Find out if your impatience is preventing powerful nutrients from offering beauty benefits.
We cut lines, coast through stop signs, and feel like our world is crashing down on us when our internet connection is slow (IT?!? IT!!). Similarly, we want our skin to feel instantly softer and hair shinier when we use a product. The reality, though, is that any quality beauty product takes time to prove its efficacy. (Notice how commercials say “skin feels softer after one use?”) Nutricosmetics—just like topicals—take time, but they have a disadvantage: no sweet aromas and soft lotions to make you feel like you’ve experienced instant results.
The topic of consumer impatience came up during last week’s editor’s roundtable, when I talked with Caren Baginski, associate editor of New Hope Natural Media’s Functional Ingredients magazine, and Newhope360’s Editor-in-Chief Carlotta Mast about nutricosmetics--and New Hope's upcoming NutriCosmetic Summit. In addition to consumer skepticism regarding delivery systems (most natural products shoppers don’t believe a marshmallow or a cookie will make you look gorgeous, rather, vice versa) and lack of education about ingredients, impatient ‘mericans could very well be another reason that nutricosmetics have yet to really explode in the U.S. like in Europe and Japan (nutricosmetics showed 7 percent annual growth in the U.S. in 2009 but the core market still falls short of $1 billion, according to Nutrition Business Journal).
What many consumers don’t consider when trying new products is that no research-backed ingredient, whether it’s a topical or ingestible, offers instant results, which is true for everything from products that fight acne and decrease signs of aging to those that strengthen skin, hair, or nails. Consider recent research for lycopene from tomatoes, which showed that consuming this potent antioxidant decreased UV damage, but took 12 weeks. Silica, collagen, resveratrol, and vitamins A, C, and E also demand habitual use before you'll see results. And topicals typically take around 30 days—a full skin cell cycle to work. The difference: When you’re applying a product, you get a sensory experience that creates the illusion of instant results.
Unfortunately, this consumer impatience issue doesn’t just speak to ingestibles. A similar rational may justify why many consumers have taken a longer time to transition from conventional beauty products to natural or organic than they have for food— natural products may take slightly longer than their synthetic counterparts that uses harsh, potentially toxic ingredients. Take conventional antiaging products, which often use ingredients that irritate your skin in order to plump it up immediately, reducing visible signs of aging (again, this is just a facade; it hasn't made your skin any healthier in the long-run). Eek! Natural ones, however, use ingredients like hyaluronic acid to attract moisture from the air or nourish the skin cells with nutrients, processes that might take more time. I’ll admit that when I have resorted to harsh synthetics (let’s just say there was a pimple, a product that’s name was a play on “eradicate,” and a birthday) it has been when I wanted fast, fast, fast results, with little regard to negative repercussions—which can even be immediate (there was burning, a scab, and … yes, a birthday).
Natural products manufacturers have responded by making advancements in green chemistry to improve efficacy and speed of natural products (though still don’t expect immediate results). When it comes to consumer impatience regarding ingestibles, manufacturers are doing something that I think is really smart, introducing topicals to complement their supplements (those may or may not be marketed “nutricosmetics” but can certainly have beauty benefits) so you still can have that sensory experience. And retailers can join in this dual marketing approach to help get more consumers on board. I spoke with Sun Chlorella at Expo—after recently launching a chlorella growth factor cream the company hopes to at some point market it on store shelves with the chlorella supps, detox from the inside and out. Same for probiotic-based Earthly Elements, which hopes to pair marketing efforts with Solgar's probiotics. Other seems more obvious, such as Sibu's sea buckthorn lotions and beverages. The point: Don’t segregate beauty pills and beauty lotions—let them live together in beauty and harmony.
In the end, though, it really comes down to you. Patience is a virtue. Just like this blog, it may have taken you some time, but in the end, I (hope) you’ll see it was worth it.