Saving Face and Body from the Inside Out

July 17, 2008



I bet you've probably never heard of a portmanteau. It is a term used to describe a word that fuses two or more words, or parts thereof, to create a new word with combined meaning. And that is exactly what the term cosmeceutical (cosmetic and pharmaceutical) is: a portmanteau that is increasing in popularity within the consumer landscape of products targeting overall health and wellness.

Cosmeceuticals, which are not officially recognized by FDA, are ingestible products that support internal health and outward appearance. (Some within the industry may use the terms nutricosmetics or skingestibles to designate ingestible products, while others define cosmeceutical as a topical product. Within this article, the focus will be on ingestibles.) Within the food and beverage arenas, the trend is to create great-tasting products that deliver overall health and wellness benefits. Consumers have come full circle in their understanding of the importance of the long-term benefits of a healthy diet, and now they are becoming aware of the fact that what they eat also affects how they look. According to the Age of Naturals Pink Report, published in January 2008, 72% of women who buy natural and organic beauty products believe in the concept of beauty from the inside out, compared with 49% who buy mainstream beauty products. Interestingly, this concept is not so new.

The concept of beauty from within has been around for quite some time. The ancient Egyptians, as well as many Asian and Indian people, held the belief that eating certain foods had a direct correlation with their outward appearance as well as their health. Today's consumer is aware of that connection now more than ever. According to a January 2008 report from Mintel (London): "Although the Asia Pacific region continues to be the main launch pad for new nutricosmetics products, the latest market movements show that the UK and United States are catching up. In fact, one in eight global nutricosmetic launches was made in those two markets in the past three months."

As evidenced by the Mintel report, the market for ingestible cosmeceuticals is on the rise. While the overall market is relatively small, Datamonitor (London) reports that the U.S. market grew at a CAGR of 15.7% between 2001 and 2006, and is predicted to reach a market value of $1.3 billion by 2011. The European market has also seen strong growth, reaching $835.7 million in 2006, largely driven by sales in France (see Table I). The personal grooming routine for a consumer is already in place, yet the growing interest in ingestible cosmeceuticals is evident, based on these numbers. To successfully compete in this marketplace, manufacturers will need to explore and develop new technologies to generate new product offerings that bond consumer desire for products that deliver health and beauty benefits in a variety of convenient forms that can be incorporated into their already established routines.

Who Is the Consumer?

So, who's buying these products? It's across the board, but for the most part, currently it's mid-lifers-but that is set to change. Early seniors (those aged 50–64) will become increasingly important, and the Gen-X consumer is realizing that the fountain of youth is shortly going to dry up for them. Almost no one, regardless of their age, is willing to accept the natural signs of aging.

Consumers spend significant amounts of money on anti-aging products, and, they are not just women. The Natural Marketing Institute (Harleysville, PA) said it's "Reigning Men" in its 2007 trends report. The report noted that men's personal care is the fastest-growing segment in the bath and body-care category. Men are realizing that their health and appearance can enhance their success in many aspects of life. And with more stress and pressure to succeed in all of these areas, this group is primed for easy-to-use, multifunctional food and beverage products that address their health concerns as well as their appearance.

Looking Within

A poor outward appearance is a sign that the body is not getting the necessary amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Moreover, a variety of maladies that exist due to poor gut health are reflected in a pallid complexion; lifeless hair; and yellowed, cracked nails. The importance of good gut health cannot be overemphasized. Everything we eat passes through our gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and this is where nutrient absorption has the most benefit. As we age, the recommended micronutrient intake for many essential and nonessential dietary components increases. For example, government recommendations for vitamin D, vitamin B12, and calcium intake increase as we age. In addition, higher intakes of essential and nonessential antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and various antioxidant bioactive food components, such as carotenoids, selenium, proanthocyanidins (found in grape seed extract, apples, and other plant sources), the EGCG component of green tea, aloe, and collagen would likely benefit aging consumers due to the increased risk of chronic diseases that may boost oxidant stress or alter nutrient utilization.

This can often only be achieved by the use of low-calorie micronutrient-fortified foods or beverages, or dietary supplements, which will also have a direct benefit on outward appearance. Including these types of nutrients delivers internal health benefits and reduces the risk of DNA damage that can lead to skin aging. However, it is of the utmost importance to understand nutrient reaction and stability issues as they relate to delivering a successful end product that both tastes good and supports labeling claims.

