As consumers become more concerned about the chemicals in their grooming products, brands are turning to ingredients that are natural enough to eat – those derived from fruits, vegetables and other superfoods.
Thanks to websites like the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database and No More Dirty Looks, it’s easy to learn which harsh chemicals are lurking in one’s beauty products. So it’s no surprise that consumers around the world are seeking out actives that can be found at the local farmer’s market – high quality ingredients that, in today’s food obsessed, farm-to-table society, are viewed as luxury items in their own right.
“[Edible ingredients] offer great results with no side effects,” explains Boldijarre Koronczay, president of plant-based Hungarian skincare brand Éminence. “For instance, acne products that incorporate liquorice are very effective, but without the downsides of ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, which causes drying and irritation.”
Superfoods Hit the Beauty Counter
Consumers’ vanity tables are beginning to look more like their kitchen cabinets, thanks to an array of new skin potions, cosmetics and hair products that use common foods as hero ingredients.
Antioxidant packed fruits and vegetables are proving particularly popular. One pioneer of the produce movement is California brand The Body Deli, which has been blending raw, living superfoods – such as anti inflammatory cranberry, collagen boosting goji berry and antibacterial lemongrass – into skin care products since 2002. According to the brand, one benefit of using edible nutrients is that the skin absorbs their nutrients more easily than synthetics.
Another leader in the field is Éminence, which has been harvesting fruit and vegetable fats, juices, pulps and seeds for its organic skincare line since 1958. The Hungarian brand uses ancient biodynamic farming methods – a process based on the lunar cycles that improves the nutritional value of produce. Éminence’s latest ingredient innovation replicates the effects of skin bleaching agent hydroquinone using a combination of African potatoes and the shrublike Peruvian Tara tree.
Newer brands harnessing fruit and veg include Texan brand W3LL People – a cosmetics brand launched by a former executive of US-based makeup brand Nars that incorporates glow-enhancing reishi mushroom, pomegranate and pumpkin seed into its products; and New York’s Tela Organics, which uses a blend of 35 reparative fruits, vegetables and herbs in its hair care products.
Beauty brands are also mining the pantry. Brooklyn beauty line SW Basics (originally named Sprout Skincare) makes each item with five ingredients or less, most of which can be found in the kitchen – think extra virgin olive oil for hydration, apple cider vinegar for toning and sea salt for exfoliation. The brand was picked up by US-based lifestyle, interiors and fashion store Anthropologie shortly after its 2011 launch.
Finally, nutrient-rich seaweed is being harvested in northern climates for beauty products. Denmark’s Organic M.A.K.E. skincare and Canada’s Sea Flora harvest several different kinds of local seaweed – for instance, chlorella algae firms and oxygenates skin, while giant kelp soothes inflammation.
Supplements for the Skin
Food-sourced vitamins aren’t just being used in topical beauty products. Brands are also taking an inside out approach, developing edible supplements that pack a super concentrated punch of beauty-enhancing ingredients.
Visoanska Paris’ skin creams come packaged with ingestible tablets for day and night to amplify the topical treatments’ effects. One supplement claims to repair skin with antioxidants such as red baobab fibre and red wine polyphenols. Oskia London pairs its “nutritional skincare” products – formulated with ingredients like apple stem cells, milk peptides and cress liposomes – with pure MSM sulphur tablets that strengthen and detoxify skin.
Although beauty supplements haven’t taken hold in the US like they have in Europe and Asia due to strict regulations, there are some exceptions. Intelligent Nutrients, a US-based company launched by British beauty brand Aveda founder Horst Rechelbacher in 2008, has created Nutraceutical Supplements, consisting of thousands of cold-pressed seeds noted for their anti-ageing properties, including red raspberry and red grape seeds. One serving of these super concentrated supplements is equal to consuming 10 lb of fresh raspberry seeds.
Beautifying Food & Drink
Of course, diet has a huge impact on hair, skin and nail health. Thus, an entire industry is cropping up around food and drink designed to improve the quality of all three – promoting weight loss at the same time.
In North America and the UK, juice cleanses have become a popular way to detoxify and flood the body with vitamins. Glowing skin and a flatter stomach are well-documented bonuses of these cleanses, which last from one day to a week. One of the most popular US brands is Los Angeles’ Pressed Juicery, which launched in 2010 and now has more than two dozen cold-pressed nut milks and fruit and vegetable juices, which can be purchased individually or in cleanse packages.
In the UK, Plenish Cleanse is another juice brand that relies on cold pressing – a hydraulic technique that allows enzymes to live for longer periods of time than is possible with traditional pasteurisation.
For those seeking a faster food fix, several brands are creating snacks and “beauty drinks” packed with anti-ageing ingredients. Brazil’s Beauty’in produces vitamin-laden drinks and “collagen candies” that claim to promote youthful skin. Swiss multinational food manufacturer Nestle’s Glowelle drink powder contains high levels of skin-nourishing botanical antioxidants and fruit extracts. And US soft drinks giant CocaCola is launching a beauty drink called Beautific Oenobiol in France in 2013. Although the drink’s ingredients are yet to be disclosed, it is said to help strengthen hair and nails, improve skin and promote weight loss.
Alluring as these products may be, LA-based nutritionist Kimberly Snyder notes that their actual benefits are inevitably less than promised. “There is always the societal lure of the “magic in a bottle” idea, especially when the ingredients sound really exotic,” says Snyder, author of The Beauty Detox Solution, which explores the intersection between nutrition and beauty. “Such supplements may supply some nutritive benefits, but you cannot rely on a bottled drink. You have to incorporate real and lasting lifestyle changes, with a focus on whole plant foods, to really reach your highest beauty potential.”
Beauty brands are incorporating fruits, vegetables and other nutrient rich edible ingredients into their products to promote youthful skin and healthy hair.
Not only are natural, edible ingredients less harsh on skin than man-made chemical actives, their nutrients are more easily absorbed by the body than synthetic elements.
Ingestible beauty products, from food-based vitamin supplements to detoxifying juice cleanses and beautifying snack foods, are also on the rise. Packed with exponentially more antioxidants and enzymes than foods in their natural state, these products help improve beauty from the inside out.
Thanks to the farm-to-table gastronomy movement, consumers now view high-quality food as a luxury. Brands should consider how they can incorporate the nutrients, scents and other properties of food into their own products and experiences.
As consumers become increasingly wary of chemicals in the products they use, brands must look to nature for comparable substitutes. How can your brand harness the power of nature to solve your customer’s problems?