Today’s consumers seek products that will bring them health from the inside out. This includes foods, beverages and supplements designed with ingredients that encourage those visible signs of health, like clear and supple skin with increased elasticity, fewer wrinkles and overall improvement of appearance. For processors developing products for this booming market, safety and convenience are as critical as performance.

Products touting “beauty from within” comprise a category of ingredients sometimes called cosmeceuticals or nutricosmetics. Nutricosmetics enter the marketplace through a variety of nutraceutical products, including beverages and functional foods that purport to beautify the body from within.

According to this trend of “eating for beauty,” foods and veggies are marketed as beauty enhancers. They generally contain antioxidants and fruit extracts, sport a superfruit halo, and promulgate natural approaches to nourishing skin and general wellness.

Thanks to all the good news about antioxidants and health benefits, blueberries have a place at the forefront of such product development.

Some ingredients targeting outward physical health are more versatile than others and can be applied in a range of orally consumed dietary products. They include supplements, such as gels, shots, effervescent tablets, sachets and even candy.

The combination of consumer demand and improved ingredient technology allows processors to combine the right ingredients into food and beverage products—and smart packaging—that jump off the shelves.

Food and beverage makers are ramping up efforts to participate in this multibillion dollar industry. According to Euromonitor Inc., the global beauty-from-within market could grow to $5 billion by the end of this year.

While the majority of products for protecting skin focus on dangers from excess UV radiation and decreasing the risk of skin cancer, more and more consumers also are turning to products that promise help with more basic needs of achieving healthier looking skin, hair and nails.

Ingredients such as vitamin A and other carotenoids, as well as hyaluronic acid, are joining soy, green tea and omega-3 fatty acids as some of the nutrients known to improve skin.

Some of these nutrients have history of skin-health benefits when used topically. But recent studies indicate they could be of benefit as oral support for beauty. Vitamin E, especially in its tocotrienol form, has been gaining attention for abilities that promote cutaneous health. Likewise,  the carotenoids astaxanthin, lutein and lycopene, also are examples of ingredients that support skin health.

Phytochemicals for Photoaging

The ability to promote and maintain physical beauty from diet beyond fundamental antioxidant ability is in need of a great deal more research.

The biggest hurdle is the fact that phytochemicals, structure of the primary components in most beauty-from-within products, are altered during digestion, and such conversion can impact their function. However, existing and ongoing studies indicate that some of the anecdotal evidence and folk medicine traditions could have scientific support.

A 2012 review of studies by Giana Angelo, PhD, and Wilhelm Stahl, PhD, of Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf for the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, Corvallis, compared both topical and oral applications of a number of phytochemical compounds for their ability to help enhance or maintain skin health. Within the review, several ingredients stood out.

Soy isoflavones, for example, had been identified as beneficial for skin health because of their ability to bind to estrogen receptors that are expressed in skin cells. Estrogen has known affects on skin aging.

Specifically, the soy isoflavone genistein was investigated for its potential to counteract signs of photoaging in postmenopausal women.

In a pilot study, 30 postmenopausal women took daily oral supplements of 100mg concentrated soy extract. After six months of treatment, the women “showed a significant increase in skin thickness, elastic fiber content, collagen fiber content and vasculature in a gluteal skin biopsy, compared to baseline.”

In citing a green tea study by Heinrich, et al., Angelo and Stahl noted that serum flavonoid content and capillary blood flow to the dermis exhibited positive short-term effects after a single dose of encapsulated green tea extract. Dermal microcirculation was measured to confirm if “increased cutaneous blood flow [contributes] to enhanced delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the skin,” positing “a proposed impact of flavonoids on skin health.”

Results showed a “quick and brief increase in dermal microcirculation (15-30 minutes) at all doses of green tea extract ingested compared to placebo.” Of note was that “serum epicatechin levels increased in a dose-dependent manner, with a maximum concentration two hours post-ingestion.”

In their discussion of research on cocoa powder, noted for being high in the flavanols epicatechin and catechin, Angelo and Stahl documented that the double-blind intervention on 24 healthy young women (18-25 years of age) showed “improved photoprotection and skin structure” after drinking a flavanol-containing cocoa beverage daily for three months.

