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For centuries, skin-care manufacturers have primarily dealt with beauty from the outside. But now a growing number of cosmetic brands — including Olay and Avon — are rolling out new products promoting the idea that what consumers ingest can have just as big an effect on the healthfulness of their skin and the luster of their appearance as anything external they may apply.Simultaneously, more food and beverage companies like Snapple are investing in products that use green-tea extract and other nutrients as the basis for a brand extension into skin care. The upshot: these brand owners are betting that outer and inner beauty are more connected than previously explored.

“There are certain compounds that you can ingest that help your skin become more taut; they’re nutrients for skin regeneration,” says Peter Leighton, vice president of marketing and product development for Natrol Inc., a California-based manufacturer of dietary supplements and nutritional products.” There’s actually good science behind that.”

Adds Gordon Tareta, director of spas for Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels, which provides a number of treatments that are based on dessert ingredients: “There’s a lot of realization nowadays stemming from general awareness of health that the outside is a mirror of what’s within. The skin is the body’s largest organ.”

Consider these developments in the growing convergence between external and internal beauty products:

Olay, a Procter & Gamble cosmetics brand, this month is introducing Olay Vitamins in a partnership with supplement-making giant Pharmavite Corp. The two companies call the products the first vitamin line designed exclusively for women to address both their wellness and beauty needs,”

Nestlé and L’Oréal are expanding distribution of the first inner-beauty products developed by their joint venture, Laboratoires Inneov, which was set up last year. According to the companies, the dietary supplement Inneov Fermete can “improve the quality of skin, hair and nails by supplying nutrients essential to their physiology.” This summer, they’re rolling out the product to four more European countries after launching it in five European markets in March.

Avon is counting on a line of products called Wellness, which range from vitamins to weight-control programs, under an inner-beauty initiative that is aimed at growing its market of women age 35 and older.

Snapple Products Co., the Cadbury Schweppes plc juice-products brand, is considering licensing companies to produce Snapple-branded “health and beauty aids” including lip balms and skin creams and lotions. ~The flavor and color in that category plays beautifully to the core properties of our brand,” says a Snapple spokesman. “We’ve also been approached about shampoos, but we’re not quite ready for that area yet.”

Honest Tea and other health-oriented tea manufacturers have begun promoting associations between their products and recent studies that show that the antioxidants in green teas may help heal oxidation damage caused to the skin by ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Dove, under the Unilever NA brand, has introduced a line of skin-care products called Nutrium, which invokes inner-beauty images and concepts in advertising.

A New York City-based startup called SkinCola has been introduced this summer, and is “aimed at those trying to look good in warm weather,” the company says. The product, retailed at a suggested price of US$ 1 a bottle, contains purified water, activated oxygen, zinc and vitamins that are said to boost the immune system and promote cell growth and repair. “Beautiful, clear skin begins from within,” says Jason Hirsh, SkinCola’s co-founder. The drink contains no calories, sugar or fat — and according to SkinCola, it comes in handy as a hangover cure.

The GNC health-foods retail chain is launching a skin-rejuvenation vitamin supplement next month (September) under the Derma Beauty brand. Kemin Corp. is talking with supplement-manufacturer customers about skin-care products that would include lutein, a compound supplied by Kemin that already has proven its efficacy for boosting eyesight and is included in nutritional products such as Ensure.

Natrol has been developing dietary supplements that specifically would be marketed toward teenagers’ skin-health concerns to be either ingested, applied topically in a cream or gel, or both.

The merging of skin care between nutrients that are topically applied and those that are ingested is as old as the admonition to teenagers that drinking cola and eating chocolate will promote acne, or as venerable as the milk bath. Some dermatologists and other experts are dubious about the overall benefits of products such as Olay Vitamins and SkinCola.

“There are some things that are potentially helpful,” such as green tea, which studies show may inhibit chemical carcinogenesis and aging caused by the sun, says Dr. Joshua Fox, a dermatologist in New York. “But the vast majority of these products don’t show you research to support what they’re saying.” If the inner-beauty category does continue to grow, Fox and others maintain that the US Food & Drug Administration should begin to regulate it.

