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Cosmeceuticals: Keeping Up Appearances

Cosmetics companies are lining up to take advantage of the dawning cosmeceuticals market. But as the sector grows, change will inevitably follow, argues Shane Starling

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) might not recognise them as a legal category and they have not yet made it into the Oxford Dictionary as an official entry, but cosmeceuticals are rapidly moving from the margins to the mainstream. As swathes of consumers become interested in using them, large cosmetics and natural health care companies are responding in kind.

L?Or?al, Christian Dior, Est?e Lauder, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Beiersdorf, and Avon Products all have significant lines of cosmeceuticals. L?Or?al has even established a joint venture with Nestl?—Inneov—devoted exclusively to developing and marketing cosmeceutical products in Europe.

Smaller players, many of which have backgrounds in the natural bodycare market, are also developing innovative cosmeceutical lines. Companies like Imedeen in the UK, Denmark-based Pharma nord and US-based Jason Natural Cosmetics, Kiss My Face and Tom?s of Maine are just a few that are proving there is room for the niche producer as well.

Category Drivers
According to Nutrition Business Journal, cosmeceuticals now account for 17 per cent of bodycare retail sales in the US. The Freedonia Group reports these products are part of a US market that will increase from $3 billion to $3.8 billion by 2005. Similar growth figures are predicted for Europe. Another survey conducted by the US-based Natural Marketing Institute found 28 per cent of US citizens were in favour of beauty products with functional ingredients.

Baby boomers are driving the category. Obsessed with halting the ageing process, these cashed-up consumers are applying nutrient-rich lotions and creams and popping beauty-enhancing pills en masse. Women remain the dominant purchasers, but image-conscious men are increasingly interested in them, too. Mintel found more than 40 per cent of European men believe they should use skin-care products. Despite this, the male-specific skin-care sector accounts for just one per cent of the market in France and two per cent in Italy.

?Given the relatively high level of usage of facial skin-care products by men in Europe, it seems clear that men are using women?s products, leading to considerable scope for value-added products targeted solely at men,? notes a Mintel consumer analyst.

Alexander Barani, marketing director of UK-based Kinetic, which distributes Jason products throughout Europe, says France, Spain, Italy and Scandinavia are the most receptive to cosmeceutical products. ?Natural health care is booming,? helped along, he notes, by aggressive marketing campaigns. ?We try to target people who have a healthy lifestyle, through women?s magazines, health magazines and PR in newspapers all over Europe.?

Anti-ageing continues to dominate the sector, with much of the credit going to author Dr Nicholas Perricone, who famously wrote in The Wrinkle Cure: ?Plastic surgery isn?t the only way to keep the ageing process at bay. With the proper care you can have fabulous skin in your forties, fifties, sixties and beyond.?

Emerging Ingredients
But modern cosmeceuticals do more than just combat ageing. Sun-care products include sunscreens, sun blocks and sunless tanning; the skin-care market includes products for anti-ageing, anti-wrinkle, skin lightening, spot reduction and cellulite reduction. Hair-care products include anti-dandruff, hair growth and hair thickening, while nail-care products are also common, as are anti-acne and anti-bacterial/anti-inflammatories.

Popular and emerging cosmeceutical ingredients include white tea, DMEA, R-lipolic acid, natural colours, chlorella extracts, creatine, genistein, L-ergo-thioneine, glutathione and lutein. Others include lycopene and hyaluronic acid, vitamins A, C and E, co-Q10, alpha- and beta-hydroxy acid, grape seed extract, beta glucan, green tea extract, and an array of botanical ingredients.

Ingredients suppliers are jumping to the fore by honing their product ranges to meet cosmeceutical demands. ?We are carrying out much research so that we can be an innovative partner to the cosmetics industry,? a spokesperson for German-based BASF said. Its Retinol vitamin A business is particularly vibrant and it has just launched Retistar (less reactive with oxygen), which it hopes will widen the market for Retinol in the cosmetics area.

Giarda Maramaldi, in corporate communications at Italian-based ingredients supplier Indena, says more and more of its ingredients are ending up in capsules, while anti-wrinkle and anti-cellulite are the most popular treatments for its ingredients.

UK-based Buckton Scott is finding an increasing number of its customers are manufacturing cosmeceutical applications. While marketing director Kaare Axelson agrees the market is a growing one, he emphasises how new sales strategies have amplified the growth rather than a pure boom in new products. ?The cosmetics industry has been doing this for a lot longer than people think,? he observes. ?Skin creams have contained herbs for a long time, but the marketing has changed because of the recent attention to all things healthy and beautiful. It?s a marketing shift more than anything. There is more focus on the therapeutic ingredients.?

