Female (Singapore) - - SPREADS & FEATURES -

Ed­i­ble beauty sup­ple­ments are back and – like food – more nour­ish­ing and ar­ti­sanal than be­fore.

Cast your mind back to 2007. You were sob­bing over the end of Harry Pot­ter; had sore thumbs from bash­ing but­tons on your Black­berry; “woke” was just a thing you did in the AM; and ed­i­ble beauty sup­ple­ments were as hot as gourmet cup­cakes. Ev­ery­one was stock­ing up on bot­tles of en­riched fruit-flavoured drinks or tablets that promised glowy, more ra­di­ant skin.

Those “ed­i­bles” fell out of favour, but are com­ing back – as “nu­tri­cos­met­ics” or “nu­traceu­ti­cals” – and in a big­ger way. Euromon­i­tor re­ports a 10 per cent in­crease in the amount lo­cals spent on sup­ple­ments be­tween 2012 and 2017 (note: the data doesn’t dis­tin­guish be­tween generic sup­ple­ments and beauty-spe­cific ones). Neta-porter in­cluded them when it launched its beauty arm in 2013, and claims dou­ble-digit growth of the cat­e­gory yearly since.

“I think that more women are open to the con­cept as well­ness is such a big part of their life­styles,” says Mar­i­anne Wee, vet­eran beauty jour­nal­ist and founder of Smit­ten PR. “We’re in the era of grain bowls and su­per­food juice boost­ers, so why not a sup­ple­ment that’ll help skin re­sist age­ing from the in­side?”

Newby Hands, Net-a-porter’s beauty di­rec­tor, says more are tak­ing to this new in­side-out ap­proach to beauty. “To­day’s woman is smart when it comes to her skin, health and well­ness, and knows how it all works to­gether,” she says. “Tak­ing some­thing that af­fects skin cells as they form, so that they be­gin in the health­i­est state pos­si­ble, seems sen­si­ble if you want to max­imise skin health. Then, as the cells move up to the skin sur­face, skin­care is im­por­tant in pro­tect­ing and re­pair­ing.”

More are also in the know when it comes to how these sup­ple­ments work. Says Shinji Ya­masaki, CEO of Ja­panese-made skin­care brand Re:erth: “Peo­ple now un­der­stand that they’re a type of food, not drug, and for longer, bet­ter re­sults, you have to take them con­sis­tently. It nor­mally re­quires two to three months be­fore ben­e­fits are seen.”

So what’s dif­fer­ent about the lat­est nu­tri­cos­met­ics? They’re still con­sumed as a daily drink or pill, and tar­get the usual skin prob­lems: dry­ness, pig­men­ta­tion, signs of age­ing. An­tiox­i­dants, col­la­gen, herbs and hyaluronic acid re­main sta­ple in­gre­di­ents, but there’s now a twist to their for­mula.

Fancl, a pi­o­neer in the mar­ket, nano-sizes the hyaluronic acid in its Hyaluro Pre­mium ($132 for a 30-day sup­ply) to sup­pos­edly make ab­sorp­tion eas­ier, and com­bines it with an­tiox­i­dant ex­tracts and ce­ramides. The an­tiox­i­dant tomato ex­tracts phy­toene and phytofluene are fairly com­mon in bright­en­ing nu­tri­cos­met­ics, but Re:erth uses a con­cen­trated dose in its Phy­to­bright ($105 for a 30-day sup­ply). Cou­pled with Ja­panese spring turmeric root ex­tract that’s said to re­duce the syn­the­sis of a melanin pre­cur­sor, it sup­pos­edly slows down the formation of dark spots.

Tra­di­tional skin­care brands are mov­ing in too, pig­gy­back­ing off ex­ist­ing bestsellers. Sul­wha­soo has launched its In­vig­o­rat­ing Gin­seng Ex­tract Am­poule ($198 for a 28-day sup­ply of drinks), which prom­ises to boost cir­cu­la­tion, and give rosy cheeks and an over­all health­ier-look­ing com­plex­ion. Laneige has had nu­tri­cos­met­ics, but is now mak­ing their con­nec­tion to its skin­care more ob­vi­ous. Its up­graded Youth Col­la­gen Drink ($150 for a 30-day sup­ply) is the oral equiv­a­lent of its pop­u­lar Sleep­ing Mask. Be­sides the boost of col­la­gen and an­tiox­i­dants, it has gamma aminobu­tyric acid that re­port­edly im­proves sleep qual­ity.

Not to be ig­nored: the celebrity-linked of­fer­ings. Wel­leco was co-founded by The Body, su­per­model Elle Macpherson. Its The Su­per Elixir (US$107, or S$146, for a 30-day sup­ply, Net-a-porter) has su­per­food ex­tracts and an­tiox­i­dants, plus pro- and pre­bi­otics for that Macpherson-like flat tummy. Not avail­able here (yet) are Gwyneth Pal­trow’s Goop sup­ple­ments, and Bobbi Brown’s Evo­lu­tion_18 line, the makeup maven’s first ven­ture since leav­ing the brand she started.

Hands points out that such sup­ple­ments tend to come in chic pack­ag­ing de­signed for the dresser, not medicine cab­i­net. “(They’ve) helped place nu­tri­cos­met­ics in the main­stream so con­sumers as­so­ciate them less with sci­ence and health, but more as an­other step in their regime,” she says.

Soon, Hands pre­dicts, more brands could in­cor­po­rate pro­bi­otics, as well as pro­duce “functional” beauty foods (think col­la­gen-en­riched choco­lates or turmeric break­fast bowls). Al­ready, there’s Bio G Per­sonal Blend ($359 for a 30-day sup­ply) that com­bines two hot beauty trends – nu­tri­cos­met­ics and per­son­al­i­sa­tion – to tai­lor-make pel­lets based on one’s DNA test, and health and life­style needs. Austin-based “ther­apy lounge” Ivi­ta­min is tak­ing things fur­ther with an in­tra­venous treat­ment said to plump, smooth and brighten skin, by­pass­ing the di­ges­tive sys­tem so more in­gre­di­ents reach skin. It hopes to li­cense it to medi-spas and clin­ics glob­ally, so we could soon have a whole new take on in­sid­e­out beauty.

Now that’s a bit of magic. Harry Pot­ter, eat (or in­tra­venously ab­sorb) your heart out.

Sul­wha­soo In­vig­o­rat­ing Gin­seng Ex­tract Am­poule, $198 for a box of 28

Wel­leco The Su­per Elixir, US$107 (S$146),

Fancl Hyaluro Pre­mium, $132 for a box of 30

Laneige Youth Col­la­gen Drink, $150 for a box of 30

Bio G Per­sonal Blend, $359

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