Emerging Ingredient Trends

Superfruits (i.e., açai, goji, mangosteen, noni, pomegranate, sea-buckthorn, dragon fruit, Indian gooseberry, and yumberry, just to name a few) and their purported health benefits continue to gain notoriety as popular ingredients that target an array of health conditions. While clinical research on this category is still in its infancy, these fruits and their benefit claims, which range from promoting heart health to anti-aging and increased immunity, have been culturally upheld by various ethnic groups.

In addition to superfruits, other ingredient trends to keep an eye on are:

 

 

 

  • Omega-3s from flax, microalgae, chia, and krill, which can contribute antiinflammatory properties internally while helping to nourish skin.

 

 

 

  • Gamma aminobutric acid (GABA) for antistress and mental focus applications. It's also being studied for its ability to counter skin wrinkling.

 

 

 

  • Botanicals, which can address issues such as hypertension, anxiety, and diabetes management, also detoxify the body, helping skin to appear brighter and clearer. It is important to note, however, that few botanical-based cosmeceuticals currently available have uses that are supported by evidence-based science.

 

 

 

  • Probiotics for optimum gut health and immunity system functions that impact the entire body, both inside and out.

 

Large, mainstream cosmetic companies are also including traditional dietary supplement ingredients, such as coenzyme Q10 and green tea catechins, in their formulations-similar to the way food companies added those ingredients into food formulations to create functional foods.

Cosmeceuticals encompass a wide variety of products intended to target a range of conditions. Popular types include moisturizers that contain lipids to normalize damaged skin, soften the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin), and increase hydration to the skin; retinoids (related to the vitamin A type of compounds); hydroxy acids; and antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E and alpha-lipoic acid.

Formulation Challenges

Utilizing any of the above-mentioned ingredients would be best addressed by employing a custom-blended nutrient premix. The challenges associated with premix formulations that incorporate multiple nutrients include the type of finished product as well as the desired taste, flavor, and color of the finished product; solubility; bioavailability; pH level; safety and toxicity; interactions among various ingredients; and bioavailability and stability of the individual ingredients. Factors that can affect stability include temperature, pH, oxygen, light, and moisture, to name a few.

An example of a potential interaction is the formulation of a product that contains thiamine, as well as a superfruit and its possible sulfur dioxide content. Thiamine plays an important role in helping the body to maintain good skin and metabolize carbohydrates and fat to produce energy, and helps to maintain proper functioning of the heart and the nervous and digestive systems. Combining this nutrient with a superfruit can possibly result in immediate degradation of thiamin due to the fruit's carryover of sulfur dioxide. The level of sulfur dioxide should be determined prior to fortification, and appropriate overages should be added to compensate for losses.

Among the many factors that can contribute to minimizing interactions, a manufacturer can separate vitamins and minerals into two individual premixes, or encapsulate certain vitamins or minerals or utilize a particular form of a specific ingredient. For example, iodine's ingredient form may be potassium iodide, which can promote healthy hair, nails, skin, and teeth. Magnesium, which can help to restore the skin's flexibility and moisture, may take the form of magnesium phosphate. Zinc, which can aid in acne treatment, may be zinc citrate. Copper, which can possibly combat wrinkles, may be formulated as copper peptides and calcium. And another anti-aging nutrient could possibly be tricalcium phosphate, depending on what other ingredients are utilized in the premix.

Most experts on formulation agree that there is no science to blending powders that are part of the finished product and that will work for every product. However, blending powders is very different from blending liquids. While overblending is almost impossible, powder-to-powder blends can be "unmixed" when particles segregate. There are two common blending processes employed in the nutraceutical and dietary supplement industry to achieve a homogeneous product: dry blending and wet granulation. Dry blending is the most common method used to manufacture premixes. Before blending starts, first consider the properties of the ingredient powders, including flowability, particle size, shape, and density.

The incorporation of nutrient premixes targeting health and beauty in food and beverage fortification is an essential step that manufacturers will need to take if they are to stay competitive in today's marketplace. Overall health and wellness within the consumer mind-set, as it relates to purchasing decisions, will greatly influence what gets put into the grocery cart during a trip to the local supermarket. Enhanced waters, meal replacement bars, and beverages and fortified biscuits, as well as organic foods, will continue to grow in popularity within the ingestible-cosmeceutical arena.

To successfully introduce new products to the marketplace, a manufacturer needs to lay a solid foundation at the very beginning of the development process. That foundation should include partnering with an experienced nutritional premix formulator to minimize the challenges associated with not just bringing their products to market, but to ensure a product that lives up to its label claims and delivers repeat purchases.

Ram Chaudhari, PhD, FACN, CNS, is senior executive vice president and chief science officer of Fortitech (Schenectady, NY).