The beauty industry was severely affected by the recent pandemic, with global sales in 2020 down by around one quarter. However, one area that’s been highly resilient is nutricosmetics—a section of products that merge nutrition and cosmetics.
Nutricosmetics’ goal is to improve the way you look and feel from the inside out by taking supplements. These food supplements are considered beneficial to the consumer’s looks and general well-being. It’s an approach that goes well with consumer interest in general wellness and health.
However, as in every industry, trends in Nutricosmetics are changing rapidly. Primož Artač had an enlightening conversation with Uroš Gotar, CIO at Tosla Nutricosmetics, to dip deeper into the sphere of nutricosmetics, its trends, and R&D work in a company like Tosla Nutricosmetics.
They first touched on the trends in nutricosmetics and how Tosla follows them. Uroš thinks that nutricosmetics is a trend on its own, in its broader category, the beauty industry, simply because it takes a different, more holistic, inside-out approach. It seems that this is how the customers have pivoted regarding their skincare routine: from covering up topically to eating mindful foods and supplements that would make their skin look radiant, healthy, and plump. The covid pandemic only accelerated this movement.
To zoom further into nutricosmetics, peptides are hot nowadays. Collagen peptides have been experiencing substantial growth in the past years and continue to be a superstar ingredient in the category. Although, to be fair, they do not pair well with all other trends.
Keeping up with the trends
There are always several ways how to stay up to date. At Tosla, we strive to keep an open eye on them. We’re paying attention to what’s on the market; we educate ourselves by visiting fairs and talking to people.
To follow the trends, one must keep their eyes open. Uroš finds it beneficial to talk to friends, business partners, ingredients suppliers, colleagues, and so on. He mentions magazines and fairs as good sources of information. Especially fairs enable you to communicate face-to-face, talk to real people, exchange ideas live, breathe in new information, brainstorm with many people, and see many new things. He believes fairs are not going anywhere and will continue to be meeting points for all sorts of communities, including the nutricosmetics community. According to him, the nutricosmetics community is extensive, with collagen being its number one trend. Although it has been on the scene for around 10 to 15 years, everybody keeps saying it will disappear.
However, the collagen trend does not pair well with other trends in the industry, this being the veganism movement.
What is the buzz about?
The veganism movement takes some glitter out of collagen, but this can be compensated with another hot trend, upcycling of the ingredients, which is another trend. We can’t compensate here. For those who don’t know, the upcycled ingredient is a byproduct in this case of the meat industry, and it’s taken back into the food chain and re-used. This tackles sustainability in the right way. Collagen is a byproduct that would be discarded if not used in nutraceuticals and some other industries not directly associated with meat consumption. So, even though it’s an animal-derived protein, it does consider sustainable.
Primož brought up enzymatically made collagen as an alternative to the animal-derived protein. According to Uroš’s knowledge, that is not commercially viable yet. There have been some attempts and lab-scale batches, which created many buzzes, but it does not seem like it will be commercially viable soon. In addition to the complexity of inventing manufacturing technology, the end product has to go through this rigorous process of being approved by the European Commission or the FDA in the States. This being said, the enzymatically made collagen would fall under the Novel Food regulation in the EU.
The phrase ‘gut microbiome’ is often associated with skin health. Consumers are getting more educated and realize how what they eat or do not eat affects skin and health. Thus probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics became popular. Probiotics are live organisms that are good for your gut, prebiotics is foods these organisms eat, and postbiotics are byproducts that probiotics leave after eating prebiotics.
In addition to collagen peptides, fermentation is another buzzword. It does not relate to the ingredient but the process that made it. Many products are fermented. For instance, hyaluronic acid, a long-time companion to collagen, is produced through such a process.
Another trend is ceramides, extracts, which have been known in the cosmetics industry for quite some time. Consuming them brings visible benefits to the skin.
Additionally, ayurvedic herbal infusions also found their role in the nutricosmetic with promises to provide inner balance and energy, expressed on the body’s largest organ, the skin. It has a positive influence on the skin.