Potency And Efficacy
While the FDA might not have set out specific guidelines to deal with cosmeceuticals as yet, it is only a matter of time before it will, much as it did with supplements a decade ago. Product claims, efficacy and manufacturing practices are three of the principal areas in which the FDA will clamp down. The EU is looking seriously at implementing similar regulations.

Stricter regulations will improve manufacturing methods and the efficacy of products, but most products are already adequate in these areas, says Axelson. ?Products will only sell if they work. When you buy something, if it doesn?t do you any good, 90 per cent of people would never buy it again. Without efficacy, 90 per cent of brands would not survive.?

Everyone is riding on the green wave, but how many of these products are actually effective?
One industry observer was less ebullient about the efficacy of many cosmeceuticals. ?Everyone is riding on the green wave, but how many of these products are actually effective?? she questions. ?There is very little evidence showing that these products work and that is a problem. How much vitamin E cream is contained in a lotion? I would say not much.?

Another observer notes: ?Much of the science is done in-house, so scrutiny and critique is often excluded. But of the science that is within the public domain, the majority does not involve humans or use rigorous controls and methods. Thus, consumer confidence and a strong evidence base is tenuous and lacking.?

Angella Green, marketing and media co-ordinator at US-based Jason, defends the skin as a nutrient transference system. The skin surface is an effective delivery system for nutrients to the body. ?Various vitamins and cosmeceuticals provide benefits to the skin and can visibly and dramatically improve its appearance,? she states. ?For example, vitamin E acts as an anti-inflammatory, vitamin C can help minimise fine lines and wrinkles and vitamin K can reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. Manufacturers and retailers have to be sure to educate consumers on use of their products.?

Green also notes that the manner in which products are used can affect their efficacy. ?Many products will have some effect on the consumer but take several weeks to see a result. Manufacturers have to portray this in the language used on their label. Consumers need to be careful of the companies that tout their product to be the miracle overnight one-use wonder product. It often takes weeks or even months to see the full effect of the product.?

Pierfrancesco Morganti, professor of applied cosmetic dermatology at the University of Naples in Italy, agrees that cosmeceuticals can deliver the goods. ?Evidence indicates the skin barrier lies within the Stratum Corneum, which represents the rate-limiting step for penetration,? he says. ?Therefore, the skin is particularly effective as a selective screen to the penetration of a diverse range of compounds. True efficacy depends on the cosmetic formulation combining both proven biological activity and an efficient delivery system.?

Achieving this blend of potency and effective delivery is at the heart of any successful cosmeceutical. And as the big companies with deep research pockets continue to move into the market, this winning formulation is becoming more common.

Ingredients You Should Know About

Kinetin: A natural plant growth factor that is added to anti-ageing products to treat fine lines, hyper-pigmentation and sun damage.

Human Growth Factors: Extracted from cultured cells, including foreskin and placenta.

Copper: Used in medical centres to treat wounds. Some companies have tapped into the anti-ageing potential of copper and are adding it to face and body creams.

Lipids: Fatty acids, ceramide and cholesterol are all components of healthy skin. Some research indicates that replacing these lipids in certain ratios may treat eczema nappy rash and help plump up ageing skin.

Retinol: Also known as vitamin A, it comes prescription-strength in Retin A, which has been demonstrated to be effective at erasing lines and hyper-pigmentation. Over-the-counter creams contain a less-active ingredient.

Coenzyme-Q10: A powerful antioxidant that is a natural component of human cells. Research has suggested co-Q10 supplementation may help prevent Parkinson?s disease progression. When added to skin creams, it is thought to improve elasticity.

Vitamin C: Used in creams and serums to address fine lines and uneven pigmentation. Transdermal patches are the latest take from the cosmeceutical industry to maximise delivery of this highly unstable vitamin.

Conditions Of Beauty
Anti-ageing ingredients, such as chaparral and white tea, address wrinkles, while others, such as ursolic acid, deal with lightening skin tone. Many ingredients have multiple functional properties.

Anti-bacterial/anti-inflammatory products address skin-care problems like acne and other types of inflammation, including wound healing and rashes. Ingredients such as avocado, tea-tree oil, uva ursi, echinacea and rosemary are being used in this area.

Anti-cellulite cosmeceuticals are being born in the obesity epidemic. Skin-firming agents such as bupleurum are becoming more commonplace.

Antioxidants such as vitamin C and sea buckthorn are finding their way into all kinds of skin-care products to combat stress.

Sun-care ingredients such as green tea and genestein are being added to hair-care products, skin-care products and many others, as skin damage becomes a growing concern.

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