The authors wrote: “As with the green tea beverage, high-flavanol cocoa powder diminished UV-induced erythema formation, increased microcirculation, improved skin structure (as roughness, scaling, volume and wrinkles) and reduced TEWL [trans-epidermal water loss]. A single dose of high-flavanol (329mg) cocoa beverage quickly and transiently increased plasma epicatechin levels and dermal microcirculation,” going on to explain that “the effects of catechins on skin structure, texture and water homeostasis may be due to their ability to increase cutaneous blood flow.” 

Angelo and Stahl also noted that other flavonoids, especially rutin and its derivatives, “can benefit skin by influencing blood vessel permeability and fragility.”

The authors further wrote that the protective effect on blood vessels “could reduce the formation of telengiactasias (small dilated blood vessels near the surface of the skin) and petechiae (small red spots caused by broken capillaries or blood vessels).”

Angelo and Stahl further referenced studies demonstrating chelating ability of certain flavonoids, writing that, “It appears flavonoid binding of metals leads to inhibition of enzymes involved in blood clotting and inflammation, which in turn influence capillary permeability and platelet aggregation.”

Skin Synergy

Emerging research suggests ingredients such as vitamins, provitamins, minerals and phytochemicals work in concert where the whole provides greater benefit than the sum of the parts.

Manufacturers that can successfully combine the panoply of beauty-from-within nutrients into appealing, convenient food and beverage products are more likely to meet consumer demand, as well. Such synergy is often accomplished by using a premix.

Premixes are thus perfectly suited for products designed for the beauty-from-within category. As a vehicle for delivering these solutions, beverages and chews have emerged as primary preferences for consumers.

Chews and gummies, which used to be thought of as only for children, have “grown up” to attain impressive acceptance among adult consumers, especially in the sport and energy nutrition channels. Many women, for example, have brought success to Nature’s Bounty Inc.’s Optimal Solutions line of supplemental fruit-flavored gummy chews. The products claim benefits of “glowing skin” along with “more lustrous hair and strong nails.”

The primary ingredients in the Optimal Solutions line are the antioxidant vitamins E and C, plus biotin. Some products in the line also contain B-complex vitamins and some also include collagen.

All these nutrients are known to contribute to skin health, and vitamin C is particularly important for the production and formation of collagen, which forms the matrix that supports healthy skin and reduced wrinkles.

Many of these drinks also include collagen and collagen peptides themselves, to provide the fundamental “nourishment” needed for healthy skin. Nature’s Bounty also has created a line of shake and smoothie mixes with a comprehensive blend of ingredients targeting multiple health concerns, such as energy, immunity and digestive health, but also including biotin “for hair, skin and nail health.”

The mixes are available in chocolate and vanilla flavors and also include fiber, in addition to “protein, B vitamins, antioxidants, electrolytes, prebiotics and probiotics,” according to the packaging.

Drink it In

Antioxidant beverages have traded on the overall health halo of those ingredients that counter oxidative damage from within and the environment without. But some are beginning to present the connection between oxidative damage, dermal nourishment and skin health more directly.

Some products, such as FIX Brands Inc.’s FIX dietary supplement beverage, are marketed as a “youth activating drink.” Promotional labeling presents it as serving to “reduce fine lines and wrinkles.”

Recently launched Sparkling ICE LLC’s line of fruit-flavored sparkling waters, lemonades and iced teas includes an iced raspberry tea beverage containing B vitamins, biotin, green tea extract and other antioxidants, all of which can help preserve skin health.

Caliwater Co. LLC’s Caliwater Cactus Water is another recent launch that has a toe in the beauty beverage channel. The brand’s “not from concentrate” cactus pear-infused water launched last March and contains juice from the prickly pear cactus, a trending superfruit. Caliwater also contains the antioxidant betalain, a compound more familiar from beets. Some studies have reported that beets, which also contain high amounts of vitamin A, help maintain healthy skin and mucus membranes.

