by Rachel Sharp
To look ageless on the outside, you need to take care with what goes in as well. Here, three experts share the how and the what of anti-ageing ingestibles.
There might be no such thing as the fountain of youth, but nutrition experts have long-known you can bottle looks-boosting supplements. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of pills and potions now on the market that promise to support healthier hair, skin and nails, but how do you know which work at all, let alone work best?
“When it comes to ingestibles, there are plenty on the market that offer false or unrealistic outcomes, but there are also some fantastic evidence-based products that can reduce the appearance of ageing alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle,” says Sydney naturopath and women’s health expert Stephanie Hinton. “I definitely believe healthy, refreshed skin starts from the inside out, and ingestible beauty has a place in your routine. But before diving into products, making sure you’re getting all of the essential nutrients, especially iron and zinc, through your diet is key.”
Dermatologist Dr Shreya Andric, who practices at North Sydney Dermatology & Laser and has worked as a research fellow at Royal North Shore Hospital, shares the sentiment supplements are no magic bullet and should come as a next step after diet and sun protection. “If someone is getting all of their micro- and macronutrients from a balanced diet, then it’s not likely they’ll need to supplement,” Andric says. “[And I always] advise people to first focus on having a good general skincare regimen, including moisturiser, daily sun protection with at least an SPF30+ sunscreen, and use of a topical retinol or retinoid at night, as this is where the evidence lies in terms of anti-ageing.”
But for those embarking on a beauty-boosting ingestible quest — often coined ‘beautrition’ (beauty nutrition) — supplements typically fall into three camps: collagen supplements, plant extracts (herbs and superfoods), and pre- or probiotics. Here, we look closer at each and explain how to spot the best.
1 COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS
It’s the vital functioning protein that makes up 90 per cent of ligaments and 75 per cent of our skin. Collagen gives our skin elasticity, making it look radiant, smooth, soft, and taut. Sadly, our bodies’ ability to produce it naturally drops continuously as we age, especially from 25 onward, prompting dehydration, fine lines, sagging and wrinkles. Ingested collagen can stimulate skin cells to produce more of their own, and promote changes in the structure of the skin, explains Hinton. “This delays the signs of ageing by smoothing the formation of wrinkles and improving the elasticity and firmness of skin . Studies also suggest collagen may be effective to improve skin hydration and reduce dryness .”
Like Hinton, accredited nutritionist and author of The Long Life Plan, Faye James is a food-first advocate but appreciates many of our diets just don’t cut it these days in terms of variety or quality. “That’s why I’m a real fan of ingestible beauty products for anti-ageing,” James says. “I am 47, and my collagen levels are definitely on their way down, so I take a marine-based collagen powder. I recommend people opt for marine-based collagen extracted from cold-water fish over the bovine or porcine types because studies show it’s absorbed up to 1.5 times more efficiently, which means it has superior bioavailability.”
According to both Hinton and James, the ideal is to find a brand with minimal to no additives, preservatives and is ideally organic, and consider choosing a product with extra skin support ingredients such as silica, hyaluronic acid or vitamin C. “I take Vitable Collagen Creamer daily in my coffee, smoothie, or afternoon hot chocolate,” says Hinton. “It’s made using organic coconut milk and is delicious. Adding collagen in is like a little booster to keep me feeling good.”
“Look for products that have undergone third-party testing to ensure quality and safety,” Andric urges. The dermatologist believes there needs to be more comprehensive clinical studies to confirm the degree to which collagen can help anti-ageing but, “a dosage of between 2.5 grams and 15g of collagen peptides per day is considered safe and effective .”
• Pearl Marine Collagen Superpowder, $85 for 150g (30 serves), at pearlbyparolive.com
• Vitable Collagen Creamer (Vanilla), $29 for 150g (15 serves), at vitable.com.au
• Rochway Beauty Sleep, $50 for 240ml (24 serves), at rochway.com.au
• Swiish Glow Marine Collagen Hydrolysed Powder, $60 for 150g (30 serves), at swiish.com
• The Healthy Chef Beauty Collagen, $75 for 300g (25 serves), at thehealthychef.com
• ANC Marine Collagen Ultra Flavour Free, 160g (30 serves) $59.95, at ausnaturalcare.com.au
VITABLE Personalised Vitamins, $9, at vitable.com.au
ROCHWAY Beauty Sleep Liquid, $50, at rochway.com.au
2 SUPERGREENS OR PLANT EXTRACTS
Whether the hero ingredients are green tea, acai, mushrooms, turmeric, wheatgrass, kale, algae or otherwise, these supplements tend to be packed with potent antioxidants. “For example, research has shown curcumin, the active constituent of turmeric, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits  that can improve the appearance of skin . Other research shows that oral use of chlorella [a type of freshwater algae] could minimise skin inflammation and speed up wound healing ,” says Hinton.
