The global nutricosmetics market could grow by $1.51 billion during 2020-2024, according to a report from Technavio—and the company found that the COVID-19 pandemic will create additional demand in this sector (1).

The trend fits within the greater shift toward supporting overall wellness. While the end goal of nutricosmetics may be beauty, nutricosmetics go beyond aesthetics, working to support whole-body health and addressing the internal cause of poor skin, hair, and nail health. Here’s a look at what’s trending.


Collagen is one of the trendiest ingredients in the Nutricosmetics sector: The global collagen market is expected to hit $6 billion by 2026, according to a report from Global Market Research (2). And while much of that will be used in food, healthcare, and cosmetics, the dietary supplements segment for collagen is still expected to register more than 8.9% CAGR from 2020 to 2026. “Today, collagen is one of the hottest ingredients, especially as new applications are being studied and introduced,” according to Samantha Ford, M.S., Director of Business Development at AIDP. And there’s a good reason for all this fuss: Ford notes that collagen “plays an essential role in maintaining skin tone, suppleness, and elasticity”—which is necessary, Ford adds, as “collagen synthesis in the human body reduces at a rate of 1.5% per year after the age of 25, and its levels may have fallen by as much as 30% by the age of 45.” This loss of collagen results in the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and in dry skin.

When it comes to actually stocking collagen products, the first consideration is type: “There are over 28 types of collagen, but 80% to 90% of that found in the human body are types I, II, and III,” Ford explains. For skin—and for all the benefits listed above—products should contain type I collagen, the most abundant collagen in the human body and in skin.

The second consideration would be how much. “This is one of the questions we hear most from our fans,” says Jenn Randazzo, M.S., R.D., C.L.T., Director of Education at Vital Proteins. “While it’s easy for individuals to determine their specific macronutrient needs—carbs, protein, and fat—it’s incredibly challenging to do the same for collagen. That’s why we’ve recently developed our Vital Proteins Collagen Calculator [available at], a one-of-a-kind tool that uses scientific research to generate a unique amount of collagen based on a person’s age, weight, and daily protein intake.” For retailers, stocking products offering a range of collagen amounts will help ensure that customers can choose the product that meets their needs.

There are plenty of products in the collagen space to stock. Youtheory’s collagen comes in powder, tablets, and liquid; they offer serving sizes backed by science. Bluebonnet, too, offers powders and tablets as part of their Beautiful Ally line, with different serving sizes to meet different needs. Vital Proteins offers Collagen Water, as well, for those looking for a dose of collagen in a convenient format. And there are plenty more—there isn’t enough space in one article to list all the companies selling collagen. Choose brands you trust, that are capable of explaining the science behind their dosages and formats, and that have a good track record of trustworthy products and ethical production processes.

Consumers may also seek out branded collagen ingredients on the label. One option is Naticol—produced from 100% fish skin and scales through a validated process, Ford notes that it is bioavailable and clinically backed: “Clinical trials demonstrate improved skin appearance, hydration, and elasticity with as little as 2.5g of Naticol daily.”

There’s also Verisol; it, too, works at 2.5g per dose—a lower dose than many other collagens, according to Nick Bitz, N.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Youtheory, which occasionally uses the branded ingredient in their products. One of those products: Beauty Powder, which offers other useful ingredients, like hyaluronic acid.

For vegans, collagen can be tough to come by. Randazzo notes that there are vegan nutrients that can support collagen production: “For those seeking to boost their body’s collagen production with vegan-friendly products,” she says, “I’d recommend checking out our new Beauty Capsule Collection. It’s a line of beauty-centric supplements made with plant-based ingredients that can be easily incorporated into daily life.” The line includes Beauty Boost, which contains biotin and vitamin C to boost collagen production, according to the company’s website.

