“Eat Pretty” was one of Innova Market Insights Top Trends for 2020, but interest continues to grow for 2021 and beyond. That’s because the “Beauty from Within” concept is taking on a whole new meaning and the food and beverage market continues to see a growing number of launches bordering on the cosmeceutical. 

Consumers are increasingly selecting food and drinks that support their physical appearance and reduce the effects of aging. These products focus on beauty-enhancing ingredients for the benefit of body, nails, hair and skin. Overall, this has increased interest in herbal and botanical extracts, the potential benefits of adaptogens, and the further development of more traditional ingredients such as collagen.

This topic also is known as nutricosmetics and sometimes as “beauty foods” or “ingestible beauty.” A new generation of products has emerged and they combine elements from the functional foods, dietary supplements and cosmetics industries. These remain largely focused in supplements, although there also are food and beverage platforms involving soft drinks, snacks and sports nutrition.

According to Innova Market Insights data, more than 5% of global supplement launches recorded in the 12 months to the end of October 2020 were specifically targeted at hair, skin and/or nail health. This is up from 2% just three years previously. 

US activity levels were slightly behind these, reflecting the more established nature of the market elsewhere in the world (particularly Japan). During the same 12-month tracking period, 4.4% of US supplement launches targeted the hair, skin and/or nail subcategory and that was up from 1% in 2017. 

Taking a broader stance, 15% of global supplement launches of all types used skin health positionings of some kind. This indicated the ongoing tendency to feature skin health as just one of several benefits in products with a more general health and wellness image. The equivalent share in the US was a slightly lower, but still relatively substantial 13%.

Collagen to the Rescue
Collagen remains a key ingredient and it features in more than one-quarter of supplement launches with a skin health positioning. Meanwhile, ongoing research and new product development have created a more sophisticated and diverse products. Some products use a more direct beauty positioning, while others tend to rely more on rising consumer understanding. 

Uplift Supplements, Dumfries, UK, opened a US office in Sheridan, Wyo., and in late 2020 the business introduced its Uplift collagen supplement line in the US. It includes Collagen Complex and Organic Superblend Formula. There’s also a specific Marine Collagen Ultimate Beauty Formula with hyaluronic acid, pine bark and astaxanthin. In addition to the marine collagen content, the product also focuses on the skin health benefits of vitamin C, copper, niacin, selenium and zinc.

Other components often combined with collagen are biotin and probiotics. Maxwell Health Sciences, Houston, combines collagen and biotin in its Maxwell Vitamins Hair, Skin and Nails Gummies. Havasu Nutrition, Sunrise, Fla., introduced Collagen Peptides Plus Probiotics. It contains 18 essential amino acids plus a patented probiotic to offer beauty benefits, along with digestive and immune health support, the company says.  

Fermented collagen also is promoted as a key to increased bioavailability, Ancient Nutrition LLC, Franklin, Tenn., introduced that topic last July with four new encapsulated versions of its Multi Collagen Protein Powder. Varieties include Original, Beauty + Sleep, Gut Restore, and Joint + Mobility.  Officials say fermented collagen results in smaller peptides that are pre-digested by microorganisms for faster, easier and more beneficial absorption.

Interest in vegan and plant-based options also has resulted in greater interest in collagen boosting botanicals, including lycopene and astaxanthin antioxidants.  Further Inc., San Francisco, says its Further Foods’ Vegan Beauty chocolate supplement powder, for example, supports collagen production for “radiant skin, hair and nails.” It features vitamins C and E, aloe vera and six premium plant-based ingredients, which it claims “help build beauty from within.” Vital Proteins LLC, Franklin Park, Ill., says its Vital Proteins Skin Hydration Boost increases collagen synthesis with ingredients such as vitamin C, biotin, magnesium, zinc, selenium, hyaluronic acid and mustard seed extract.

Eat, Drink in Health
Hungry for better health? There are more mainstream food and drinks products with beauty, anti-aging and skin health claims. The market remains relatively fragmented outside Japan, where it is an established and highly developed market. Japanese consumers can select from an array of products led by soft drinks and yogurt drinks/fermented milks. These items incorporate plant extracts, vitamins, carotenoids, collagen, co-enzymeQ10, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, etc., and a range of sub-sectors that target skin moisture, skin smoothness, skin elasticity and skin whitening.

Activity outside Asia remains very limited, however, and this includes the US, where less than 0.5% of food and drinks launches (excluding supplements and pet foods) used skin health positionings in the 12 months to the end of October 2020. Key categories included snacks, sports nutrition and soft drinks, with sports powders, snack nuts and seeds, and cereal and energy bars as the strongest individual subcategories.  

