Creams, gels, lotions… These are the canonical forms of cosmetics the industry has made consumers used to. However, a new generation of care products has been emerging for a while: nutricosmetics.
With their hybrid form, between a cosmetic product and a food supplement, these products are on a roll. But, what are they, actually? Frédéric Levy, Director of Biocyte, a pioneer brand in this field, answered CosmeticOBS's questions on this issue.
The term ‘nutricosmetics' is a neologism which dates back to the 1980s. It is the contraction of the words ‘nutrient' and ‘cosmetics'. It refers to the food supplements whose action is related to beauty. Frédéric Levy explains that ‘nutricosmetics are to be ingested. Several forms are available: sachet, capsule, powder to be diluted, tablet… The product has a positive action on the skin, hair, or nails.'
The promises and claims of these products are often close to those of canonical beauty products, but they do not belong to the same family and do not fall into the scope of the same regulations. Indeed, it is specified in the definition of a cosmetic product shared by all European Union Member States that it is a ‘substance or mixture intended to come into contact with the superficial parts of the human body (epidermis, down and hair systems, nails, lips, and external genital organs), or with teeth and visible oral mucous membranes, solely or principally, to clean them, perfume them, modify their aspect, protect them, keep them in good condition or correct body odour.'
Frédéric Levy adds that ‘the nutricosmetics industry is governed by regulations on food supplements.'
This distinction is quite important, since it makes it possible to consume products in full transparency, without any confusion.
A few figures
Although the industry already existed a few years ago, it started growing strongly only recently. Frédéric Levy indicates that ‘today, the market achieves a four or five billion dollar turnover on the global level. It records a 9 to 10% growth per year, and the main players are Asia, with 40% (Japan ahead), followed by Europe, with about 35% (France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain). The remaining 10% are shared between the United States and the rest of the world.'
Biocyte's Director adds that if ‘Asians are leaders, it is because they have understood the importance of product supplementation for the skin and hair. After a certain age, the body makes less elastin and hyaluronic acid. These deficiencies should be prevented to guarantee our skin's beauty capital. Nutricosmetics are ideal, since they make it possible to replace the supplies we cannot get from food or with conventional cosmetics.
Nutricosmetics: for who? For what?
These supplements bear different claims. However, several distinct families can be distinguished. According to Frédéric Levy, there are three of them.
• Hair: the main claims are growth, strengthening, vitality, and shininess
• Skin: elasticity, fight against wrinkles, and skin firmness reinforcement are the main anti-wrinkle promises in this category
• Sun care: there are two different claims here. On the one hand, skin preparation to prevent any sunburn and enhance suntan; on the other hand, self-tanning supplements, which provide a progressive suntan.
Nutricosmetics are accessible to all, without any risk for health. If the idea of ingesting a supplement for cosmetic purposes may sound scary to a few, Frédéric Levy emphasizes the fact that ‘the products sold in France, in particular by Biocyte, comply with the regulations in force. Although zero risk does not exist, allergies or other annoyances are very rarely reported with these products.'
Still, Frédéric Levy explains that the intake of nutricosmetics is not recommended for pregnant women, ‘not that they are hazardous, but there are basic rules to follow when you bear or nurse a child. It is just common sense,' he concludes.
Beauty food supplements should not be mistaken for conventional beauty products: they can be a new way to consider skincare and wellness.
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