Safety and efficacy 

The safety, efficacy, and contents of supplements cannot be trusted.

  • An independent lab that analyzed beauty supplements found small quantities of lead in it. Lead is a heavy metal that's a neurotoxin in children.
  • High doses of biotin can produce false lab results, increasing the chance of missed diagnosis and treatment.
  • Ashwagandha has a variety of side effects, including miscarriage.
  • Too much Vitamin A and E can cause hair loss.
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An old concept

Beauty supplements aren’t a new concept. We've been able to buy hair and nail formulas for decades at the drugstore.

The supplements, from vitamin ingredients like biotin, zinc, folic acid, vitamin C, to botanicals like oils, saw palmetto, ashwagandha, green tea, and turmeric, have different formulas that claim they will make you look better or younger. 

The beauty supplement market

Although beauty supplements were a small part of the beauty industry previously, they are now becoming increasingly popular. The global beauty supplement market is growing rapidly and is expected to reach $6.8 billion by the end of 2024.

A survey of buyers revealed that supplement brands, not skin care or makeup brands, are most likely to be picked up by retailers, as

beauty supplements have become hope in a bottle.

The concept may not be new, but the techniques used to market supplements are.

In 2013, companies realized they could make use of social media to promote their supplements as youthful and fun.

One of the attractive qualities for supplements is a strong engagement on social media, with packaging designed to be super-shareable.

Supplement brands are making their products look very pleasing on social media. Then they use influencers to spread the message further.

The ultimate sign that brands have found mainstream acceptance is the now-familiar Instagram shelfies, where people post pictures of their well-displayed medicine cabinets.

The claims these supplements make are still doubtful. Many products have little or no data to support their claims substantively.

  • Biotin will not aid in hair growth unless you're deficient in the nutrient, which is rare.
  • Collagen supplements probably won't keep your skin looking youthful.
  • Turmeric, a food ingredient promoted for its anti-inflammatory effect, was dismissed as insignificant by many scientists.
  • The data on probiotics, apparently showing promise for atopic dermatitis, is not conclusive.

The FDA does not regulate supplements. They are barely subjected to government scrutiny due to a law passed in the 1990s. The claims that include vague words like "promotes", "maintains" and "supports" are legal as long as manufacturers attach a disclaimer that reads: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Our product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

However, target consumers are starting to become educated and care enough to call the beauty industry out on their wild claims.

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Individual Supplement Studies

Looking at individual studies won't determine if vitamin supplementation is good for you. They're scientifically dense and the conflicts of interest can be very hard to spot.

"Systematic review papers" are much better suited for that. This is where independent scientists gather up all the available data and re-analyze it to answer big questions.

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Hydration is key

Hydrating your skin is as important as hydrating your body. Your body needs hydration to look and feel good.

  • Pharmaceuticals undergo extensive testing to prove they're effective and safe before they can be sold, but dietary supplements can be sold without proof of claims, effectiveness or safety.
  • Daily multivitamin consumption does not lower heart disease risk.
  • The FDA has found more than 500 supplements adulterated with pharmaceuticals or closely related compounds. Those can cause unwanted side effects and may be especially risky when taken with heart drugs or other prescription medications.

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