“When looking at greens powders and products that contain concentrated doses of vegetable extracts, organic is ideal,” she notes. “Typically, greens are heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, so if you’re taking a high-dose greens product, you’ll want to avoid these concentrates and look for ‘certified organic’ labelling. Focus on the evidence behind the individual nutrients or strains, the dosage required, and avoid nasty filler ingredients.”
• Fermio Nutritional Cleanse 8 Day Cleanse 8 x 50ml Fermented Superfoods and Berry Shots, $65, at fermio.com.au
• Kora Organics Noni Glow Skinfood Supplement, $80 for 180g (30 serves), at koraorganics.com
• Forest Superfoods Certified Organic Naked Greens Blend, $75 for 500g (125 serves), at forestsuperfoods.com.au
CILK BEAUTY Rose Extract 100ml (40 serves), $75, at cilkbeauty.co
WELLECO The Skin Elixir, RRP $60.00 at welleco.com.au
SWIISH Supergreen Superfood Powder, $120 for 450g (90 serves), at swiish.com
3 PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS
The diversity of bacteria in our gut, or microbiome, impacts our skin’s health and our digestion. Prebiotic supplements contain special plant fibres to stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria, while probiotics add millions of healthy living microbes. “These are the frontline workers in the gut and help to support adequate digestion and detoxification of the body,” explains Hinton. “Without a strong functioning digestive tract, inflammatory proteins can irritate the gut, and in turn, impact hormones. Hormonal dysregulation can result in hormonal acne, dry skin and ageing. Keeping the gut healthy will have a positive flow-on effect on all areas of the body, including the skin. That’s why I always take probiotics and prebiotics to keep my gut healthy and functioning. I find if I’m not feeling strong digestively, it will show in my skin within a few days. I commonly see skin concerns like hormonal acne are quickly rectified in women once you get their gut sorted.”
• The Beauty Chef Glow Inner Beauty Essential, $65 for 150g (30 serves), at thebeautychef.com
• Bear Nourish Essential Daily Superpowder with Resistant Starch, $60 for 300g (20 serves), at bearltd.com
• Life Space Probiotics+ Skin Rebalance with Lactoferin, $52 for 30 capsules, at lifespaceprobiotics.com
FLORABIOME Calm A Bio Fermented Elixir, $49, at flora-biome.com
ORA Trust Your Gut Vegan Probiotic and Prebiotic Supplement, $54, iherb.com
JS HEALTH Probiotic + Shelf Stable, $100 for 60 capsules, at jshealthvitamins.com
WHEN SHOPPING FOR SUPPLEMENTS
Naturopath Stephanie Hinton highlights five things to remember
1 BUY AUSTRALIAN
“It is always important to consider the quality and reputation of the brand and the country where it’s been manufactured. I personally always go for Australian brands given the stringent quality standards.”
2 LOOK BEYOND ORGANIC
“Organic certification is not legally required for a product supplied in Australia to be described as organic on the packet. Instead, read the entire label, look for GMO-free, sustainably sourced, natural ingredients and a smaller product list featuring constituents you’re familiar with or comfortable with.”
3 EXPECT PROOF
“The most important thing is to do your own research and try not to buy into the hype of fancy ‘one-product to fix all your problems’ or claims of instant results. Instead, identify your key area of concern, like dry skin or wrinkles, then research ingredients that are scientifically proven to help. Good reputable brands are always very transparent about the research backing the ingredients they use.”
4 STUDY THE LABELS
“Many products are filled with excipients like artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners and fillers that can bring down the overall quality and dilute the efficacy of a product. When in doubt, look for products with minimal ingredients, labelled GMO free and free of artificial ingredients. Most importantly, choose brands that celebrate transparency, and have factual, evidence-based studies to support their claims.”
5 ASK AN EXPERT
“Invest your money in brands that create products in consultation with expert naturopaths, nutritionists or dermatologists. These are the brands that have your best interests at heart, know the science, and want you to get results. And as always, consult your health practitioner before starting a new supplement or vitamin routine.”
 Nutrients. 2019 Oct; 11(10): 2494. Published online 2019 Oct 17. A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Liane Bolke et al.
 Int Journal Molecular Science. 2018 Oct; 19(10): 3059. Published online 2018 Oct 7. Enhancing Skin Health: By Oral Administration of Natural Compounds and Minerals with Implications to the Dermal Microbiome.
 Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2021; 34(3): 115-127. Oral Supplementation of Collagen Peptides Improves Skin Hydration by Increasing the Natural Moisturizing Factor Content in the Stratum Corneum: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Miyanaga et al.
 Phytotherapy Research. May 2016 30(8). Effects of Turmeric (Curcuma longa) on Skin Health: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Evidence: Effects of Curcuma longa on Skin Health.
 Foods. 2017 Oct; 6(10): 92. Published online 2017 Oct 22. Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health. Susan J Hewlings and Douglas S Kalman.
 Antiinflamm Antiallergy Agents Med Chem. 2014;13(2):93-102. Benefits of oral and topical administration of ROQUETTE Chlorella sp. on skin inflammation and wound healing in mice. Sophie Hidalgo-Lucas et al.