Once a niche category confined to Asia, edible beauty has boomed in recent years. Awareness and acceptance of the concept of ‘beauty from within’ has spread from Asia to North America and Europe, gaining the interest of functional food and nutraceutical companies as well as traditional beauty and cosmetic brands. According to Innova Market Insights, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of new products launched with a skin health claim was 23% between 2017 and 2020. What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to accelerate this growth, with growing consumer demand for products which rebalance the skin after daily use of face masks.
But will edible beauty continue to grow and become mainstream? What are the predicted hot topics in this space? In conversation with nutritionists, brands and ingredient experts, Vitafoods Insights rounds up the top five trends in the nutribeauty market.
1. Collagen as the star of edible beauty?
New-generation skin health ingredients are outpacing vitamins. Cindy Dekeyser, global business intelligence manager at PB Leiner, names collagen “the second most important anti-aging ingredient; it’s quickly gaining consumer recognition and becoming a mainstream edible beauty ingredient.” Dekeyser notes that more products are launched with collagen without a reference to beauty or skin health, underlining consumers’ familiarity with the ingredient as well as the broad range of health benefits it provides beyond skin health.
However, this may also be due to the difficulties of substantiating health claims in the nutribeauty space. Sam Jennings, director of Berry Ottaway & Associates Ltd, draws attention to Regulation 1924/2006 which has been a block for obtaining authorised health claims for substances such as collagen. “The level of data required is well beyond that which is generally possible to obtain in a reasonable time period for a nutritional product,” she says. “For many claims, to demonstrate the nutritional or physiological impact of a substance on a healthy person, there would need to be randomised controlled trials spanning decades! Beauty claims that are not considered health claims still require a substantial amount of strong scientific data to support them, but the difference is the data might only be checked after the claim is in use, as opposed to the claim requiring pre-authorisation.”
Moreover, Dr Karin Hermoni, head of science and nutrition at Lycored, draws attention to the fact that while collagen is getting a lot of attention from consumers and brands, it is not directly aligned with other trends in the category. “Collagen is usually animal-derived, so it makes sense to pair it with plant-based collagen boosters,” Hermoni explains. “There’s a growing body of evidence for the role of tomato phytonutrients in skincare, and they can be a great partner for collagen.”
Dekeyser points to China’s recent approval of the use of sodium hyaluronate as a food ingredient, in addition to its use in supplements, as a further example of needed innovation in collagen. “More formulations that combine the use of hyaluronic acid and collagen in food and beverage can be expected in the Chinese edible beauty market,” Dekeyser predicts.
2. Growing demand for sustainable, plant-based products
Products with collagen from animal and marine source dominate the edible beauty market. However, the trend for vegan and vegetarian options has reached the nutribeauty sector. According to Alice Olufeso, product manager of food & health Europe at Mibelle Biochemistry, there is an increasing demand for vegan alternatives. Hermoni agrees that the market is showing a strong interest in plant-based actives, observing that around half of American skincare consumers want products that are all-natural or free from synthetic chemicals, with 68% buying at least some natural or organic products.
The demand for natural and plant-based products is closely linked to a growing interest in the source of ingredients as consumers focus on sustainability. Hermoni notes that the “blue beauty” movement has put a spotlight on the impact of harmful chemicals and packaging on marine ecosystems. Brands must speak to the importance of finding plant-based alternatives and solutions to environmental issues if there are to stay on-trend.
3. Stress, sleep and skin
Nutribeauty is far from skin-deep. The meaning of beauty from within is likely to take on a new dimension as research continues in the connection between mood and skin. Sophie Medlin, consultant dietitian at CityDietitians, points to Meghan Markle’s backing of Clevr Blends, the ‘superlatte’ brand which focuses on ‘brain boosting’ and mood lifting ingredients, as evidence of a growing awareness that stress and lack of sleep and ageing and can affect our physical appearance. “I think we’ll see the focus shift to stress management and sleep improvements to harness overall wellness and beauty from within,” says Medlin. “Products like ashwagandha, CBD, nootropics and sleep supplements are likely to be focus of the market.”
4. Innovative delivery formats
Dekeyser observes that the category is still dominated by supplements, which made up three-quarters of new product launches in 2020. However, whilst Olufeso agrees that traditional forms such as capsules and tablets are still the most preferred dosage form by supplement users, she points out that as technology expands, new formats are arising. “We have seen an increase in new innovative product formats within the edible beauty market, such as chewable (soft chew, gummies), nutritional bars, liquids (beverage, shots) or powder (drinks, single-dose sachet) in the last years, making them more attractive to consumers,” says Olufeso. Looking forward, she believes, “we will see a stronger shift from classical supplements to more food-like formats. This will require more botanical ingredients suitable to resist certain production processes, easy to dissolve and without off note taste.”
5. An inclusive approach to beauty
Whilst edible beauty products are on the rise, so is the growing body positivity moment. “I hope that the market will start to focus on wider holistic health markers over physical beauty alone for women,” Medlin says. “The market needs to recognise the rebellion of women against prescribed and rigid beauty standards. Brands that can successfully move their marketing from physical appearance focused messaging to holistic health from within are most likely to thrive over the next few years.”
Hermoni predicts that this more inclusive approach to beauty will embrace all skin types and genders, noting that, “men in particular are becoming more interested in ingestible skincare as an easy way to look good without a lot of fuss.”
Interested in learning more from Sophie Medlin and Sam Jennings about the future of functional foods? Register for our panel discussion on Wednesday 7 April, 11am BST.