Fortunately, companies are trying to make strides in the vegan collagen space--Geltor, for one, has created Collume, a biodesigned, vegan protein created through a sustainable fermentation process, according to the company’s website. JLand Biotech Co. has created Reallagen, a vegan collagen made by fermenting yeast. This may be what’s next, as companies try to keep up with consumer demand for plant-based products—so keep an eye out for brands making use of these innovations.


…And Much More!

There’s a reason why the Nutricosmetics shelf isn’t solely populated with collagen: Collagen doesn’t do everything. Your customers will want to consider other ingredients, too, ranging from the trending to the up-and-coming.

Possibly the second most well-known nutraceutical ingredient is hyaluronic acid (HA). According to information on Hyalogic’s website, HA is “a long-chain sugar molecule that has an amazing affinity for water” (3). Each molecule of HA can bind up to 1,000 times its weight in water, and half the body’s supply of HA resides in the skin. “When taken as a dietary supplement or as a topical serum or cream, HA resupplies the skin with essential hydration it needs to maintain peak health,” according to the company’s materials. And like collagen, the body loses the ability to make HA as it ages, making dietary supplementation necessary—and not just for aesthetic purposes: “Nourished and hydrated skin is also capable of forming a more effective barrier,” Hyalogic’s website notes. The skin is the body’s first defense against the outside world, and keeping it hydrated is vital to this organ’s ability to function at peak performance.

There are back-end ways to support hyaluronic acid production, too. Jarrow Formulas sells Mythocondro, a vegan formula. It’s made with chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, both produced by bacterial fermentation, according to Thomas Bowman, Ph.D., a member of Jarrow Formulas’ Scientific Panel. “Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine are essential components for building connective tissue glycosaminoglycans and essential for the production of hyaluronic acid,” Dr. Bowman explains. And, of course, that formula has added value—like hyaluronic acid itself, chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine are great for joints.

There’s also resveratrol. Gene Bruno, M.S., M.H.S., R.H.(AHG) writes in a blog post for Reserveage that nutraceuticals-lovers are excited about resveratrol because it has demonstrated antioxidant properties—and it activates the SIRT 1 gene, associated with longevity (4). Antioxidants fight free radicals, which damage macro-molecules like lipids, proteins, and DNA; such damage can initiate changes that promote the aging process, Bruno says.

Bruno emphasizes that an important consideration, when it comes to resveratrol, is what type of resveratrol a product contains. “There are two primary isomers of resveratrol, trans- and cis-. To be clear, trans-resveratrol has been unequivocally shown to have much greater activity than cis-resveratrol. So when buying a resveratrol product, make sure to verify that it contains trans-resveratrol. Don’t buy it if just ‘resveratrol’ is listed.” This may prove an easy rule-of-thumb for knocking substandard products out of the running for shelf space.

Nor is that all resveratrol does—a second article from Reserveage notes that resveratrol is also anti-inflammatory, as per a randomized, placebo-controlled study, which found that 40mg resveratrol taken for six weeks significantly reduced oxidative stress, as well as levels of several inflammatory markers (5). Resveratrol, in other words, is an added-value ingredient—customers looking for a product worth their hard-earned dollars will appreciate resveratrol for the multifunctional, full-body support it offers.

Sulfur is another solid choice for those looking to get more bang for their buck, says Tim Hammond, VP Sales & Marketing at Bergstrom Nutrition. Customers may already be asking for it, even if they don’t realize it—it’s often found in the chemical form methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM. “Sulfur is essential for the general health and function of the body,” Hammond explains. “It is part of the basic building blocks of protein and hundreds of metabolic processes, including the production of the molecular building blocks of skin, such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, and keratohyalin. OptiMSM is a proven source of sulfur that supports the cross-linking of proteoglycans and collagen, as well as serving as a building block for keratin. By maintaining healthy collagen cross-linking, MSM and sulfur inhibit the hardening of the skin’s tissue, supporting the skin’s overall health and maintenance. This provides the skin with flexible, supple, and resilient characteristics through disulfide bonds.”

