Beauty Foods: Help or Hype?
The skinny on eating for your looks
-Paige Herman Axel
As the adage goes, we are what we eat, so is it possible that consuming so-called “beauty foods” is the secret to flawless skin and a better body? While the beauty experts (i.e. dermatologists and plastic surgeons) are reluctant to believe the hype, real women like you and me seem to think otherwise—and this area of the beauty biz is booming. But a few words to the wise … These cookies, candies and drinks are not subject to scrutiny or approval from the FDA (nor are their claims), so you may want to think twice before coughing up the dough and chowing down. With that said, I’ve tried countless beauty foods, and here are my favorites.
For the Sweet Tooth
Nothing beats a fresh-baked cookie, so when I learned about DeLuscious Vitamin-Enhanced Cookies from Borba I was instantly intrigued. If you’re not familiar with Borba, I suggest you acquaint yourself, because their line of good-for-your-skin drinks, candies, cosmetics and skin-care products is phenomenal (I’m hooked on the Gummi Bear Boosters!). The latest offering is the result of a collaboration with the Los Angeles bakery DeLuscious, so every morsel of the Chocolate White Chocolate Toffee and Oatmeal Raisin cookies is packed with Borba’s signature blend of vitamins and minerals, along with anti-aging acai. Since I only tried one of each flavor, I didn’t see any improvement in my appearance, but they sure did taste good! The only downside: These are real cookies, not diet cookies, so they contain calories — and the lack of nutritional information on the package had me wondering if I had just blown my whole diet. $24.95 for 6 (3 of each flavor), borba.com
If You’re Thirsty
Guzzling bottle after bottle of water every day can get a little boring, so why not give your H2O a boost? I’m a fan of Perricone MD Nutriceuticals Super Berry with Acai Dietary Supplement Powder. (Are you noticing a trend with the acai? It’s that good for you.) Each packet is bursting with essential amino and fatty acids plus antioxidants to protect your cells inside and out, so free radical damage doesn’t age you beyond your actual years. Although I haven’t seen myself getting younger a la Benjamin Button, I feel good knowing that I’m getting a mega-dose of antioxidants along with the water my body needs. P.S. You didn’t hear this from me, but it’s fabulous with vodka and a splash of fresh OJ, too. $60 for 30 packets, perriconemd.com
For the Body Conscious
If you just have to have a piece of chocolate, opt for something that does your body good, like SlimDelices. These French dark chocolates come in the perfect single serving size so you don’t overindulge, and the company claims the blend of plant extracts and antioxidant-rich cacao can help curb cravings. In one study, participants lost an average of 4 pounds in one month (but keep in mind they didn’t eat the whole box). Personally, I didn’t lose weight while eating SlimDelices, but eating one square of this chocolate helped me not eat the other chocolates my husband insists on keeping in the house. $85 for a one month supply, blissworld.com
What the Doctor Says
No one knows skin better than a dermatologist, so I asked Tina Alster, MD of Washington, DC for her opinion on beauty foods. Here’s what I learned:
• Be realistic: Most dermatologists feel that ingesting these active ingredients isn’t as effective as applying them directly to the skin. Dr. Alster says, “Buyer beware. As a doctor, I wouldn’t prescribe these foods, but if a patient thinks one of these products is working, I won’t tell them to stop.”
• Be wary of hype: We can’t always believe everything we read, and some of these beauty foods make some pretty outrageous claims — and there’s no agency or government watchdog overseeing these reported results. Dr. Alster says, “Having worked with large beauty companies, it takes a big lab and hundreds of intense tests to come up with valid clinical results. I’d be very surprised if any of these products underwent such extensive testing.”
• Can ingredients get from the stomach to the skin? Studies have shown that vitamin C, vitamin A derivatives and other antioxidants play a role in protecting the skin, but is ingesting them as effective? Dr. Alster says, “We’re not sure, since no one has done a comparative study.”
• Doctor’s orders: These beauty foods can be rather pricy, so is there a less expensive alternative? For the sake of your body and your skin, ingest a reasonable amount of vitamins and antioxidants through a diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables. Rather than stock your pantry with expensive beauty foods, Dr. Alster says, “There are better ways to go about improving your skin, and staying out of the sun is by far the best”—and it’s free!