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Consumer Demand for Nutricosmetics


by Paula Simpson, B.A.Sc., RNCP

Noted one of the most innovative markets today, the Medical Aesthetics Industry is seeing a new category of beauty heading its way. Evolving from the cosmeceutical and nutraceutical markets,   nutricosmetics is the name for a category of natural health products that are specifically formulated for beauty and skin health purposes. All nutricosmetics are consumed internally and work synergistically with topical applications. The trend of “beauty from within" is accelerating among North Americans as they become more educated and sophisticated in their understanding on the benefits of how optimal nutrition relates to how they look and feel. Moreover, the category continues to gain credibility as end-user trials and positive scientific evidence prove the effect of premium ingredients and formulations for the skin or in supporting the recovery process within medical aesthetic procedures.

Inside-Out Approach Mainstream in Asian and European Markets

Research firm Kline & Co., showed Japan and Europe are the two largest markets for nutricosmetics. Japan is the most developed market for nutricosmetics, where consumers have long been aware of the role of food, drinks and dietary supplements in health, wellness and beauty. The Japanese receptiveness to this concept has opened the way for an innovative nutricosmetics market worldwide.

Within the United States, most consumers are aware of the benefits of eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. However, the skin-health benefits of specific nutrients and antioxidants are not as well known. For example, in the U.S. supplement industry, use of lycopene and lutein is not well-established in the nutricosmetics market. In Europe and Japan the use of carotenoids, vitamins and fruit extracts for their nutricosmetics properties in supplements is established. Thus, the use of these ingredients as a nutricosmetic ingredient in a supplement carries less of a marketing advantage in the United States than in Europe. More recently, however, there is a paradigm shift as U.S. consumers are becoming better educated regarding the effects of nutricosmetics, and the products seem to fulfill a number of needs that traditional cosmetics have not, according to market analysts the nutricosmetics industry is expected to reach an estimated US$5 billion by 2015.

How is the Consumer Driving the Nutricosmetic Market?

Market Analysts Frost & Sullivan put forth there are a number of factors that may stimulate the nutricosmetics market. As the population in the United States ages, there is a greater emphasis on healthier lifestyles. Since “health" is being viewed more globally as “wellness," beauty concerns are included in this definition. Combined with this is an increased demand for organic or all-natural, eco-friendly products that are driving consumers toward beauty supplement brands. However, the U.S. consumer is not likely going to continue or increase the purchase of such products unless their use is substantiated by scientific evidence supporting their efficacy. Encouragingly, nutricosmetic users are beginning to understand there is no magic pill that instantly transforms skin. A recent survey by Mintel found 37 percent of those polled realized benefits took time to see and almost half of users used them alongside their usual skin, hair and nail care products.

Nutricosmetics Bridge the Gap between Health & Beauty

Nutrition has some effect on the mechanisms of aging of the body as a whole. Inhibiting these mechanisms slows down the overall aging process, including the aging of the skin. As we age, the physiological functions of the skin can be dramatically compromised. There are many factors that accelerate skin aging. These can be intrinsic such as: natural degradation of collagen and elastin, hormonal imbalance and inflammation, and extrinsic factors such as: free radicals and environmental stressors, smoking, poor diet and sun exposure. As skin ages, the cells are more susceptible to environmental stressors. These stressors stimulate the production of free radicals, which can potentially damage cell membranes, proteins and DNA. When the skin is under ‘oxidative overload,’ free radicals can eventually break down the protein substance in connective tissue (collagen) and release chemicals that cause inflammation in the skin. It is a combination of these cellular and molecular events that leads to skin aging and the formation of wrinkles, uneven skin tone and sagging skin. Topical products are locally applied on the epidermis and work only on the most superficial layer of the skin. This has limited effects only on the area whereby the product was applied to the skin. Nutricosmetics provide bioavailable concentrated nutrients that work systemically to support what the body needs (particularly for the nutritive requirements for healthy skin.) By combining an ingestible supplement along with topical products and aesthetic treatments, the skin will remain healthier and more resilient against stressors that degrade the skin and accelerate aging.

According to global market research experts, the key drivers moving this category within North America include:

  • The inside-out approach to total beauty. With sophisticated and credible ingredients in the market today, nutricosmetics are proving there are fortified options through functional foods and supplementation to promote healthier skin, hair and nails. Consumers are becoming more educated about the overall health benefits of balanced nutrition and are, today, more interested in protecting themselves from accelerated aging through more natural and non-invasive protocols.
  • Clinical evidence. Targeted nutrients to help reduce accelerated aging .Nutrient influences on human health have been studied for years with credible clinical studies to back the correlation between specific nutrients and their effect on controlling accelerated aging, including the skin. As the growth of these research and manufacturing technologies continue, this will support the validation and credibility of the nutricosmetic market.
  • Aging population. As we live longer, consumers are looking to “age well" in overall health, energy and beauty. Globally, the mature consumer is seeking products to help prevent illness, while making them look and feel their best. Antioxidants and other premium ingredients in nutricosmetics support this consumer demand.
  • Natural health and organic beauty trends. Consumers are becoming more interested in natural alternatives to skin health and beauty; this coincides with the eco-friendly and organic beauty brands. Nutricosmetic ingredients are usually naturally sourced, making them appealing to type of consumer.

How Do Nutricosmetics Work on the Skin?

The skin is the largest organ of the body and therefore places incredible demands for optimal growth and repair.

Nutricosmetics may address the following areas:

  1. Skin repair and prevention – sun protection, firmness and pigmentation
  2. Hair retention and growth, restoration, nourishment and volumizing
  3. Nails – strengthening
  4. Slimming/Detoxifying – “Beauty Drinks"
  5. Rapid recovery – support healing and effects of medical aesthetic procedures

Nutricosmetics Support/Enhance the Effects of Medical Aesthetic Procedures

It is well-known nutrition profoundly influences the process of wound healing. Multiple published studies in gastrointestinal surgery, cardiovascular surgery, and head and neck surgery have confirmed a significant reduction in postoperative infectious complications, length of hospital stay, and morbidity and mortality rates in subjects receiving nutritional supplementation. Nutraceuticals may further support cellular function to create the most favorable healing conditions. The goal of supplementing is to better prepare for the procedure, accelerate healing, and help achieve enhanced and longer lasting results. Nutraceutical programs for surgical and medical aesthetic treatments may include ingredients in the form of antioxidants, amino acids, pre-and probiotics, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. The administration of these formulations has been shown in human clinical studies to be beneficial in reducing oxidative stress and potential complications associated with medical aesthetic procedures. 

For the consumer, it is only natural they would seek these types of products from the medical aesthetic community. As medicine and wellness become interweaved in the aesthetic industry, consumers will embrace holistic programs and products that optimize total health and promote external beauty.

Paula Simpson is the co-founder and one of the formulators behind the GliSODin Skin Nutrients Nutricosmetic Line. She is also a contributing editor to many of the leading medical aesthetic and beauty publications in North America.

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