Probiota 2020

Beauty claims on food supplements must be ‘seriously’ considered: Expert

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Beauty beauty from within skin microbiome supplements beauty claims Regulation

Developing food supplements that carry beauty claims for aesthetic benefits presents a real opportunity that the nutritional industry must look at seriously, says a regulatory expert.

Last month, CosmeticsDesign-Europe hosted an expert panel debate at Probiota 2020 in Dublin entitled ‘Beauty and the skin microbiome: Opportunities beyond the gut’​. The panel, comprised of Dr. Audrey Gueniche, senior clinical expert at L’Oréal Research and Innovation; Luca Bucchini, director and owner of Hylobates Consulting; and Ewa Hudson, director of insights at Lumina Intelligence, discussed commercial, scientific and regulatory opportunities for probiotics targeting the skin microbiome – considering both topical applications and food supplements.

One interesting point raised during the panel debate was the potential for food supplements to carry ‘beauty claims’, rather than EFSA-approved health claims​.

EFSA-approved health claims versus beauty claims

One of the panellists, Luca Bucchini from Hylobates Consulting, said it was firstly important industry understood the difference between health claims and beauty claims.

“There is a clear difference. At the border, there is always some uncertainty, but it’s rather clear in its essence. EFSA said, back some years ago, when it comes to skin appearance – like wrinkles or [products] that lighten skin – all these aspects are not related to health. They are not a health benefit. (…) So, they are under food law but not within EFSA’s remit,” ​Bucchini told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

There had been some case law in the UK and Germany, along with official documents from the European Commission, that stated issues like bad breath or skin appearance did not fall under health benefits and so had to be considered beauty claims. Deeper benefits fell under health claims and had to go through EFSA, he said.

“I would say this opens up an opportunity for industry to look at seriously,” ​Bucchini said.

Food Supplements Europe and the Dutch authorities had provided some guidance on the specific type of beauty claims that could be made on food supplements, he said, but there was currently no list of approved or potential beauty claims like there was with health claims.

For companies wishing to make a beauty claim, therefore, important groundwork had to be done, he said. “You need to study the issue; you need to understand the type of studies you need for beauty claims; and what you can say. But to summarise things, if you talk about aesthetic effects – what you would typically say about a cosmetic product – that normally, if it comes from within, then it would be a beauty claim.”

Could collective beauty claims have more power?

Asked if the food supplements industry would benefit from staying focused collectively on a handful of beauty claims to push forward in the ‘beauty from within’ space, Bucchini said: “I think we need more science, more studies, cooperation, but also on the way [we] evaluate the evidence.”

For beauty claims, he said there was currently no consensus on the type of studies needed, the number of studies, or measurements necessary within these and this had to change.

“We need industry to come together with more science, with more understanding of the issue, with a consensus on that. I think that’s really what we would need to do now.”

‘The microbiome provides the best example of where the future could lie’

Considering how best to push forward into a largely unknown beauty category, Bucchini said food supplement firms would benefit from collaboration with cosmetics companies.

“I think the challenge has been for the nutritional sector, for the food supplements sector, to tap into the knowledge that you need to have to look at the skin; the depth of knowledge these large beauty companies have.”

At the same time, he said these beauty companies lacked expertise in regulation, science and nutrition and would therefore benefit from the knowledge provided by food supplements firms.

Collaboration, therefore, could only be positive, he said, and held great promise in certain segments.

“I think the microbiome provides the best example of where the future could lie for better nutrition that feeds the skin, in a way. I think there are large, untapped opportunities in this area.”

Dreaming up the future: Supplements, sachets and foundation

Asked what collaboration might look like in the future, from an end product standpoint, Bucchini said that was a little outside his remit, but what was clear was food supplements had a strong future in the beauty world.

“[Food supplements] can make improvements which are not possible with cosmetic products – to the skin of people, to the appearance of people. Some things that are not achievable with topical products can be achieved with nutritionals. And if we put those things together, I picture them on the same shelves, in the same shops.”

Bucchini said there was “lots to come”​, amid many challenges, but the nutritional industry had to “open up this space”.

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