Are Beauty Foods Really that Attractive?

glowelleThe latest food trend is all about appearance.  A slew of beauty foods and beverages claim to improve your skin and hair, or make you more attractive in some way.   It’s the trend of “beauty from the inside out” that a growing number of products are banking on.

Similarly, cosmetics are making more nutrition claims.  Check out my earlier post Nutrition Myths at the Makeup Counter.

The trend tracker Mintel indicates that there’s been a 306% increase in global food and beverage products with a “beauty enhancing” claim (from 2005 to 2008). That’s really quite significant when you consider that overall growth of global food and beverage launches was just 35% during the same time frame.  Already in 2009, nearly 300 beauty foods and beverages have been introduced, surpassing the total number launched last year.  Here’s just a sampling of the products…

Glowelle is a beauty drink created by Nestle that “provides the nutrition that skin craves.”  The 100-calorie ready-to-drink beverages and on-the-go packets are made with pomegranate, lychee and other fruits.  The antioxidants, botanicals and fruit extracts are said to increase the skin’s antioxidant barrier to help even the skin tone and protect from free radical damage.


Hansen Beverage Corporation introduced Self Beauty Elixir, another ready-to-drink beverage that’s infused with fruit extracts and botanicals.  The drinks contain 30% juice and are fortified with vitamins and minerals, including 500% vitamin E, 150% vitamin C and 100% vitamin A to “promote and support healthy skin and overall wellness.”

Borba beverages are sold in the beauty department store Sephora and claim to help your skin “improve itself from within.”  These antioxidant-rich drinks are made with a variety of trendy fruits and are fortified with vitamins.  One of the Borba Skin Balance Waters contains Guanabana fruit, green tea and grapeseed extract. Some are “age defying,” others are “firming” and “replenishing.”  The products claim to “promote skin’s natural elasticity, smoothness and resilence.”

The beauty trend is even bigger in other parts of the world… 499_image

In Japan, Kracie Foods recently launched fruit snacks consisting of dried mangoes, pineapples, papaya and cranberries coated with collagen and vitamin C.  It targets women in their 20s to 40s who are conscious of their skin health. Beauty Up Bitoroa Drink is a beauty beverage designed to induce quality sleep; it’s formulated with relaxing bercarnot and GABA, as well as collagen and six other purported beauty ingredients to boost skin’s elasticity and moisture.

The global beauty company Shiseido in Japan introduced a collagen-enriched beauty drink to promote a youthful appearance.  It contains fish collagen, CoQ10, Duxlong leaves, ginseng, lotus germs, amra and  hyaluronic acid.

tea tonic complexion teaIn Australia, Tea Tonic’s Complexion Tea is caffeine-free and rich in antioxidants.  Formulated by a naturopath and herbalist, the product claims to help “revitalize each cell of the body within, and is a positive step towards achieving beautiful luminous skin and a fabulous complexion.”

Magic Fruits in Germany are made with whole dried raspberries and contain the slogan “nibble yourself beautiful.”

So what’s going on here?  Can these products really make you more beautiful?  I think the beauty trend is a mixed bag.  On one hand I like the idea that people may be motivated to eat better if they think it can potentially improve how they look.  A junky diet could impact the health of your skin, your hair, your nails.  Nutritious foods do help inside and out (to an extent), and this benefit is getting more attention. Several new books tout the role of nutrition and appearance, including YOU:  Being Beautiful and The Beauty Diet.

beauty diet

But many of these new products are simply riding the beauty popularity wave and promising hope in a bottle.  Are they worth the money when you can find an array of beauty foods right in the grocery store?  Do we really need expensive vitamin-infused fruity beverages when we can eat actual fruit?

Instead of stocking up on manufactured, fortified beauty drinks, I think our attention should shift to real food — another reason to eat more fruits and vegetables.  As registered dietitian Lisa Drayer says, “looking great has never been so delicious.”

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