In the Star Trek universe: The illegal Venus Drug is peddled by the galactic con man Harcourt Fenton Mudd. The drug took three plain-looking women and made them beautiful, much to the delight of three miners on Rigel XII. In the end, however, a placebo worked just as effectively in bringing out the women's inner beauty. The ending of the episode aside, today's aging Baby Boomers might look back with fondness at episodes like this, where beauty and youth can come from pharmaceuticals. Star Trek appeared on the scene during a time when the culture was youth-obsessed. "Mudd's Women," along with "Miri" and "Space Seed" showed how a striving for everlasting youth, beauty and perfection always has a downside.
In real life: The "cosmeceutical" industry (a term not recognized by the FDA) is seeing huge growth. Cosmeceuticals are cosmetics that also claim health benefits. Johnson & Johnson, L'Oreal and Procter & Gamble are just three of the largest companies in the space. Antioxidants, enzymes, proteins, botanicals, lip care, tooth whiteners, nanoscale incredients that penetrate to deeper and deeper layers of the skin--they all represent huge growth opportunities for these companies. At times, the claims and the ingredients come dangerously close to pharmaceuticals and the FDA keeps an eye on it all. Beauty may only be skin deep, but the market for beauty products has deep pocketbooks. The final frontier? Perhaps, until we finally come across the famously seductive green girls of Orion.