As we near the end of the year, it’s tempting to look into our crystal balls to see what 2024 will hold. While much remains uncertain, one thing is clear – the nutricosmetics market is here to stay and predicted to grow exponentially.
Future Market Insights estimates that the global nutricosmetics market is valued at US$ 7 billion this year and is expected to reach US$ 15 billion within the next ten years.
According to the company’s Market Outlook report, this growth is driven by growing consumer awareness of the importance of a balanced diet and supplementation to make up for nutritional deficiencies affecting skin, hair and overall appearance.
“Integrating different disciplines such as nutrition, dermatology, and wellness is another unique driver in the nutricosmetics market. As consumers seek comprehensive beauty solutions, the integrative approach recognises that external skincare and cosmetics are not sufficient on their own. Nutricosmetics offer a synergistic combination of topical skincare products and ingestible supplements, providing a holistic approach to beauty that targets both inner health and external appearance”.
NURICOSMETIC TRENDS TO WATCH
Within nutricosmetics, I believe we will see continued growth in the collagen market and an increasing focus on using mushrooms. Probiotics are slowly coming onto the radar, so get used to terms like gut-skin-connection, and microbiomes.
The main thing all three of these trends have in common is the belief that what we put in our bodies is as important, if not more important, than what we put on them. True beauty, it turns out, really does come from within.
In saying this, I do not mean to imply that we shouldn’t use topical creams and treatments to help our skin. What I am saying is that what’s going into our bodies is essential in supporting these treatments and, in some cases, making them unnecessary, or at least needed less regularly.
All right, let’s dive in:
#1 SPECIALISED COLLAGENS
I’ve previously discussed the sustainable sourcing of collagen and the benefits of bovine and marine collagen. The nutricosmetic industry and consumers themselves continue to look for alternative sources of collagen to ensure sustainability whilst maintaining high-quality products. So, let’s take a look at a few other sources of collagen you might not know about yet:
Dr Josh Axe, a clinical nutritionist and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, explains that eggshell membranes are a great source of collagen, “Egg collagen, found in the shells and whites of eggs, contains mostly type 1 collagen. It also has types 3, 4, and 10, but by far, it is the most type 1, just like the human body (approximately 100 times more type 1 than type 4). It provides glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid and various amino acids that have benefits for building connective tissue, wound healing, building muscle mass and reducing pain/stiffness”.
I’ve taken a hard stance on marine collagen and the negative impact it has on the ocean. But what about other marine life? Could there be a substitute that decreases our reliance on fish? Researchers have begun investigating certain types of jellyfish, with studies showing that “jellyfish collagen possesses high biocompatibility (making it easy to absorb), low allergic response (though consumers with fish allergy should be cautious), and has low potential for transmitting zoonotic diseases to humans”.
These are still animal-based collagens, which excludes the vegan market. Currently, most vegan-friendly collagen products are supplements designed to help your body’s own collagen production. A few biotech companies, are working on producing vegan collagens using genetically modified yeast and bacteria. Still, it would seem that more studies need to be conducted before vegan collagen will become a mainstream product.
The Shroom Boom, as they call it, is here to stay as the West catches on to an old trick from the East – using mushrooms as beauty supplements.
In a recent article, I explored some of the properties that mushrooms have which are making them so popular in the beauty industry:
- They’re all the anti’s – antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial,
- Mushrooms have adaptogenic capabilities, which is a big deal. It means that they can modify stress responses and bring our bodies back to equilibrium,
- Mushrooms contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, specifically ergothioneine and glutathione, that may help protect against free radical damage that can contribute to everything from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer,
- Some mushrooms can also help reduce skin problems like rosacea and adult acne,
- Mushrooms like White Button, Cremini, Portobello and Oyster are good sources of minerals, B vitamins, protein and phytonutrients for general dietary health maintenance,
- Some mushrooms contain beta-glucans, which are soluble dietary fibres naturally occurring in the cell walls of cereals, bacteria, and fungi that help with wound healing and hydration.
- In addition, they are also the only vegan, nonfortified dietary source of vitamin D.
What does all of this add up to for your skin? Quite a lot, actually. Anna Maria Balint explains, “Renowned mycologist Christopher Hobbs collected a review of medicinal mushrooms. He came to the conclusion that mushrooms aid in the following: hydration, wound healing, antioxidant protection, anti-ageing, redness reduction, soothing, nourishing and skin brightening”.
