Do Beauty Pills Actually Work?
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Do Beauty Pills Actually Work?

'just because a pill was created in a lab, doesn’t mean it delivers results'

By Fiona Embleton | 2 years ago

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We often look to all sorts of products to improve the appearance of our skin, but how much can beauty pills actually make a difference? Fiona Embleton investigates the pills industry and speaks to the experts…

Best Beauty Supplements to Know 

Can Popping Beauty Pills Really Improve Your Skin?

Image courtesy of Country and Town House

Image courtesy of Country and Town House

Enter The New Era of ‘well-tech’

There’s a new raft of beauty supplements taking the market by storm, and they’re nothing like their frumpy, utilitarian predecessors. Rather, they’re powered by science-backed ingredients and packaged in sleek bottles that are more likely to appear in an upmarket
clinic than the dust-covered shelves of a health food shop. This, says Lucy Goff, founder of Lyma, is the new era of ‘well-tech’: high-performance ingestibles that can offer profound results for skin, sleep, gut health and mood. ‘Like “clean beauty” wellness is a woolly,  generic term, whereas “well-tech” is about clinically proven formulations that take people beyond the ceiling of a healthy, balanced diet to deliver mental and physical advantages,’ she says.

Advances in the supplement space also mean that most aesthetic concerns can be addressed by palming a pill. Where glow enhancing make-up used to suffice, now the focus has shifted to ingestible boosters that improve skin’s natural radiance from the inside out. ‘It makes sense,’ says Shabir Daya, pharmacist and CEO at Victoria Health. ‘Skin is your largest organ and it can say a lot about your health. A lot of nutrients that are famously found in skincare, including vitamin C, ceramides and lipids, have to be provided from within the body to make a real difference to the skin.’

The Supplements to Know About in 2022

Lucy Goff, founder of Lyma,

Lucy Goff, founder of Lyma. 

Designed to help you look good and feel better, these new-gen formulations can be as good as, or better than, skincare at boosting collagen and hyaluronic acid stores thanks to what Daya calls ‘intelligent delivery systems’, which for the uninitiated means they should be formulated in a bioavailable way that the body can tolerate.

Beauty Pills: Busting the Myths

Unsurprisingly, beauty brands now want a piece of the action, with Bloomberg reporting that the global beauty supplements market is expected to surpass a value of £2.795m by 2027. The water is murky, though – just because a pill was created in a lab, doesn’t mean it delivers results.

The key, says Wild Nutrition’s Lorna Driver-Davies, ‘is to avoid unnecessary fillers (often listed as bulking agents) such as magnesium stearate and ultimately be aware that we have different nutritional needs at different life stages’. As for the vitamins and
minerals we need to boost our skin, hair and general health? Here are the most transformational beauty pills.

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£39.99 for 30 1000 mg sachets,

The Super Supplements

For those who prefer an all-in-one approach that promotes optimum health rather than plugging a specific gap in your diet, at the top end of the market, Lyma harnesses the power of patented prescription-grade nutraceuticals as part of its preventative ageing approach (£199 for 30 days, ‘If a formula is correctly engineered, there’s no reason why you can’t deliver a 360 ̊
approach,’ says Goff (pictured). ‘Every single one of our ingredients has been proven to work in peer-reviewed medical journals, the same benchmark as a pharmaceutical drug.’

These include Cynatine, which contains keratin for hair and skin, Cognizin for supplying the brain with energy and the most bioavailable form of curcumin, a powerful
anti-inflammatory. ‘Cellular inflammation is the root cause of most things going wrong in your body,’ says Goff.

‘Once you reduce it, you’ll find you sleep better, feel less stressed and have a stronger immunity.’ Artah’s Enhanced Nootropics (£36 for 30 days,,
the chic nutritional brand launched by Rhian Stephenson, a registered nutritional therapist and naturopath, similarly contains adaptogens to help the body cope with stress, alongside B vitamins for DNA repair.

Meanwhile, other beauty pills like Altrient’s Liposomal Vitamin C has been proven (by Princeton, no less) to outshine topical Vitamin C at brightening and firming thanks to its impressive collagen and elastin production. Loved by Goop’s Gwyneth Paltrow, this clever food liquid supplement
encapsulates the notoriously unstable nutrient within a protective lipid bubble that delivers it directly to cells.

Try: £39.99 for 30 1000 mg sachets,

Ingenious Beauty Ultimate Collagen, £60 for 90 capsules.

The Skin Plumping Elixir

‘Collagen is a protein that makes up about 75 per cent of the dry weight of skin, helping it to remain plump and firm,’ says Pupinder Ghatora, pharmacist and co-founder of Ingenious supplements. ‘It also plays a crucial part in our body’s structure as it’s found in ligaments and major
organs, so having sufficient stores is vital for overall health.’

But like all good things, collagen starts to dwindle in our mid-twenties and we lose about 1.5 per cent per year. Given collagen is too large a molecule to penetrate the skin when deployed in skincare, experts now agree a supplement could help.

