Never before have wellness and beauty been so intertwined. Beauty companies are marketing foods the same way they sell concoctions to boost skin radiance. The result is a new category — beauty foods. The segment is taking on a whole new life in an age where consumers are increasingly connecting the wellness dots between eating, exercise and beauty. “This has been all around the edges for some time,” said Wendy Liebmann, chief executive officer of WSL Strategic Research. “The natural organic movement in beauty has driven some of this and the broader wellness conversation around internal and external beauty.”
“The overlap really centers around the idea that consumers across categories are just viewing health and wellness more holistically,” said Jordan Rost, vice president of consumer insights at Nielsen. For many consumers, that wellness sphere also includes beauty. “The money people are spending on living healthfully is increasing every day,” Rost said.
The idea of a beauty company making food that also provides skin benefits takes the beauty- from-the-inside out concept a step beyond the nutritional supplement. While data related specifically for beauty foods isn’t readily available, face-related nutritional supplements are on the rise in the U.S. market, gaining 84 percent in 2016, according to The NPD Group.
Figures like that have attracted new entrants to the space, including The Nue Co., which makes supplements from organic foods. The business recently launched its Plant Protein, $70; Skin Food, $75, and Debloat Food, $75, on Net-a-porter. “What we’ve latched onto that a lot of people are kind of overseeing is, if people are going to be turning toward supplements instead of their Estée Lauder cream, we’re developing a brand that can provide the same sort of luxury experience,” Miller said. Right now, that experience is available online only, but Miller is on the hunt for a New York store, she said. “People actually do care about these products that they’re going to be ingesting and they’re going to care as much as they care about beauty,” Miller said.
Natural stalwart Burt’s Bees recently came out with a line of Burt’s Bees Plant-Based Protein Powders, including one for Healthy Radiance, for $39.99. “We have also kind of always acknowledged that real beauty comes from within,” said John Feeney, brand manager for Burt’s Bees. “It’s fair to say we meant that emotionally and literally.”
He said Burt’s Bees ventured into plant-based proteins because of the “consumer pull” for those types of products. “People are generally connecting their lives in a more holistic way,” he said. “We don’t believe that our consumer fundamentally believes there are magic bullets or shortcuts to healthiness and healthy, radiant skin, but what we hear very consistently is they are making that connection.”
While many consumers turn to raw juice business Raw Generation for their weight-related goals, others come in because of health concerns, including acne, said founder Jessica Rosen. “The vitamin content in raw juice is tremendous,” Rosen said, noting that brand’s juices contain something like 8,000 percent vitamin C, and that flooding your system with all the vitamins “is good for your health in general, but specifically for your skin as well.”
Connecting foods and beverages with beauty is a way to tap into a consumers idea of a well- ness lifestyle, according to Rost. “Connecting that breakfast routine with a beauty regimen is I think an opportunity to really tap into that idea of holistic health,” he said at a February CEW event, speaking specifically about the Burt’s Bees protein offering.
For Farmacy, the farm-to-face brand that sources ingredients from its upstate New York farm and combines them with the science of its New Jersey-based lab, branching into food was a natural fit. The company’s first food product, honey, launched as part of the company’s Buzz Box, a $48 holiday offering on its web site. That Echinacea Green Envy Honey, made by bees on Farmacy’s farm, provides “vital nutrients” from the plants, according to co-founder Mark Veeder. “Everything you put in your body manifests itself in your skin as well,” he said.
For Valentine’s Day, the business focused on chocolate and Lip Bloom pairings. The chocolate comes from Raaka Chocolate in Brooklyn, which makes raw, unpasteurized sweets in flavors that match up to Farmacy’s Lip Blooms. “The chocolate collaboration was fun because raw chocolate is packed with antioxidants,” Veeder said.
While many beauty-related food offerings are heavily linked to the natural space, not all are. “A lot of the convergence we’ve seen has been along the lines of natural and organic and really appealing to that modern sense of health,” Rost said. “We are also seeing a shift toward the clinical benefits of beauty and in some cases the clinical benefits of food.”