More perks: “MSM is also a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation, which is a leading cause of skin damage that degrades the skin’s structural matrices,” Hammond notes. “Plus, MSM increases the barrier function of the Extra Cellular Matrix, enabling a greater exchange of water and nutrients in the dermis.”

Moving on to ingredients that aren’t quite as buzzy with consumers, you may want to bring chlorella to your customers’ attention —this algae has some unique properties. Jennifer Jimenez, VP/COO of Sun Chlorella, explains: “One of the main components of chlorella, with regards to skin health, is Chlorella Growth Factor, or CGF. CGF is rich in nucleic acids and has the ability to target cells to support its repair and revitalization. Currently no other plant or food on earth contains CGF!” And the difference it makes is visible, Jimenez says: “One thing that we often hear from our long-time Sun Chlorella users is that they often receive compliments on their youthful appearance—people can never guess their true age.” Other helpful nutrients in chlorella include vitamin D, B12, and chlorophyll—“Body purification is supported with chlorophyll,” Jimenez notes. “When your system is not taxed with essential functions like removing harmful toxins from your body, it then has time to prioritize non-essential tasks like beautiful, healthy looking skin!”

Something to consider when stocking chlorella: how it’s made. “Sun Chlorella uses a proprietary processing method called DYNO-Mill technology, which is superior to other processing methods,” Jimenez maintains. “Using only pressure and speed, this process pulverizes chlorella’s cell wall without the use of heat or chemicals to preserve chlorella’s delicate nutrients. Our chlorella is also spray dried to avoid damage to the quality and nutrients, as well as tested before and after to ensure quality and purity remain the same. Due to this proprietary processing method, Sun Chlorella is the most digestible brand on the market.” Jimenez adds that Sun Chlorella uses hermetically sealed packaging and food-grade plastic to protect the product in the bottle, as well.

One more nutrient to call out: zinc. Known for its role in immunity, this essential mineral also has a spot reserved in the nutraceutical industry, according to Trisha Sugarek MacDonald, B.S., M.S., Sr. Director of R&D/National Educator at Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation. “Zinc is vital to a multitude of biological functions in the body,” Sugarek MacDonald explains. “It not only helps to metabolize vitamin A and collagen, but it is also vital for maintaining the proper concentration of vitamin E in the blood. Further, zinc is known for its antioxidant protective role, supporting cells against free-radical damage that can be caused by diet, pollution, and the aging process.”

For consumers focused on hair and nails, biotin is a go-to. Sugarek MacDonald explains: “Biotin functions within cells as a coenzyme for multiple reactions including taking part in fat and protein metabolism. Its deficiency might lead to hair loss. Thanks to the presence of sulfur, it influences the state of skin integument (the outer layer), lowers sebum secretion (an oily or waxy matter to lubricate and waterproof the skin and hair of mammals), and activates hair growth. Hair is made of keratin, which is built from amino acids and is formed as a result of the reaction of cell enzymes and biotin. Biotin contributes to the production of healthy hair and nails since it is an essential ingredient in the process of hair and nail growth. Bluebonnet’s Beautiful Ally Biotin 10,000 mcg Vegetable Capsules contain yeast-free biotin in its purest crystalline form.”

That’s a whole lot more biotin than is in a daily multivitamin—but there’s a reason for that. “The literature shows evidence of improvement in hair and nail growth after biotin supplementation at a dosage range of 10-30mg/day in individuals with known biotin deficiency,” Sugarek MacDonald says. “While rare, deficiency of biotin can lead to hair loss, skin rashes, hair loss, and brittle nails.” While those suffering these symptoms should talk to a healthcare provider, those who determine that their symptoms are caused by a biotin deficiency—or those looking to bring back brittle nails—may find it worth their time to discuss a biotin supplement with their doctors.