Nevertheless, both the nutrition business and the skin-care business are looking for new venues for signmcant growth because they’re running into some problems in their traditional markets. The food business is casting about everywhere for more healthful offerings as it becomes the target of obesity lawsuits, for example, while the color-cosmetics business has been a drag on beauty companies with the recent lag in the economy. Wellness-driven skin products could turn out to be a billion-dollar market, estimates Walter Levy, a managing director at Kurt Salmon Associates, who specializes in retail trends and positioning.

Olay Vitamins are a timely case in point. This new line actually goes beyond promising benefits just for the skin and vows to help women improve their overall health and feelings of well-being.

The two companies maintain that Olay’s “skin expertise, combined with Pharmavite nutritional knowledge, translates into a science-based line that really resonates with women.” More than that, says Barbara Lindquist, senior product manager for Olay Vitamins, is that the idea is new to a rather moribund vitamin marketplace. “There was a lot of growth from new-product introductions in vitamins in the nineties, but there’s been no new ‘news’ in the last few years,” she says. “It has been stagnant, with no growth, and in dire need of some new excitement and innovation, something that can attract new, younger users to the category, and grow it.”

Olay Vitamins also make for a fitting line extension for the Olay brand, which Ohio-based P&G has been remaking over the last several years. Known for decades as Oil of Olay, the brand recently shed the “Oil of” from its moniker, which both freed it from the negative connotations of oily ingredients and gave it freedom to apply more broadly to include, among others, products that consumers ingest.

The Olay Vitamins line includes seven “beauty nutrients” and eight “wellness nutrients” that allow women to mix and match and create a “personalized supplement regimen,” the two companies say. They include regular multivitamins and a multivitamin aimed at women 50 years old and over. “Beauty” products include Nourishing Evening Primrose Complex, which “nourishes and soothes dry skin,” and Vitamin A Retinol/Beta Carotene, which “supports cell renewal for a young appearance.” “Weilness” entries include something called Super B Stress Defense, which includes an “environmental and stress-defense system for the skin,” and a Daily Energy Pack for Women, which “helps provide optimal energy levels.”

Olay Vitamins will retail for prices ranging from US$ 8 to $25 when they debut in August at food, drug, mass and club stores across the United States. “Our pricing will be comparable to other products on the market,” Lindquist says. Yet, she adds, “all the formulations within Olay Vitamins are unique and different,” which will allow the brand to price the products as a premium.

The idea for Olay Vitamins began with the recognition that women purchase the vast majority of vitamin products (just as they do nearly every other consumable). Plus, Lindquist explains, both companies’ executives had noticed that in department stores, salons and other “alternative channels” for supplements and other nutritional products, more and more women were willing to pay high prices for “vitamin supplements that used the notion of beauty from within.”

The companies teamed up and performed a lot of consumer research to find out exactly what women were looking for in this arena. Last year, P&G studied American women ages 18 through 65 and found that 61 percent of them took vitamins and supplements, and that 42 percent of them felt that vitamins and herbs could improve the appearance of their facial skin. Pharmavite followed that up with market research with more than 1,900 women, who collectively expressed “an enormous interest in the concept of Olay Vitamins in terms of purchase interest, liking them overall, and price-value considerations.”

Pharmavite and Olay had these women test its products for four weeks and found that 78 percent of them probably would buy our products after they had used them,” Lindquist reports. Fully 72 percent of the test category “saw genuine skin improvement” after four weeks.

At the same time, Pharmavite and Olay were reviewing 130 studies that showed the effects of certain vitamins on women’s health and on skin health, specifically. Several themes emerged from that research, Lindquist says. First was that consuming a multivitamin daily was a good foundation. Second, there are unique needs that women have, where ingredients such as soy and calcium can assist. Third, vitamins could be helpful in assisting skin structure and renewal, such as in supporting collagen and in nourishing dry skin. The studies also noted that antioxidants could play a specific role in boosting skin health as well as women’s health overall.

The two companies are counting on the pull of the Olay brand as well as an ambitious “consumer-education” program to create demand for Olay Vitamins. Marketing tactics will include point-of-purchase materials such as a “flip booklet” at the shelf that takes consumers through the Olay regimen, Lindquist says. Advertising will be on TV, in magazines and in freestanding inserts in Sunday newspapers. “There are a lot of synergies that make sense from the standpoint of the equity of the Clay brand,” Lindquist says. “This is a huge opportunity, because right now the vitamin category is confusing to most women.” With all the activity to bring inner beauty to the surface, it seems that skin care is no longer a shallow business. E11-Aug-20031

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