The beauty industry has undergone massive changes within the last few years. No longer are we searching for the perfect “miracle” cream to prevent ageing and allay all skin concerns; instead, the focus has diverted to working from the inside out. Oral supplements - taken in the form of pills, powders, tonics, and snacks - promise to do just that. They claim to promote healthiness on the inside, in turn prompting a beautiful, youthful appearance on the outside. Globally, the beauty supplements market is expected to be worth more than $9.7 billion by 2024. So, what are these supplements?
Ingestible beauty, or beauty supplements, are a group of products ingested to trigger health internally and subsequent external affects. While beauty is traditionally a topical industry, with creams and serums designed for direct application on the skin, the supplement industry focuses on the inside. Leaders in the market claim that, while a cream may provide instant hydration and moisture, this is only a band aid solution for many skin concerns. It is a short-term fix for potentially long-lasting issues. Beauty, they say, begins on the inside - notably, in the gut. It is only through treating and looking after the gut that deep-rooted problems are healed and minimised; we are taking a holistic approach to beauty.
Collagen is one of the most common beauty supplements as it promises to keep skin plump and ward off unwanted wrinkles and sagginess. The protein is abundant in the human body - in our skin, cartilage, muscles, and bones - and acts as our body’s building blocks. With age, our levels of collagen production reduce, hence, the appearance of wrinkles as we mature. This decline begins in our late 20’s and then continues to decrease approximately 1% each year thereafter. Menopause only serves to speed up the rate of reduction - by the time we are in our 50’s, they say we have potentially lost half of our collagen reserves while natural production ceases. Lifestyle factors, such as sun exposure (of particular importance in Australia), poor diet, high levels of stress, and our environment, also play a role in this reduction.
Without going under the knife or turning to the needle, collagen offers a natural, simple and unintimidating way to revitalise the skin. Oral collagen supplements supposedly not only boost existing levels but encourage the body to continue collagen production naturally. When ingested, the amino acids from these supplements are absorbed by the body, helping to promote taut and supple skin. Collagen is also essential for the growth and strength of hair and nails and supports good gut health. And, with a happy gut, we will likely feel the flow-on effects of more energy and better digestion.
Other beauty supplements contain unique blends of plants and herbs to remedy and help our body deal with stressors in life; ingredients include ancient berries, greens, and spices. These purportedly support hormone health, immunity, and adrenals which, ultimately, also act to promote healthy skin.
Does Ingestible Beauty Work?
The jury is out on whether collagen supplements are scientifically up to the mark but, anecdotally, the claims are promising. While ingestible beauty isn’t a miracle medicine to rewind the clock and slow the sands of time, regular intake may aid in reversing minor lines and creases, like crows feet. Many supporters recommend commencing a regime early - while in your 20’s - to act as a preventative measure against early signs of ageing. You may also notice fewer pimples, blotches and a general “glow,” prompted by a healthier gut.
One of the reasons these positive effects are so hard to pinpoint and predict is that we can’t determine where exactly these amino acids head once broken down. They may be used to nourish the skin, or the body may utilise them elsewhere, like wound healing, depending on your individual needs. Regardless, the good news is your intake is unlikely to do any harm. If it benefits collagen production and strengthens your nails, that is great; at a minimum, it will serve as an additional source of protein and aid in overall health.
This is not an immediate solution. Use supplements as part of your beauty and health regime with a long-term view; it requires a slow and regular approach to achieve gradual effects. Pair these with a well-rounded diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds for optimum usage and healthy skin.
It is important to be selective in your choice of supplement, though. Look for natural and organic options if they are available. Read the ingredients and avoid ingestible options that contain any extra flavours or sweeteners. With offerings varying between bovine - and marine-derived collagen (even plant-based for the vegans and vegetarians) there is a product to suit most.