments: men and young women.

What types of products are driving the market?

To date, most nutricosmetics include products that come in a beverage, pill form or functional foods. Depending on what the consumer is seeking to achieve, most nutricosmetics can be found in high-end boutique retail outlets or through the wellness and medical aesthetic industry. These channels of distribution are where the educated and sophisticated shopper is seeking these types of products. Professional grade lines will offer targeted benefits and sophisticated technology in their formulations to ensure their products deliver results. Retail-based formulations provide a broader scope of health benefits but are generally less effective over the long term.

Promising Ingredients proving their benefits for skin health and beauty:

Canteloupe Melon (Cucumis melo)—A bioavailable form of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) shown to protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation, including skin.

Polyphenolic compounds (cocoa, green tea, red wine grapes, billberry, blueberries)—Polyphenolic compounds are common in the diet and have been suggested to have a number of beneficial health effects, including potent antioxidant activity

Tumeric—A modified stem from a South Asian herb shown to have strong photo protectant, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

Collagen—A fibrous protein that makes up connective tissue to strengthen and give resilience to the skin

Krill Oil—Shown to hydrate the skin with strong anti-inflammatory properties

Carotenoids (lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene)—Strong photo-protective and anti-inflammatory properties

Alpha Lipoic Acid—A potent detoxifier and helps to neutralize toxins that cause dull, blemished skin  

Challenges and opportunities for nutricosmetics in North America

Although new to North America, the innovation and sophisticated formulations of nutricosmetics are far reaching and definitely in line with the increasingly educated and demanding consumer. These products are not to replace healthy nutrition practices, but they do help the consumer maximize their health and beauty program on a daily basis. Overall, nutricosmetics bridge the gap between personal care and optimal nutrition.

Noted in the 2008 Kline’s market report—many consumers don’t want to buy ingestible products from cosmetics brands, especially in the United States.


  • Small market
  • Geographic silos
  • Consumer skepticism
  • Results take too long 
  • High growth 
  • Untapped geographies 
  • Food and pharma companies 
  • Innovation

Despite the challenges listed above, companies that have established credibility in nutritional products could be successful.

Paula Simpson, BASc, RNCP, has 15 years of experience in consulting, public relations, product formulation and program development for the nutraceutical and weight loss Industry. Her role as a scientific evaluator and regulatory consultant for many of the top nutraceutical companies worldwide has solidified her reputation as a leader in research and development for innovative natural health products. As the project leader, Paula developed and guided an international weight loss program toward a successful launch in North America and Europe. As the program director for a medical spa, she developed a weight loss and anti-aging program. With international recognition as a fitness expert, her strength in sports nutrition and natural health proved successful for many clients, including children and competitive athletes. Paula is the co-founder and one of the formulators behind the GliSODin Skin Nutrients nutricosmetic line.



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