Innovation In The Food and Beauty-From-Within Industry

Raphaëlle O'Connor
5 min readSep 1, 2020

Beauty, and health, begins and grows from within. This is something we have always known but it has only been in recent years that both the food and beauty industries have merged to form one larger beauty-from-within industry.

Consumers nowadays are becoming increasingly aware of the relationship between their nutritional food habits and their health. This demand for healthier foods and beverages, in addition to a growing need for convenience and naturality within the industry, has created a need for more functional food products incorporating innate bioactives to provide a balanced diet and address specific health issues.

The result of this demand has caused multiple industries and sectors to merge using innovative ideas which has created incredible synergies between them. I have noticed this strongly between the functional food and beauty industries in particular where there are already many natural synergies to be made through supplements, for example.

When areas between the food and beverage sectors and other industries such as cosmetics, medicinal and healthcare overlap, they are known as converging industries. Some functional ingredients and nutrients can be present in all three industries which allows for new and interesting products to be created in different formats.

It is no longer uncommon to visit a supermarket or pharmacy, almost anywhere in the world, and see the type of marketing being carried out within this new industry. It seems that nowadays there is an available ingredient to aid almost any consumer ‘pain point’, especially those targeting the anti-aging audience.

For example, melon extract is an active antidote and is said by some to strengthen our skin’s own UV protection and protect it from oxidation stress and inflammation. Cordyceps mushrooms are often promoted as aiding in hair loss, and hibiscus is said to be a strong anti-aging substance with additional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Collagen is another major ingredient being used in many of the new-age functional food and beauty-from-within products we can now find on shelf. We know that collagen is an important structural material in the skin and decreases with age so brands are trying to incorporate collagen into foods and supplements as a way to try and slow down or delay the effects of ageing.

Most of the aforementioned ingredients and plants are commonly known to most people, however, there are many more which are said to offer multiple benefits to our health and nutrition. Examples of some raw materials used in converging industries are botanicals or spices that contain bioactives which have multifunctional properties and are relevant for products within the health, wellness, nutritional, and/or cosmetic industries. Depending on the regulations and associated claims, some ingredients and nutrients can even have a place in all three.

Faria-Silvaa [1] refers to these types of products which fit under the convergent definition as ‘cosmeceuticals’ and defines them as topical products with effects on both skin appearance and functioning.

The blurring of personal healthcare, nutrition and beauty-from-within is creating new FMCG categories. ‘Nutricosmetics’, ‘Cosmeceuticals’ and ‘Nutraceuticals’ are also terms which have made an appearance in the industry over the past few years. They are defined (in order) as, “the consumption of food or oral supplements to produce an appearance benefit”, “cosmetic products containing bioactive ingredients which appear to have medical benefits”, and “any food or part of a food that provides medical or health benefits”. The growing popularity of these products means the market becomes more fragmented, revealing new commercial opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs and agile organisations to seed, grow and harvest.

For many consumers, healthy foods are defined as products which contain fewer processed ingredients and are free from negatively perceived food additives. The same is becoming true of the cosmetics industry with more of a push for cleaner and safer products from big and small brands. Such formulations in food products, however, are generally physically and chemically less stable. This, therefore, has to be taken into account when thinking and working your way through the NPD process of such products.

Converging industry companies are also being exposed to a brand new set of customers, suppliers, partners, and competitors. It has opened up a new segment of the market that they likely have not been previously able to attract but they must learn to adapt to the new behaviours, preferences and expectations. The key to success lies in the positioning as well as the clearly communicated benefits carried out through market research and consumer insights.

What role does innovation play?

If you have read anything I have written before, you will know that I am a huge proponent of innovation in the food industry and beyond. I see the converging roads between the food and beauty industries as a key area for innovation to thrive.

There is an opportunity to develop products and services which meet the requirements of both industries and will create better results for consumers. Food companies have a chance to work alongside beauty companies and create new products to satisfy the ever-increasing consumer trend to become healthier and fitter.

By looking to other industries for inspiration where ingredients and nutrients are concerned, this has allowed more cross-sector renovation and innovation to occur. For example, Wasabi (otherwise known as Japanese Horseradish) is a commonly used ingredient often seen in Sushi restaurants. However, in recent years, natural cosmetic companies such as Lush have spotted an area for innovation within their product ranges and introduced Wasabi as a key ingredient in some of their shampoo’s.

Additionally, innovative plant-based ingredients have been emerging in topical skincare. Nutrition is increasingly seen as a way of enhancing both inward and outward appearance and aesthetics. Certain claims are also transferring from sector to sector such as “Gluten-Free Skincare Supplements”. Oats, flaxseeds, honey, matcha, berries, algae, mushrooms, turmeric, moringa, charcoal and rice are other examples of natural ingredients with multiple functionalities and health benefits that can be found across multiple industries and categories. These are the building blocks of the next generation of beauty and skincare routines.

Innovation occurring between these industries encourages companies involved to strive to provide their own customers with more natural, healthier and better clean-label products at an affordable price — good news for consumers!

Food ingredients are being included in cosmetics and other personal care products, as previously mentioned, with the aim of sharing the benefits to new consumer groups. Another consideration is with regards to the increasing relevance and demand for the implementation of a circular economy. A large number of food industry waste is being recovered and turned into added-value products through more sustainable and innovative extraction processes with the goal of being incorporated into cosmetic products among others. [3]

We can certainly encourage brands, companies and entrepreneurs to examine the value of biotransformation and design-thinking through innovation workshops and portfolios as interesting areas for innovation in this new beauty-from-within industry that will be evolving strongly over the next few years.

This is an area I am very passionate about. If it is an area you would like more information about for your project or are interested in creating products to successfully compete in converging markets, book in a consultation call with me and we can get started immediately.


[1] Faria-Silva, C.; Ascenso, A.; Costa, A.M.; Marto, J.; Carvalheiro, M.; Margarida Ribeiro, H.; Simões, S. (2020) “Feeding the skin: A new trend in food and cosmetics convergence”. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 95. Pp. 21–32.

[2] Palzer, S. (2009) “Food structures for nutrition, health and wellness”.Trends in Food Science & Technology, 20. Pp. 194–200.

[3] Lamberti, L.; Lettieri, E. (2011) “Gaining legitimacy in converging industries: Evidence from the emerging market of functional food”. European Management Journal, 29. Pp. 462–475.

Originally published at on September 1, 2020.



Raphaëlle O'Connor

Founder of iNewtrition, Raphaëlle is a food innovation consultant with over 25 years’ experience working internationally for start-ups and multinationals.