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Crossovers

The Crossover Craze:
Nutricosmetics

The largest markets for packaging at the moment relate to the beauty, pharma, and food sectors. The thing is, there are products that often combine characteristic elements of two of these three in order to offer consumers items that serve multiple functions. These crossovers may also offer benefits normally associated with one sector but are used in a manner that is non-traditional for the type. In general, the three common sectors conform to the following basic parameters:

Cosmetics

Benefit
Improved Appearance
Usage
Applied

Pharmaceuticals

Benefit
Improved Health
Usage
Consumed / Applied

Foods / Beverages

Benefit
Nutrition
Usage
Consumed

Taking a look at a simple Venn diagram, we can see where these three markets overlap, such that new product categories are defined according to some overlap with regard to either benefit or usage. Nutraceuticals, then, are foods or consumed substances that are specifically geared toward the improvement of health or the prevention of maladies. Think of protein powders, multivitamin capsules, or lutein pills. Cosmeceuticals are beauty products, normally applied, that also offer health or medical benefits. Here, we're talking about creams or gels that improve the apparent aesthetic quality of the skin as well as offer health benefits like reducing free radical formation, improve lipid barriers, or incorporating matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors (MMPi substances) to reduce breakdown of structural and adhesive proteins.

The Crossover Markets

Bacon
Cosmetics Nutricosmetics Foods Nutraceuticals Pharmaceuticals Cosmeceuticals
The latest crossover trend is that of the nutricosmetic, a category that encompasses a broad range of items in between cosmetics and foods, where consumption of the product doesn't have nutrition as its goal. Instead, the product seeks to improve appearance, normally of the skin, hair, or nails. Many products in the category entice the consumer with messages like "eat yourself beautiful", claiming that consuming key ingredients will create improved aesthetic appeal.

Really, this is nothing that hasn't been around health food shops for decades, there has always seemed to be an herbal capsule or liquid tincture available that has claimed to offer an improvement to one or a number of aesthetic qualities. Brewer's yeast pills, for example, have been used for decades to help clear up skin. Rosehip has a number of proponents that claim it can help hair become more glossy and nourish brittle nails. The list of common herbs and foods that have been used for aesthetic purposes is a long one, with a time-honoured history. In our modern age of science, however, it seems that "eating to be more appealing" is just now becoming a part of mainstream culture whereas previously, only those pointed out as health-nuts seemed to engage in the practice. Nutricosmetics are crossing the chasm and becoming a part of daily life, available from large, recognized brands at local supermarkets and drug stores.

The marketing and packaging of these products is fairly straightforward, they are portrayed as seriously and sensibly as pharmaceutical items. Consumers must be convinced of the veracity of the product's claim, there are too many products on the market that are more akin to "snake oil" than a serious remedy. Upon seeing the product, the consumer must feel confident that it has passed all the appropriate standards and that the claim it makes (softer skin, thicker hair, harder nails) is actually true, much like a pharmaceutical. Hence, nutricosmetics need to steer clear of their association with beauty products and opt for the staid and clinical appearance of pharma products. Nobody wants a "fun" or "whimsical" nutricosmetic.

While shopping, some people may not even know that the product they're looking at is a nutricosmetic, which is sort of the point. Below are some of the trendiest ingredients being used in the product genre.

Popular Ingredients

Carotenoids
Fatty acids
Polyphenols
Collagen
Ceramides
Superoxide
Carotenoids
Defined:

Organic pigments typically found in plants protect chlorophyll from light damage and help to absorb light so that the plant can engage in photosynthesis.

Natural sources:

Carrots, apricots, cantaloupe, yams, palm oil, gac fruit, etc.

Benefits:

Anti-oxidation, anti-wrinkling. In the human body, β-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, which we need for healthy skin, a decent immune system, and good vision.

Fatty acids
Defined:

Usually a carboxylic acid derived from a triglyceride or phospholipid. Can be saturated or unsaturated.

Natural sources:

Salmon, sardines, krill oil, walnuts, soybeans, flaxseed, etc.

Benefits:

Anti-aging. When fatty acids (especially Ω3s) are metabolized, they can yield large amounts of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is used by enzymes in biosynthesis, cell division, and protein motility. Translation: they lower triglyceride levels, relieve rheumatoid arthritis, and can help fight depression.

Polyphenols
Defined:

Natural phenols and their larger polyphenol cousins act as UV screens in plant pigmentation, play a large role in growth hormone release/suppression, and can help plants fight microbial infection.

Natural sources:

You name it. Specific polyphenols are found in specific foods, including tannins, catechins, flavavones, isoflavones, anthocyanidins, etc.

Benefits:

Numerous. There are as many benefits as there are subcategories of polyphenols. Some champion apegenin, for example, which is found in things like celery, parsley, peppermint, and chamomile, touting its anti-oxidant properties, its role in suppressing tumour angiogenesis, and its ability to block uric acid (which leads to gout). Others are fans of catechins, found in cocoa, teas, grapes, açaí oil, and lentils, which offer added UV protection and act as astringents and anti-oxidants.

Collagen
Defined:

Substance found in fibrous tissues such as skin, tendons, and ligaments. In mammals, it is the most abundant natural protein, accounting for about a third of our total protein count and nearly three-quarters of our skin. Collagen in our bodies is created from two amino acids: hydroxylysine and hydroxyproline.

Natural sources:

Both proline and lysine can be found in meats. Proline can be found in egg albumen and wheat germ. Lysine can be found in legumes, especially peanuts.

Benefits:

Younger looking skin, increased cutaneous moisture, skin elasticity leading to fewer wrinkles.

Ceramides
Defined:

Waxy lipid molecules found in cell membranes that participate in cellular level signaling during differentiation, cell death, or proliferation.

Natural sources:

Most mammals like cows or sheep. Phytoceramides, that come from plants, are being looked into, with possible sources being cereals, soybeans, and spinach.

Benefits:

Help prevent moisture loss of the epidermis, can be beneficial to those suffering eczema and psoriasis.

Superoxide
Defined:

This is an enzyme that participates in dismutation, changing O2- (superoxide) into one of two less damaging substances, H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) or O2 (molecular oxygen).

Natural sources:

Bovine and poultry liver, yeast, melon, and spinach.

Benefits:

This anti-oxidant substance can evidently protect cells from free radical damage, ease stress, improve cognitive abilities, and aid in collagen generation.

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  • Modified 14 Jan 2016
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