Could you sip your way to supple skin? Image Credit: Shutterstock

Struggling to fit in enough leafy greens and ancient grains to ensure your skin is fighting fit? Or is a time-poor diet seeing your hair lose its gloss and your eyes their sparkle? Fret not, for there’s now a drink for that! No longer content to simply tend to the surface, skincare brands are beginning to take a holistic approach to beauty with the release of new antioxidant-infused brews designed to beautify your body from the inside out.

While orally ingested supplements have been used for years to encourage ageless skin and strong hair and nails, never before have they been so aggressively marketed as not only good for your health, but crucial for a youthful appearance.

Poured into vintage apothecary-styled flasks, and artfully Instagrammed alongside #green #detox #healthyliving, these nutrient-infused beverages have emerged from the Kombucha tea and granola-stocked pantries of ageing hippies, to the It bags of the fash pack.

Although the ritual of popping a nightly evening primrose capsule still has a slight nursing-home vibe, beautifying drinks have sidestepped this stigma, thanks in part to the recent green juicing and detox trends, and to some clever branding directed at the young.

Not content to simply sit in your bathroom cabinets, beauty supplement beverages have jumped from the expected ‘once a day’ ingestion, to a full-size bottle of refreshment that can both wash down lunch or rehydrate after Pilates. Beauty supplements are making themselves comfortable in the daily routines of those seeking a fountain of youth.

Testament to their growing popularity amongst trendsetters, beauty beverage brand Beauty’In was a major sponsor for the London Fashion Week 2013, ensuring that its product’s prominence in goodie bags saw fashion’s front row bypassing last season’s nutritionally dubious Vitamin Water.

An exercise in knowing and speaking to your market, Beauty’In uses the trendy super foods (acai, hibiscus and coconut water, we’re looking at you) acclaimed by lean and green celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Miranda Kerr, mixed in with a long list of healthy-sounding vitamins and minerals. Combine this with the claim that the Beauty Drink’s key ingredient, hydrolysed collagen, will improve your skin’s elasticity and firmness by up to 31 per cent and increase hydration and luminosity of the skin by up to 41 per cent, and these thirst-quenchers start sounding too good to be true. 

However, it’s hard to invalidate beauty potions when they come with the heavyweight backing of compelling scientific research. UK skincare supplement brand Fountain has an exhaustive list of alleged health benefits thanks to the inclusion of a few powerhouse ingredients, each sporting some impressive laboratory credentials. Its major player is the antioxidant resveratrol, most commonly found in red grapes, blueberries and peanuts.

On the back of beauty-counter success as an active ingredient in topical skincare, resveratrol has the science world abuzz with its cell-renewing potential, with Brandon Truaxe, founder and CEO of Deciem, the parent company of Fountain, which produces the popular Beauty Molecule supplement, saying, “resveratrol is proven to benefit structures throughout the body, including the skin”.

Chemically similar to the female hormone oestrogen, resveratrol has garnered interest from skincare movers and shakers after a Harvard study concluded that its consumption has a noticeable impact in reducing the signs of ageing. In short, resveratrol jump-starts the genes that produce sirtuins, an elusive protein that revamps and renews organ cells, including the surface 
of the largest organ – the skin.

Fountain’s range of molecules promises to put this supercharged phenol to work on your body from the inside out, with a teaspoon a day of pomegranate fluid (taken neat, or diluted) claiming to reverse the clock on ageing skin.

While the jury’s out on whether a beauty drink is classed under skincare or beverage, Truaxe is quick to highlight the ever-closing gap between the health and beauty products. “Health and beauty are one,” he says. “Beauty really begins when all tissues are healthier.”

Still, the demand for beauty drinks is growing, with OCÓO – one of the only brands available in stores rather than online – seeing demand from stockists after its launch last year. Those seeking bottles of forerunners Beauty’In and Molecule will need to turn to the internet, for now.

But is the average diet so vitamin-poor that daily supplements are necessary? Laura Smith, head nutritionist for Kcal, says that those considering supplements should first address the deficiencies in their diet. “There’s no magic pill to help make you look your best,” she says.

“Rather than supplements, consider choosing whole foods instead, and consider that a recent study at St Andrews University confirmed that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption helps with skin tone, hair, acne and headaches.

“Busy lives mean we don’t always get chance to eat a complete diet with optimal nutrition, but supplements aren’t always the answer.”

She recommends those looking for a hit of skin-friendly nutrients should turn to the salad bar for a quick pretty-me-up, counting vitamins A, B and C as her must-haves and stressing, “If our insides benefit from good nutrition, why would our skin and hair not?”

While supplements shouldn’t be seen as a fix-all, Smith acknowledges they can be a worthwhile boost for those who aren’t able to squeeze in enough nutrients into their diet. “Consuming all essential nutrients from food is best and I always promote this to my clients. However, sometimes we need a helping hand,” she acknowledges.

While the liquid elixirs have been drawing the majority of attention, tablet-style supplements haven’t been completely forgotten. The teeny pill boxes of a generation ago are now in the midst of a stylish resurgence, with generational favourites such as fish oil, evening primrose and vitamin E leading in both popularity and effective results.

For those whose complexion is looking a little lacklustre, or whose nails are a brittle mess, there are some vitamins that will aid in getting your beauty groove back. “If you have trouble with hair loss – a prevalent problem in the Middle East – pair vitamin C with iron, both powerful antioxidants. The iron also helps with anaemia, which is one of the causes of hair loss,” suggests Smith.

“For diets lacking in important fatty acids [for smooth glowing skin], then I would advise trying fish oil – look for a higher ratio of EPA to DHA and always opt for a quality brand.”

While we may not have yet discovered the fountain of youth, there seems to be no harm in paddling in the shallows with a bottle of beauty water. Just keep in mind that supplements are exactly that – intended to supplement a healthy diet rather than mimic its beautifying benefits.