But not all ingestible collagen is created equal. ‘It
needs to be a protected collagen peptide to ensure actual collagen is entering the bloodstream,’ says Ghatora, ‘otherwise it breaks down into individual amino acids in the stomach.’

He also advises choosing marine over bovine collagen as it can be broken down into smaller peptides for easier absorption. To ensure the quality of a collagen supplement, check that its weight is below 2,000
Daltons – enough to pass through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream.

Try: Ingenious Beauty Ultimate Collagen, £60 for 90 capsules.

Victoria Health Hyaluronic Acid Capsules High Strength, £35 for 30 capsules.

The All-Rounder

Research shows that over 98 per cent of us have inadequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Deficiency
makes itself known in myriad ways, including dry skin, brittle hair, brain fog and hormonal issues.

Despite not producing omega 3, to function optimally, every cell in the body needs these fatty acids, which is why nutritionist Driver-Davies recommends supplementing with 500mg of fish-based omega 3 every morning when your production of digestive enzymes is at its peak.

‘As well as being a big player in cardiovascular health and
anything involving the immune system, omega 3 can calm skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or sensitivity caused by a compromised skin barrier,’ she says.

Likewise, it staves off ‘inflammageing’, where excess
inflammation inhibits cell renewal. ‘Then there’s omega
3’s moisturising properties,’ says Driver-Davies, ‘and its ability to manufacture ceramides in the skin, which lock water into cells.’

So, how to guarantee omega 3 success? ‘A good fish oil should contain 0.0 levels of toxins such as mercury and be sustainably sourced,’ explains Driver-Davies.

‘Also important: it should be cold-pressed to avoid oxidisation.’

Try: Wild Nutrition Pure Strength Omega 3, £32 for
30 days.

Victoria Health Hyaluronic Acid Capsules High Strength, £35 for 30 capsules.

Hydration Hit

Hyaluronic acid, among other beauty pills and ingredients, is skincare’s gold standard for hydration.

‘It works like a sponge,’ explains Daya, ‘holding over 1,000 times its own weight in water to plump cells full of moisture.’

Likewise, hyaluronic acid is an ingredient that our skin readily accepts as our body naturally produces it. But
the older we get, the less we produce, leading to fine
lines and slack skin.

According to Daya, hyaluronic acid, when ingested, reduces skin dehydration and prevents inflammation, making it a great ally to your smoothing serums. ‘Hyaluronic acid supplements additionally top up reserves in the joint cartilage and remove cellular waste
from in between cells, transporting them by osmosis to the nearest blood vessel,’ he says.

Opt for a daily 100mg to 300mg dose of sodium
hyaluronate (a salt of hyaluronic acid), which has
a low molecular weight to aid absorption.

Try: Victoria Health Hyaluronic Acid Capsules High Strength, £35 for 30 capsules.

Symprove, £79 for a four week pack.

Gut Instincts

There’s a strong interplay between the health of your gut and skin conditions such as eczema, acne, rosacea and plain old sensitivity. It’s the subject of ongoing research,
but it’s thought the trillions of bacteria that live on the gut microbiome play a part. ‘Research shows differences in the type and diversity of gut microbes in those with  inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema compared to those without,’ says Dr Sammie Gill, specialist gastroenterology dietitian.

Not only that, but 70 per cent of your immune system
is located in the gut. ‘They are constantly talking to
one another, so if we’re not optimising our gut health
it can alter our immune responses, prompting the
release of inflammatory molecules, which potentially
increase the risk of skin conditions,’ she adds.

A probiotic supplement is something to consider if your
skin is persistently suffering. ‘Probiotics work in several
ways,’ explains Gill. ‘They may prompt the release of beneficial molecules from other microbes; they can
help weed out potentially harmful bacteria or keep the
immune system in check.’

Try: Symprove, £79 for a four-week pack. 

The Nue Co Vitamin D, £15.

Best for Immunity

Dubbed the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D is a hormone that’s produced when skin is exposed to the sun’s UVB rays. ‘It’s essential as your body needs it to absorb calcium for healthy teeth and bones,’ says Daya. Post pandemic, vitamin D is also being touted as an immunity booster. ‘All cells involved in immunity that engulf viruses entering the body have a vitamin D receptor site,’ he explains. ‘So as well as responding to vitamin D, these cells will also remain inactive if you are deficient, increasing your chances of infection.’

A lack of sunshine in the winter months and wearing sunscreen in summer mean the best way to top up your levels is through supplementation. Beauty pills brand Daya recommends 2000iu daily in winter and 1000iu in summer, administered as a sublingual spray under the tongue or via a liposomal supplement (when vitamin D3 is encapsulated alongside healthy fats).

This ensures that vitamin D3 bypasses the stomach and is delivered rapidly into the bloodstream.

Try: The Nue Co Vitamin D, £15.


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