Cosmeceuticals are orally ingested products that, it is claimed, boost beauty from within. Will they take off in Britain, asks Ailsa Colquhoun

However, points out Datamonitor, the market for oral beauty products, as it calls them, remains small, the two most important markets being France, Innéov’s home market, and Japan, where you can buy, among other products, Kewpi+U, a food and drink range for the over-50s containing hyaluronic acid - which is found in shark skin and whale cartilage - ‘to help the body retain moisture’.

Elsewhere, there have been only a handful of major launches. In the US, Procter & Gamble teamed up with US Vitamins Minerals and Supplements company Pharmavite to launch the Olay Beauty vitamins range. And in the Netherlands, Yagua launched the Beauty Juicer, a drink containing grapefruit, ginger and white cocoa, and enriched with collagen and aloe vera ‘to make the body younger from within’.

If the term ‘cosmeceutical’ is not familiar, it could be soon. Adam Zizmor is the creator of SkinCola, a new drink marketed in the US and Spain as ‘the first skincare beverage’, and he is hoping to bring it to the UK. The drink, which contains filtered water, vitamins, oxygen and ingredients more commonly found in cosmetic skincare, is claimed to be ‘a beauty boost in a bottle’.
It is part of an emerging group of oral beauty products being launched in the wake of the success of nutriceuticals. But will it, or products like it, take off in the UK market?
There is certainly growing demand for products that offer ‘beauty from within’, suggests the latest report on the fledgling market from global market analyst Datamonitor, Insights into Tomorrow’s Cosmeceutical Consumers.
The report highlights the growing awareness among consumers of the link between diet and health, and by extension appearance.
It notes that dietary supplements offering beauty benefits have grown in popularity since the inception in 2002 of Laboratoires Innéov, the pioneering joint venture between L’Oréal and Nestlé that promised to use nutricosmetics to improve the appearance of skin, hair and nails. Their first product, Innéov Fermeté, was a nutritional supplement aimed at women concerned about skin firmness following the menopause.
The good news is that skin-only products are the dominant type of oral beauty products, accounting for 50-70% of the market in each country. This would seem to bode well for SkinCola and Zizmor is confident that he will be able to launch it sooner rather than later.
He says: “We would like SkinCola to become the beauty beverage of the UK. We want to make our presence known in the biggest way and will be making our approach in the near future.”
However, although the market for oral beauty products is growing in the UK, it has largely been confined to food supplements. Launching a food or drink that promises such benefits is a completely different kettle of fish.
For one,there is the raft of regulation to consider. Any health claims that are made in relation to food or drink are controlled by the general provisions of The Food Safety Act 1990.
This makes it an offence to falsely describe a food or to mislead consumers as to its content or quality. Trading Standards can bring a prosecution if they deem a claim misleading, with the ultimate decision lying with the courts, says an FSA spokesman.
He also points to the proposed European regulation on health and nutrition claims which, among other things, makes provision for a list of nutrition and health claims that can be used. Only claims that are on this list will be allowed to be used in relation to food or drink, he says.
If approved, this regulation is likely to be adopted next year. Whether claims relating to beauty benefits are covered by this depends on the particular claim, but claims relating to wellbeing, refreshment and vitality would be subject to the proposed new rules.
Interestingly, the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 1996 (SI 1996/2925) explicitly exclude orally ingested products from their scope of application. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency says that it does not regard claims such as ‘anti-ageing’ as medicinal, thereby placing products making a beauty claim of this type outside its remit. Effectively, therefore, the safety, quality and efficacy of foods making a beauty claim are unregulated in the UK.Chris Flower, director general of the cosmetics suppliers trade body, the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, says: “This means that consumers can only rely on the quality of the manufacturer involved.”
It is a moot point whether the ambiguity of the regulatory environment has contributed to the lack of new product development in the cosmeceuticals arena in the UK. Danone Dairy, an active player in the functional foods market, for one, does not have any plans to develop beauty drinks or cosmeceuticals, a spokesman insists.
But while shark skin may not yet be on most UK consumers’ shopping lists, oral beauty products are starting to take off globally. Attention is already turning to the next generation of products, says the Datamonitor report: “In more developed oral beauty product (OBP) markets, there is a move away from multiple-benefit OBPs, which tend to be more basic remarketed vitamin formulations targeting hair, skin and nails and beauty, to more condition or area-specific OBPs.”
Despite the regulatory minefield surrounding health food claims in the UK, this could well open the door for cosmeceuticals.

The beauty of the market
>>cosmeceutical market driving growth in global cosmetics
At the In-Cosmetics exhibition and conference in Berlin, functional food research specialist Phytopharm stated that the cosmeceutical market is driving growth in the global cosmetics sector.
By 2007, the global market for such products could be worth about $41bn, of which about $10bn is likely to be spent in the EU. This represents an uplift of 73% on 2001, compared with general skincare, which is growing at about 2.7% year-on-year.
In the UK, the market for functional beauty regimes are set to grow to about £900m by 2008, Datamonitor reports.
Phytopharm says the key areas for cosmeceutical product development include acne and cellulite treatments, skin protection and anti-ageing. Commonly, products contain ingredients including antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, C, E), actives such as co-enzyme Q10 and hydroxyacids.
Mintel values the UK market for functional foods at £835m, a six-fold increase on 1998 levels.