Snacks was the leading category and they accounted for nearly 30% of US new product launches with a skin health claim during the 12 months to the end of October 2020. More specifically, snack nuts and seeds the most popular subcategory, ahead of snack mixes. In both these subcategories it is largely the natural nutritional benefits, particularly of nuts, that are related to skin health in addition to other functional benefits. 

Last year saw Sincerely Nuts, Middlesex, N.J., expand its broad line with Organic Raw Brazil Nuts, and Wasabi Peas. The company emphasized the nuts’ minerals, antioxidants and selenium and said their naturally rich vitamin E content fights free radicals that can cause premature aging (thus promoting skin elasticity). Wasabi Peas also were marketed on a range of health benefits, including the antioxidant content from vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help prevent damage to skin cells caused by free radicals in the body. 

Sports nutrition accounted for just under one-fifth of food and drinks launches featuring skin health claims, and sports powders comprised the majority of those. Looking more closely, there is wide variety of products, many overlap with the supplements and offer a range of performance and functional benefits. 

Debuting last year was BCAA/EAA Glutamine & Collagen powder from 1 Up Nutrition LLC, Miami. The Passion Fruit flavored product focuses on muscle recovery and growth, protein synthesis and hydration, as well as skin and hair recovery. Zendurance LLC, Scottsdale, Ariz., introduced Collagen + Greens, which combines grass-fed collagen with organic superfood greens to promote healthy skin, hair and nails; in addition to bone health and joint mobility. 

In addition to powder products there also are some more convenient, ready-to-drink formats, such as Vital Proteins’ Energy Collagen Shot. It combines collagen peptides and other functional ingredients including hyaluronic acid. It is marketed as a more general wellness shot to improve sports performance and mental focus, but benefits to skin hydration and elasticity also are featured.

Bottom’s Up! 
Historically, beverages have served as good vehicles for functional ingredients and better-for-you health benefits. During the 12 months to the end of October 2020, Innova Market Insights data show that soft drinks took third place in terms of skin health positionings, accounting for 10% of the total, while traditional hot tea also featured. More broadly, use of skin health claims feature across a whole range of US soft drink subsectors, led by drink concentrates and mixes. Other active categories include flavored water, carbonates, iced tea and meal replacements.

US launches in the second half of 2020 included Circle Sparkling Protein, a four-item canned line from Circle Beverage, Indianapolis. Varieties include Watermelon Thyme, Lemon Mint, Vanilla Pear and Raspberry Hibiscus. Each delivers 20g collagen peptides in addition to protein and amino acids. Late 2019 and early 2020 brought new FLEXWATER Collagen varieties from Bibita USA LLC, Jersey City, N.J. Private label brands also are making an impression. Last year saw GNC Holdings Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa., introduce canned Luster & Lum Sparkling Collagen Water with hyaluronic acid in three varieties—Ravish Raspberry, Cherry Kiss and Lush Lemon—to “support beautiful hydrated skin.”

Mainstream Push
With time, it’s clear that more generalized products are emphasizing skin, hair and nail benefits as part of general health and wellness and balanced nutrition. This is evident in the cereal and energy bars category. Last summer saw MCTco, Marina del Rey, Calif., introduce three new “boosted” flavors in its keto-friendly MCT bar line: Berry Beautiful, Lemon Boost and Banana Beautiful. The two beauty varieties each feature biotin and vitamin E. 

Other interesting US launches also feature “beauty” in the product’s actual name. Sacred Sins LLC, Miami, Fla., offers a six-item line of bars under the brand, What The Function. It includes a Beauty bar (Mixed Berry) with collagen and hyaluronic acid for hair, skin and nails. Kalumi, Marina del Rey, Calif., also offers Beauty Food (Marine) Collagen Protein Bars in three varieties: Sweetie Pie, Lemon and Cocoa Kiss

This better-for-you segment projects to grow with increased consumer awareness of adaptogens, a class of herbal extracts that help the body combat the mental and physical effects of stress. Adaptogens are only more recently becoming more popular in the West after centuries of use in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal practices. 

Adaptogens have primarily been associated with elevating mood and energy. In the beauty market, botanical extracts such as moringa, turmeric, aloe vera and acerola also can help regulate body processes and adapt to give skin what it needs to optimize health at a given point in time. Not surprisingly, supplements represent the biggest market for adaptogens. However, like all new product development related to physical appearance, look for adaptogens to make more a mainstream market push—particularly in beverages—for beauty benefits.

Lu Ann Williams is the Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights, provider of market research services including the Innova Database. With more than 25 years’ experience in the food industry, Lu Ann is a trend expert and frequent public speaker at events worldwide. She leads a team of analysts and works with global clients. Contact her at luann.williams@innovami.com.