Hobbs notes seven strains of mushroom are most commonly used in skincare: reishi, tremella, shiitake, cordyceps, coprinus, chaga, and trametes versicolor. However, experts believe there are millions of mushrooms out there, with only about 150,000 identified at present, so watch this space. We likely haven’t scratched the surface of what mushrooms can do.
An article published at the American National Library of Medicine claims the earliest report on probiotics dates back to 1907 when Elie Metchnikoff described a correlation between the ingestion of lactic acid–producing bacteria in yoghurt and enhanced longevity.
We’ve learned a lot about probiotics in the intervening years, and more recently (say over the last twenty years or so), we’re exploring its use as a nutricosmetic.
What are probiotics, and what do they do?
The Cleveland Clinic describes probiotics as “live bacteria and yeasts that benefit your body. These species already live in your body, along with many others. Probiotic supplements add to your existing supply of friendly microbes. They help fight off the less friendly types and boost immunity against infections”.
Many of these bacteria and yeasts already live in your body; the area most commonly known is your gut. Remember I talked about microbiomes? The gut microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria living in our intestines.
The right bacteria or fungi levels must live in our gut, as they are a vital part of our ecosystem. Dr Robynne Chutkan, a gastroenterologist at Georgetown University Hospital and author of ‘The Microbiome Solution: A Radical New Way to Heal Your Body from the Inside Out’, explains that “Dysbiosis, or the imbalance of our gut bacteria, have been linked to different diseases, including cancers and autoimmune diseases”.
THE SKIN-GUT CONNECTION
This is where things get interesting from a nutricosmetic point of view – your skin, the largest organ in your body, has its own microbiome, and it works closely with the one in your gut.
"The microbiome within the skin and the gut keeps us healthy. It keeps our immune system in check, and if the immune system is out of check, then it's kind of like a wreak-havoc kind of moment if you will, and this inflammatory response ... it's just a response of the body just being out of balance", says Renata Block, a physician assistant at Advanced Dermatology & Aesthetic Medicine in Chicago.
PROBIOTICS CAN HELP TREAT SKIN CONDITIONS
A 2021 study found that the microbiome plays a role in several skin disorders, from acne to Rosacea and even skin cancer. It also notes that an altered gut microbiome often accompanies an altered skin microbiome.
Thus far, studies have found the evidence is growing for the use of probiotics in treating acne and can reduce systemic inflammation. Scientists are also theorising that the use of probiotics may work to restore the normal skin pH and consequently return protease activity levels closer to those seen in young, healthy skin.
It’s also been shown that probiotics can help to strengthen the skin barrier, which could assist in treating Rosacea and atopic dermatitis.
HOW TO USE PROBIOTICS
While it is possible to use probiotics topically, this currently has a few issues. This study explains, “It is challenging for the cosmetic industry to create topical formulas that retain probiotic bacterial viability from production to the value chain and onto the consumer. Moisture would allow the dried organisms to hydrate, multiply, or die, so oil-based formulations are needed. The question becomes how easily the organisms can emerge from the oil once placed on the skin and become metabolically active sufficient to deliver the probiotic effects required”.
The study further notes that many creams often require preservatives, which could render the probiotic ineffective.
As the nutricosmetic application of probiotics is still relatively new, legislation and the necessary scientific studies are still catching up. I wouldn’t discount using a probiotic product topically if you’ve found it works for you.
However, at the present moment, it would seem that an ingestible version is more likely to contain live bacteria if you make sure you’re buying one that fits this criteria:
- Colony-forming units (CFUs). This is the number of bacterial cells you get in each probiotic dose. Industry standard is billion colony-forming units, however you get trillion CFUs in raw food sources.
- A well-researched strain. Look for the names Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, or Bacillus, some of the most researched probiotics.
- Storage information.You want to keep probiotics refrigerated since heat can kill bacteria.
- These are forms of soluble fibre, like inulin, that probiotics feed off. You want to ensure that the probiotic you buy has some food source so it doesn’t die off. Mushrooms are an excellent source of prebiotics.
- Capsules or from live food.The best source of probiotics is in live food – as this allows you to ingest trillions of CFUs which is the optimal amount. If you can’t buy or make the raw food at home (sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, kombucha etc etc) then opt for capsules.
- Trademarked ingredient.If your budget allows, and you prefer capsules, pay a little extra for a name brand that has clinical research to back it up.
We’re at the cusp of the nutricosmetics industry, and I’m sure incredible discoveries lie ahead. My advice for now is to educate yourself and to explore.