So long, cosmos. Hello, collagen drinks!
A new breed of cocktail parties has some women pounding shots - but instead of alcohol, they're infused with beauty treatments. Packaged in one-shot bottles sold over the Internet, ingestible collagen is said to restore luster in hair, skin and nails.
"It's a hot trend because the parties are a fun fantasy that women can afford," said Bonnie Ceja, 37, a housewife who hosts monthly "drink your beauty" parties at her Wellington, Fla., home. "It sounded like something the girls on 'Sex in the City' would do, and that would definitely add some fun into my regular routine."
Ceja's parties start out with healthy appetizers, followed by a wheatgrass shot, a concentrated juice packed with vitamins and nutrients. Since the collagen shot is designed to be taken before bed, when the absorption rate is higher, Ceja and her friends end the night by toasting with a 1.7-ounce glass of the beauty brew.
This type of ingestible collagen has been all the rage for years in Asia, where the beauty beverages are manufactured. But only in the past few years has it reached American shores, industry watchers say. And South Florida women have begun embracing the product the best way they know how - with a party.
Costs vary by product, but a 24-day supply of the U.S.-distributed Lac Taut brand goes for $220, according to the company website.
The fact that only limited research has been done on ingestible collagen, or that its benefits are unproven, has not dampened the enthusiasm.
"It's a nice, fun way to get together," said Fort Lauderdale, Fla., personal trainer Kacy Shaw, 33, who started her parties to introduce friends to a product she found effective in improving the health of her nails and hair. "It's amazing. It tastes just like orange juice."
At Coral Springs, Fla., parties hosted by physical therapist Nancy Chang, massages and manicures are also in the offing.
But unlike the parties of their youth, these so-called "drink your beauty" parties typically exclude alcoholic beverages of any kind, because alcohol is believed to offset the fortifying and hydrating benefits collagen drinks tout.
That's fine for new mom Chang and her stay-at-home-mom neighbors.
"No one drinks alcohol anymore because no one would make it through the (night) feedings," said Chang, who called the beauty parties a fun way for moms with few child-care options to get together and pamper themselves at the same time.
"I find that more and more women are taking things into their own homes and into their own hands," said Chang, 40, a Chinese-American who grew up on herbal medicines. "We (Asian women) are definitely accustomed to drinking our health, and our beauty, for that matter."
Before sharing the collagen drinks with her friends, Chang said she consulted with her dermatologist to make sure ingesting the stuff was safe. She was told it didn't appear to be harmful, though her doctor wasn't convinced it had any true health benefits.
It's an assessment Fort Lauderdale-area nutritionist Sandra Frank shares. Though collagen is made in our bodies, the ingestible version - made from fish or animals - is broken down by the digestive system, where it tends to lose its restorative properties, she said.
"It sounds like a nice idea, but the science is shaky," Frank said.
Nutritionist Nicolette Pace said she has seen research suggesting that in the "worst-case scenario," some ingestible collagen may contain estrogen components.
"Just because it's put in a fancy bottle with all the allure, who knows what's in it?" Pace said.
Pace lives and works in Great Neck, N.Y., but travels to South Florida every winter on business. It was here, at a local hotel, where she said she first overheard women talk about collagen drinks.
"It's really a hot trend right now," she said. "Botox parties are being replaced by drinkable collagen parties."
Larry Pederson can attest to that. He's the founder of RenewAlliance, a Seattle, Wash.-based nutricosmetics company that recently began distributing the Japanese-made Lac Taut ingestible collagen shots in North America.
The company's second-largest market, behind southern California? That would be South Florida, which accounts for about 40 percent of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in online sales logged since June, Pederson said.
"South Florida is the land of beautiful people who want to live forever, who want to look great up until the last day," he said. "And why shouldn't they?"
Distributed by MCT Information Services