Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Product Review:
Glowelle Beauty Drink Mix

You are what you eat, and what you drink too- at least that's the theory behind Nestlé's new Glowelle brand. Representing a new trend in beauty "treatments" Glowelle is a dietary supplement marketed as a beauty drink. According to the company, the ready-to-drink bottles and stick pack drink mixes are loaded with antioxidants and extracts that "nourish your skin from within." At $42 for a 6 pack of bottles, or $112 for the more economical 30-day stick pack kit, Glowelle is indeed a tall drink of (vitamin infused) water. So is it worth it?

I recently tried the 7-day Powder Stick Pack Kit ($40) in the Raspberry Jasmine flavor. At first glance, I could see that Glowelle is chock-full of antioxidants. It has well over the recommended allowance for vitamins A, C, and E as well as other sources of antioxidants, like Pomegranate and Green Tea extracts. Ingredients like Lycopene, Lutein and Coenzyme Q10 are present, along with the company's "proprietary beauty blend." While many of Glowelle's ingredients have proven antioxidant properties (purported to fight off everything from wrinkles to skin cancer) some, like Lycopene and Maritime Pine Bark Extract, have an unproven track record.

I've never been able to get myself in the habit of popping a daily multivitamin pill, so I really liked the idea of a stick pack for just this reason- I'm much more likely to drink my vitamins than take than a pill. I like the idea that I can pop a stick in my purse, dump it into a bottle of water while I'm out and about, all the while nourishing my body. Unfortunately, that benefit alone doesn't justify the cost. I was also a bit bummed when I saw that each pack contains 50 calories (the pre-made bottled version has 100!) While that's not a deal breaker for me, those are extra calories that I'd prefer to use elsewhere! I also noticed that while Glowelle is full of antioxidants, it is missing several essential vitamins an minerals that every woman should be taking, like B Vitamins, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron and Folic Acid. My thought: since I'd have to take a separate supplement anyway, why not just look for one that contains everything in one pop?

All of this is a moot point though, if one doesn't actually drink the product. The stick packs I got are meant to be mixed into a pint bottle of water, so this is how I originally tried the product. My initial impression was, well...yuck! The earthy red powder produced a sweet, fruity, extremely metallic tasting beverage that had a distinct mineral smell; had I not known I was drinking a health beverage, I certainly would have guessed it. In fact, I was only able to convince myself to drink it for two days before I put my packets aside for a break.

After a trip to the grocery, I was ready to try again, this time following a serving suggestion from the package insert. Using my handy Magic Bullet* I blended the mix into a smoothie with blueberry yogurt, frozen strawberries, and some ice. This first attempt was headed to the garbage disposal when I decided to add a spoonful of Splenda. This made a big difference, and while it went a long way in making the drink much more palatable, the metallic twang was still present until the very last sip. Though not the tastiest smoothie I've ever made, I didn't feel like I was choking it down like I did with the water/mix combo.

So, the big question is: did I notice a difference? I can't say I did, but I have to admit, knowing that skin takes around a month to fully cycle, I didn't really expect to. I also have to give some pause for the fact that I did not use the mix for 7 consecutive days; perhaps my results would have been more noticeable if I had. Having said that, I did notice that the testing Glowelle refers to on the website used a 45 day trial period. For anyone who is counting, this would cost anywhere from $168-$315, depending on which form of the drink you prefer. For the cost, I can't say I'll be running out to buy more Glowelle, as curious as I am to see if the other flavor (Pomegranate Lychee) is any tastier. Would a better flavor convert me into a daily user? Probably not, but it would probably add a point or two to Glowelle's overall rating.

I'd give Glowelle a 4.5 out of 10. It's an intriguing idea, and I'm curious about whether the proprietary blend would have any significant long term effect. Unfortunately, The cost and, to some extent, the taste, have me choosing more conventional methods for the time being.

Pros:
- Contains antioxidant vitamins and extracts proven to aid in skin protection.
- Convenient stick pack is portable and easy to blend on the go.
- Comes in two flavors (Raspberry Jasmine or Pomegranate Lychee)
- Stick packs can be mixed into water, juice, yogurt or blended into an iced beverage to suit the user's taste.