A new healthful drinkable supplement line launched by Feed Your Skin JV,SL / Beauty & Go Int. includes two drinks targeting skin health and beauty directly. They contain different combinations each of botanicals, such as guarana and citrullina, and other functional ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid and collagen. The drinks are promoted as working to “hydrate skin and give it a soft, smooth texture, reducing wrinkles and sagginess, providing a more youthful appearance.”

Green tea, a staple in the fortified beverage category, has been studied extensively for its healthful properties, particularly its flavonoids. This is a class of potent antioxidants that can help protect people from potentially damaging free radicals. Yet for Western consumers, a cup of straight green tea might not be an attractive, grab-and-go proposition.

This is why adding such ingredients as matcha, EGCG and other green tea extracts recently has become popular. Fortifying foods and beverages with green tea ingredients makes this ingredient more palatable and provides more opportunities for introducing products that inspire a fresh, new way to maintain good skin.

Smoothies continue to grow in popularity as a healthy, natural and nutrient-packed product. They also provide processors with the distinct advantage of unusually high versatility. They can be formulated to fit a dairy-, soy- or juice-based format and target a multitude of consumer needs.

In this way, smoothies have the ability to handle a constantly changing list of ingredients to satisfy the growing health conscious consumer.

Pro-beauty Probiotics

Probiotics are important for digestive and immune health. These benefits in and among themselves offer protection against the ravages disease plays on physical appearance. But probiotics also are being recognized as possible players on a fundamental level in beauty.

Probiotics contribute a number of factors toward beauty health. They have been shown to help protect against UV radiation-induced photoaging, and they counter acne and atopic dermatitis (eczema) and infections.

Lifeway Foods Inc.’s probiotic kefir (yogurt beverages) and related products are some of the most popular dairy vehicles for getting one’s daily probiotics. They are indelibly associated with good digestive health.

Lactic acid from lactic acid producing probiotic bacteria is a key ingredient in such products. It is the byproduct of the digestion of carbohydrates by healthy bacteria and an ingredient often found in skin care products. Lactic acid, especially in its poly-L-lactate form, is integral to the development of the collagen scaffold that supports skin’s growth.

Lactic acid also has been used sub-dermally to mitigate scar tissue. Several recent studies have shown that combinations of lactic acid, ECGC and hyaluronic acid can work in tandem to support collagen scaffold formation for skin regeneration.

Since healthy, glowing skin should be offset by a beautiful smile, it should be noted that some probiotic bacteria have been shown to be effective against the development of dental caries (although not all—in fact, lactic acid has been noted as a cariogenic compound).

Roshini Raj, MD, has noted in interviews that the American Academy of Dermatology is proclaiming probiotics as a “beauty breakthrough,” a phrase that generally resonates for anyone concerned about skin care and aging.

Plus, with the growing preponderance of skin cancer, these suggestions are being taken more seriously than before, even in the absence of sufficient correlations between some diseases and the intake of probiotics.

Consumers suffering from breakouts and other inflammatory skin conditions, such as rosacea and eczema, are likely to seek out solutions wherever they can, particularly if side-effects can be kept to a minimum. While probiotics are finding their way into more cosmetics, these live, “friendly” bacteria are being used more frequently in foods and beverages.

Last year, Whitney Bowe, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, NY, referenced a Korean study revealing positive results when acne sufferers drank a fermented dairy beverage containing Lactobacillus bacteria.

Study participants reported a drop in oil production with total acne lesion counts decreasing over the course of three months.

Bowe, who also is adjunct assistant clinical professor of dermatology at State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn and member of the American Academy of Dermatology, has published a number of studies strongly advocating dietary therapy to counteract acne.

The Matrix

For years, consumers have associated collagen with positive beauty outcomes. It would be hard to find a young woman whose mother didn’t hand down the “secret” of Knox gelatin that she learned from her mother and grandmother before her.

For more than a century, Knox brand gelatin (today owned by Kraft Foods Inc.) has been promoted to women as a healthful way to look beautiful and have strong hair and nails. Gelatin is a concentrated, hydrolyzed source of collagen; collagen is the structural protein found in the connective tissues of the body. It forms the matrix of for, and comprises about 80% of, skin’s dry mass.

