Drink and eat your way to beauty: a how-to guide to nutricosmetics, trending with people who want to glow from within
Supplements you swallow containing ingredients such as probiotics and collagen target gut health to improve your complexion. We talk to experts about how they work, and pick four nutricosmetics for you to get started
Beauty trends come and go but one that shows no signs of abating is nutricosmetics: ingestible products designed to improve how you look, from a smoother complexion to thicker, stronger hair.
While similar products have long existed in places like Japan – Fancl, for example, has been peddling drinks with ingredients such as collagen and bee pollen for years – they are set to grow in popularity thanks to the current trend of wellness and healthy living.
“Our customers have been taking supplements such as vitamins and minerals for years, but now that they are more educated, they are interested in products that work deeper from within the body,” says Lianna Man, vice-president of wellness and beauty at Lane Crawford. “Ingestibles go straight into the system and many of the ingredients are more effective when taken internally versus topically.”
One of the leaders and pioneers in nutricosmetics is Australian brand The Beauty Chef, which was founded in 2012. Founder Carla Oates’ personal experiences with bad skin and eczema inspired her to create a series of powders packed with natural ingredients intended to promote inner and outer health.
“When it comes to having a gorgeous complexion, what you eat affects your skin just as much, if not more, than the creams and serums you use,” Oates says.
“My philosophy has always been that beauty begins in the belly and that digestive health is the key to healthy, clear skin. The gut is where 70 per cent of our immune system lies, it’s where we metabolise hormones, make detoxifying enzymes and nutrients, neutralise pathogens and make neurotransmitters – so much of what goes on in our digestive system can impact our skin.”
Dr Nigma Talib, a naturopath whose patients include Penelope Cruz and Sienna Miller, says many people suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can cause the skin to appear dull and congested. “Not to mention women can have problems with hormone imbalance due to deficiency states which can cause all sorts of skin issues,” she adds.
Most ingestibles are packed with specific ingredients that target gut health. WelleCo, a company co-founded by supermodel Elle Macpherson, sells a “super elixir” that includes a potent cocktail of Chinese herbs; ingredients such as kelp that stimulate the thyroid; turmeric, which is anti-inflammatory; and dandelion to help remove toxins from the body.
The ingredients are claimed to work together to balance acidity in the skin and to alkalise the blood, which helps with digestion and the absorption of minerals and vitamins.
Another gut-friendly ingredient is probiotics – live bacteria and yeasts that target the gut and are claimed to reduce inflammation. Talib recommends the Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 strain, one of the most studied probiotics in the world.
“How probiotics work is that they prevent bad bugs from growing in your gut which can cause skin flare-ups and poor absorption of vitamins and minerals,” she says. “Probiotics keep the bacteria in balance so your immune system is strengthened and inflammation is reduced, creating glowing skin from the inside out.”
Also making headlines is collagen. This fibrous protein helps strengthen everything from skin and nails to bones and joints, but as we get older, our bodies’ production declines significantly and affects how we look and feel.
While the health industry provides a solution in foods such as bone broth, beauty brands including Vital Proteins have created drinkable collagen peptide powders to replenish and regenerate collagen levels in the body.
With so many nutricosmetic choices on offer, it can be confusing to know what to take. Experts suggest that first-timers start out slow, taking just one product at a time.
“If your digestive system isn’t used to receiving concentrated levels of probiotics, vitamins and minerals, it’s important to start slowly so that your system isn’t overwhelmed,” Oates says. “I also am a big believer in consuming whole food supplements as opposed to synthetic vitamins which may cause an imbalance in your body. And opt for ‘certified organic’ products.”
Four products to try
Healthy Flora by Dr Nigma Talib
These contain a blend of probiotics to improve overall gut health, in addition to antioxidant grape seed extract, enzymes and B-complex for energy. Available at www.net-a-porter.com
The Super Elixir by WelleCo
The all-in-one plant-based powder includes 45 ingredients for increasing energy and making skin glow. Available at Lane Crawford
Glow by The Beauty Chef
Contains 45 certified-organic, bio-fermented and probiotic superfoods to promote good gut health. Available at Lane Crawford
Collagen Peptides by Vital Proteins
This easily digestible formula contains collagen peptides sourced from the hides of grass-fed, pasture-raised cows to promote skin, hair and joint health. Available at www.vitalproteins.com