Actives Speak Louder Than Words

June 6, 2006

Aging baby boomers are driving the demand for highly-functional active ingredients, and suppliers have launched an array of materials to meet this consumer demand.

Actives Speak Louder Than Words

Aging baby boomers are driving the demand for highly-functional active ingredients, and suppliers have launched an array of materials to meet this consumer demand.

Tom Branna
Editorial Director

Is beauty ageless? Is there a timeline for attractiveness? As populations in the U.S., Western Europe and Japan continue to grow older, consumers, marketers and even pop icons are rethinking the definition of old.

Just last month, newly-minted octogenerian Hugh Hefner referred to 80 as the new 40. Hef may be pushing the envelope a bit, but there’s no doubt that the beauty industry is taking a new interest in reducing the appearance of aging. Just last month, L’Oréal signed Diane Keaton to represent its Age Perfect Pro-Calcium Skin care line which debuts in July. It’s the first L’Oréal Paris brand to target women ages 60 and older in the U.S. L’Oréal already targets women in their 50s with its Age Perfect line and Revitalift is for women in their 40s.

With more marketers and consumers challenging conceptions of what old is, they are creating new opportunities for suppliers of active materials.

Science in a Bottle

After decades of promise, hope in a jar has finally given way to science in a bottle. Today, cosmetic chemists rely more on biology and physiology rather than puffery to create effective skin care formulas that really have an impact on how a consumer looks and feels. Behind all these anti-aging lotions, creams and serums are an array of novel ingredients from industry suppliers who continue to back up their collections of extracts and peptides with hard science.

But all this technology isn’t cheap. Consumers, now more than ever, are willing to pay for products that hide wrinkles, diminish age spots and make skin appear firmer. According to a recent study by BCC Research, the global market for cosmetics and toiletries ingredients was $14.7 billion in 2005. This number will increase to more than $18.7 billion by 2010, at an average annual growth rate of 5.0% (see chart).

Of course, that total includes all ingredients and is not indicative of the speed in which the anti-aging category is growing. According to a new study by Diagonal Reports, spa sales of high-performance skin care products are growing as much as 30% a year. While most consumers of skin care products sold in spas are in their 40s, there are 20-somethings who opt for anti-aging treatments. According to researchers at Diagonal Reports, these younger consumers are interested in preventative anti-aging. They believe that by starting a regime at a young age they will increase their chances of successfully delaying signs of aging. Others are lured by the “promise” of beauticians who claim that the (regular) use of professional products/services is beneficial because it goes beyond cosmetic/surface beauty. Much as the use of the gym or local health club is good for general health, spa products/services are good for one’s “appearance health,” according to Diagonal Reports. In fact, one French brand goes as far calling its line “gymnastics for the face.”

The Supply Side

While ingredient suppliers don’t limit their customer base to spa-only companies, all agree that the anti-aging category is a cornerstone of their business.

“The anti-aging category is the fastest growing market segment across the globe,” asserted Tom Goode of RITA. “No one wants to age and the industry is calling upon companies like RITA to research the technologies to address this condition.”

According to the RITA executive, the company’s target are ingredients that will work with the skin’s own natural repair and protection capabilities to help reverse the signs of aging. In fact, RITA has collaborated with Rovi Cosmetics to develop a line of active ingredients centered around liposomal, nano encapsulation technology.

“This will allow us to deliver those actives to the specific site where the active is needed the most,” insisted Dan Baio of RITA.

For example, RITA’s microscopically small liposome technology can encapsulate a whole host of molecules, such as vitamins, amino acids, proteins and sphingolipids to be delivered sub-dermally to the region of the skin where these materials are most needed. The skin is the largest organ in the body and it’s also the most exposed, so it’s constantly being challenged by many serious “predators” (i.e., sun, pollutants, irritants, harsh climates, etc.) that are inflicting damage day after day. The result is the breakdown of the skin’s structure as well as the breakdown of the skin’s own internal repair system.  

“It’s our job to not let that happen,” said Mr. Goode. “We are studying the complex biochemical cascades that take place in the skin as it becomes injured, and we are aligning and promoting our resources to address that initial insult as well as the entire range of possible side reactions that all lead to aging skin.”