Both the dermal layer structure and other factors, like aging, ultraviolet radiation, hormones and nutrition, all can affect the skin’s epidermal layer. Dietary collagen has been found to slow down this process and mitigate the effects of these various assaults on the skin. Gelatin, usually provided in powdered form, has no flavor of its own, and is colorless and odorless. It is thus easily incorporated into a wide variety of formulations.

Peptides derived from collagen also have proven to be safe and highly functional sources of the protein. Known for bone and joint health, there also is scientific backing for their ability to help skin look younger by enhancing suppleness and preventing the formation of wrinkles through decreasing collagen fragmentation, increasing the overall density of collagen and regenerating skin cells.

Odorless, colorless and flavorless peptides have been used successfully in fruit-flavored gummies, “booster sticks” of powdered flavor packets for water and flavoured effervescent tablets.

Results of another study conducted by the Dept. of Dermatology at the University of Kiel, Germany, in December 2013, also support the ability of collagen peptides to enhance skin health. The collagen peptide supplement affect was demonstrated to positively affect dermal matrix synthesis and wrinkle reduction.

In the double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 114 women aged 45-65 years were randomized to receive 2.5g of collagen peptides or placebo once daily for eight weeks. Skin wrinkles were measured before treatment, after four and eight weeks, and finally four weeks after the last intake.

A subgroup was analyzed for pro-collagen I (a collagen precursor made up of fibroblasts and other cellular bodies), elastin and fibrillin at the beginning of the treatment and after eight weeks.

After four weeks of treatment, the collagen peptide group “showed a statistically significantly reduced eye wrinkle volume of more than 7.2% on average.” The effect was almost three times more evident after eight weeks (20.1%). Finally, a maximum in eye wrinkle volume reduction of nearly 50% was attained.

Also, pro-collagen type I was increased by 65%, elastin by 18% and fibrillin by 6% after eight weeks of BCP treatment. Four weeks after treatment, the peptide-taking subjects still showed statistically significant decreases in eye wrinkle volume, at 11.5%.

While it commonly is made from bovine and porcine sources, gelatin, collagen and collagen peptides also are available in fish-derived form. As with other sources, these, too, are odorless, colorless and tasteless, and can boast high enough performance and quality factors to allow it to substitute in formulations that eschew beef or porcine gelatin for those consumers who avoid those ingredients.

Vegetarian gelatin also is an available option for persons who eschew all animal products—a rapidly growing segment of consumers.

Lighten Up

Depending on what ones reads or watches—and in spite of great controversy—after half a century of being scorned, lightening the skin is becoming a trend again. It is something many people, particularly women, are going to great lengths to achieve.

Melagenol is a natural oral nutricosmetic formulation that can lighten—and whiten—skin. The company’s slogan, “Whiter skin from within” references the fact that its active ingredient is produced from plants—specifically, a combination of natural extracts from two plants, Aloysia tryphilla and Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. It has been proven safe and effective as both a beauty aid and for treating skin pigmentation disorders.

The product works by inhibiting the body’s ability to manufacture melanin, the chemical compound that makes skin turn brown as a protective mechanism. It does this through counteracting the tyrosinase enzyme, a key enzyme that needed for melanin production in the body.

Where such products truly achieve benefit is in clearing up the brown spots and blotches that form on older skin—so-called “age” or “liver” spots. Some people can live with skin discoloration more easily than others.

One ingredient manufacturer predicts that sales of skin lightening products will hit about $20 billion by 2018. One reason for the optimism can be attributed to the sometimes poor performance of topical products used to lighten the skin. Some products create more problems, but that doesn’t diminish a consumer’s desire to achieve lighter, flawless-looking skin. An oral alternative offers promise.

A study conducted recently at University Miguel Hernandez in Elche, Spain, revealed that Melagenol inhibits melanin production in melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, in a dose-response manner. It prevented the appearance of undesirable—and, for some people, unattractive (and therefore unacceptable)—dark spots on the skin.

Researchers have reported that Melagenol offers a “triple action” that increases the whitening effect by directly inhibiting the main enzyme responsible for producing melanin; providing an antioxidant effect limiting melanin production by reducing oxidative stress and the activity of the free radicals produced by UV radiation; and producing an anti-inflammatory action that blocks the inflammatory mediators in the skin that have been shown to stimulate melanin synthesis after exposure to UV radiation.

