Medical and pharmaceutical research may be applied (literally) at a beauty school near you. Extensive research is being conducted in a relatively new field referred to as nutricosmetics. First established in the late 1980's, nutricosmetics seek to exploit the relationship between proper nutrition and natural beauty, especially as it affects the skin.

"Internal skincare" products now account for about USD$1 billion in sales each year. Nutricosmetic products use Vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, carotenes and flavinoids to unlock the body's natural ability to protect and maintain healthy skin. In addition, researchers are also studying the effects of nutricosmetics on skin that has aged either through natural or artificial UV exposure.

The research is showing that nutricosmetics not only have a positive effect Types I and II collagen found in skin; these specially engineered compounds may also support Type II collagen, which is found in joints. The compounds can reduce the number and severity of age-related wrinkles, and can also lessen joint pain in older people and those who have experienced joint injuries.

Researchers from major companies like Proctor and Gamble are also investing heavily in research that aims to unlock the mysteries of skin biology and aging. By monitoring the way changes in skin occur, P&G is hoping to use this in new skin care product research and development. Although the approval process for cosmetics can be daunting, the results of such research regularly drive cosmetology product sales.

P&G is hoping to develop products that can address the most evident signs of aging, including the development of wrinkles, age spots and other skin discolorations, as well as other age-related skin conditions like chronic dryness, and thinning of the dermal layers. P&G's research is sophisticated enough to examine the characteristics of aging among different ethnic groups. One benefit of the company's approach to this type of research is that it has been able to eliminate animal testing in favor of more precise, meaningful measures.

In other cosmetology developments, new research is showing that Botox injections (onabotulinumtoxinA, Allergan) can be safely reduced by half and still produce effective results for lessening wrinkles. In addition to reducing the cost of Botox treatments, the treatments in and of themselves have the benefit of preventing some new wrinkle formation in people between the ages of 30 and 50.

Among all of the conflicting research, one conclusion is undeniably clear: the market for skin care products, anti-aging products and beauty products is growing. During the height of the recession in 2009, the growth in the global cosmetics market was 2.1%, and has increased every year since. Experts predict that 2011 will see a greater than 5% growth in beauty and grooming products.

Even with the number of exciting, research-based developments in beauty and skincare products, consumers should be mindful that not every product that shows up in beauty schools or on store shelves is safe, or lives up to the claims it makes.

Not all nutricosmetics, which are also referred to as cosmeceuticals and nutriceuticals, are either good or healthy. In fact, many such products are the subjects of Food and Drug Administration warnings because they make claims that cannot be verified by standard pharmaceutical research techniques. Cosmetics that are applied to the skin must receive approval by the FDA if they're sold in the US. Vitamin and nutritional supplements do not receive the same scrutiny. It's important for consumers to know, however, that any substance that claims to have medicinal properties must go through the FDA's drug approval process before it can be sold to consumers.