When talking about general well-being, many think of CBD. Uroš has never been fond of CBD because of the regulatory affairs. Uroš is not sure about CBD’s future and its implementation in the supplement world, but for the time being, CBDs are not allowed. Therefore, nobody big from the industry will want to tackle it.
From idea to end, consumers
Keeping up with the trends and talking to colleagues and friends often brings new ideas for developing new products, says Uroš. These ideas can also come from either existing or potential clients or within the company. But before taking the idea into the lab, a specific set of requirements must be followed. Firstly, we need to see the clinical data behind our idea and if any significant proof exists that the ingredients we would like to use work. This might be the most essential thing, says Uroš. The following requirement that needs to be met is regulatory affairs. More precisely, what is the regulatory status of the ingredient? As mentioned before, CBD, for example, is not allowed. Therefore, developing a product with CBD would be a waste of time and money. The next thing that has to be taken into consideration when developing ready-to-drink formulations
We must be mindful that our ingredients are water-soluble or at least dispersible because we don’t want to get sediment at the bottom. In Uroš’s opinion, sediments are a mark of a bad product. Another vital thing in liquids is palatability. The taste is essential to the entire experience, and some of the active ingredients taste really bad. We need to be mindful of that and have at least an idea of how to mask it and put everything together to create a palatable taste. In the end, there is the stability of the product, which is, in most cases, very challenging. This also includes the stability of the active ingredients. Once you put ingredients into the water, they tend to interact with other ingredients, which causes them to decay over time, which is highly problematic. You want to ensure that what you put inside on the first day of production is also inside on the last day of the shelf life—quite a challenge. Nevertheless, with the knowledge in technology Tosla has, they can cope with this challenge very well.
Safe, functional, and tasty
Safety and functionality are essential for Tosla, and they test them regularly. Tosla starts the safety journey with a product specification. This is a document that contains all quality parameters of the product on the product specification sheet. Parameters define ingredient potency, physicochemical properties, like product pH and density, sensorial appreciation, microbiology, and potential impurities. These parameters are later measured to ensure they align with the product specification. To help with the entire process, Tosla has implemented Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), following FDA guidelines, an excellent protocol for managing facility management, product testing, staff training, and more. This third certification body performs annual inspections to check if everything is working smoothly and to suggest improvements to avoid any future mistakes from the manufacturer in manufacturing, labeling, and packaging.
On top of that, Tosla has an in-house laboratory, enabling them to test microbiology contamination, physicochemical parameters, and sensory properties. However, Tosla always works with third-party laboratories to validate their methods and get a confirmation of their work.
Additionally, it is not negligible to follow the legislation and avoid any arguments and potential fees by the authorities. Keeping a good name and credibility is high on Tosla’s agenda. The company does not compete with false claims and lower potency, as stated on other manufacturers’ labels.
Safety refers to preparing, handling, and storing products to prevent foodborne illnesses and injuries, but it does not address functionality. It is utterly different from safety and must be treated like it. Because if a product is safe, it doesn’t mean it is functional. Or that it works. Uroš has a strong belief in the importance of functionality. Food supplements must work because this is the primary decision driver when it comes to purchasing.
And the functionality must be tested too. Tosla recently conducted a clinical, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. Double-blinded studies are a gold standard for this industry, which means that the patients in the study don’t know what products they are having. They either have a placebo or a product that should work hypothetically. The experts then periodically measure skin density, texture, hydration, etc. And the experts are also unaware whether the patient they are examining is using a placebo or an actual product. No cheating. The results with the Tosla formulation were very encouraging. Most parameters showed a significant correlation between taking supplements and seeing visible effects. The statistics showed positive trends in all parameters, meaning if the time consuming the product was prolonged to 30 or 40 weeks, there would be significant results in all of them.
Not only the results of the clinical study but also the feedback of the participants was really encouraging. Many wanted to know the product and where they could buy it.