And while biotin deficiency may be rare, brittle nails are not, Richard Passwater Jr., Product Education Manager at Bio Minerals, the maker of BioSil, a line from Natural Factors, notes: “About 20% of the general population and about 40% of postmenopausal women have brittle nails.” His suggestion: ch-OSA, choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid, branded as BioSil. “A clinical study investigating BioSil’s impact on nail health was presented at 93 Annual Italian Dermatology Society Congress in May 2018,” Passwater explains. “A group of dermatology researchers from the University of Bologna Medical conducted a study on women (average age 59.2 years old, range 52-65) who had rough, brittle nails. 70% of the women also had vertical nail ridges and 30% also had problems with splitting of the nail plate. In this 6-month study, 100% of the women taking two ch-OSA capsules per day reduced the roughness and brittleness of their nails and 83% reduced the vertical ridges. The researchers felt all of the women taking ch-OSA improved the quality of their nails; determining 44% ‘completely improved’ and 56% ‘much improved.’”

Of course, this is just a small selection of the many beneficial nutrients that could be discussed here. For more coverage on the topic, search “nutricosmetics” on

Gut-Skin Connection

“The gut-skin connection is becoming increasingly clear,” says AIDP’s Samantha Ford. She explains: “The gut acts as a major line of defense for the rest of the body. An imbalanced gut environment can lead to suboptimal function of the intestinal barrier. As a result, unwanted toxins can be produced, absorbed into the bloodstream, and accumulate into the skin. This can cause inflammation, degradation of collagen and elastin, and unhealthy skin appearance.”

“According to a recent study,” Ford expounds, “certain dietary factors, coupled with an imbalanced microbiota, cause skin troubles such as atopy, acne, dryness, and consequent development of wrinkles by promoting rapid absorption of intestinal toxins produced by intestinal bad bacteria and transferring them to the skin.”

This is part of the reason why oral antibiotics are prescribed for skin conditions, according to Alan Cheung, Executive Director at Belle and Bella. “A dermatologist, in prescribing the antibiotic, is trying to reduce the amount of bad bacteria that is creating toxins in our gut, which ultimately affects the appearance of our skin. The side effect of taking these antibiotics is that it also kills off the good bacteria in our gut, often making the situation even worse.”

While many solutions—past and present—involve topical applications, Ford says that there may now be a better way: “Science has moved solutions to not only how the gut can affect skin, but also how the skin can actually rebuild itself.”

Probiotics are one of those solutions. “Our probiotic skin therapy corrects imbalances by naturally crowding out the bad bacteria and reducing the toxins in the gut,” Cheung explains. “It essentially uses the same logic as dermatologists looking to reduce the bad bacteria in the gut, except using a probiotic instead of an antibiotic.” Cheung also suggests that probiotics can be good preventatives—“You want to address the issue at the source, which is your gut, instead of waiting for the symptoms to manifest on your skin and covering them up with topical creams or lotions.”

Another solution: prebiotics. “The right prebiotics can help to reinforce the gut barrier and reduce inflammation, improving skin tone, texture, and overall appearance,” Ford says. She points to BeautyOLIGO, a prebiotic ingredient distributed by AIDP: “It is a prebiotic with unique biological activity that has been verified to have skin improvement effects through clinical studies. BeautyOLIGO helps to optimize the gut environment by stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria and hindering the growth of harmful bacteria. In turn, it helps strengthen the immune system, helps to eliminate toxins, and inhibits the activation of collagen- and elastin-degrading enzymes. In human clinical research, BeautyOLIGO reduced the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles with daily supplementation.”

It goes without saying that this is yet another solution with extra perks—gut health affects everything from the immune system to the brain. For more on the importance of -biotics, go here.
The Science Behind It All

It is, as always, important that a product has scientific backing. Something to look for: Passwater emphasizes that products should have their own scientific backing—it’s not enough, for instance, to know that collagen is good for the skin, and to buy any given collagen product based on that knowledge. “I believe a critical factor is to look at the scientific support of a particular product or formulation for the desired application,” he says. “As straightforward as it sounds, it’s too often not the case. It seems to be that with supplements, consumers often ‘commoditize’ different available options and behave as if all sources or forms of a particular nutrient function equally to one another rather than taking time to evaluate each independently on its own scientific merit.”

