Reproductive Health and Nutricosmetics: What Is the Connection?
To discuss women’s and reproductive health and how it can be optimized with health supplements and even nutricosmetics, freelance beauty and wellness editor Mara Santilli hosted Marie-Pascale Ballet, founder of OMUM. The brand’s focus is on external and internal hormonal wellness throughout the reproductive life cycle, from menstruation to pregnancy and menopause.
Marie-Pascale Ballet’s inspiration for beginning OMUM came from communities of women she met and how they cared for one another’s well-being. Women’s health is a growing focus of wellness and supplement companies since reproductive health is less taboo than ever before. People are beginning to understand their hormones better and seeking hormonal balance and holistic wellness throughout their reproductive lives.
Some crucial points of the reproductive life cycle that may require additional support from supplements are:
- Menstruation: One of the most frustrating parts of the premenstrual phase, besides mood swings and cramping, is often the breakouts. Marie-Pascale shared the statistic that PMS symptoms affect 40% of women regularly. Acne is typically treated topically, with everything from exfoliants to retinol, however, combining topical and ingestible cosmetics bring the best results. Taking certain B vitamins, including B2 and B3, can help reduce acne-causing inflammation and encourage cell turnover. And so can supplementing with zinc cut back on inflammation and acne-causing bacteria.
- Pregnancy: A few cosmetic concerns Marie-Pascale brought up were stretch marks on the body, and “pregnancy mask,” which is also known as melasma, a series of darker pigmented spots that can appear on the face with an increase in the hormone estrogen during pregnancy. OMUM has an “Inside Out” stretch mark regimen that includes a stretch mark oil, packed with omega 3 fatty acids to increase skin elasticity, and a marine collagen supplement, that also strengthens skin elasticity to work toward smoothing stretch marks. As for melasma, a form of hyperpigmentation in the skin, it can be treated topically with vitamin C to eliminate excess melanin on the skin; on top of that, extra vitamin C is also beneficial in supplement form.
- Postpartum: Marie-Pascale added that customer demand has been strong in the postpartum category, particularly around postpartum hair loss. This happens because there is hair growth during pregnancy due to an increase in estrogen; once the estrogen levels drop after pregnancy, excess hair begins to fall out, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. It’s important to approach hair loss from the inside out: For example, OMUM uses turmeric in its hair cream, which is believed to support hair growth. Additionally, their hair growth supplement incorporates keratin-boosting biotin and zinc for thicker, healthier hair.
- Menopause: There is more attention being paid to menopause in the wellness space than ever before. One intimate wellness concern during menopause is vaginal dryness due to decreases in the hormone estrogen. There are topical solutions for vaginal dryness, some of which contain estrogen, but supplements, including those with probiotics, can support the mucous membranes and the health and hydration of intimate skin.
OMUM focuses on synergy between the external skincare, during menstruation or pregnancy, and the internal well-being of the person going through those reproductive changes. The line currently includes 8 food supplements, 2 herbal teas, and 18 cosmetic products.
Marie-Pascale also emphasized that there are different regulations for cosmetics than supplements. She shared that the process for developing cosmetics takes a couple of years, but they have the same regulations across the EU. On the other hand, nutricosmetics are faster to develop but have to be regulated differently in each country.
Even if produced on different timelines, OMUM’s topical and beauty from within lines are intended to be taken together for both cosmetic and internal benefits. Marie-Pascale mentioned that consumers respond well to the inside-out approach, particularly around PMS and postpartum. Because of positive customer responses overall and the high demand for hormonal health products, it is likely that more and more companies producing nutricosmetics may also seek that same synergistic approach to inner-outer reproductive well-being.