We’ve all heard the saying about beauty being skin-deep. The phrase comes from a 17th century poem, in which the writer waxes about his wife’s goodness and wisdom being more attractive than her physical beauty. And while this serves as a valuable reminder that being beautiful is about more than what meets the eye, in strictly biological terms it’s not true.

Before you protest, hear me out: what I mean by this is that the way we care for our internal systems, for the parts of our bodies we can’t see, does impact the way we look. Understanding what our bodies need to function the way they were designed to function can, indeed, make us look healthier, younger, and livelier.Surveys show these are qualities our brains associate with beauty.

In today’s world,it’s nearly impossible to escape exposure to toxins and the damage they do to our health and appearance. They’re in the air, in the water, in everything. Nutrients counter their influence. Nutrients make us look good.

The modern beauty industry gets this. Last year, the top emerging trend was ingestible beauty products – in essence, oral vitamins and supplements designed to give our bodies the nutrients they crave and require in order to achieve balance and health. Between 2012 and 2017, the sale of ingestibles ballooned by 40%. Mintel,an award-winning provider of market research, reported in 2017 that more than 40% of young American women (between the ages of 18 and 34) take an oral supplement designed to make them more beautiful. Ingestibles are now represented by international models and celebrities, and have become bestsellers at major retailers, such as Nordstrom and Whole Foods. There are quite a few reputable brands such as Hum; however, with a small amount of digging, you can discover what you need for your skin and health and then buy those individual supplements from your local nutrition store. For instance, hyaluronic acid is a natural hydrator topically and when ingested it helps boost skin elasticity and "plumpness." This might be an ingredient in indigestible beauty line that is charging you for fancy packaging and great marketing when you can readily buy that product in a higher dose for less money. Just something to be aware of.

Some scientists argue that we should already be getting the nutritional benefits these products offer from the food we eat. This is a valid point, but it’s also true that much of the food we eat in this modern age lacks nutrition. It’s highly processed,or affected by poor agricultural practices, or both. In spite of the farm-to-table movement, a lot of the food at our grocery stores doesn’t pack the kind of nutritional punch it would if we grew it ourselves, without pesticides and preservatives, and ate it immediately after harvest. To counter this reality and to fill the nutritional gaps it creates, many nutritionists recommend taking vitamins and supplements. Ingestible beauty products are in the same vein, but generally they’re focused on the specific nutrients that are directly related to appearance, such as collagen peptides, which ensure the elasticity of the skin.

The problem with ingestibles mirrors the problem with any product in any market: some work and some don’t, but on both sides of the fence are persuasive marketing campaigns. Vitamins and supplements aren’t regulated like pharmaceuticals are, which means brand managers can market their products however they like.

It’s important to be aware that some brands are making untrue, overblown claims, and to be curious about unusually expensive products. But all it takes is a little research. Talk to your dermatologist; many are advocates for ingestible products. Do some digging online. Give some products a try. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m pretty skeptical of most marketing, but after using some ingestible products and observing their influence on my skin, hair, and nails, I’m a convert, out and proud.

Written by Allyson Welch

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