To this end, Passwater suggests relying on products with branded ingredients. “Generally, with a branded ingredient, a customer can be certain a product is the same in each and every bottle. Then they can evaluate a product based on the scientific merits of the branded ingredient without worry they will be consuming a product that might work differently each time.” He uses selenium as an example: “Selenium yeast is a popular form for supplemental selenium supplementation. However, there is a wide variation of raw materials available. Some selenium yeast raw materials are simple mixtures of inorganic selenium salts dry blended with baker’s yeast. Some other selenium yeast raw materials are made by slowly adding selenium salts to growing baker’s yeast in a manner allowing the yeast to uptake and incorporate a significant amount of selenium into different seleno-amino acids. Both the dry blended ingredient and the selenocysteine and selenomethionine rich yeasts are marketed as ‘selenium yeast,’ but they are very different products. Using a branded selenium yeast is a great way to quickly instill consumer confidence in exactly what type of selenium yeast is in the product and what research is supporting it.” And while on the topic, Passwater notes that selenium boosts antioxidant levels, helping to neutralize skin-damaging compounds before they reduce skin quality. (For more on the benefits of selenium, read this month’s Vitamin Connection on page TK.)

Belle and Bella’s Cheung, too, weighs in on the importance of a company that manufactures science-first products—you avoid the risk of losing customers to a baseless trend. “We want to formulate products that are effective and show results, rather than products containing the ‘hot ingredient’ of the month,” he says. “There are two particular strains in our probiotic skin therapy formula that have a clinical study showing positive results for Atopic Dermatitis. That was the basis of our formulation.”

Something else to keep in mind: The main ingredient shouldn’t be the only thing that’s been studied. Sugarek MacDonald points out that “All of Bluebonnet’s Beautiful Ally products provide scientifically relevant/meaningful quantities/dosages of each and every ingredient, in every formula, to ensure that your customers look and feel as beautiful on the outside as they do on the inside.”

To a similar end, Youtheory’s resveratrol is not a standalone product—it’s combined with an antioxidant blend. “Antioxidants tend to work best in combination with other nutrients, plant chemicals, and even other antioxidants,” Dr. Bitz explains. “Like other antioxidants, resveratrol is not always the most effective as a single isolated substance. Resveratrol has low oral bioavailability and seems to pair well with synergistic plant compounds such as polyphenols and flavonoids to boost absorption and improve usability in the body.” Taking this with Bruno’s warning about trans-resveratrol should form a quick-and-easy set of guidelines to rapidly remove less-effective products from consideration.

It’s not always just about showing that a product works, though—mechanism of action matters, too, and for some, it’s priority #1. “Our first step while investigating OptiMSM’s potential efficacy in support of skin health was to look for possible mechanisms of action,” explains Rod Benjamin, Director of R&D and Technical Services. “We did this by performing a gene expression study. The study was run in duplicate, using an in-vitro full-thickness skin model that measured the expression of 95 different skin genes. Changes in gene expression were evaluated for statistical difference versus a sterile water control group. The results indicated that a select group of genes associated with structural integrity (extracellular matrix breakdown), inflammation, and barrier function were all influenced by MSM. We then used this data to help design human clinical trials that would further evaluate the effects predicted by the gene array study.”

There’s a solid reason for having such data on-hand to show customers: “Beauty from Within products generally take some time to work,” Passwater notes. “Matching up a product with studies performed using that product can help establish a realistic timeframe to expect results and can help instill confidence during the early stages of supplementation.”

Skin Protection 

There are two main categories of supplements in the nutricosmetics market, according to Jarrow’s Dr. Thomas Bowman: “Protection from the elements, and building blocks for strong and healthy skin, hair, and nails. Most qualified health practitioners would agree that consumers using supplements can overlook protection in favor of the building blocks approach.” But that doesn’t mean that there’s no reason to protect the skin: “Chemical and sun exposure are greatly responsible for the hair and skin thinning, moisture loss, discoloration, loss of skin elasticity, and wrinkles.”

