Foods, beverages, and supplements with beauty benefits: sounds enticing, doesn’t it? Yet in its early stages in the United States, the nutricosmetics industry has hit some major bumps—particularly consumer skepticism—that have stood in the way of industry growth. “Consumers have a ways to go in understanding what they need. We have a distance to go in delivering what they need,” said Nutrition Business Journal Editorial Director Patrick Rea at this year’s NutriCosmetic Summit in Las Vegas.

With an aging Baby Boomer population, advancements in science and research, and an increased demand for natural ways to improve appearance and overall wellbeing, the potential for nutricosmetics’ success is there. But sustaining—and ultimately growing—the market requires manufacturers to take a holistic approach to beauty and nutricosmetics, said Howard Murad, MD, during the NutriCosmetic Summit keynote address. Here’s what else top industry experts revealed about manufacturing high-quality products, marketing them successfully, and delivering consumers what they need.

Reliable, accessible research

The disparity between “good” science and just science is becoming increasingly clear in the nutricosmetics biz, said Anthony Almada, MSc, president and CEO of GENr8, Inc. Manufacturers should set the bar high with random controlled studies that are validated at a university and published in an impactful journal. And the trend is moving toward finished product research, as opposed to relying exclusively on single-ingredient trials. “If you’re going to make ingredient-based claims, be sure the ingredient is in the product at the dose it was tested,” said Ivan Wasserman, partner at Manatt Phelps and Philips, LLP.

Once the tested product hits shelves, “retailers are the new cops on the beat,” said Farah Ahmed, assistant general counsel for the Personal Care Products Council. Retailers should stock stores with nutricosmetic products that have the support of solid research. But the onus is also on consumers, who shouldn’t trust vague terms like “clinically proven,” advised Almeda.

The takeaway? Manufacturers: provide contact information and/or other point of sale resources like QR codes to educate shoppers and make your thorough research readily available. Consumers: It’s your job to follow up.

Targeted products and markets

Specificity is important both when choosing the right market for nutricosmetics, as well as when formulating a product. Therefore, extensive research on demographics and demands will be a focus for manufacturers. 

Natural products consumers, in particular, are more likely to seek out targeted supplements (everything from heart health and energy to nail support and hair growth), according to New Hope Natural Media and Delicious Living magazine’s Personal Care Report. Market research firm Datamonitor found manufacturers are heading in that direction, and also calling out details like the best time of day to take the product for desired effects. This increases the likelihood consumers make the nutricosmetic a part of their daily routines and become dedicated users, said Mark Whalley, a consumer market analyst at Datamonitor.

Retail placement of nutricosmetics will be even more critical as the industry attempts to pinpoint the most compatible markets. While we reported on why the natural products consumer should be the target demographic, other experts at the summit pointed out the importance of first identifying various types of personal care consumers—natural or otherwise—and then determining who you should target and how.

While capsules may be the best delivery system for the natural products industry, incorporating beauty-enhancing nutrients into everyday nutrition choices like yogurt or juice could be the way to go for the mainstream, said Kantha Shelke, principal at Corvus Blue. How to know? “Manufacturers can use social media for directing nutricosmetics’ placement, based on mindsets.”

Synergistic nutrients, complementary delivery systems

Manufacturers will no longer be looking just for the most efficacious ingredients and dosages, but also conducting research to determine which nutrients work best together. “The overall message is that not all antioxidants are created equal,” said Christine Fields, vice president of scientific affairs for Applied Food Sciences. One example of an ingredient that has successfully brought together synergistic nutrients is LycoRed, a combination of lutein, lycopene, and beta-carotene, said Fields.

David Djerassi, nutricosmetic director of LycoRed, which supplies its ingredients to supplement manufacturers, said carotenoids and polyphenols from fruits and vegetables are the most important ingredients not just in ingestibles, but also in topicals. For example, when looking for cosmetics like sunscreens, he said it’s also important to seek out antioxidants that will fight free radicals. “Synergy is the wave of the future.”

Pairing topicals with ingestibles continues to be focus in the nutricosmetic industry, both as a way to get more consumers to trust the category and to boost efficacy, according to Fields. Already have a topical product? Adding an ingestible to your line might mean reformulating that serum or lotion to create more consistency across the brand and to ensure that the products are working synergistically.

This trend could also be the catalyst for collaborations across the personal care market, working with other manufacturers on either the formulations or the marketing when broadening your product line. And important to both types of products will be a focus on ingredient quality. “Even the mainstream consumer is wanting to listen to your natural alternatives,” said Fields.