Façade? British Nutrition Foundation questions benefit of skin beauty nutraceuticals

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14 Feb 2018 --- Although there is a growing market for orally consumed beauty supplements that promise “youthful,” “firm” and “glowing” skin, the evidence to support some of the ingredients used in these popular, and often costly, products is limited. This is according to a review of published research conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF). The review concludes that nutraceuticals for skin may not add further benefit to the effects already obtained from a healthy diet. 

With the increasing pressures of social media, the desire for a “youthful” looking skin is more evident than ever. This has prompted an increasing demand for oral supplements – nutrients taken as pills, powders or drinks, rather than applied directly to the skin (sometimes termed “beauty from within”) – claiming to improve skin appearance. The global beauty supplements market is expected to reach US$7,100 million by 2023.

The BNF’s review – Nutraceuticals and skin appearance: Is there any evidence to support this growing trend? – investigates whether oral beauty nutraceuticals can provide a defense against skin damage from external factors, helping to reduce wrinkles and maintain skin elasticity. 

Click to EnlargeSome ingredients, such as vitamins A, C, B2, B3, B7, and the minerals iodine and zinc, are proven to contribute to the maintenance of normal skin. However, there is a wide variety of other ingredients used in oral beauty nutraceuticals including; green tea extract, pomegranate extract, carotenoids, evening primrose oil, borage oil, fish oil, collagen and co-enzyme Q10. According to the BNF review, although many of these are perceived as “natural” ingredients, with some having health benefits when consumed as part of our diet, there is only a small amount of evidence to suggest that, as nutraceutical ingredients, they could provide any real “anti-aging” benefit to the skin. 

The foundation highlights that results from some laboratory experiments – for example, conducted on skin cells in a dish – suggest that these ingredients can have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or collagen enhancing effects. However, these results cannot automatically be assumed to be relevant beyond the laboratory. In its review, the BNF was only able to identify a limited number of well-conducted human trials, and the findings of these were inconsistent. 
 
Healthy lifestyle choices like eating a nutritious diet, not smoking and not drinking alcohol in excess, as well as using topical sunscreen, are likely to be a much more effective in helping delay the inevitable skin aging process than taking oral beauty supplements, and will also have wider health benefits, according to BNF.

Ayela Spiro, Nutrition Science Manager, British Nutrition Foundation, comments: “As consumers can spend hundreds of pounds a year on oral beauty supplements, we felt it was important to investigate the association between the ingredients in these products, and the signs that we associate with skin ageing, such as wrinkles, loss of elasticity and moisture. While there is a body of research on the science of skin aging, evidence for the benefit of nutraceuticals to skin appearance is currently not strong enough to draw firm conclusions.” 

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