Consider renowned dermatologist Nicholas Perricone’s latest project — Hydrogen Water — $3 per can, which launches in March. Perricone has long championed the beauty-from-the-inside-out approach, linking diet and skin. “When I was putting patients on my anti-inflammatory diet, we noticed a profound change in how their skin looked,” Perricone said. His namesake skin-care line also harnesses the anti-inflammation idea. For his new project, Perricone started following studies on the effects of hydrogen, and found that when dissolved in water, “it seemed to have therapeutic effects on a host of issues,” he said. One of those was skin radiance he said, noting that he noticed it after he drank the hydrogen-infused water. “You ingested this stuff in your stomach and 20 minutes later it saturated your skin with energy,” Perricone said.
Zak Normandin is also on the wellness beverage train. He launched Dirty Lemon, a direct-to-consumer business in 2015 when he saw an opening in the market for “functional” beverages, he said. The drinks are Detox, Energy, Skin & Hair and Sleep. The beauty drink — Skin & Hair, contains marine collagen, cayenne, red clover and horse- tail, which with regular ingestion is said to improve the look of — wait for it — skin and hair.
People are just more aware of the things they’re putting in their body, so they’re looking to get more benefit from it,” said Normandin, who sells the beverages for $65 per pack (six bottles) exclusively via text message. “We’re very heavily betting on ingestible beauty…look at the progression of juice cleanses, tea-toxes, energy drinks would be the earliest piece of it. There’s been all of these functional areas where people are like, ‘OK, if I do this, it’s going to have this impact’….Modern consumers are more aware of what they’re putting in their bodies.”
Luxury tea business Kusmi recognized the food beauty connection long before the overlap went mainstream. After Sylvain Orebi bought the business in 2003, he hired a beauty public relations firm to start building it up. “We started communicating about how tea is part of a beauty routine,” Orebi said. When the brand developed detox tea about 10 years ago, it immediately became the best seller, Orebi said — that is, until BB Detox — which borrows the “BB” from the beauty industry, came along. “We used the beauty words to create that BB Detox and it worked really well because it became number-one immediately, with the [original] detox as number two,” Orebi said. BB Detox contains green tea, Maté and grapefruit, meant to improve the look of the skin over time.
Whitney Tingle, who cofounded food business Sakara Life, suffered with cystic acne she said, and bopped between dermatologists and medications before changing her diet to eliminate certain foods — which finally worked. “What works is healing your gut — really it comes from the inside — it matters what you eat,” Tingle said. “Our number-one advice for people who have skin issues is to get enough leafy greens in your diet — up to eight cups,” said cofounder Danielle DuBoise. The duo founded Sakara Life back in 2012, with a focus on foods that are good for the gut and in turn, are meant to have positive effects on the skin. The business has a meal plan as well as things like Beauty Bars, for $29.
“The same way they’re thinking about what ingredients to avoid in their diet, they’re thinking about what ingredients to avoid in their beauty products,” Rost said. “There is definitely an opportunity to capture,” Rost said. “You can really think more holistically across an entire day or an entire lifestyle — really owning how those consumers are living…regardless of whether you’re a beauty or food brand.”
Golden Door is both. The wellness retreat has food and beauty arms that work together with a lifestyle component to try to better guests’ and shoppers’ lives. “We believe in the mind-body spirit, the whole thing,” said Golden Door chief executive officer Kathy Van Ness. “We know everyone wants to eat better today…your skin is an equal organ to all those [other] parts…honey is a healing agent for the skin.” The business has just launched its own line of honey produced by rescued bees that reside on the California spa’s land. The product is a complement to Golden Door’s other food products, which include artisan cookies, rice, soups and preserves.
“We’ve seen a lot of innovation in just grouping products, not by category necessarily, but thinking about a lifestyle or an overall need state,” Rost said. “There’s a lot of innovation around thinking about beauty in the context of the athleisure movement… as apparel and beauty are converging, food is a component of that as well — there’s an opportunity to converge all those specific departments.”
That food-beauty convergence is similar to the skin-care-makeup convergence that’s overtaking the beauty industry, according to Liebmann. “We’ve seen convergence in lots of beauty categories lately,” she said. “It would be appropriate to see beauty brands, either established or more niche brands, experimenting with this…a holistic beauty proposition is more timely now.