Meanwhile, scientific research is rapidly revealing more about the potential of carotenoid supplements for skin health and beauty.
Here, Dr Karin Hermoni, Global Head of Product and Science at Lycored, discusses the new consumer research as well as the latest studies on carotenoid ingredients. Five years ago, recognising that trends in beauty markets are deeply rooted in changing societal attitudes, Lycored embarked on a new research project.
We surveyed 480 consumers in France and the UK to explore their attitudes to both skincare and some of the underlying factors influencing them — such as perspectives on age and gender.
Many of the results revealed that commonly held assumptions about beauty and skincare were outdated. For example, ingestible skincare was now firmly within the mainstream — and men were a prime market. Furthermore, consumers were far more interested in feeling healthy than looking younger.
Such insights formed the basis of “Beyond Skin Deep,” our 2017 category report that we hoped would prove valuable to manufacturers in both the topical and beauty-from-within spaces. That was 5 years ago; last year, we decided to revisit our research. Once again, we surveyed 490 skincare consumers in the UK and France; and, as you’ll soon discover, the results provided some surprising insights.
Holistic attitudes to skincare
We repeated the questions we asked in 2017 and found that much had changed. Three in ten (30%) consumers had purchased an ingestible skincare product during the past year — up from 14% in 2017. The figure was particularly high among 25–34-year olds (57% compared with 16% of 55–64-year olds).
Our findings suggested that the growing demand for beauty-from-within is rooted in increasingly health-focused attitudes to skincare. Seven in ten (70%) of the respondents said they used skincare products to keep their skin healthy and 69% said it was “to feel good about myself.”
This “feelgood factor” was particularly evident among consumers in the 18–24 age bracket — 82% of whom said they used products to feel good about themselves — and women (78% compared with 59% of men).
By contrast, more cosmetic goals were not highly sought. Only 14% of the consumers surveyed — and just 6% of participants older than 65 — said looking young was important to them … and only 17% said they used skincare products to look attractive to others.
What this suggests is that there’s a new generation of skincare consumers who are much more interested in holistic skin health than the traditional cosmetic signs of beauty. This focus on “from within” factors has increased in recent years, especially during the pandemic when many consumers put a greater value on overall health and self-care than outward appearance.
Carotenoids: backed by high-quality research
Lycored offers a range of natural carotenoid ingredients and formulations for supplements and other ingestible skincare applications. Our products include Lycomato, a standardised tomato extract containing carotenoids, tocopherols and phytosterols; Lycoderm, a proprietary complex of tomato phytonutrients and rosemary leaf; and Lumenato a wellness extract naturally sourced from golden tomatoes.
The many skincare and beauty benefits of our range are rooted in a growing body of scientific research. During the past decade, studies have revealed the importance of carotenoids as vital components of the body’s antioxidative protective system and demonstrated photoprotective effects with benefits in areas such as skin elasticity and hydration.1,2
Studies have even linked levels of carotenoid coloration with perceptions of attractiveness.3,4
I’m proud to say that Lycored has contributed to this research base. During the past 2 years, we’ve worked on studies that have not only demonstrated the many benefits of products such as Lycoderm and Lumenato, but also added to the body of evidence for the potential of carotenoids in ingestible skincare generally.
Furthermore, the insight that consumers are less concerned about external approval of their appearance and more about how they feel has had a major impact on our clinical programme. We have begun to focus much more on consumer perceptions using tools such as questionnaires to explore their real experiences of the products they use.
Visibly boosting radiance
In 2020, our flagship ingestible skincare product Lycoderm — which includes the carotenoids lycopene, phytoene and phytofluene — was found to visibly boost radiance and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. The study, a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, was the first to focus on Lycoderm’s impact on visible beauty parameters.
As well as measuring skin carotenoid levels, the researchers assessed Lycoderm’s effects through photo image analysis, questionnaires and expert visual grading of facial wrinkles.
The vast majority (80.6%) of subjects taking Lycoderm reported that their skin felt smoother. The results were even more pronounced for dryness, with 90.3% saying their skin felt more hydrated. In addition, more than two thirds (67.7%) of the Lycoderm group noticed that their skin had a more even tone and 64.5% said they had seen an improvement in its brightness.5
Boosting the collagen network
In 2021, a preclinical study indicated that Lumenato can help skin to age beautifully by boosting the collagen network and helping to protect it from damage. It specifically highlighted Lumenato’s ability to prevent the loss of type III collagen, which decreases in response to inflammatory cytokines (which, in turn, are induced by UV).
The research found that Lumenato can help to support this type of collagen by balancing oxidative stress and inhibiting the free radicals secreted by neutrophils.6 Moreover, Lumenato may provide the benefit of supporting innate immunity by modulating the response of immune cells in the skin.
