Inside the world of beauty supplements

Collagen beauty supplements seem to divide a lot of people. Some swear by the results and others simply don’t believe they work. 

Though the category is still relatively new, ingestible beauty is growing, and growing fast. According to Vida Glow founder, Anna Lahey, it’s anticipated to be worth over $6.5 billion by 2025. 

To dive deeper, and find out more about the world of beauty supplements, we spoke to four brand founders: JOSO founder and naturopath, Natalie McGrath; Avec founder, Jen Plahm; The Collagen Co co-founder, Josh Woodley; and the aforementioned, Vida Glow founder, Anna Lahey.

Below, the experts share how collagen supplements work, the changes they have seen across the category, common misconceptions, new ingredients to look out for, and the beauty and health trends predicted for 2022.

Let's start at the beginning - why a collagen supplement?

Collagen is the main building block in our connective tissue - it makes up a third of the protein in our body and 75 per cent of our skin. It’s also found in other tissue, like bones and tendons. It’s what gives skin, hair and nails structure, elasticity and firmness.

“Collagen contains large amounts of the amino acids glycine, glutamine and proline which are incredibly healing for the gut,” said JOSO founder and naturopath, Natalie McGrath. “That’s why there are so many benefits of taking collagen and I remind people when your skin looks healthy and glowing, this reflects the overall health of your body.”

The Collagen Co co-founder Josh Woodley added from our twenties, our natural collagen production begins to slow down, causing fine lines and wrinkles, stiff joints, weak nails and lacklustre hair. 

“Taking a daily collagen supplement works to increase the body's collagen levels and stimulates production of new collagen. This means glowing skin, healthy hair, stronger nails and healthy joints - and who doesn’t want that,” he said.

Avec founder, Jen Plahm, can personally vouch for the benefits. 

“A few years back I was losing my hair, my nails were brittle and my skin was getting dull due to an auto-immune disease,” she said. “Besides changing my diet, I started to test and incorporate different collagen supplements.”

“I started to notice my nails getting stronger, my hair was growing and the glow in my skin was coming back.”

The developing ingestible beauty market 

Lahey explained that ingestible beauty is still relatively new but growing fast, and as mentioned above, the category is anticipated to be worth over $6.5 billion by 2025. 

“We have always prioritised being first-movers, with science-backed and highly effective beauty solutions,” she said of her company, Vida Glow. “We’re investing in clinical research and new product development to push the boundaries of ingestible beauty. There’s still so much to discover about what ingestibles can do.”

McGrath agreed that the term ingestible beauty is relatively new, reflecting this shift is evident of the growing awareness around health and wellness. 

“People are educating themselves, being more proactive and becoming more responsible when it comes to their skin,” she said. “People are also becoming more aware of the impact of gut health and the effects it has on the skin. I believe that we are only just scratching the surface in this new market.”

Plahm said the supplements industry initially was linked to the thought of the gym or bulk supplement nutrition stores. 

“But with people leading hectic and busy lives, they need that extra push, on top of a healthy diet,” she said. “That’s where supplements have come in and assisted with skin, your brain, your sex life and all sorts of things.”

Woodley added that wellness and beauty now go hand in hand. 

“People are more attracted to ways of boosting their natural beauty and overall health, which is why supplements have become so popular,” he said.

“Sustainability and natural ingredients have also taken the spotlight. Consumers are becoming more aware and more interested in purchasing products that are natural, ethically sourced, cruelty-free and sustainably packaged.”

Consumer trends during the pandemic

Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable and discerning, according to Lahey.

“They’re curious about ingredients, they’re doing their research and they aren’t afraid to ask questions – particularly when it comes to skincare,” she said. “And COVID solidified this.”

Plahm agreed, adding that with COVID, many people want to live healthier lives and want to boost their immune system, and take care of their skin and body. 

“Immune health supplements have been popping up everywhere as well as supplements to support skin,” she said.

According to Woodley, the last 12 months have seen a tremendous increase in the amount of consumers who are adopting a holistic approach to health and beauty. 

“Topical beauty products such as serums, masks and moisturisers will no longer be the extent of one’s beauty regime,” he said.

“And with a growing body of scientific evidence that high quality nutritional supplements can have a significant impact on one’s outward appearance, consumer demand continues to grow.” 

“This has given rise to many new and exciting ingestible beauty products and their growing popularity, and collagen supplements are definitely at the forefront of this rapidly expanding market,” he added.

As for the impacts of COVID-19, the pandemic has seen consumers shift to a more skincare-focused beauty routine, and adopting a ‘less is more’ approach to makeup. 

