Whether the description is “beauty from within,” “long-term beauty,” or “beauty from the inside out,” nutricosmetics are frequently billed as a lasting and genuine way to enhance skin health. Contrast that with the perception of some topical-cosmeceutical effects as short-term and superficial, and it’s easy to see why a growing number of cosmeceutical firms have begun to pair their topical products with a nutricosmetic supplement. Some, even, are looking into combinations of ingestibles, serums, medical devices, and masks to offer a comprehensive package for all beauty needs, long-term and short-term.
But what’s the appeal of these combinations, and which ingredients are best suited to the pairings?
Separate Industries Converge
Dubbed “bi-directional beauty” or “twincosmetics,” nutricosmetics and cosmeceuticals may seem like an obvious combination. But actually, it’s only been a short time since these two markets have started to come together.
“Until recently, nutricosmetics has been a niche market mostly served by food supplement companies, not cosmetics,” says Fernando Cartagena, marketing manager, Monteloeder (Alicante, Spain). However, the tide is changing.
“More and more cosmetic companies have seen the value of leveraging their brand, expertise, and consumer base to launch a nutritional line,” says Cartagena. “Similarly, food supplement companies specializing in skin health are also adding topical products, trying to cover the whole skin-health spectrum.”
Lauren Clardy, president of NutriMarketing (Santa Rosa, CA), says the pairings of cosmeceuticals and nutricosmetics is a new phenomenon that is starting to make its way into mass markets.
“It’s just starting right now,” says Clardy. “We’re really still in the infancy stage, and it’s going to grow.”
The shift may actually be driven by interest from consumers and retailers, according to Tim Mount, director of education at NeoCell (Irvine, CA).
“We’ve received a lot of interest from large retail chains for these types of pairings recently,” says Mount. “The beauty category has been exploding over the past few years, and retailers want to capture the trend by offering a comprehensive beauty routine with supplements and topicals. Often, we organize premium placement at the store level to ensure we have space to educate on this trending approach to beauty.”
The Dual Approach
For two categories that have historically been fragmented, both nutricosmetics and cosmeceuticals seem to benefit from this new combination.
From the cosmeceutical perspective, the marriage may offer the opportunity to go beyond perceptions of a short-term, surface-level fix.
“I think it goes back to, basically, you are what you eat. You can put the most expensive, $500 creams on your face, but if you’re smoking cigarettes, in the sun all day, or eating McDonalds all day long, it’s going to affect your skin,” says Clardy. “I think definitely people understand that you can’t just put creams or topicals on and think that it’s going to reverse the signs of aging.”
And for nutricosmetics, partnering with topical cosmeceuticals may allow consumers to see an immediate improvement in skin health until the ingestible supplement begins to take effect—possibly encouraging them to continue use of the product.
“While you can’t get the same absorption topically as you can internally with nutricosmetics, you can feel that instant moisture your skin needs,” says NeoCell’s Mount. “Consumers so often want an instant fix, so the topical solution is great for adding dewiness or moisture while the nutricosmetic is working at a deeper level for the longer-term benefits reported.”
For instance, collagen, one of the most popular ingredients in nutricosmetics, may take a few weeks to have any sort of noticeable effect on the skin, according to Mount.
“Some consumers expecting instantaneous results may grow impatient, so coupling collagen with a serum may help to provide a quick benefit while they wait for the collagen to kick in,” says Mount.
So what are some of the products taking off in the new bi-directional beauty space?
First hitting shelves in late 2014, ZSS Skincare (Chesterfield, MO) pairs a topical serum made from zeaxanthin, chlorella extract, and many other ingredients with two different ingestible dietary supplement options—Method 1 Radiant Skin or Method 2 Clear Skin. The Clear Skin supplement is made primarily with zeaxanthin, probiotics, and fish oil–derived omega-3s, while the Radiant Skin supplement contains key ingredients like zeaxanthin, alpha-lipoic acid, seabuckthorn fruit oil, and gotu kola seed.
Paula Simpson, cofounder of ZSS Skincare, says zeaxanthin was the ideal ingredient because it is “effectively absorbed in skin tissue where it can work as a primary antioxidant against oxidative stress.”
“Although we hear about the benefits of antioxidants for skin health, when taken orally, many are neutralized in the gut before they can reach skin tissue,” says Simpson. “When consumed in supplement form, zeaxanthin can bypass the digestive system and reach skin tissue where it works effectively as an antioxidant and improves overall skin radiance.”
The addition of probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium breve, and Lactobacillus salivarius to the Clear Skin supplement stemmed from building evidence behind a gut/skin health axis. Simpson says the combination of the probiotics and zeaxanthin may “rebalance gut and skin microflora to calm and clear skin.”
Research is still underway into the combination of serum and supplements for skin health, but an unpublished study presented at the American Academy of Dermatology in March explored the effects of combining probiotics and zeaxanthin in supplement form. Twenty-one female subjects aged 35-65 were randomized to receive either the ZSS probiotic/zeaxanthin capsules or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. At four-week intervals, the participants were evaluated for skin redness, redness variation, radiance/luminosity, and inflamed lesions. The study was placebo controlled and double blind.
