Capsugel glams up pills with pearly two-piece
that it says can spruce up visually bland formulations, and is
particularly suitable for image-conscious products like
The Pfizer-owned capsule manufacturer, which has facilities in ten global locations, is claiming to be the first to offer a pearled two-piece capsule - although the mica-based pearlescent pigment it uses has already been applied to topical formulations and tablets.
Capsugel says that it has already received strong interest from two market segments in particular: oral cosmetics and sports nutrition.
"The pearlescent look can complement and capitalize on the trend toward 'beauty from within' and powerful presentations in both industries," said director of sales, marketing and business development Bon Whitelaw.
He added that shiny products give an additional, coordinating dimension to shiny, iridescent packaging that is currently in vogue, and is used to differentiate products on shelves.
Crucially for formulators under pressure to keep their labels as clean as possible, the basic technology does not use colorants, but combines a plant-based HPMC or gelatine hard capsule with Merck's Candurin light-reflecting pigment, which combines natural mica and titanium dioxide.
This yields a "striking pearly white" effect, but by adding other approved dyes the company is able to provide a whole spectrum of pearlescent colours, such as pink, green, turquoise and blue and two-colour combinations.
It is also possible to make capsules in metallic bronze, silver and gold, which Capsugel says there has been no way of doing until now.
"The use of shiny or metallic colours can fashion distinctive looks to differentiate products," said Whitelaw.
The beauty from within category - or nutricosmetics, as it is also known - is a relative new field for dietary supplements. A number of companies have indicated movements in this area of expressed an interest, and a recent study by Kline & Company found that the global nutricosmetics market was valued at $1bn.
Other market analysts have said they expect the market to double in the next five years.
Candurin has been approved for use in a number of food categories in the EU since 2003. Last year Merck was given the go-ahead for its use at levels of up to 1.25 per cent of final product weight in cereals, confections and frostings, gelatin desserts, hard and soft candies, nutritional supplement tablets and gelatin capsules and chewing gums.
Merck said: "The FDA is seen as a regulatory reference by many countries and with respect to the global character of large parts of the food industry, the FDA approval of Candurin pigments will also have an international impact outside the USA."