Skin Care Delivery Systems

November 8, 2005

Marketers have developed novel ways to stabilize vitamins, acids and other active materials and deliver them to specific sites on top of and into the skin

Marketers have developed novel ways to stabilize vitamins, acids and other active materials and deliver them to specific sites on top of and into the skin.

Personal care manufacturers are using high-tech delivery systems to transform rather ordinary skin care ingredients into extraordinary skin care products. Skin care delivery systems can sustain the release of active materials on the skin for long-lasting effects or release active materials precisely when or where they are needed. These benefits can enhance the anti-wrinkle characteristics of vitamin A, the antioxidant benefits of vitamin C or even the blemish-fighting capabilities of salicylic acid.

As diverse as these active materials may be, marketers are also taking vastly different paths when it comes to developing delivery systems. Helena Rubinstein, for example, has developed a nitrogen-based process to stabilize retinol in its new Power A For Eyes treatment. Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble studied three vitamins, B3, B5 and E, and found a way to combine them into a single material. At the same time, patch technology continues to expand as marketers such as Andrew Jergens and Chattem roll out blemish-fighting patches.

Stabilizing Vitamins
The benefits of topically applying vitamins to the skin are well known and widely accepted by consumers. Just as well known, among cosmetic chemists anyway, is how unstable these materials can be in finished formulations. Yet in recent months, marketers as diverse as P&G, Helena Rubinstein and Borghese have all developed new skin care delivery systems for retinol (vitamin A) or vitamin C.

This month Helena Rubinstein will introduce Power A For Eyes, which promises to brighten the eye area and leave it more youthful looking in just two weeks. After four weeks, skin damage is minimized and a marked difference is noticeable on surface wrinkles and imperfections. A 15-ml tube retails for $55.

“The retinol was stabilized through a two-stage process,” explained George Rivera, a company spokesperson. “Nitrogen is used during the filling to remove the air from the tube to prevent the oxidation of the retinol. In addition, the retinol is stabilized in the formula with PEI, an antioxidant agent.”

The end-result, according to the company, is a product that combines two potent variations of retinol. Pure retinol immediately begins correcting and repairing fine lines and sun damage. Vitamin A palmitate, a retinol precursor, combines with enzymes in the skin and gradually begins a natural process of bioconversion.

Helena Rubinstein chemists have put their faith in vitamin A to improve the appearance of the delicate tissue around the eye. But another prestige skin care marketer, Borghese, is counting on vitamin C to diminish crow’s feet and other skin imperfections.

“Ascorbic acid is inherently unstable,” noted Lisa Calandra, director of corporate communications. “So we used tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, a stabilized version of ascorbic acid in salt form that’s heat stable and designed for an anhydrous system.”

In tests, the vitamin C in Borghese’s new Cura-C Vitamin C eye treatment restored resilience to the skin and imparted a silky, moisturized feel. The anhydrous concentrate also contains two essential moisturizing agents: borage seed oil, which is rich in essential fatty acids and cyclomethicone. Both ingredients help maintain the natural moisture barrier and skin lubricity. Cura-C Vitamin C eye treatment will debut next month. The product, available in a .5-oz. tube, will retail for $42.50.

What Do Women Want?
When Procter & Gamble was ready to add another anti-aging formula to its best-selling Oil of Olay skin care line, it conducted an extensive survey of women to find out more about their skin care needs. P&G polled more than 6000 women from six different countries to find out what they really wanted from a skin care product.

“Their responses were very clear,”recalled Timothy Fowler, senior scientist, skin care, P&G. “They wanted one product that could deliver multiple benefits.”

That consumer research helped P&G researchers identify seven signs of aging: fine lines/wrinkles, rough skin texture, uneven skin tone, skin dullness, enlarged pore appearance, blotches and age spots and skin dryness.

“The essential clue that women wanted one product that delivered multiple benefits was the key in the development of Total Effects,” said Mr. Fowler. “Rather than trying to fight seven signs of aging in a piecemeal fashion, Olay reversed the development process by focusing on the consumer’s total needs and seeing if this could be achieved by addressing all seven signs of aging simultaneously and it could!”

The key discovery was VitaNiacin, a combination of niacinamide (vitamin B3), Pro-vitamin B5 (panthenol) and vitamin E. By combining the benefits of each ingredient, Olay was able to develop a single material, VitaNiacin, which has been shown in clinical studies to exfoliate and moisturize the skin while providing skin moisture barrier repair benefits. This unique combination is synergistic, inherently stable and has excellent skin compatibility, essential prerequisites for addressing multiple benefits from one product or technology, according to Mr. Fowler.

Inherent Stability
Furthermore, all three active ingredients are inherently stable when exposed to oxygen, light or other pertinent consumer-use conditions. Therefore, there was no need to encapsulate VitaNiacin, and thus the full benefits of VitaNiacin are realized from the first use to the last use.

According to Mr. Fowler, the key to reducing irritation potential in Total Effects was ingredient selection. The ingredients in Total Effects, specifically VitaNiacin, were selected to have very low irritation potential.

“To deliver benefits on all seven signs of aging, it is essential that a product be able to exfoliate without causing excessive irritation; in fact the product should actually moisturize the skin and improve the moisture barrier - i.e. improve both skin beauty and skin health,” he said.

According to Mr. Fowler, most age-defying technologies today provide relatively good skin beauty benefits but often do little to improve the health or condition of the skin, leading to a symptomatic approach to fighting all signs of aging. The discovery of the unique VitaNiacin complex allowed Total Effects to break this paradigm and now one product can exfoliate or provide skin beauty benefits while simultaneously providing moisture barrier repair or skin health benefits.