The last two factors are important, since melanin is known to protect skin cells from UV radiation damage, and so can reduce the risk of cancer. It also can prevent or reduce age-related or photo-induced spots on the skin in the first place.

However, skin lightening for the sake of changing one’s natural color is still fraught with controversy and thus makes a tight line for marketers of such products to walk. It is important for manufacturers to decide exactly the benefit they want to offer: whitening and lightening in order to change one’s appearance, or supporting a consumer’s desire to eliminate spots that occur when skin ages.

Appearance of Appearance

Of course what matters is what’s inside a product, but savvy manufacturers revisit the packaging drawing board again and again in order to “get it right.” Food manufacturers have mere seconds to grab a consumer’s attention. And that’s where the claims for beauty-from-within products can turn into a minefield.

Regeneration USA LLC’s Original Goji and Cocoa Brownie bars prominently feature the immensely important phrase “anti-aging” on its packaging. The anti-aging claim is associated with the resveratrol contained in both bars.

Last year, one ingredient maker published a double-blind, cross-over, placebo-controlled study (performed on 20 healthy subjects) that showed a statistically significant inhibition of Human Neutrophil Elastase (HNE) activity during a two-hour period following ingestion of a phytonutrient-rich extract derived from lemon verbena and other botanicals.

HNE is an enzyme that contributes to the degradation of elastin, a key structural protein responsible for the elasticity of the skin and other connective tissue. Currently, the ingredient is being used in tablet form and claims to produce “dewy, youthful skin, shinier and gorgeous hair and healthy, stronger nails.”

Other botanical sources of phytonutrients that promote anti-aging of skin and reduce development of wrinkles include sources such as cocoa,  rosemary, olive oil, grape seed extract, pomegranates, coffeeberry and even mushrooms. Not only are the flavonol compounds in cocoa beans associated with antioxidant protection that can help  stave off the damage from UV light that ages skin, research has revealed that the outer part of the cocoa pod contains phytochemicals that display powerful antioxidants that specifically inhibit skin degradation enzymes such as tyrosinase.      Cocoa pod extracts have already made their way into some beverage products. Agro Innova Co. released its Suavva beverage last year, a sweet-tart drink from cocoa pod with a flavor and texture similar to the popular aloe beverages.

Speaking of aloe, the succulent plant (Aloe barbadensis) is not only famous as a topical skin health ingredient but also has enjoyed a long history as a traditional ingestible cosmeceutical due to its complement of antioxidant phytochemicals.

Nut skins are high in polyphenolic compounds, especially a class of flavonols called flan-3-ols. Highly concentrated in hazelnuts, walnuts and peanuts, this form of polyphenols has shown antioxidant capacity many times that of berries. Nuts also have high amounts of omega fatty acids, and those have been gaining attention as beauty ingredients, too.

Other nutrients in fruits and nuts that promote healthy skin include vitamin A, the B vitamins and vitamins C and E. Avocados are good example. They’re concentrated sources of these compounds as well as lutein, zeaxanthine and magnesium, also closely associated with skin health.

Blueberries Rock

Along the trend for “eating beauty,” fruits and vegetables are marketed as beauty enhancers. They contain antioxidants and other phytochemicals, and sport the superfruit halo, promulgating natural approaches to nourishing skin and general wellness.

“There always is a lot of interest in blueberries as superfruits, especially since blueberries are always included among the original superfruits,” says Tom Payne, industry specialist for the US Highbush Blueberry Council. “This is due to their high antioxidant property and potential to reduce the effects of age-related diseases and dysfunctions.”

Superfruits contain a variety of phytonutrients; many contain high amounts of flavonoids, such as anthocyanins that give berries their deep blue, purple and red colors.

Berries and other superfruits have shown powerful anti-inflammatory capacity in hundreds of studies. They have been connected to heart and cardiovascular health, lung health, reduction of loss of brain function and even obesity.

Oxidation and inflammation have been implicated as components of multiple chronic diseases that affect the outside as well as the inside of the body; thus, those compounds in superfruits can help protect against these diseases.