Dr. Bowman puts forth the following solution: “Jarrow Formulas believes that our antioxidant defense system is the primary defense against these daily assaults on our skin. Clinical studies have demonstrated that astaxanthin supports the skin (during exposure to a normal amount of sunlight), eyes, and immune health. Jarrow Formulas’ Astaxanthin is a natural antioxidant carotenoid derived from the cultivation of the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis. Thiols such as Jarrow Formulas' Glutathione Reduced, R-Alpha Lipoic Acid (with Biotin) and N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) are powerful sulfur-bearing antioxidants. The antioxidant functions of Jarrow Formulas' Glutathione Reduced include recycling vitamin E and vitamin C and serving as a critical free radical scavenger to support antioxidation in all types of tissues.”

Topical vs. Internal

Many of the nutrients mentioned in this article can be applied topically, as well as internally—so WholeFoods asked the experts: Why do one instead of the other? The answer: Do both!

“The skin itself has multiple layers, and any complete skin routine needs to address both the inside and the outside,” Bergstrom’s Tim Hammond explains. “In terms of wrinkles, we see that topical application has a more significant impact on fine lines, which is beneficial for more immediate needs.” But that’s not the whole story, he notes: “However, when taken orally, OptiMSM provides a compelling decrease in the number of deep lines—addressing deep and persistent wrinkles that can become permanent (while also providing significant reductions in fine lines). Oral supplementation with OptiMSM makes sulfur readily available, where it can provide critical nutritional support to newly forming skin. By nurturing the skin at a deeper layer, the oral use of OptiMSM can provide long-term benefits.”

While we’re on the topic of wrinkles, Dr. Nick Bitz, from Youtheory, says “Both oral and topical hyaluronic acid can help boost skin moisture and reduce wrinkles”—although he adds a caveat: “Oral hyaluronic acid appears to be effective across a range of molecular weights, but topical hyaluronic acid needs to be extremely low molecular weight in order to pass through the stratum corneum, the outer layer of skin. So always ask the manufacturer if their raw material is 5,000 daltons or less.”

Sun Chlorella’s Jennifer Jimenez, too, suggested internal as well as topical. In addition to all the skin-supporting nutrients chlorella contains, she notes that consumer trials have shown that fine lines are less visible with the use of CGF cream, like Sun Chlorella Cream and Astarella Primetime Skin Cream.

Zinc not only can be used topically and internally, but Trisha Sugarek MacDonald, with Bluebonnet, suggests that it’s best to do both. “Because of its versatile roles, zinc is not only utilized in beauty supplements, but it is also used in topical applications for treating acne and aging skin, to speed up wound healing and as a sunscreen. In fact, zinc is widely known as a skin protectant and is common in diaper rash cream and sunscreen formulas. When applied, it is soothing and protects the skin from UVA and UVB damage. Bluebonnet’s Beautiful Ally Hair, Skin & Nail Formula contains 10 mg of zinc per serving to help protect and maintain beautiful, glowing skin from damaging elements on the inside and out.” WF
  1. “Nutricosmetics Market by Product, Distribution Channel, and Geography - Forecast and Analysis 2020-2024,” Published 11/19. Accessed 5/14/2020.
  2. “Collagen Market Size By Product, By Source, By Dosage Form, By Application, Industry Analysis Report, Regional Outlook, Application Development Potential, Price Trends, Competitive Market Share & Forecast, 2020-2026.” Published 5/2020. Accessed 5/14/2020.
  3. “Beauty from the Inside Out.” Accessed 5/14/2020.
  4. Gene Bruno, “Resveratrol 101.” Posted 10/17/2019. Accessed 5/14/2020.
  5. “Benefits of Resveratrol and Inflammation.” Posted 4/29/2020. Accessed 5/14/2020.