Another 2021 study found that Lumenato not only boosts collagen levels but also supports the ceramide network, resulting in improved hydration. The first phase of the research explored Lumenato’s effects when applied to cultured human dermal fibroblasts. It found that it increases the activity of genes that work to enhance collagen production, control inflammation and oxidative stress, and also contribute to tissue healing and skin balance.
The second phase was a double-blind placebo-controlled study in which women aged 35–60 supplemented with Lumenato once a day for 16 weeks. The researchers found significant benefits for participants with an impaired skin barrier, including improvements to skin smoothness and hydration, as well as reductions in redness and pore size.
It concluded that Lumenato delivers antioxidants to the surface of the skin to optimise transepidermal water loss.7
Bioavailability and lasting results that consumers notice
Most recently, researchers have discovered that the benefits of Lumenato are highly visible to consumers. A two-stage study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology set out to evaluate both its bioavailability and its effectiveness as assessed by consumers.
In the first stage, 24 healthy volunteers supplemented with Lumenato for 4 weeks. The researchers observed an almost fourfold increase in levels of phytoene after the first week and, by the fourth, it had reached almost five times the baseline level. There were also significant increases in levels of other carotenoids, such as phytofluene and zeta-carotene, indicating Lumenato’s high bioavailability.
In the second, 63 women aged 35–55 took Lumenato for 12 weeks. They completed questionnaires that assessed different skin parameters at weeks 4, 8, 12 and, again, 2 weeks after the trial had finished.
After 12 weeks of supplementing with Lumenato, participants reported significant improvements in skin hydration, firmness, brightness, tone and overall condition. They also noticed reductions in dark spots and circles, fine lines and wrinkles.
Comments from study participants included: “My skin kind of glowed after taking that supplement and I just noticed it looked more radiant and healthier.”
Interestingly, assessment of these parameters continued to improve after supplementation had ended. At baseline, for example, only 19% of participants said their facial skin looked attractive. Twelve weeks after supplementing with Lumenato, this had increased to 65% and, 2 weeks after the completing the supplementation, it had reached 69%.8
Delivering both visible results and the feelgood factor
Something else that defines the new generation of skincare consumers is a desire to see results. According to Vogue Business, “Gen Zs are savvy and knowledgeable shoppers who value product efficacy above all.” Others have observed that “Any product that delivers visible results quite quickly is normally well covered and shared on TikTok.9
However, as our market research has shown, users of skincare products are focused on what they feel as well as what they can see. Lycored’s ingestible skincare products help to meet both needs — delivering results that consumers notice as well as supporting them on their “feelgood” journeys.
- K. Linnewiel-Hermoni, E. Paran and T. Wolak, “Chapter 34: Carotenoid Supplements and Consumption: Implications for Healthy Aging” in Molecular Basis of Nutrition and Aging (Molecular Nutrition Series):pp 473–489 (Academic Press, Elsevier, Inc., 2016).
- M.E. Darvin, et al., “The Role of Carotenoids in Human Skin,” Molecules 16(12), 10491–10506 (2011).
- C.E. Lefevre and D.I. Perrett, “Fruit Over Sunbed: Carotenoid Skin Colouration is Found More Attractive Than Melanin Colouration,” The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 68(2), 284–293 (2015).
- Y.Z. Foo, G. Rhodes and L.W. Simmons, “The Carotenoid Beta-Carotene Enhances Facial Color, Attractiveness and Perceived Health, But Not Actual Health, in Humans,” Behavioral Ecology 28(2), 570–578 (2017).
- E. Tarshish, K. Hermoni and S.R. Schwartz, “Effect of Oral Supplement “Lycopene” on Reducing the Signs of Skin Ageing,” Clinical Pharmacology and Biopharmaceutics 9(2), 195 (2020).
- Y. Solomonov, et al., “Lumenato Protects Normal Human Dermal Fibroblasts from Neutrophil-Induced Collagen-3 Damage in Cocultures,” PLoS One (2021): https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0248183.
- E. Tarshish, et al., “Effects of Golden Tomato Extract on Skin Appearance — Outlook into Gene Expression in Cultured Dermal Fibroblasts and on Transepidermal Water Loss and Skin Barrier in Human Subjects,” J. Cosmet. Dermatol. (2021): doi: 10.1111/jocd.14527.
- E. Tarshish, et al., “Effect of Lumenato Oral Supplementation on Plasma Carotenoid Levels and Improvement of Visual and Experiential Skin Attributes,” J. Cosmet. Dermatol. (2022): doi: 10.1111/jocd.14724.