Why nutricosmetics are the final frontier of skincare

As supplements spill into our vanity cabinets, is swallowing our skincare the key to outer beauty ?

Supplements by Grown Alchemist. Photo: Grown Alchemist
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Skincare routines that require several steps and high-tech gadgets have all featured in our journey to achieving a radiant complexion.

But the latest chapter in beauty innovation encourages us to take a step back. Embracing the age-old anecdote that beauty starts from within is nutricosmetics. Ushering in a holistic approach to the way we combat issues from acne to age management, these beauty supplements promise to heal the cause of the problem.

Beauty starts at the basics. For Amanda Chantal Bacon, founder of Los Angeles supplement brand Moon Juice, which is arriving in the region later this year, it begins with, “a healthy diet, eight-plus hours of sleep, walking and stress management. From there, adding supplements to your topical skincare routine.”

Moon Juice's Superhair dietary supplements. Photo: Moon Juice

An effective indicator of when you are lacking in any one of these necessities is your skin. “Beauty is a reflection of how well you take care of your body and yourself,” says Dubai functional medical coach Sandra Sharpe. The signs of a poor diet, lack of sleep and stress are likely to show up as breakouts, dehydration and dullness, to name just a few.

In the demanding world that we live in, it is no wonder that supplements are selling. According to the Nutrition Business Journal, the nutritional supplement industry experienced 12.1 per cent growth in 2020, the highest in more than two decades. In line with these findings, according to Google Ads, searches for collagen increased by 33 per cent from March to December 2020, indicating a heightened interest in beauty supplements.

Although supplements can offer many benefits, it’s important to note that even though the industry is regulated, not all nutricosmetics have been tested and put through clinical trials to prove their efficiency. When opting for supplements, try to avoid any with artificial ingredients, binders, fillers and colours. Also check the sugar content, especially in gummies, as it can often be high. Brands should display their ingredient list, and it should be easy to read with a nutritional facts panel.

Wellness solutions from Nue Co. Photo: Nue Co

Those with food intolerances and dietary requirements need to take extra care. Collagen, as an example, is sourced from the connective tissue of animals. In particular, cowhide and fish scales. The ingestible alternatives for vegans feature ingredients such as vitamin C, silica and an abundance of amino acids. Although touted as vegan collagen, when ingested, it is not. These are collagen builders, meaning they help boost your body’s own collagen production. Research has proven this formulation is not as effective as its animal derived counterparts, even if some brands claim otherwise, proving how important careful research is.

Experimenting with supplements in comparison to topical treatments should not be taken lightly. “When we apply oils, creams or serums on the surface of the skin, hair and nails, the interaction between the product and our body is largely superficial,” explains Aya Serhal, a clinical dietitian at American Hospital Dubai.

“Ingestible beauty products have a core impact, as our gastrointestinal tract digests them, our bloodstream circulates them, then our organ systems metabolise, clear, redirect and assimilate them,” Serhal adds.

Supplements include ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and enzymes. Finding the right formulation for you is a personal journey that should be guided by a doctor, dermatologist or qualified dietitian.

“We are all unique and our bodies operate and react differently,” says Sharpe. It’s also important to note that if you don’t have a deficiency, any extra supplementation won’t offer any additional health benefits.

Bioniq offers customised skincare solutions. Photo: Bioniq

It’s vital that you listen to your body’s needs. For those who can, professionally monitoring the levels of nutrients in your system reaps the best rewards.

Bioniq, a supplement brand from London, which made its UAE debut at the end of last year, aims to offer this service. Part of the monthly fee includes a nurse visiting your home or office on a bi-monthly basis to take a blood sample. The company can then offer a bespoke and up-to-date micronutrient formula and nutrition plan. Positioning itself as a preventative approach to health, it also learns through consistent smart data collection what parameters need to be tested for you to progress on your health journey. With your body functioning at its optimal level, glowing skin, healthy hair and strong nails are just added benefits.

How you should be ingesting these nutrients is dependent on the ingredient. “We make them in the most potent form that’s optimal for the bioactive ingredients specifically formulated for these supplements. So, some of our nutricosmetics supplements come in capsule form and some come in powder form,” explains Jeremy Muijs, co-founder of Australian clean beauty brand Grown Alchemist.

Another positive impact of ingesting supplements is that: “As your body absorbs the nutrients within the formulas, it will also deliver benefits to other parts,” says Jules Miller, founder of London supplement brand The Nue Co.

Beauty pioneer Dr Barbara Sturm. Photo: Dr Barbara Sturm

With so many formulations on the market, there is one area that brands are focusing on. “Inflammation is the root cause of much of the body’s and skin’s dysfunction and disease,” says German aesthetics doctor and the founder of eponymous label Dr Barbara Sturm. Breakouts to hyper-sensitivity can all be a reflection of what is going on within your gut microbiome.

“The skin is often referred to as ‘the mirror’ of our gut,” agrees Miller.

If you need to start somewhere, begin with what you are eating. “Diet is essential to controlling inflammation and promoting skin and overall health,” says Sturm. From there, look at adding in a supplement.

“I have always been an advocate of a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet to help nourish from within. We have drawn a lot from natural food sources as part of the formulation of our products and I always recommend diet as a great place to start when you want to improve your well-being,” says Miller.

You must be patient when taking nutricosmetics. “Like with your skincare or with your diet, to see long-lasting results, it is important to stay consistent with your supplements,” says Sturm.

In order to ensure you stay on top of your routine, Bacon advises: “Know yourself and your habits and place your supplements next to things you do every day, like next to your toothbrush, coffee maker or phone charger.”

Just like skincare, supplements take time to prove how effective they are. If you’re looking for those skin-enhancing benefits, stick with your chosen formula, make sure you get your eight hours sleep, eat well and try not to stress. The benefits will go well beyond healthy, glowing skin.

Updated: October 03, 2021, 7:14 AM