The skin, which acts as the body’s first line of defense, takes a constant beating. From damage caused by the sun to toxins and free radicals in the environment, the skin works hard to keep the rest of the body healthy, and that can take a toll on its appearance.
Healthy skin can invoke confidence, while unhealthy skin does the exact opposite—it can make a person feel self-conscious and insecure about how they look. From teens and young adults suffering from acne to people noticing the first signs of aging, taking care of one’s skin is something that concerns everyone at every stage of their lives.
Skin conditions can occur for a number of reasons. The exact cause of acne is unknown, but is a culmination of a number of factors including a rise in hormone levels, especially during puberty. Eczema (also known as atopic dermatitis) is a common skin disease that results in dry, itchy, rough skin. Eczema can be caused by a variety of reasons including heredity, food, pollen or dust allergies. According to the National Eczema Association, an estimated 30 million Americans live with eczema. Physicians estimate that 65 percent of eczema patients are diagnosed in the first year of life and 90 percent of patients experience it before age 5. Symptoms often fade during childhood, though many will have it for life.
Premature hair loss most commonly occurs when hormone levels change in the body and the thyroid levels become imbalanced. And while showing signs of aging is not technically a skin condition, may people do treat it as such. “It’s an age old story, as people age they want to look their best and young,” said Damian Paul, owner of The Source Natural Foods (Kailua, HI). Many Americans are youth obsessed and are on the constant lookout for lotions and potions that will help them look more youthful.
This obsession with wanting to stay younger looking for longer has caused the market to widen. Younger consumers understand the importance of protecting the skin by wearing sunscreen and are taking other preventative measures. “Younger consumers are becoming more aware and interested in the beauty supplement market,” said James Liu, general manager for SeabuckWonders, Inc. (Chicago, IL).
“There is a whole new generation of health-conscious consumers who are educating themselves about antioxidants and their benefits in their 20s and 30s.”
Further, according to Liu, men are typically not as interested in beauty supplements as women, but if a man has a specific need or concern, he may turn to beauty supplements for said concern.
A Beautiful Market
While beauty from within supplements have been popular in Asia and Europe for some time, the U.S. market is now starting catch up. “Beauty from within supplements have experienced healthy growth the past few years and we see that trend continuing,” said Alexis Harwood, public relations and brand manager for Reserveage Organics (Gainesville, FL). “According to the Nutrition Business Journal, hair, skin and nail supplements yielded approximately $520 million in 2009—up 10 percent—and is currently in the top five growth rates of all the categories of supplements.”
“The beauty supplement market has been one of the most important markets in Asia and Europe for the past 10 years,” added Sébastien Bornet, director of global marketing for Horphag Research (Hoboken, NJ). “There is also tremendous growth opportunity in the U. S. market. Women’s increasing awareness and knowledge that beautiful skin needs to be taken care of from the inside—as well as the outside—has had an extremely positive impact on the beauty supplement market and has driven growth for this sector.”
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the skin and helps the skin look firm. As people age, the body’s ability to produce collagen diminishes. “There are supplements that will also help by strengthening our collagen,” said Mark Stayton, sales manager of Martindale’s Natural Market (Springfield, PA), one of the nation’s oldest health food stores. “Reserveage makes some effective products that do this, like Collagen Booster.”
Collagen Booster is a patented complex that combines BioCell Collagen II and hyaluronic acid that work to moisturize skin and reduce the visible signs of aging. It also contains Pro-Longevity Factor Resveratrol™, Reservage’s proprietary blend, to synergistically reinvigorate the structure of healthy skin.
Reserveage Organics also recently introduced Keratin Booster and Keratin Booster for Men. Keratin is a protein found in the body that aids in protecting and repairing damaged hair, nails and skin. As a the body ages, the amount of keratin being produced decreases, so hair, nails and skin do not get as much protection as they once did. Reserveage’s keratin products feature the first solubilized keratin ingredient, Cynatine HNS, that supports healthy hair, nails and skin.
Horphag Research is the exclusive supplier of Pycnogenol® worldwide. Pycnogenol is a natural plant extract that originated from the bark of the maritime pine trees that grow in southwestern France. A powerful antioxidant, research has shown that Pycnogenol acts as a collagen stabilizer by binding to the collagen and elastin in the skin. As the body ages, elastin and collagen in the skin begin to break down. The result is a loss in the skin’s smoothness, moisture and elasticity causing thin, dry, sagging skin in which fines lines and wrinkles appear. According to the company, more than 50 beauty supplements are using Pycnogenol in their products and that number continues to grow.
For years, topical treatments have been promoted as the remedy for skin issues such as acnes, fine lines and wrinkles, eczema and other skin disorders. However, research has shown that while topical treatments can treat the skin’s surface, which can temporarily relieve symptoms that are visible when looking in the mirror, taking an appropriate supplement can help by working from the inside out. “To attain optimum, radiant skin on the outside, it is imperative to nourish and protect from the outside to preserve the effects from the supplementation from within,” said Myra Michelle Eby, founder and CEO of myCeuticals LLC (Boulder, CO).
When used together, a person can find the right combination of supplements and topical treatments to help the skin look healthier. “Topical beauty products sometimes will offer a result that can be felt or seen faster,” said Liu. “However, taking beauty supplements that can support beauty from the inside out is also a great method. In the case of sea buckthorn, not only does it improves the skin by offering omega-7 and other essential fatty acids and vitamins, but also supports the cardiovascular system, the liver and much more. A healthier person is a more beautiful person.”