Although Total Effects does not employ a time-release mechanism in the traditional sense, Mr. Fowler noted the product increased skin moisturization for up to three days after its last application. Another study showed Total Effects delivered significant overall appearance benefits versus a control moisturizer after just four weeks.

Total Effects will be available in the U.S. nationwide at mass on-line retailers, drug stores and supermarkets beginning in June. A 1.7 oz. container has a suggested retail price of $18.99 to $19.99. That price tag may seem a bit steep for an Oil of Olay product, but if P&G’s research is correct and the product does all that it promises, women will be more than willing to pay that much for Total Effects. To support the launch, P&G is promising “heavy” print advertising, targeted radio and television spots, a direct mail campaign and sampling in malls.

Procter & Gamble isn’t the only company trying to reduce all the signs of aging with just a single product. Youthglow, a Huntington Beach, CA manufacturer of skin and body care products for salon markets, has introduced Activating Liposome Complex. The product promises to diminish imperfections, normalize red or yellow skin tones, help clear blemishes within 48 hours and encourage immuno-compromised skin to appear healthy.

The product’s primary active ingredient is soluble beta glucan, but the formulation also includes “anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cell-energizing complexes,” according to the company.

Youthglow’s liposomes may be packed with ingredients, but some skin care researchers are trying to make something out of nothing. Empty liposomes, known as dehydrated microspheres, are sent into the epidermis to trap moisture from the intercellular cement and inflate. When the microsphere inflates, the skin is plumped and wrinkles are diminshed. One registered ingredient already coming to the market this year is known as Aquafix—an empty microsphere that inflates within the epidermis to reduce lines and wrinkles, according to reports.

Patch Things Up
While some marketers scramble to find effective ways to encapsulate active materials and improve delivery, other cosmetics companies are finding new uses for a well-established delivery system—patches. Three years ago Andrew Jergens rolled out Bioré Pore Perfect Deep Cleansing strips in the U.S. following a successful launch in Japan. The Bioré strip, and others like it, such as Avon’s Deep Cleansing Face strips and Pond’s Clear Pore strips, were originally intended to clear clogged pores on the nose.

“Pore Perfect Deep Cleansing strips have been out for three years,” noted Vince Fischer, associate director of research and development, Bioré. “Sales have softened a bit, as more companies have entered the category, but we’re clearly No. 1 with more than 60% of the strip market.”

Even with its strong position in the market, Jergens continues to tinker with the cleansing strip. According to Mr. Fischer, the company found ways to improve the strip material. The backing can be softened to improve adhesion to all skin folds. In addition, Jergens is studying different nonwoven materials to improve product efficacy. One thing that will not change on the Bioré strips is the C-Bond active, which is based on polyquaternium-37.

“It is still a superior system for clearing out clogs,” noted Mr. Fischer. “It has an affinity for blackheads and negatively-charged comedones.”

Dropping the Bomb
Now Bioré is expanding its portfolio with Blemish Bomb acne treatment, which debuted in Feburary. The product promises to visibly reduce blemish size and redness, fight future blemishes and improve the complexion and texture of the skin overnight. The product contains salicylic acid to fight acne and panthenol to reduce redness. But it’s the delivery system that makes Blemish Bomb truly unique. When applied to the skin, the outer layer of the product hardens to create a protective shell so the Blemish Bomb remains on the skin while the user sleeps. The hardened shield seals the active ingredients next to the skin in liquid form, providing a direct delivery system that quickly and efficiently treats the affected area. According to Mr. Fischer, the primary film component in Blemish Bomb is polyvinyl alcohol.

“The occlusive film is the key. When it dries down it forms a patch that concentrates the raw materials directly on the blemish,” noted Mr. Fischer. “Clinical test results clearly showed the occlusive films improves efficacy.”

Bioré Blemish Bomb is available in 10 single-use packets and retails for $6.99. Bioré has also introduced Blemish Fighting Cleanser that’s available in a 5-oz. bottle and retails for $5.99. It too contains salicylic acid and panthenol.

Jergen’s doesn’t have the blemish patch market to itself, however. Next month, Chattem, Chattanooga, TN, will introduce Phisoderm Blemish Patch in mass markets. Chattem licensed the patch technology from Lavipharm, a Greek firm that has been manufacturing a similar product for L’Oréal France. According to Chattem’s Gail Lee, the patch racked up first year sales of $60 million in Europe. Most recently, Lavipharm received a U.S. patent for its patch technology.

“The patch delivers seven times more salicylic acid to the problem spot than a stick product,” noted Ms. Lee. “Plus you can put the patch on the affected area and it won’t dry out other areas of your skin.”

In addition to salicylic acid, the small clear circular patch also contains triclosan to kill bacteria and chamomile to sooth irritated skin. A box of 24 patches will retail for $6.50 in mass merchandise and grocery stores nationwide.

Yves Rocher has rolled out a patch of its own. But new Intense Smoothing Treatment is loaded with vitamin A, not salicylic acid, to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. The patches are recommended for women 35 and older who want to diminish the appearance of fatigue, crow’s feet and “deep expression lines.” The patches contain 0.02% pro-vitamin A, which reportedly regenerates skin tissues and smoothes out wrinkles and fine lines and 0.5% bisabolol which helps soothe the eye area.

According to Yves Rocher, 100% of women studied witnessed significantly reduced wrinkle depth and 23% reported a reduction of wrinkles in just 15 minutes. A three-week supply of six patches retails for $24.50.

While marketers develop a range of new products based on a variety of delivery systems, they all seem to share a common theme—higher price tags. Apparently women will spend more if a skin care product truly delivers all the benefits it promises

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