Silab’s Thierry Cruchon called the anti-aging category one of the most important target markets in skin care cosmetics.

“Our company’s participation relies on the development of products with a biological action respectful of the cutaneous homeostasis and with a proven and objective efficacy,” noted Mr. Cruchon.

Anne-Laurie Rodrigues of Laboratoires Serobiologiques (LS) told Happi that LS has multiple ongoing programs to better understand the mechanisms of skin aging and to find new active ingredients.

“Our range of actives proposes many ways to fight against skin aging and the different physiological processes involved,” she said. “We also propose actives that fight against environmental stress, that are undoubtedly responsible for early skin aging.”

For example, the company’s Vit-A-Like is billed as a botanical alternative to retinol, with comparable mechanisms of action and equivalent performances as stabilized retinol (clinical test) but with the decisive advantages that it also offers high level stability and skin tolerance.

“This multi-targeted ingredient, suitable for face and body care, provides a complete anti-aging solution,” insisted Ms. Rodrigues.

Beyond Facial Skin Care

Facial skin isn’t the only target site for active ingredients. Industry suppliers told Happi that they are also targeting hair and nails and other problem areas with an array of novel materials.

Supplements have become a part of many consumers’ beauty routines.
Kyowa Hakko has a unique fermentation process that enables it to offer a wide range of amino acids, amino acid derivatives and peptides. Such innovation enables the company to support the cosmetics industry with natural and highly-functional ingredients, according to company executives.

Denise Gabriele of Sederma agreed that there are many active materials that do more than provide anti-aging benefits.

“Lots of different areas are important, including skin clarity and smoothness, treatments for dark circles and puffy eyes, prevention and treatment of stretch marks, pore reduction, anti-cellulite and, as always, anti-wrinkle and anti-aging,” she observed.

Cellulite too, has been a target for some suppliers of active ingredients. But the product category is fraught with hurdles, insists Martina Heldermann of CLR—Chemisches Laboratorium Dr. Kurt Richter GmbH.

“Anti-cellulite is always a hot topic since, from my point of view, no perfect active ingredient has been developed so far,” said Ms. Heldermann. “The reason is that cellulite is influenced by too many factors—it cannot be influenced by cosmetics.”

In addition, skin lightening is an increasingly important subject for her company, due to a growing demand for even-toned skin, fewer age spots and help for pigmental disorders. Silver cosmetics; i.e, products designed for senior adults, are a growing segment as well.

“Our society is getting older and at some point, the desired effect can no longer be achieved,” observed Ms. Heldermann.

Arch Personal Care Products offers a wide range of ingredients to address the many facets of aging, such as actives for anti-wrinkle, skin firming, moisturization and skin lightening.  But to also meet the broader definition of anti-aging, Arch offers products that deliver anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant activity, barrier repair and cell renewal, and smoothing and soothing among other claims.

“We evaluate the many modes of action that make up each claim, and focus our new product introductions as multi-functional answers to aging targets which may be complex, such as skin lightening,” explained Lisa Bouldin of Arch.

Beraca Ingredients is developing specialties based on Brazilian biodiversity ingredients. “The anti-aging skin care category is very important since all materials developed for skin care purposes are working to prevent internal and external causes that accelerate the aging process,” said Inês Bloise of Beraca.

LS is working on a broad range of claims in skin care, hair care and color cosmetics. According to Ms. Rodrigues, LS was the first to transfer “premium claims” which are normally found in skin care to the hair care category.

“In a similar way, we have initiated the first generation of ‘treatment makeup’ products, via the Active Powders technology,” she said. “This new technology allows cosmetic chemists to incorporate hydrosoluble/liquid actives into anhydrous cosmetic products.”

Beauty from the Inside

In addition to anti-aging claims, more  marketers are focusing on wellness, a  buzzword that encompasses a wide range of products and categories.