Mentioned multiple times by Dr. Oz on his television show, sea buckthorn is gaining popularity for skin health. An orange berry that is a powerful antioxidant, sea buckthorn contains a high level of omega-7 and provides support not only for skin health as well as promotes natural healing, immune support, among others. SeabuckWonders bestselling product is Sea Buckthorn Omega-7 Complete, which is made with certified organic sea buckthorn. The healing properties of the blend of sea buckthorn berry oil and seed oil in addition to a high concentration of omega-7, 3 and 6, and vitamin E, promotes natural healing, skin and cell health among other benefits. Additionally, the company also offers sea buckthorn oils and lotions that can be applied topically.
All in the Delivery
While there are a number of beauty supplements in pills and capsules form, other delivery methods such as stick packs, beverages, squeeze packs and strips are good alternatives as well.
MyCeuticals offers 1-oz. nutrisqweeze™ liquid supplements. Formulated to be squeezed directly into the mouth, instead of swallowing a capsule or tablet, and are equal to the nutrition one would otherwise have to swallow eight to 12 capsules or tablets, according to Eby. Rejuvila is the company’s healthy aging supplement that contains potent array of antioxidants including resveratrol (135,000 ORAC units), organic chia seed oil and curcumin for healthy inflammatory response, as well as a balanced calming blend to help the body deal with various forms of stress.
“Our Rejuvila has been our flagship formula for over a year now and it addresses inflammation, stress and antioxidative stress,” said Eby. “This is an overall body healthy aging supplement. We know that inflammation, oxidative stress and routine daily stress contribute to premature aging, and this formula is designed to defend the body against these three major agers.”
Dyna-Tabs, LLC’s (Brooklyn, NY) oral edible strips are another good alternative delivery method that is great for the person on the go. “Our beauty from within strip has found a wonderful niche since it is convenient, great tasting, does not require water and easy to carry around since it takes up no space in pocket or on the retail shelf. [Its compact size makes] it a line extension at supermarkets, pharmacies, salons and many more venues that the ‘metoo’ products do not enjoy,” said Harold Baum, managing director of Dyna-Tabs. Additionally, the company offers convenient Dyna-Tabs Serenity Home Spa Therapeutic Pre-Moistened Face Masks and Wipes formulated to help everything from fight the appearance of aging to acne.
Getting the Facts Straight
With so many products on the market, retailers may have questions about what to carry on their stores’ shelves. “Choosing which products to stock is a challenge as they’re are so many to choose from. We try to get original and unique formulas, and avoid duplicating them with too many me-too formulas,” said Stayton. “The products that state clear benefits on the package sell themselves, and that is a way the manufacturers can help.”
Making the packaging and labeling as clear as possible for retailers and consumers alike is a good way to get their attention, but the best way for a retailer to convince a customer that a product works may be from personal experience. To offer a personal anecdote about how an employee saw results of a particular product could have a profound effect on the customer and open the door for them to give it a try. “In the health industry, people are overwhelmed with so many new products and claims,” said Paul. “People want it simple and something that works. We like our suppliers to give us samples for or staff and customers to try.” Meanwhile, Stayton said he encourages his customers to stay with a product for a few months before they judge its effectiveness.
At the end of the day, there is no “magic bullet” that can make a person look 20 years younger, grow back a head full of hair or clear up skin overnight. The first step is to be healthy. Good nutrition and a healthy diet can do wonders for how a person looks on the outside. “So much of our outside beauty is dependent on the health of the inside structures,” said Stayton. “The healthier we can be on the inside, the better we look on the outside. A simple example is skin hydration. If we don’t drink enough good clean water, our attempts to moisturize topically will not produce the results we hope for because our skin is dry from the inside out.”
“Consumers are becoming more attentive to what they put in their bodies,” said Harwood. “A heightened interest surrounding eco-living, sustainability and consuming natural and organic foods is helping to drive interest in the beauty category.”
Ingredients for Healthy Skin
Sarah Abernathy is co-author with naturopath Linda Page, PhD of Healthy Healing, 14th Edition. Here, Abernathy shares her thoughts on some ingredients that help promote healthy skin:
Tremella Mushroom: Newly popular in America, tremella mushroom is a better skin hydrator than hyaluronic acid (HA). Tremella polysaccharides can hold nearly 500 times their weight in water—25 percent greater than HA. Research shows tremella helps the skin hold moisture for a longer period of time than HA. Tremella creams plump up loose skin and naturally fill in fine line and wrinkles, and it’s less sticky than most popular HA creams. Tremella is widely available in tablets, too. Start with 1,000- 3,000mg daily.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA): ALA enhances sugar metabolism at the cellular level, allowing the body’s natural restorative functions to work more effectively. By protecting the body from sugar’s toxic effects, ALA prevents the premature aging of collagen. Cosmetically, it reduces wrinkles, breaks down scar tissue and increases levels of other antioxidants like vitamin C and glutathione for added protection against UV rays. A good daily dose would be 200-400mg of ALA.
CoQ10: CoQ10 is another important antioxidant for wrinkle and sun damage prevention. With age, the body’s natural production of CoQ10 slows down, resulting in reduced collagen and elastin production. Topical applications are effective because of CoQ10’s small molecular size and have been shown clinically to reduce the signs of photo aging (sun damage) and crow’s feet. Oral supplements at 100-300mg daily is a good dose.
Seaweed: Seaweeds like nori, kelp and dulse are some of my favorite beauty foods, and they’re some of nature’s most ancient beauty secrets. Mineral salts in seaweed help the skin to hold moisture, so it becomes more supple and elastic. Antioxidants like vitamin C, A, D and E in seaweed quell skin-damaging free radicals. High protein and essential fatty acids repair stress and pollution damaged skin. Eating seaweed is a key to good nutrition and antiaging. For people who don’t like the taste of seaweed, seaweed capsules work fine, too.