Can A Pill Give You Better Skin?
by Macke Wagoner
What if one little pill could give you the swingy hair, clear skin, and healthy nails you’ve always wanted? That’s the unspoken premise behind the business of beauty supplements, a former fringe movement that has slowly mushroomed into a powerhouse industry over the past decade.
These days, a daily serving of omega-3s or a handful of superberries is practically par for the course—but what of the latest crop of complexion-enhancing, mind-stimulating, metabolism-boosting vitamins and powders? Arriving in the form of skin-plumping collagen pills, digestive aids, and portable powdery greens, they make for an intriguing set of new possibilities.
According to Washington, D.C. nutritional advisor Ashley Koff,R.D., not all supplements are created equal. And while some of the latest boast solid science, the long-term benefits of others remain to be seen. Before incorporating anything into your diet, she stresses the importance of consulting a professional to screen for potential allergies or complications. There’s no pill, she emphasizes, that can compensate for a poor diet or a chronic lack of sleep—but a proven, high-quality supplement can potentially act “as a good safety net” to a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Here, a look at 5 of the most buzzed-about beauty supplements out now.
THE SKIN BOOSTERS
In the battle of good fats versus bad fats, the naturally occurring medium-chain triglycerides (or MCT) found in coconut and palm oils have been identified as one of the best alternatives for a healthy diet by nutritionists including New York City’sFrank Lipman, M.D. (who recently began selling the supplement under his own label). More easily digested and processed than longer-chain fat alternatives, MCT oil’s benefits are touted by Lipman to include boosting cognitive function and memory retention, and aiding the body in weight management. Koff believes that it’s the oil’s additional antimicrobial digestive properties, which target skin issues from the inside out, that make it a standout. “If I’m working on treating skin issues—dryness, eczema, acne, or related digestive issues—it can be part of the overall process to address those challenges.” However, caution should be taken in terms of quantity. “I would recommend incorporating [MCT] into your diet rather than adding it to your meals,” says the nutritionist. “Replace fats you’re already eating, like bacon, or margarine, with it instead.”
The collagen loss that comes with aging is the culprit behind everything from fine lines to sagging skin. In recent years, ingestible supplements have appeared on the market with the goal of replenishing the body’s internal supply of natural building blocks. Supplements like BioSil contain ch-OSA, a trademarked combination of essential nutrients (choline) and minerals (silicon), have been clinically proven to boost the skin’s elasticity and strengthen hair and nails. Koff guides her clients toward a diet laden with collagen-promoting foods such as omega-3- and omega-6-rich hemp seeds and wild salmon, to give additional support to their skin care routines.
Bee pollen, which is rich in protein (approximately 40 percent) and contains vitamins including folic acid, has recently been found on nearly as many restaurant menus as it has in health boutiques. Its proponents swear by its super-cocktail of nutrients, which may promote healthier, better-looking skin through digestion-aiding enzymes and antimicrobial activity. Strong reactions have been known to occur in those who are allergic to pollen—and Koff is quick to stress that because bee pollen is an essential food for young members of the hive, it’s important to look for a responsibly harvested source.
THE EASY GREENS
GREEN COFFEE BEANS
Though recently popularized in extract form, Koff prefers to guide her clients toward organic, whole, raw green coffee beans in supplemental powder form. When paired with a diet and exercise plan, she believes the beans and their active ingredient, chlorogenic acid, may help elevate mood, suppress food cravings, and stimulate metabolism. If you do plan on incorporating it into your diet, she suggests adding the powder to a smoothie, but skipping your daily Americano or ice Matcha tea to limit your overall caffeine intake.
Powdered greens mixes—including Neal’s Yard Remedies’s Organic Greens Complex, WelleCo’s Super Elixir, and Aloha’s the Daily Good—are swiftly becoming the traveler’s answer for on-the-go juicing. Prepared in alkalizing blends boasting super greens like spirulina, moringa, and chlorella, they offer a nutritious option when a hectic travel schedule means none other may exist. Their at-the-ready convenience is a clear plus for frequent flyers, but Koff stresses that they’re not a long-term substitute for ingredients found in their freshest forms. “It’s not choosing between a green juice and a packet of Aloha,” she says. “You still need to eat your vegetables.”