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Bonbons For Acne?

By Megan Griffith

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jaggi Rao,
MD, FRCPC Double board-certified dermatologist

If your concept of the ideal way to fight acne is lying on the sofa eating bonbons, then Frutels sounds like the product for you. Frutels has launched a line of edible cosmetics including a chocolate bonbon that is designed to fight acne.

The makers of Frutels tell us that their chocolate bonbons stop acne before it starts with a vitamin-rich formula designed to fight hormones, stress, and dietary excess. Unlike vitamin capsules and vitamin pills that are hard for the body to digest and that deliver nutrients hit-or-miss in the lower digestive tract, the nutrients in Frutels are carefully mixed with antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. They are sugar-free, 100% vegetarian, suitable for people who keep kosher or hallal, and contain no artificial ingredients.

Frutels Bonbons for Acne
Frutels is a brand of edible cosmetics that claims it helps fight acne.

A “majority” of people who use the product, the Frutels people tell us, see their acne clear up when they start eating the bonbons. The worse your acne, the more chocolate you eat, one or two Frutels a day if you have mild acne, three or four Frutels a day if you have moderate acne, and five Frutels a day or more if you have severe acne.

But Do The Claims For Frutels Really Hold Up?

First of all, dark chocolate really does cause acne in some people1. It’s not the fat in dark chocolate that’s the culprit, it’s the theobromine, the chemical that makes you say “mmmmmm” when you eat chocolate. It’s more than a little surprising that even a sugar-free version of dark chocolate would not have this side effect.

And then there is the matter of those vitamins and minerals that are in Frutels. Each Frutels contains calcium, iron, and magnesium, but less than 1/10 of 1% of your recommended dietary allowance (RDA)2.

Each Frutels also contains a little fiber, about 6/10 of a gram, and a lot of vitamin C, E, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (biotin), and B12 (cyanocobalamin). Just a single bonbon provides 80% of a day’s supply of vitamin C, 90% of day’s supply of vitamin E, and up to 440% of some of the B vitamins.

The problem is, that’s not necessarily a good thing. Getting more than 100 IU of vitamin E a day (the equivalent of four Frutels) can actually increase sebum production. Eating two bonbons at the same time would give you what the US Food and Drug Administration considers to be an unsafe dose of potassium. Excessive potassium poses health risks3 and can result in heart abnormalities, even death. And that “natural” sweetener isn’t stevia. It’s a synthetic sugar alcohol that can give you gas4 and also play havoc with your blood sugar levels, but only the day after you eat the product, so it’s harder to track down the cause.

Are Edible Cosmetics The Future of Acne Treatment?

Frutels, however, is just one of many new lines of edible cosmetics. Some other popular edible cosmetics on the market include:

  • Nimble, the first nutrition bar advertised as a skin nourishing
  • Deo, a rose petal candy from Bulgaria, which promises to release rose scent through your skin
  • Imedeen tan optimizer (currently not available in the United States), which promises a deeper tan with less time in the sun
  • Sunlover, a tanning pill from Brazil

Many edible cosmetics contain ingredients that only the most adventurous gourmet would consider eating, such as dehydrated pork placenta (which is not, we hasten to point out, in any of the products mentioned above). There are even edible beauty products from China that contain dehydrated human placenta. There are also beauty beverages you can take to wash down your beauty edibles:

  • Crystal Light’s Skin Essentials
  • Herbasway’s Beauty Drink
  • Votre Vu’s SnapDragon Beauty Beverage

Not to mention the four SkinBalance beverages promoted by Vincent Borba.

Acne care products and skincare products are good business. The total market for skincare products has proven to be recession-proof. Driven by emotionally manipulative marketing that focuses on shaming perfectly normal experiences, like aging and acne, the global cosmetics market is expected to bring in $429.8 billion by 2022.

So What’s the Final Verdict on Frutels?

Edible cosmetics can be great fun. Most of them won’t do you any harm, as long as they aren’t loaded with vitamin E and sugar alcohols and they don’t contain exotic ingredients that make most people gag. Frutels may help improve your skin slightly if you consume only one or two per day (definitely not the recommended five for severe acne), but make sure you don’t give up acne skin routines that really work5 for fad products that don’t. For day to day acne care, we still recommend cleansing, exfoliation, and bacterial control, especially with Exposed Skin Care.

References:

  1. Vongraviopap S., Asawanonda P. Dark chocolate exacerbates acne. International Journal of Dermatology. 2016;55(5):587-91.
  2. FDA Vitamins and Minerals Chart. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Website). Accessed 2019.
  3. U.S. National Institutes of Health. Potassium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Office of Dietary Supplements (Website). Accessed 2019.
  4. Mäkinen K.K. Gastrointestinal Disturbances Associated with the Consumption of Sugar Alcohols with Special Consideration of Xylitol: Scientific Review and Instructions for Dentists and Other Health-Care Professionals. International Journal of Dentistry. 2016.
  5. Rodan K., Fields K., Majewski G., Falla T. Skincare Bootcamp: The Evolving Role of Skincare. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2016.
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