"[We should] help women who have problems that can't be addressed by topical applications with beauty from within," Dr. Bejot told attendees at the Vitafoods International Conference. Interest in cosmeceuticals, nutrients taken orally that produce a cosmetic benefit, is growing rapidly with companies shifting focus to promote the 'beauty from within' value of their ingredients. Studies have reported cosmeceutical value of a range of ingredients, ranging from cocoa flavonoids to the carotenoid lutein and collagen extracts. A recent study by Kline & Company valued the global market for what it terms 'nutricosmetics' at $1bn. The company forecasts that the market is set to double over the next five years. To date, the trend has been more marked in Europe and Japan, with the North American market not catching on at the same pace. For Dr. Bejot the most important part of this growing area is the need for the nutrient's proven efficacy. "Everyone is asking for proven efficacy," she told attendees at PalExpo in Geneva. "This is what we should have and this is what we need." As a case study, Dr. Bejot took omega-3 fatty acids as an example of how to rehydrate skin via nutrition. Dry and sensentive skin affects 50 per cent of women, she said, and this is partly related to an inadequate nutritional status of fatty acids. "Inadequate essential fatty acid intakes induce water loss across the epidermis," she said. "Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can increase the omega-3 status in the epidermis from two to 24 per cent in three months." Dr. Bejot also pointed out that the over consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, in relation to omega-3 fatty acid, in the Western diet favours the production of pro-inflammatory molecules and efforts should be made to redress this imbalance. Increasing the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in the skin could reduce the concentration of proinflammatory molecules (prostaglandins E2) and improve the overall health of the skin. Currently German women have an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 13:1, while their French counterparts are said to have an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 11:1. The ideal is 4:1, said Dr. Bejot. "These effects cannot be achieved by topical application. They can only be achieved by nutritional intervention," she said. The Skin Hydration Study, published last year, provides evidence to support these statements. Forty-five German women were supplemented with placebo, omega-6 or omega-3 for 12 weeks. The latter class of essential fatty acids produced significant improvements in measures of skin epidermal water loss, surface roughness, skin smoothness and anti-inflammation. Inflammation, measured as redness of the skin using the nicotinate test, was not significantly reduced by placebo, but it was by 35 per cent for the omega-6 supplemented group. For the group supplemented with omega-3, inflammation was reduced by a whopping 81 per cent, said Dr. Bejot. "These results show that although omega-6 and omega-3 are effective, the better results were obtained on skin hydration with omega-3 fatty acids, due to an initial omega-3 inadequacy," she said. But not everyone has such inadequacies, noted Dr. Bejot. "[We should] look at specific nutrition for specific needs for specific people," she said.