Interest in skin care supplements, or beauty foods, has been strong in Asia, and that trend is growing fast in Europe as well. These nutrient-rich beauty foods make a good case for starting a beauty regime from within, one that is designed to prevent or reduce the effects of aging, like sagging skin.
Some products on the market for skin care include a supplement containing lacto-lycopene, vitamin C, and soy isoflavones. This is aimed at restoring firmness to the skin for women over 40 and was developed by Nestle and L’Oreal. Others have been developed using lycopene and grape seed extract, both antioxidants. Grape seed extract also stops enzymatic reactions that lead to collagen in the skin being broken down.
Antioxidants protect the capillaries in the skin and thus ensure that enough nutrients get to the living cells that eventually push their way to the surface and become the skin you see in the mirror. They also protect from broken veins and early wrinkling. Capillaries also deliver oxygen to the cells and remove the waste products of cellular metabolism. This prevents puffy, sagging, and dull skin.
But you don’t always need to reach for a bottle of supplements. Simply by eating more antioxidant-rich food on a daily basis should see some improvement in skin tone. Fruits rich in antioxidants include blueberries, prunes, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, cherries, and plums. And of the vegetables, eat more artichokes, broccoli, red cabbage, Pontiac potatoes, brown onions, asparagus, non-green capsicum, beetroot, spinach and sweet potatoes.
Women are more prone to the damage caused by antioxidants than men, according to research from the University of Berkeley, and hence possibly their aging effects (Angyal).
Another strong antioxidant is beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is found in green leafy vegetables, fruit, and carrots. This antioxidant has been found to counteract the effects of a particular type of oxygen free radical, singlet oxygen, which occurs after the skin is exposed to UV radiation in sunlight. UV exposure can lead to premature aging by the effects of singlet oxygen. A study found that whilst the provitamin A aspect of the carotenoid did not combat the singlet oxygen, the beta-carotene did. It prevented the action of two enzymes, associated with UV light and the destruction of the skin cell’s extracellular matrix, which happens in premature aging of the skin. Sunlight also destroys beta-carotene in cells after sun exposure, so this beta-carotene has to be replaced.
Beta-carotene has been reported as having a mild sunscreen effect too, though it needs to be taken as a supplement to get this effect.
The skin care supplement beauty market is still not a strongly developed one, however, as these types of supplements tend to be more expensive than other supplements. And there needs to be more research and clinical trials to prove which products do what they are designed to.