What's up with that? you wonder during the recent commercial in which Diane Keaton, with her famous grin, hawks a new skin cream by flexing her well-toned biceps. Muscles selling moisturizers? The spot, for L'Oreal Paris Age-Perfect Pro-Calcium Restorative Hydrating Cream, links bone-building with skin-boosting. Right, the calcium -- and another vitamins -- are-good-for-skin story. But don't tune out: The story becomes more intriguing.
Vitamins and supplements are now the fastest-growing segment of the anti-aging-skincare market. While cosmetics companies have offered vitamin-enriched creams and serums for several years now, the latest trend is to focus on the pill itself. Leading brands like Kinerase, Olay, and N. V. Perricone M.D. have all introduced beauty capsules, claiming they can do from the inside what a cream can’t do from the outside. The right beauty vitamin, believes Rachel West, a California-based osteopath, “can get your inner body functioning at an optimal level, which is then reflected in your skin, hair, and nails.”
Is it any wonder that we’d be game for this form of quick fix? Between 1997 and 2002, the supplement industry experienced a 34-percent jump in sales to $19 billion annually. Given the choice to pop a pretty pill ...
“The data keeps pouring in every day about the benefits of supplements,” says Nicholas Perricone, M.D., a dermatologist and author of The Wrinkle Cure. Also a cosmeceutical pioneer with a highly successful product line, Perricone began his business with multivitamin packs and omega-3 capsules and has expanded into antioxidant powders, mushroom extracts, and peptide blends. He believes skin ages as a result of low-grade inflammation on the cellular level. Supplements, he says, can help combat this inflammation.
Despite their virtues, vitamins and supplements are considered food, not drugs, and therefore they are not regulated by the FDA. Still, it’s hard to dismiss the extensive studies being presented within the dermatological community that reinforce the case for their skin-boosting abilities. A recent one in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology reported that some people who took vitamins C and E in the long-term saw a reduction in visible premature aging.
So why can’t you just eat better to look better? “Foods we ate as little as 100 years ago had 10 times the nutrients they do today,” says New York–based nutritionist Esther Blum, author of Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous. “But don’t blame the farmers. To survive financially, they’re driven to overuse the soil, which in turn depletes the minerals that once enriched the produce.” Couple that with the fact that your blood ships most of the nutrients gleaned from food to major organs, like the heart and liver, first—leaving your hair, skin, and nails with the dregs— and you can understand why you need to do more than consume those “healthy” carbs, fats, and proteins.