For example, Kyowa Hakko executives said Lumistor (L-Hydroxyprolone), increases skin hydration after four weeks of oral intake. Now the company is studying a combination with fermentation grade Resilen-200 (Hyaluronic acid) to determine its synergy with Lumistor and the potential reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.

At the same time, a new, natural ingredient, called Cognizin (Citicholine), is said to be a promising anti-wrinkling ingredient. This material stabilizes the mitochondria of cells, thus improving the energy storage. It also stabilizes the membranes of neuronal cells, enhancing the communication between cells for optimum performance.

A few major international companies are currently taking a more holistic approach to overall health by designing topically applied products supplemented with ingestible materials.

RITA adapted materials to service this need, launching co-Enzyme Q10 in three grades as well as a liposomal form of this material for topicals. It reportedly provides protection of sensitive materials for better delivery to the skin. Another product that RITA/Rovi markets is amino acid complex to provide the same function as described above.

“We believe the theory of topical/ingestible do hold promise but the key is to develop materials to provide said functions,” said Mr. Goode.

Food supplements with anti-aging claims or even anti-wrinkle claims are becoming very popular, agreed Beata Hurst of Mibelle AG Biochemistry. She noted that Mibelle developed a Coenzyme Q10 nanoemulsion which is used as a novel liquid Q10 food supplement to improve cell function.

What About Genetics?

Although supplements are a new and growing category for many cosmetic ingredient suppliers, a few are beginning to investigate some truly novel ideas in cosmetic chemistry. Mr. Baio told Happi that chemists are experimenting with DNA, both for its repair abilities as well as being a predictor of skin needs.  

“DNA is the most important molecule in our body; it holds all of the codes for our body’s development,” he explained. “That includes identifying who we are and turning on and off all of the body’s functions.

“Not one cell in our body could function in harmony without our DNA. So, making every effort to protect and repair it should be of the highest priority,” he noted.

The RITA executives also pointed out that DNA holds the genetic codes to our futures. It knows if we are going to have oily or dry skin, sensitive skin, acne or pimples, how much damage the sun can or will do, if we are prone to skin cancer or if we are more likely to wrinkle than someone else.

“This information is incredibly valuable in ‘planning out’ what products we will need to use on our skin for our entire lives,” said Mr. Goode.

Having this information available, a consumer can make wise and personalized choices about their skin care needs almost from birth. Moreover, if the databases can be populated with information and correlations can be drawn to particular phenotypes of conditions, this information can then be used to develop the “right” products individually for customers.

Also for internal use, Arch recently introduced NAB Rhodiola Extract, an active botanical that offers a range of activities, according to company executives. For example, it provides antioxidant, thermal stress protection for skin, enhances oxygen consumption in dorsal root ganglion cells (nerve), lipolysis activity enhances oxygen consumption in adipocytes and it promotes the breakdown of triglycerides into glycerol. This launch was based on the popularity of Rhodiola as an herbal supplement. In addition, the company offers a variety of delivery systems that enhance and ensure the bioavailability of the active ingredient.

Regulatory Threats Abate

When it comes to regulatory issues, suppliers are mixed in their assessment of the activity level of the Food and Drug Administration.

Kyowa Hakko executives told Happi that as long as the cosmetic claims are outside drug claims, the FDA will maintain its current position. But aggressive cosmeceutical claims that border drug claims will raise a red flag and most likely increase the risk of FDA intervention which could impact on the industry.

“The FDA has been keeping an eye on our industry for many years, keeping claims in check and providing a level playing field for the industry,” noted Mr. Baio.  “We all know that they’re there, even when they are not sending out warning letters. Because of this agency, we are all testing a little more, reviewing our claims a little more closely and making sure that people understand our products and their use a little better. They make sure that there is a clear line between a cosmetic product and a drug product; a line that is not all that clear at times. ”

Ms. Bouldin of Arch noted that the FDA has gotten much tougher with marketers who are making slimming claims.

“The message from the FDA to the consumer is: consumer beware! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!,” she asserted.

Outlandish claims may always be a part of the beauty industry, but with sound science behind them, industry suppliers are rolling out an array of active ingredients that can help skin look younger, hair appear fuller and color cosmetics that last and last.