Updated: May 7, 2020
Ten years ago, it was estimated that 40% of the British population use a supplement regularly, and daily cod liver oil, fish oils and multivitamins was reported as the most popular products to improve health. In the last two to three years, there is a small corner of the supplement market that is flourishing: the nutricosmetic industry, supplements targeted at making us look better.
Beauty drinks, vitamin-packed cereal bars and sugary, skin-enhancing syrup sales are soaring that much that by 2024 the global market is expected to be worth USD 4.4 billion. This comes as no surprise; consumer trends show ‘cleaner’ and more contentious choices – who doesn’t want to live a healthy, long life and have great skin, hairs and nails too?
Nescafe’s collagen coffee via Elle
How do beauty drinks work?
All beauty drinks contain some kind of vitamin, mineral, collagen, co-enzyme or carotenoid in order to enhance the skin’s overall health and appearance. Promised outcomes and beauty drink ingredients slightly differ from brand to brand, however there is one leading message that reflects in all of them.
Rather than ‘giving’ the skin collagen (the protein in the skin that keeps it healthy), the ingredients inside of a beauty drink are supposed to trigger our body into producing more of it. If this is true, this means good news for everybody because as we reach our 20s, the collagen in our body declines which inevitably leads to the appearance of ageing.
It is also claimed that nutritious ingredients are absorbed faster into the body when digested, and therefore a beauty drink may be able to have quicker effect on the skin than a cream or lotion that is applied topically.
Each unique refreshment from every nutricosmetic brand uses one or more key ingredients to give the skin a boost, and of course it is not only collagen.
Vitamins & Minerals including vitamin A, C, D, E, K all play an antioxidant role on the skin by neutralising free radicals and aiding collagen production.
Silica is a natural anti-inflammatory and helps with collagen formation.
Goji and Acai berries are antioxidant-rich, natural ingredients and work by boosting the skin’s circulation and soothing it.
Hyaluronic acid also known as HA, is produced naturally in the human body. It is the ultimate hydrating ingredient because the molecule can hold up to a thousand times its own weight in water.
Selenium has been significantly proven to protect against skin damage and cancer and can speed up the skin’s repair system and reverse sun damage (-although more recent studies have surfaced that prove otherwise.)
Pomegranate also acts as an antioxidant for the skin because it contains ellagic acid, a natural polyphenol that assists with reducing collagen breakdown.
Coenzyme Q10 has also been linked with reducing the chances of cancer. It is a natural antioxidant in the body and encourages cell growth.
It is important to note that not all beauty drinks are veggie-friendly – most supplements, especially collagen-based refreshments can contain either fish (often listed as marine collagen) or pig (known as bovine collagen.)
So, what are the brand’s themselves saying?
Multi-award-winning nutricosmetics company, Skinade claims to use scientist-backed, ‘bio-available’ technology in order to aim ‘improve the way your skin looks in as little as 30 days’… in exchange for £115. Working from the inside out, the ingredients claims to trigger collagen and hyaluronic acid production and has a clinical trial posted on their website. The one study was carried out on 80 different women whom were given Skinade for 12 weeks – the findings concluded that 77% of the group that drank the supplement, had a 41% reduction in wrinkles.
Spanish brand Beauty&Go also reassure ‘beauty from the inside out’ from their extensive range of beauty drinks. Each product use MACRO-antioxidants® and are designed to fix a specific concern – some drinks target breakouts and dullness, whereas other focus on plumping the skin and hydration. The clinical trial studied on 50 volunteers aged 45-65, drank 1 Beauty&Go juice for 90 days and 77% saw firmer skin whilst 22% saw a brighter complexion. This brand is also pretty expensive, but has some wholesome, positive Trustpilot reviews.
Meanwhile Deciem’s umbrella brand Fountain, are using resveratrol (a natural phenol found in red grapes) and hyaluronic acid to ‘promote health, youth and longevity’. This vegan-friendly juice booster also has a sweetener that claims to help produce more collagen. I can’t find any clinical reviews on this one, however Cultbeauty assure us The Beauty Molecule ‘promotes cell rejuvenation.’
But do beauty drinks work?
Nutricosmetics are a controversial market because there is just not enough compelling evidence to show the short- and long-term effects of using them, except from the leading brands themselves.
Yes, there is a study or two to show how consuming collagen can improve skin texture, but that is where the evidence comes to a halt. We must remind ourselves that there is limited investigation to show if supplements in general, are even beneficial to the skin.
Also, gut health varies from person to person so there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ beauty drink which may post an untold risk.
Beauty drinks are not a healthy alternative. LA dermatologist, Howard Murad MD says they are a “good back-up plan” but “to make a supplement drinkable, you need to add preservatives, emulsifiers, and sweeteners — things that aren’t ideal to ingest.” No thanks.
During my nutricosmetics research I came across a brilliant quote from one of my favourite authors, Michael Pollan:
“be the kind of person who takes supplements – then skip the supplements.”
I think this advice is fitting when it comes to deciding whether to join the beauty drink consumer club. Supplements can be beneficial but there is not enough information out there to decide this for certain. There are also a number of other healthier, (-and well-studied) less expensive, lifestyle habits you can commit to before diving into your wallet and slurping down a super sugary skin drink.
Drinking more water is the perfect beauty drink alternative as it aids the skin’s circulation, secretion and absorption.
A healthy diet is another no-brainer if great skin is a goal of yours. Consider getting your vitamins from a diet of liver, fish, cheese and eggs. Protein is accessible from eating lean meats, lentils, milk and quinoa; tocopherols can be sourced from consuming nuts and seeds. Carotenoids are thought to prevent skin cancer and you can find these in tomatoes, carrots, sweet potato and leafy greens.
Green and black tea is a rich source of antioxidants and has been brewed by humans since the 17th century. Many studies have shown how this healthy herbal refreshment can boost heart health, lower bad cholesterol, improve gut health, and yes, better our skin. Green and black tea is also a much less sugary option compared to the generic beauty drink.
Why not make your own beauty drink at home? The internet has lots of yummy, skin-detoxing juice recipes online to guide you through the physics of smoothie making.
Would you try a beauty drink? Comment below or find me on Instagram, I would love to hear from you.