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photograph by Chris Crisman

Fast Company

Fast Talk: Beauty Ingestibles

Ingestibles are the hot growth segment in the $45 billion beauty business, with the potential to transform cosmetics counters into apothecaries.

Kimberly Cooper
Chief Beauty Officer
Glowelle
Glendale, California

Nestlé's Emotional Cocktail

Kimberly Cooper, 33, was a brand manager at Nestlé U.S.A. in 2006 when she pitched her bosses the idea of a beauty drink. Two weeks later, she was running Nestlé's first American foray into nutricosmetics. Glowelle debuted this fall in Bergdorf Goodman and 45 Neiman Marcus stores.

"The beauty market is so different from the food-and-beverage business. In the beauty industry, people buy products not just for the results but also for how they make them feel emotionally and how they represent their personality. In interviews with hundreds of women, the idea of confident beauty came up a lot: It isn't just about covering things up, it's about a ritual that's empowering and nourishing.

We're Nestlé but we're also a startup beauty company, so our goal is to build credibility. We started in prestige locales like Neiman Marcus. We have to educate consumers about what this category is and make them much more open to the idea that what you consume does affect how you look and feel. [Market researcher] Datamonitor projects that this will be a $1.3 billion business by 2012, but when I started in 2006, that number was only $800,000. We're creating a whole new category that fuses food, nutrition, and beauty -- and accessing all of the emotions women have about appearance and food."

Serge Rogasik
Global Marketing Director, Beauty-Care Solutions
BASF
New york

BASF's Message in a Bottle

Serge Rogasik, 40, is a biochemist by training who is now in charge of marketing of the beauty-technology-and-chemistry division for the $79 billion BASF corporation. It has been developing high-end ingredients to sell to companies such as Avon, Estée Lauder, L'Oréal, and Procter & Gamble.

"We see nutricosmetics as part of a larger trend that we call 'sustainable humanity,' in which holistic treatments replace toxin-based ones. We're already using food-science technology in skin care: Lys'lastin is a dill extract that helps reenergize the elastin dormant in aging skin; Smartvector UVCE releases vitamins C and E when skin is exposed to UV. For an extreme example of what's possible, you start with algae that costs 5 cents a kilo and from that create algae extract that costs $50 a kilo. Then you can create an encapsulated algae-extract complex that you sell for $100 to $1,000 a kilo so that a customer can retail a beauty product at up to $50,000 a kilo. This is what we do: supply a very trendy market with high-tech solutions. As we learn more about topical skin applications and ingestible ones, synergies will be possible. The vitamin will hit layers of the skin that are tough to get to from the outside. Expect to see breakthroughs in the next 12 to 36 months."

Francesco and Margo Marrone
Cofounders
The Organic Pharmacy
London

Love Potion

Margo Marrone, 42, and her husband, Francesco, 44, tackle their customers' beauty problems using an inside-out approach and featuring herbs, supplements, and tinctures. Their four London pharmacies and Web site generate $10 million annually; a U.S. branch opened in Beverly Hills in November.

"My husband and I are partners. My background is scientific, his is design. He wanted the Organic Pharmacy to look completely different; he hates anything that's rustic. We have 400 SKUs, which I've formulated and we hand-make in our Battersea laboratory. I'm a licensed pharmacist and homeopath, so we're not a bunch of housewives who cooked something up in the kitchen.

Our approach to everything -- absolutely everything -- is internal and external. When someone comes in with an acne problem, we wouldn't just give her face creams. We look at lifestyle, talk about any hormonal imbalance, consider doing a detox, and discuss the available options. Health and beauty go together. It's not just one or the other. We opened in the Los Angeles area first, because we believed that people there were already educated to this approach. We're looking at Hong Kong and Japan next."

Jay Tiesman
Principal Scientist/Genomics Group Leader
Procter & Gamble
Cincinnati

P&G's Environmental Elixir

Jay Tiesman, 45, has a PhD in pathology. A 15-year P&G veteran, his focus for the past decade has been on genomics, applying technology from the semiconductor industry to biochemical research in order to bring a new efficiency to beauty R&D.

"When people hear 'genomics,' they often think we're doing something to manipulate the genes or DNA. What we're really doing is using molecular technologies to study how the body responds to the environment. Up until the 1990s, it was only possible to measure one gene at a time; now, with gene chips, we can track tens of thousands of changes that may be occurring.

Our labs can measure not only what's going on at the top of the skin but also how it responds from the inside. We're gauging its response to exterior damage as well as nutrition: What nutrition triggers a response on the skin's surface? There's still a lot of snake oil out there, but we actually have a much better understanding of beauty products. With much more soon to come."

Jane Lauder
Senior VP, General Manager, Origins
Estée Lauder Companies
New York

Origins' Café Society

Jane Lauder, 35, recently took over the prestige brand that pioneered the holistic approach to beauty. A division of the $7.8 billion company founded by Lauder's grandmother Estée, Origins has 135 freestanding retail outlets and is in 450 department stores in the U.S.

"In 1990, Origins was created with the understanding that most medicines come from plants, and plants are a powerful resource for solving skin concerns. As women understand how effective natural ingredients can be for the health of their skin, they are more interested in using these natural products. Our best-selling items are A Perfect World, which uses white tea; Dr. Andrew Weil Plantidote Mega-Mushroom face serum, which uses mushrooms, ginger, holy basil, and turmeric; and Checks and Balances Frothy face wash, which includes wheat protein.

Now we're using more foods and herbs to create pure products that don't just go on your skin. Our new concept store in Denver literally puts beauty in a café setting. You can sip organic tea and eat vegan Peace of Mind cupcakes while you wait for a facial, or surf the Internet in a space that's powered by wind energy."

Allen Burke
Director of Beauty Merchandising
QVC
West Chester, Pennsylvania

Peddling Caution

Allen Burke, 64, came to QVC in 1997 and turned the $7.4 billion network into a channel for prestige beauty products. Such names as Clinique and Bobbi Brown are among the approximately 75 brands vying for airtime.

"When one of our brands comes out with a truly innovative product that needs some explanation, we get a period of exclusivity to introduce it to the public. We give them an explanation from someone who knows what she's talking about, someone instrumental in the development. The average person is just not going to have exposure to someone like Bobbi Brown.

Although nutricosmetics is a very exciting trend, it's one that we may not be able to fully take advantage of. We've pretty much stayed away so far because we haven't been comfortable with how well we could substantiate the claims. Our customers are early adopters, but it's too early in this category for us."

photograph by Chris Crisman

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5 Comments

  • Jen Huber

    For years society has followed the idea that what we put in our bodies is reflected in our outward appearance. It's about time for us to realize that the same can be said for what we put on our skin as well. I look forward to seeing the new products!

  • Ronda Lau

    Thank you for the insider look at this hybrid-trend. Nutrition and cosmetics seem to be natural partners. Mom always said, "you are what you eat."

  • greg wang

    I think this story is almost too far in advance... a year from now the products will be on the shelves but they're just now starting.

  • bernie lebriard

    Your pictures are weirdly out of sync with your story. But it was refreshing to see a magazine FINALLY include QVC, which is such a major player in the beauty biz and you'd NEVER know it from the "women's magazines."