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Nutricosmetics: A New Way to Beauty

By: Eleni Grammenou, Euromonitor International
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the September 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

Cosmetics and toiletries are taking new forms, with beauty products moving from tubes to foods. Interest in nutricosmetics has begun to grow alongside interest in functional products, leading to the addition of new products that are complementary to the traditional beauty industry.

Nutricosmetics have emerged as a segment of nutraceuticals, initially gaining popularity in Japan and Europe and now gaining ground in the U.S. The term derives from the combination of foods, pharma and cosmetics. Nutricosmetic products generally focus on three areas: skin, hair and beauty. In the skin segment, nutricosmetics address a range of problems—including skin repair, pigmentation issues, firmness, whitening, slimming and aging. For hair, nutricosmetic products claim to aid growth, restoration, nourishment and volume, while nail-specific products concentrate on improving strength and the overall appearance of nails. Nutricosmetics are available in pill, tablet, liquid and food formats. Foods and drinks positioned and marketed as beauty-enhancing are a newer concept, with added-value functional foods becoming the next logical step for innovation in the cosmetics and toiletries industry.

Innovation Faces Regulatory Concerns

Competitive pressures in the cosmetics and toiletries, OTC health care, and food and drinks industries alike are seeing manufacturers expand their offerings with high added-value products. The introduction of nutricosmetic products in Europe remains problematic due to the lack of a regulatory system. As things currently stand, the regulatory environment for nutricosmetic products is more favorable in Japan, where an established system is in place for the approval of functional and nutricosmetic products. The likelihood of introducing similar legislative procedures in Europe and the U.S. could prove more problematic, thus making the introduction of new product innovations in these regions more difficult. In Europe, nutricosmetics would fall under both food and medicinal law, but the decision as to which applies varies by country.

Media Feeds Demand

Frequent media exposure and concerns about the adverse effects of beauty products on the skin and their general effectiveness are changing the attitudes of consumers, who, in turn, are increasingly turning to natural products. On the one hand, the rise in health and wellness and growing consumer appreciation of the role of nutrition in beauty is being spurred by the soaring obesity rate and media attention—television shows such as the U.K. produced You Are What You Eat are prime examples. In addition, pressure to look good and stave off the signs of aging is pushing consumers to pay a premium for added cosmetic benefits.

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