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Dr Rachana and Dr Gaurav Pathak December 12 , 2014
Beauty with chocolates, yogurts and tasty drinks! Welcome to the magical world of Nutricosmetics, an area of research where supplements and foods can make your hair shiny, nails strong, and skin clear. Beauty is not only skin deep, claim the proponents of Nutricosmetics—defined as foods, beverages, and supplements containing ingredients that support skin and body structure. The industry exploded in Japan in the 1940s and then in Europe just two decades ago (both still hold most of the market share) and is relatively new to the United States, where this science is young, the claims are bold, and many consumers are skeptical. Thus, Nutricosmetics is the term often used for nutritional cosmetics and relates to ‘eating and drinking habits’ in co-ordination with usual cosmetics in routine for overall better results.

Nutricosmetics around the world
A few years ago market analysts and industry experts predicted that the concept of "beauty from within" category would see substantial global market growth by 2012. To date, the demand for Nutricosmetics continues to evolve within the Asian markets, with Japan and China expected to lead this sector in global sales moving forward. Currently, Japan leads the market, with consumer acceptance and sales accounting for greater than 90% of global market share. Western Europe continues to thrive in Nutricosmetic sales mainly through the health professional pharmacy-based distribution. India and Brazil are untapped markets and may offer substantial growth for manufacturers and distributors in the near future. It is seen as a hybrid effect between cosmeceuticals and nutraceuticals, nutricosmetics (dubbed "beauty from within") are oral products that generally provide naturally-derived ingredients targeted to combat oxidative stress, inflammation and renewable nutrients to promote healthy skin.

Till date, Nutraceuticals market and drivers have been analysed on a global scale. Although, we aim to achieve all nutrients through diet, the inconvenient truth is we are often challenged with this on a daily basis. The body is exposed to numerous toxic metabolites capable of generating free radicals and deteriorating the structural foundation within the skin and hair and so on.

Mechanism of action
Nutricosmetics are basically formulated to Increase ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) scavenging activity, Reduce chronic inflammation, Stimulate immunity, Support healthy skin cell renewal and strong dermal structure, Potentially renew/repair photo-damaged skin, Promote healthy hair and nails, Support weight management and so on.

Key drivers that may move this category
The inside-out approach
Unlike a topical skincare product, nutricosmetics are metabolised through a different route of delivery and take more time to attain results, and this is where education is critical. To win over skeptical consumers, taking a health/nutritional approach with an indirect beauty benefit may be more realistic and acceptable for the American market. Till date, functional antioxidant tinctures or beverages (that energise and protect skin from environmental stressors), prebiotics and probiotics (to support digestive and immune health and can help to manage blemished-prone skin) or topical cellulite creams (sold along with an oral supplement to promote fat metabolism) have been well received within the US market.

Emerging clinical evidences
In a large survey conducted by Datamonitor, 40% of respondents stated they purchased a cosmeceutical or nutraceutical product when endorsed by a credible health expert (or association). As Nutraceuticals are the intersection between nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals, this point should not be ignored. Nutrient influences on human health have been studied for years and, particularly within the last few years. A growing body of impressive clinical data has shown a positive association between nutraceutical use and skin health. Along with advancing sophistication in manufacturing technologies and reliable science and expert endorsement, the nutricosmetic sector has great potential in winning over skeptical consumers (if all tools are utilised effectively).

Demands: Baby boomers
The baby boomer generation is seeking to look and feel good as they age. Younger women are increasingly seeking preventive measures to protect their skin from accelerated ageing or nutritionally manage chronic skin conditions. The urban male is increasingly concerned with appearance and more readily purchasing within the beauty, skincare and hair products sector. If formulated and marketed to the direct demographic, nutricosmetics can offer an abundance of health, aesthetic and skin-health benefits for each type of consumer.

Natural and organic trends
Consumers are becoming more interested in "natural" alternatives to skin health and beauty. This coincides with the eco-friendly and organic beauty brands. Nutricosmetic ingredients are often naturally sourced, making them appealing to this type of consumer, particularly within the channels of distribution where this demographic resides. Technical ingredients or formulations may not work best in this sector.

Choosing the right partner
It has been learned from the past, that it is always beneficial to be sure if nutricosmetics are positioned within the appropriate distribution channel. Some companies have benefited from partnering with companies where targeted distribution already exists. It is imperative to consider the sophistication of the product and match it accordingly with a supportive market. For example, if ingredients are highly technical and price points are premium, then targeting a niche channel (such as health professionals) may be more appropriate than a mass retail chain of distribution. Before launching the product, one has to consider partnering or consulting with professionals who work within that particular channel of distribution.

Science-based nutrients
Research in science and health sector has provided enough evidences and proofs for the mechanism of action and the key ingredient responsible for the desired effects.

Few science-based facts which have been utilised to produce these products:

Sun protection: Lycopene (found in tomatoes), polyphenols (in green tea and pomegranates), resveratrol (in red wine, grapes, and peanuts), and cocoa flavonoids can prevent damage from UV rays.

Anti-ageing: Hyaluronic acid, CoQ10, collagen, and vitamins A, C, and E may support skin-cell health and collagen production to stave off environmental damage that can cause wrinkles.

Dry or irritated skin: Omega-3s and probiotics may help soothe from the inside. Research shows that in addition to digestive benefits, friendly bacteria may fight dermatitis.

Hair and nails: As natural components of skin, hair, and nails, collagen and silica strengthen and grow these areas. The table is a crude categorisation of few skin health and beauty ingredients.

The ageing process is a challenging human experience common to everyone, and the desire to look young  and beautiful prevails in the majority of us. The latest trends in beauty, health and wellness sectors are giving rise to a new realm of possibilities by fusing anti-ageing nutricosmetics with traditional Indian medicine – Ayurveda. A number of cosmetic companies have used Ayurvedic knowledge for developing Nutricosmetics. The future for beauty-from-within functional cosmetics that offer multifunctional benefits in the area of antioxidant cellular protection and skin health with anti-inflammatory and anti-stress properties is bright. Backed by sound science and substantiated structure and function, they will have a big market in the Nutricosmetics sector.

     Falk J. The new age of antiaging. Global Cosmet Industry. 2009;177:54–59.
     Grace R. Cosmeceuticals: Functional food for the skin. Nat Foods Merchandiser. 2002;23:92–9.
     Roehl EL. Consumption. In: EU Market Survey 2000- Natural Ingredients for Cosmetics. 2000;2:13–6. Compiled for, CBI, center for promotion of imports from developing countries. Patwardhan B, Vaidya AD, Chorghade M. Ayurveda and natural products drug discovery. Curr Sci. 2004;86:789–99.
     Dash B, Sharama BK. Charak Samhita. 7th ed. Varanasi, India: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Series Office; 2001.
     Datta HS, Mitra SK, Patwardhan B. Wound healing activity of topical application forms based on Ayurveda. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 in press. [PMCID: PMC3136177]
Sharma L, Agarwal G, Kumar Medicinal plants for skin and hair care. Indian Trad Know. 2003;2:62.    m

(Dr Rachana is assoc. professor, biotechnology, and can be reached at Dr Pathak is sr officer, quality assurance, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd)

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