Cons:
- Some may find the metallic, mineral-heavy taste unpleasant (I did.)
- The product is quite expensive- you could buy a 30 day supply of vitamin supplements in pill form for about what one serving of Glowelle costs.
- Glowelle is not a substitute for a multivitamin supplement, since it does not contain a spectrum of important vitamins and minerals (I should also note that most multivitamins include several of the same antioxidants that Glowelle does.)
- Glowelle contains 50-100 calories, depending on the form you use.


*By the way, if you're a fan of the frozen drink and you don't have a Magic Bullet, RUN- don't walk- and get one! Milk shakes, frozen coffee beverages (similar to the trademarked Starbuck's Frappuccino!), piña coladas, smoothies, hell, I even made my daughter's baby food with it!

5 comments:

BeautyTalk said...

Great review! I never see reviews of cosmecueticals on beauty blogs so this was very interesting. I think "edible beauty products" is such a good idea but always wonder : do they really work? And of course the price is quite high! There is an opinion that such products are just a way to market vitamin supplement - all of these beauty Vitamins/Minarals can mainly be obtained from food and a multivitamin supplement... they say your body won't take more than it needs and that only those who do a really bad diet will notice any difference in their skin!

Jessica said...

BT-
I totally agree, I definitely notice a positive difference in my skin when I'm eating well! I also think that these types of products are mostly targeted marketing.

I can see the convenience in products like Glowelle- having a skin beneficial blend of vitamins, herbal and botanical extracts ready to go is kind of like having a nutritionist of your very own!

For those not willing or able to pay the premium, I have no doubt that with a bit of research and a visit to the grocery or vitamin store you could create a regimen that would be just as beneficial as a beauty drink, pill or powder.

jeremy said...

Hi Jessica-
Most of the scientific literature agrees that taking a multivitamin is a total waste of money UNLESS you're deficient in your normal diet, which is tough to do unless, well.. you're anorexic.

There are also risks based around too much intake of various vitamins.

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=160

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=372

Jessica said...

Jeremy,

You make a good point- in my original draft I'd actually mentioned that some vitamins can be dangerous in high doses, but I removed it because I didn't want to make any inflammatory statements aimed directly at Glowelle, since that is an issue with many multi-vitamins.

I do disagree with your assertion that the only way to be vitamin deficient is to be anorexic. Yes, I know you were using a bit of hyperbole, but let's be honest- it's completely possible for an average American to eat 3+ meals a day and still be malnourished. (Not all of us live in semi-vegetarian foodie households, after all :)

Fact is, there are several essential nutrients that many Americans don't get enough of through diet alone. For example, the recommended daily intake of calcium for adults (age 18+) ranges from 1000-1300 mg, yet the average amount most women consume through their food is only around 700-800 mg. Most women also fall below suggested intake of Iron, Magnesium, Folate, and Vitamin A. (BTW, I say women not to be sexist, but because men tend to fall closer to or within the recommended ranges.)

As I mentioned in my review, Glowelle lacks most of these vitamins and minerals, which I found disappointing, though not surprising- after all, Glowelle is not marketed as a multi-vitamin, but as a "dietary supplement beauty drink" specifically blended to enhance skin.

If anyone is curious as to where I got my info, check out the "Nutrient Intakes from Food" and the "Dietary Reference Intakes" tables from the USDA's National Agriculture Library, which can be found here:

http://tinyurl.com/yuec9q

As always, thanks for the comment (I'll admit I was surprised to see your name in the email alert!)I'm always open to discussion on my posts, and it's good to know you're reading!

jeremy said...

Good points - especially about the calcium.

I just get very leery about vitamins being sold as a beauty product... I mean, as topicals, vitamins C and E (and A as retinol-a, right?) are really quite good, sure. But... in an expensive drink? Think it really makes a difference? I'd be very curious to see a study.

Now my curiosity is flying... :)

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