Can You Drink Your Way To Beauty?

Putting the effectiveness of ingestible beauty products to the test.

Is drinking Moon Juice really the way to beauty?
Is drinking Moon Juice really the way to beauty? (Photo: Instagram/MoonJuice).

Beauty begins from the inside out—this isn’t news. The notion of ingestible beauty might seem far-fetched, but it works by that same logic: What’s good for your insides is universally good for your outsides, too. While the packaging might be newfangled (read: perfect for that Instagram #shelfie), the contents are not.

Housed in chic containers like the consumer-friendly Moon Dust, which contain Amanda Chantal Bacon’s proprietary blends and the slightly more esoteric blue bottles of Sun Potion’s single-ingredient, meticulously-sourced powders, these ancient herbs have never been so ready for blending in your Vitamix.

Both brands’ products fall into the adaptogenic herb camp. These herbs are as close to natural magic as it gets—they’re able to relax and energize the body at the same time. “The charm of adapotgens,” Ms. Bacon explains, “is that they work with your needs specifically, adapting their function to your body, and achieve all of these heroic acts gently, without jitters or crashing, and are safe for long-term use.” Adaptogens also support our adrenals; the glands that manage our hormonal responses to stress and help us cope with anxiety and fatigue. These herbs have been used for millennia in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, but had, heretofore, remained relatively untapped by the Lululemon set.

The other primary camp of beautifying ingestibles is comprised of super powered blends of foods, nutrients, and vitamins most of us tend to lack in our everyday diets—think antioxidants derived from fruits and vegetables, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and probiotics. While the contents of these blends are a bit more conventional than adaptogens, they’re also effective in boosting skin health and glow. According to Dr. Roshini Raj, founder of probiotic-based skincare line, Tula, bridging the diet gap is the real benefit of these products: “If you don’t feel you are consuming sufficient amounts in your diet, a beauty ingestible can be used to boost your skin health.”

For Kerrilynn Pamer and Cindy DiPrima, cofounders of the chic West Village boutique, CAP Beauty, the logic of ingestible beauty is simple. “It’s pretty well established,” they explain, “that things like inflammation contribute to a lack of beauty.” Their bestselling product is an Australian superfood powder called GLOW from The Beauty Chef. The company’s tagline tells all—“beauty begins in the belly.”

It’s a philosophy that dates back millennia, and has increasing research to support it. “Scientists are learning more about the connection between what we put in our bodies, our internal health, and the health of our skin,” says Dr. Raj. “This gut-brain-skin axis is a hot area of research right now. Beauty ingestibles are the natural extension of this phenomenon.”

Many of natural beauty’s top players are fully on board. “I personally do not think this is a trend but rather a new category,” Jessica Richards, founder of Shen Beauty notes, “It’s a very simple way to be healthy.”

At CAP, which sells perhaps the largest selection of products in this emerging category, such powders are hard to keep in stock. Still, Ms. Pamer and Ms. DiPrima point out that all the powders in the world won’t work if taken inconsistently, or ingested along with daily milkshakes and hamburgers—that is to say, they’re not magic, and you’re not exactly “off the hook” for adding these potent superfoods into your tea, morning smoothie, or yogurt. So why are they selling out? Ms. Pamer and Ms. DiPrima answer simply, confidently, and practically in unison—“Because they work.”

Ready to start ingesting? Here are six beginner-friendly products with advanced results.

Sun Potion, He Shou Wu

Sun Potion He Shou Wu, $55,
Sun Potion He Shou Wu, $55, (Photo: Courtesy Sun POstion).

This single-ingredient powder is known as “the beauty herb,” according to Ms. Pamer and Ms. DiPrima, who explain that, while they’re yet to see it, some claim this adaptogenic herb can reverse gray hair. In fact, its name literally translates to “Mr. Wu’s long black hair.” Best of all, it’s delicious, and one of just 4 ingredients used in CAP’s proprietary beauty elixir, for which the recipe can be found, and made at home, here. In addition to strengthening your locks, this herb is anti-aging, blood building, stamina boosting—and an aphrodisiac.

Sibu, Omega 7 Pure

Sibu Omega 7 Pure, $42,
Sibu Omega 7 Pure, $42, (Photo: CAP Beauty).

This bottle is filled with a tart purée of Himalayan, high-altitude grown Sea Buckthorn Berries. Like the name suggests, they’re full of Omega-7’s—500 mg to be precise. They’re known to improve skin tone and texture, and support heart health, and the digestive tract. At CAP, a serving of this puree, mixed with bitters (see below), and Perrier is a standby summer spritzer.

The Beauty Chef, Glow Inner Beauty Powder

The Beauty Chef Glow Inner Beauty Powder, $70,
The Beauty Chef Glow Inner Beauty Powder, $70, (Photo: CAP Beauty).

CAP’s #1 bestseller is a (naturally) berry-flavored potion that falls into the superfood category. The Australian product contains 23 ingredients (from Maqui berry to lentils), all of which are biofermented in a unique process, which makes all 23 nutrients easier for our bodies to digest. Chock full of pro and prebiotics, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids, this powder is many a beauty-savvy woman’s healthy secret to an outer glow.

Sun Potion, Tocos Rice Bran Solubles

Sun Potion Tocos Rice Bran Solubles, $38,
Sun Potion Tocos Rice Bran Solubles, $38, (Photo: CAP Beauty).

Tocos is, essentially, rice bran, with the fibers taken out. What’s left is a light and fluffy powdery substance, which tastes like “vanilla, or a Japanese dessert, and can be used like a nondairy creamer,” according to Ms. Pamer and Ms. DiPrima. Don’t be fooled by the sweet taste, though, these are fortified with Vitamins E & D making them extremely beneficial for our skin, muscles, and tissue. If you aren’t yet sold, check this out: “Apparently [Tocos] used to be this kind of black market thing, it was really expensive, and models would have it in the ’80s, with like, their cocaine,” Ms. Pamer and Ms. DiPrima note, “because of technology and the way it’s processed now, it’s become a much easier thing to produce, so now it’s available and it’s not a million dollars.”

Urban Moonshine, Bitters

Urban Moonshine Original Bitters, $17,
Urban Moonshine Original Bitters, $17, (Photo: CAP Beauty).

Perhaps the easiest to incorporate of the group, bitters are taken in dropperfuls, ideally, 15 minutes before eating, but are beneficial if taken afterwards, too. They’re known to help with immune support, gut health, and digestion. The way they work is that our bodies are conditioned, when we taste really bitter tastes, to go into overdrive as many bitter flavors are poisonous. Fortunately, non-poisonous bitters have the same effect. Made with dandelion leaf and root, burdock, orange peel, fennel seed, and ginger, Urban Moonshine’s Bitters stimulate the digestive system, and allow for better absorption of nutrients. Pamer and DiPrima swear by these for travel, when our stomachs tend to be on edge.

Moon Juice, Action Dust

Moon Juice Action Dust, $55,
Moon Juice Action Dust, $55, (Photo: CAP Beauty).

Unlike Sun Potion, which sells primarily single-ingredient adaptogenic herbs, founder of Moon Juice, Amanda Chantal Bacon curates custom-designed blends of adaptogens, taking the work of self-mixing out of the process. One of the six potent formulas is Action Dust, which contains astragalus, ginseng, and rhodiola, which work to promote energy, stamina, enhanced performance, and help the body manage stress. Can You Drink Your Way To Beauty?