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There is a growing worldwide trend in skin care for nutricosmetics. That is, cosmetics you eat to support the structure and function of the skin. It seems reasonable that if micronutrients like Vitamin C and Omega-3 fatty acids, carotenes and flavonoids are topically effective, ingesting them would be too. Nutricosmetics can take several forms, including pill, tablet, liquid or food.
So why not just drink more juice or eat more of the foods that contain these nutrients? Well, I suppose for the same reason we take dietary supplements instead of eating better – it takes discipline to stick to a nutritious diet, not to mention diligence in researching and shopping for specific foods. What’s more, in most cases you would have to consume unrealistic quantities of said foods to get the same nutrient punch you can get in a supplement. And if you’re not steadfast with your skin care regimen, nutricosmetics could be your savior!
One of the pioneers in this field, considered by many to be the “Father of Internal Skincare,” is Swedish biochemist Ake Dahlgren. He invented the world’s first nutricosmetic in the 1980’s, called Imedeen. There are several Imedeen supplements available and what I like about these are the clinical studies behind them.
Imedeen’s Time Perfection anti-aging supplement contains lycopene, a biomarine complex, and grape seed extract which has been shown in some studies to:
- Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Improve skin quality and moisture balance
- Protect collagen and elastin fibers from UV damage
- Leave skin softer and more supple
Some Science Exists
Many consumer reports I found stated that the growth of the nutricosmetics market in the U.S. has been stymied by consumer skepticism. Yet, I found a few solid studies, including this double-blind study out of Germany that involved 62 women, and reported statistically significant improvement in skin elasticity and roughness after both 6 and 12 weeks. This study was conducted on an oral skin supplement whose active ingredients include vitamins C and E, carotenoids, selenium, zinc, amino acids and glycosaminoglycans, blueberry extract and Pycnogenol®.
What’s the Difference between Nutricosmetics and Dietary Supplements?
Nutricosmetics differ from dietary supplements in that dietary supplements (or nutraceuticals) are taken for medical and/or health benefits. Nutricosmetics, on the other hand, are foods or supplements that are taken specifically to produce an appearance benefit, most notably for anti-aging effects and fighting free radicals (aging prevention).
Recently, the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology published an article on the (positive) potential of nutricosmetics that contain polyphenols and carotenoids, stating:
“Nutricosmetics can be defined as a result of the intersection of cosmeceuticals and nutraceutical, characterized as oral supplementation of nutrients formulated and marketed specifically for beauty purposes. The concept of nutricosmetic is new and has been the subject of scientific research more frequently; however, they deserve greater attention in relation to clinical studies and regulation”.
Here on Futurederm we have previously reviewed several fantastic & useful nutricosmetics, like Viviscal for hair growth. However, there exist many other nutricosmetics whose sole purpose is to deliver beauty benefits to the skin.
One such product is the Perricone MD Skin Clear nutricosmetics, which claim to help clear up acneic skin and control future breakouts. These pills are part of Dr. Perricone’s three-tiered philosophy of healthy aging. According to Perricone’s website, the nutricosmetics are designed to work with diet and topicals to deliver optimal and visible results.
And while I could not find any studies on the Perricone supplements specifically, many independent studies exist on the positive impact of several of the nutrients these supplements offer, like DMAE, omega-3, and zinc. I also ran across many anecdotal articles (i.e., Dr. Murad and Borba) that suggested a combination of topical products + oral supplements were most effective and provided the quickest results.
Eat Your Collagen
Two comprehensive clinical studies carried out in Japan and France of PeptanTM hydrolyzed collagen demonstrated the positive benefits of oral intake on skin health, including improved skin smoothness, reduced micro-relief furrows, prevention of deep wrinkle formation, improved skin suppleness, and improved skin moisture levels. Though both of these studies seem to have been carried out professionally and thoughtfully, I would be remiss if I did not point out they were funded by Rousselot, the manufacturer of PeptanTM.
Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not substantiate the safety of cosmetic products and ingredients before they are marketed to consumers; the cosmetic companies are responsible for that. Manufacturers are also not required to file data on ingredients or report cosmetic-related injuries to the Food and Drug Administration (though they are encouraged to do so). This may be why, thus far, nutracosmetics are not as popular in the United States as they are in Japan and China.
What’s more, a 2008 report from market research firm Kline & Company suggests that more hard science is needed on nutricosmetics and that Americans are not comfortable buying ingestible products from cosmetic brands. And really, can we blame them?
So while American consumers have swallowed the idea of vitamins, they are not as sure about having their wrinkle-reducer & eating it too!
What are your thoughts on nutricosmetics and “eating your skin care”? Let us know in Comments!
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