London: UK women will spend nearly £40million this year on ‘beauty pills’ to enhance their appearance – twice as much as five years ago.
They are splashing out on a range of ‘magic’ potions, which claim to make hair glossier, nails stronger and even reverse the signs of ageing.
But experts claim few of the products actually work and women would stand a better chance of improving their looks by eating better, keeping out of the sun and not smoking.
Exotic ingredients in pills – such as extract of bark or protein from sea creatures – are used as little more than a marketing tool to encourage shoppers to buy, they added.
A study by market researchers Mintel revealed that spending on beauty pills is expected to top £37million this year – up 130 per cent since 2002 – and rise to £ 63million by 2012.
Almost a third of Britons, mostly women and young girls, said they use beauty supplements or would consider using them to help safeguard their looks.
Top- selling pills include supermodel Naomi Campbell’s favourite brand Imedeen, which claims to improve skin, and retails at £81.50 for three months’ supply of 180 tablets.
Perfectil Platinum, which costs £39.49 for 60 tablets, contains bark extract, blackcurrant seed oil and marine collagen and is marketed as renewing skin cells.
Other products examined contained vitamins, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which are said to keep skin clear and hair glossy.
But scientists have been quick to pour scorn on the claims. Dr Richard Weller, a dermatologist at Edinburgh University, said: ‘I’ve not heard of any evidence that supplements such as bark extract will improve your hair or your skin.
‘These pills are very lucrative for the companies that make them, but they should be coming up with proof.
‘It shows people just want a quick fix, and they like spending money on themselves. Instead, they should be thinking about prevention.
‘The things that cause ageing are excessive sunlight and smoking – and avoiding them is free and known to be effective.’