Food and beverage processors plumbing the current science for beauty-from-within ingredients have paid particular attention to fruit extracts and powders as “beauty-enhancing” ingredients. For example, blueberries already are in a number of products make antioxidants claims.

“There is an inexplicable synergy when a variety of antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense anti-aging foods are combined in moderation,” says Cheryl Forberg, RDN. “An anti-aging diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, cold-water fish, lean protein, legumes, traditional soy foods, nuts and seeds is the easiest and most enjoyable way to protect your skin from the inside out.”

Blueberries are a concentrated source of vitamin C and manganese. Manganese has been shown in studies to be a key factor in the protection of epidermal keratinocytes from UV-induced damage. This is because it is a primary component of the antioxidant manganese-superoxide dismutase.

According to Payne, blueberries offer a strong advantage among superfruits because of the abundance and availability of product and the wide range of format options. “For example, free-flowing, dried blueberries are easy to integrate in intermediate-moisture products. They can enhance products where fruit size and individual piece identity is needed. Blueberry powders may be used as a coating, such as in chocolate confectionery, or in cereals and bars.”

“Freeze-dried products provide crisp flavor notes, tang and ‘real fruit’ flavor bursts,” adds Payne. “Osmotically preserved blueberry products provide fruit size typical of a fresh, whole plump berry, while needing no refrigeration to store. These blueberries are moist, without the appearance of a typical dried fruit.”

Bakers and dessert designers are exploring the current trend for beauty-from-within foods and drinks containing fruit extracts, antioxidants and other beauty-enhancing ingredients. There already are blueberries in a realm of products that make the claim for antioxidants.

The beauty-from-within category presents multiple opportunities for product developers to participate. The trick is to know which foods to fortify and how to market them to an eager but cautious consumer.

Promising a fountain of youth in a capsule will likely raise some eyebrows. Flavorful and convenient foods and beverages, however, are proving effective at introducing consumers to the beauty-enhancing ingredients that can help from the inside out.

Hide the Tomato

Even people who don’t like tomatoes may enjoy the benefits of lycopene, the major carotenoid found in the tomato. Lycopene is a proven antioxidant that can inactivate the free radicals that can damage cells. Ingredient companies, delivering a microencapsulated form of lycopene, are making it possible for manufacturers to create products that contain the health benefits of the tomato—but without the acidic properties associated with the red wonder. Applications include dairy products, meat substitutes, candy, nutrition bars and snacks, breakfast cereals and beverages.

Ayurvedic Beauty

The idea of eating one’s way to a healthy appearance is hardly new. Traditional Eastern folk medicine has always been more about maintaining health and enhancing lifestyle than curing disease, and that includes physical appearance.

With that in mind, Deep Foods Inc., makers of the Tandoori Chef line of frozen prepared Indian cuisine meals and components, have created foods and beverages specifically for the rapidly growing beauty-from-within
channel. Included is a line of cold-pressed fruit, vegetable and botanical tonics and elixirs, such as Amla, Falsa Berry, Ginger, Jamun Berry, Kokum, Nimbu Pani, Tulsi and Turmeric, along with the dairy tonics Badam Milk, Chaas, Masala Chai and Thandai.

The products “strive to balance the three doshas,” defined in Ayurvedic practice as “one’s mental, emotional and physical make-up,” according to Mike Ryan, a vice president at Deep Foods. “Deep Foods’ new cold-pressed tonics use traditional ingredients to cultivate a sense of well-being within the body while influencing these doshas.”

Amla (Phyllanthus emblica), also called Indian gooseberry, is “geared towards boosting the body’s overall health.” although its high vitamin-C content specifically helps skin health, as C is needed to form collagen, the primary component of skin structure.

Falsa berries (Grewia subinaequalis), used in the company’s Cool Down elixir, “promote the elimination of free radicals [as well as] the growth of healthy cells, ultimately balancing the body from within.”

Kokum, (Garcinia indica), related to the mangosteen, also is used in the elixirs. It is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E, as well as citric acid and essential fatty acids. All these nutrients are believed to to contribute to healthy skin and hair.