Consumers and regulation demand scientifically backed beauty foods

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

A combination of consumer pressure and a regulation overhaul is set to drive a more scientifically substantiated beauty foods, drinks and supplements sector.

Products such as anti-aging waters and supplements claiming to improve skin health are part of the ‘beauty from within’ trend tipped for major growth.

Although claims may resemble those often found on the labels of cosmetic creams, the regulation of these products falls under food industry rules and therefore it stands to be significantly affected by the revamp of the European Union nutrition and health claims regulation.

According to a recent report from market research company Leatherhead Foods, the success of a functional food product, including beauty foods and drinks, rely on the claims it can make, and Europe’s health claim regulations may make it difficult to communicate a product’s benefits to the consumer.

However, currently it is not one hundred percent clear which products or claims fall under the regulations.

‘Beauty’ is a general claim

Anja Dahton from analyze & realize, a research and consulting firm on natural products, explained to CosmeticsDesign how unspecific claims may not be affected.

“For unspecific claims, regarding general beauty such as Glowelle’s beauty drink, the health claims regulation does not seem to be applicable.”

Products making these kinds of claims, however, are liable to general food industry regulation which prohibits false advertising.

This is a controversial point according to analyze & realize’s co-founder Joerg Gruenwald, who said companies need to watch their backs as competitors may be calling their product to the attention of the advertising standards authorities.

In addition, this often leaves global companies at the mercy of national advertising regulations which can vary significantly between countries.

Physiological claims must be backed up

However, a physiological claim such as ‘anti-wrinkle action’ that can feasibly be defined by objective measurements falls under the regulation, Dahten said.

If they fall under the regulation, the claims and their scientific substantiation have to be submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for judgement. But, EFSA’s clinical trial-weighted approach and its associated demands for data are notoriously thorough and the agency has recently rejected 70 percent of over 500 dossiers that were submitted for its approval.

Giants such as L’Oreal and Nestlé with their beauty supplements joint venture Inneov are the most likely contender for EFSA approval, according to Dahten, as their joint capacity for research is so significant.

“It will be interesting to see what happens with L’Oreal’s Inneov dossier, we are awaiting the result,”​ said Dahten.

So will the "if L’Oreal can’t do it no one can" ethos lead to a mass of products making general beauty claims flooding the market and a dearth of anything claiming specific action?

Not necessarily, according to Dahten and Gruenwald.

“Aside from health claim regulations, consumers, especially in European countries, are increasingly asking for quality products with scientifically substantiated efficacy,”​ Dahten explained.

Products claims that are based on clinical trials are preferred over those with claims based on ingredients data and subjective consumer assessments, and this applied in both topical and oral products, she said.

“More proven scientific data on product usage is expected in the near future, improving the image of the segment,”​ she said.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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