Expert's Opinion

Anti-Aging in Color Cosmetics

February 14, 2011

Nick Morante on how light-altering ingredients impact the visual appearance of skin.

By Nick Morante
Nick Morante Cosmetic Consultant

I have presented this topic a number of times at various venues for various professional organizations. I will continue to do so as it is a foregone conclusion that anti-aging claims are critical to the growth of the cosmetics and personal care industry and will be around for quite some time. The care and health of the skin should be everyone’s prime concern to look and feel younger.But how does one make anti-aging claims for color cosmetics when all they do is cover, hide and beautify?
The objective of a cosmetic product is to alter the visual appearance of the skin or body and that can be accomplished in a number of ways.For anti-aging products it is usually done with the addition of active ingredients—antioxidants, extracts, essential oils, and other functional ingredients.But this usually takes time and requires continued use of a product to see results.Consumers want instant gratification. So what would be an alternative to expensive and process-sensitive active ingredients to provide similar benefits?
Since the visual sense is probably the most important for one who is aiming to have younger-looking skin, that alternative is to use light as a tool to “hide the visual signs of aging” or so the claims say.
The primary products that play with light in order to hide unwanted features or flaws (such as fine lines and wrinkles) on the skin are concealers, color correctors and any product that uses light diffusion to alter the visual appearance of the skin—reflection of the unwanted features so that they are not visually apparent to an observer. If you don’t see them, they are not there.But how does light diffusion achieve this without being seen? I choose color cosmetics because it is a huge market segment and relatively untapped in the anti-aging category.
Both concealers and color correctors cover and hide with a film of color.Concealers can hide dark spots, flaws and wrinkles.They come in a variety of shades to encompass most skin types.Color correctors do not have the coverage level of a concealer but they do something quite different.They hide unwanted color.They use a phenomenon of light called subtractive color that absorbs unwanted wavelengths so that they are not visible. For instance, in the world of light physics, blue wavelengths absorb red wavelengths.The addition of a small amount of blue in a color corrector will absorb unwanted red wavelengths in the skin making it look more even and healthy. Other colors have similar functions and that is why you see compacts containing color correctors coming in a variety of strange but pretty monochromatic shades.Not because they look nice in the package but each shade is designed to absorb specific wavelengths to “correct” the skin.However, both concealers and color correctors do one thing that may not look very natural—they leave a film on the skin that may be visible.
Light-diffusing ingredients in a product do not necessarily have to leave a visible film on the skin. They can be colored and translucent but they absorb, scatter, diffuse and transmit light.They do everything except reflect light back to the eyes.And if you do not see reflected light, you do not see that object.If lines, wrinkles or flaws in the skin is not reflected back to the observer’s eyes, they are not visible.That is what light diffusing ingredients achieve.They hide the visible signs of aging by reflecting them somewhere else. This phenomenon can be read electronically with spectrophotometers and the difference is measurable. If the spectrophotometer cannot see the wrinkles, neither can your eyes. And this is the instant gratification that the consumer desires.
So you can add the active ingredients to a color cosmetic product for long-term benefits, but you should also consider light-altering ingredients to give the consumer the short-term instant benefits they are so strongly and urgently looking for.

About the Author
Nick Morante is a consultant after having spent over 40 years in the cosmetics industry.He isan instructor for the SCC’s Continuing Education Program in the area of color and makeup formulation and is on the Society’s “Ask the Expert” panel. He has served on their Executive Committee, Educational Advisory Committee, the Committee on Scientific Affairs as well as being a Fellow of the Society. Nick is also an Adjunct Faculty Member at Fairleigh Dickinson University instructing courses in Color Cosmetics for the Master of Cosmetic Science Program.

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