“Women have realised they don’t need as much makeup during the pandemic - they’re more interested in simplifying their routines and enhancing their natural beauty,” said Woodley.

“We’ve also observed a heightened focus on immune protection as a result of COVID. This has fueled remarkable growth in the industry with consumers turning to nutritional supplements to build their immune system, and assist their overall health and wellbeing.”

Common misconceptions

Speaking to the brand founders, the most common misconception we discovered is that beauty supplements don’t work. 

Plahm shared that she finds people think that they are either the cure-all for everything, or that they don't work at all.

“Taking a supplement is a tool to your overall beauty efforts, but it’s not going to be the end-all if other parts of your life aren’t healthy, like the foods you eat, your exercise and your sleep patterns,” she said. “You can’t go on four hours of sleep a night and expect your supplement to work magic.”

Lahey agreed, saying “ingestible beauty doesn’t offer the instant gratification of some topical treatments – but that’s down to how ingestibles work.” 

“Through innovative processing and delivery methods, like the hydrolysation of our collagen powder and effervescence of Anti-G-Ox, Vida Glow ensures bioavailability. This means high absorption rates to achieve maximum results, fast,” she said.

Game-changing ingredients

When it comes to ingredients, the brand founders were all excited to share what they recommend keeping an eye out for.

McGrath is looking close to home at Australian native botanicals.  

“We have such an incredible range of native plants that we are only starting to understand their true potential,” she said. “A lot of our natives live in very arid and harsh conditions. For these plants, they must adapt by making their phytochemicals (plants natural chemicals) super strong, unique and concentrated to help it to survive.”

“For example, we use Kakadu plum in GLOWSO™. It is the world’s highest source of natural vitamin C. It also is jam packed full of other concentrated phtochemicals which are vital to protecting and rejuvenating our skin.”

Woodley said hyaluronic acid is really making a lot of noise on the beauty scene - and for good reason.

“Hyaluronic Acid is a sugar naturally found in our skin that holds water and keeps it hydrated and plump,” he explained. “Just like collagen, the hyaluronic acid in our body starts to decrease as we age, so adding it to our beauty routine helps improve skin elasticity.”

“A lot of people use it as part of their skincare routine, but don’t know that they can actually experience better results when ingested. We’ve recently added hyaluronic acid to all our collagen blends for the ultimate hydration glow up,” he said.

Lahey also loves hyaluronic acid, adding optimising topical skincare ingredients is next for targeted ingestible skincare. 

“We know ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and niacinamide are clinically proven and trusted by consumers – so they’re the driving actives behind our Hyaluronic Complex and Anti-G-Ox,” she said. 

Upcoming trends

So, what do the experts predict for health and beauty trends heading into 2022? Wellness, of all sorts, seems to be a common thread. 

“I have a keen interest in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine,” said McGrath. “I think we may see more of these therapies like facial acupuncture becoming more a mainstream beauty trend.” 

Lahey had a similar prediction within the wellness category, adding “as the beauty industry continues to evolve, we’ll see more people adopting a functional beauty perspective with solutions to treat specific concerns on a cellular level.”

“Just like consumers tailor their routines with serums and ingredients, we’re driven to expand this approach to ingestible beauty with a range of targeted treatments,” she said.

Plahm predicts the expansion of sexual wellness products to become more popular in Australia. 

“It’s a trend in America and I think that will continue to grow over here,” she said, also adding, “I think minimalist beauty will continue to be on the rise - realising you don’t need a lot of products to achieve healthy skin. And whenever CBD becomes legal in Australia, that will explode here too.”

The popularity of beauty enhancing products and wellness supplements will continue to grow at a rapid pace, and Woodley believes we can expect to see more diverse categories and channels for these products throughout the market.

“Consumers lead busy lives and are after products that fit seamlessly into their lifestyles, making ‘on-the-go’ products very attractive,” he said. 

Both McGrath and Woodley agreed that an important trend they expect to see is people wanting to know more about the products they’re putting on their skin, and where these ingredients have come from.

“The knowledge base of consumers is growing and so is their appetite for facts surrounding the efficacy of functional ingredients and their intended therapeutic benefits,” said Woodley. “We expect to see this evolve through more educational marketing and brands becoming more transparent.”

McGrath added similarly that, “I think consumers are becoming a lot more concerned about where ingredients are sourced from and choosing more ethical options.”

“People are starting to educate themselves of the impact some of these ingredients may be having,” she said.

To learn more about the brands featured, click below:

The Collagen Co here and on BD here.

JOSO here and on BD here.

Avec here and on BD here.

Vida Glow here.

Main image source: Getty.