At the conclusion of the study, researchers observed significant improvements in skin radiance/luminosity, a reduction of redness and redness variability, and improved cumulative erythema scores in the experimental group compared to the placebo group. Also, the percentage of inflamed pores in the experimental group was reduced by 29.9% over the course of the study, compared to just 4.2% in the control group.
“These data add to the evidence that probiotics combined with zeaxanthin may be considered for future research in the target population to reduce inflammation and the signs of photo damage, and to reduce facial redness and improve skin’s ‘glow’,” concluded the researchers.
The ZSS Radiant Skin is designed to support skin as it ages, reduce redness, and promote skin hydration, while the Clear Skin is meant to manage skin breakouts, even skin tone, and support pore health. Both product packages combine the topical Nutri-Serum with a combination of soft gel and capsule dietary supplements intended for daily use.
Monteloeder is another ingredient supplier exploring the “twincosmetic” space with its NutroxSun ingredient, a Mediterranean blend of natural grapefruit and rosemary extracts. The ingredient is designed to defend against the effects of sunburn and photoaging without interfering with the skin’s tanning system.
In Finland, NutroxSun is being sold as an ingredient in Clean + Sun Capsules from New Organics, which is currently being commercialized in combination with a SPF 12 sun cream spray and a SPF 22 sun cream. Aside from enhancing the sun-protecting effects of traditional sunscreens, Monteloeder believes supplementing with the ingestible NutroxSun may also be more convenient for consumers to incorporate into their daily routine.
“Sun protection ingredients for oral consumption are also growing in popularity worldwide, with more and more people becoming aware that 80% of lifetime sun exposure happens in daily life and not on holidays, therefore needing a solution that is more convenient than applying a sunscreen cream,” says Cartagena.
A soon-to-be-published study followed 105 subjects aged 18 and older who were exposed to ultraviolet light on their backs and then given either a placebo or NutroxSun dietary supplement to ingest daily. Researchers found that in the NutroxSun group, skin elasticity was increased, wrinkle depth was decreased, oxidization of skin cells was diminished, and the onset of sunburn was delayed, according to a press release from Monteloeder.
“The benefits of sun protection from ‘within’ products, as opposed to creams and sprays, are becoming more widely appreciated. Topical sunscreens alone often fail to provide reliable all-day defense for the skin,” says Monteloeder.
While topical sunscreens may be applied unevenly or insufficiently, and wear off from sweating, swimming, or rubbing against clothing, ingestible sun care supplements like NutroxSun may be able to offer a more consistent baseline of sun protection, especially if used in combination with traditional sunscreens.
Monteloeder is currently working with a formulation company to bring NutroxSun to topical cosmetics on the U.S. market, says Cartagena.
Collagen, one of the most popular ingredients in nutricosmetics, definitely isn’t missing out on the action of bi-directional beauty pairings.
This summer, supplements brand NeoCell partnered its Super Collagen peptide supplements with topical creams from MyChelle Dermaceuticals, like its Supreme Polypeptide Cream and Peptide+ Anti-Wrinkle Serum. The pairing was commercialized together at Whole Foods stores in the northeastern United States.
“We have found that the long-term beauty benefits from taking our NeoCell Collagen beauty-from-within supplements pair well with external lotions and serums, which provide more immediate results, but are often not long lasting,” says NeoCell’s Tim Mount.
NutriMarketing’s Clardy says Nippi Collagen (Tokyo) is also looking into marrying its nutricosmetic collagen ingredients to cosmeceutical products.
“I am aware that Nippi Collagen is currently working with a number of partners in various channels for a nutricosmetic/cosmeceutical pairing,” says Clardy. “Most involve a drink, either a shot format or a [ready-to-drink], and a serum or cream. However, I have seen drinks and masks also, jellies, and both day and night creams.”
Even More Combinations
Even with the relative novelty of cosmeceuticals and nutricosmetics coming together, Clardy says she is beginning to see even more than just the combination of these two.
“There are companies coming out with systems now that really cover the gamut,” says Clardy. “For example, let’s say it’s an age-delay system, and it will have a serum or a cream. But then it will also include a mask, and then it will include a medical device, and then it will include one or two ingestibles.”
Clardy expects the home use of low-potency medical devices to continue to grow, suggesting an all-in-one beauty support system of nutricosmetics, cosmeceuticals, and medical devices could be the next big combination to come out of the beauty world.
Still Some Resistance
Not everyone in the nutricosmetic world, however, is ready to embrace a pairing with a cosmeceutical. Dietary supplement firm Reserveage Nutrition (Boca Raton, FL), for instance, continues to market its nutricosmetic supplements independently as a more genuine, foundational way to promote skin health than cosmeceuticals.
“We believe that the best approach to beautifying from within is accomplished by using high-quality oral supplements that provide the building blocks to help enhance and maintain a youthful appearance,” says Dorothy MacDiarmid, public relations and communications, Reserveage Nutrition. “Cosmeceuticals, unlike nutricosmetics, are not designed to support, but rather conceal, the signs of aging.”
Combining nutricosmetics with cosmeceuticals could open up new markets for both product types, but will consumers buy into “twincosmetics”? With a trend this young, only time will tell.