Ethnic Skin Care

October 2, 2006

Ethnic skin care companies tap into a growing

Ethnic Skin Care

Ethnic skin care companies tap into a growing  market with new products and advanced ingredients.

Lindsay Elkins
Associate Editor

With more money in their pockets, it’s clear that the ethnic population is ready to shop; but are marketers ready for them? Once considered to be a niche market, personal care companies now recognize the growth that the ethnic segment is experiencing and creating new products to capitalize on this increasing opportunity. With Hispanic purchasing power topping $736 billion, African-American reaching $761 billion and Asian climbing to $397 billion last year according to Packaged Facts, a unit of Market Research.com, marketers are finally taking real notice of these often-neglected segments of the population. And with Hispanic and African-American purchasing powers expected to each hit over $1 trillion in 2010, developing products suited to the needs of these groups represents a golden opportunity.

According to Timothy Dowd, senior analyst at Packaged Facts, the ethnic-specific category has been expanding since the late 1990s. “Ethnic specific products were a pretty tiny segment of the skin care category,” said Mr. Dowd. “It wasn’t getting attention from retailers or marketers. However during the past 10 years that has started to change partly because of the fact that marketers have been becomingmore brave about positioning themselves as ethnic specific.”

The Big Fade

But simply changing the marketing plan to appeal to the ethnicsegment is not enough. Ethnic skin has its own needs and concerns that often vary greatly from Caucasian skin.

“All people with dark complexions have higher levels of melanin,” explained John Jones, national sales manager for Black Opal, a line of skin care and cosmetics developed to meet the needs of women of color. “Many people of color complain of sensitive dry skin that reacts adversely to general market products. In addition dark spots, hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone are far more prevalent among people of color as is a dull flat appearance to the skin.”

Mr. Jones added that the main difference between mass market and ethnic specific products is that mass market is focused on fighting the signs of aging, which is not a principle concern of women of color.  

Leesah Sophia B, owner of Inky Loves Nature, an exclusively vegan line targeted to women of color agrees. “European skin gets dryer as it ages while African American skin gets oilier.”

As a result, most products being marketed to the general public may not be the best choice for ethnic skin. To help address the skin care needs of the ethnic consumer, Black Opal recently expanded its skin care line to include two offerings: an acne solution kit and fade solution kit.

The Acne Solution kit is a three-step system that includes Skin Perfecting wash, Pore Minimizing toner and Anti-Acne lotion. The line features salicylic acid to dry and clear blemishes, tea tree oil for anti-bacterial protection and micro-beads containing vitamins A and E to condition and protect skin.

Black Opal’s Maximum Strength Fade Solution kit addresses a common problem for women of color––hyperpigmentation, dark spots and uneven skin tone. The kit is a three-step system that helps reduce blemishes and smooth and even skin tone, while eliminating discoloration. It also brightens and moisturizes the skin, while providing protection with SPF 15 sunscreen, which is critical for keeping skin tone even and preventing dark spots from reappearing.
Absolute Pearl by Comfort Zone utilizes kojic dipalmitate and pearl powder to help even out heavily pigmented areas of skin.

By Step

Step one of the kit is the Pre-Fade complexion bar, a dual phase formula that combines papaya enzymes, vanilla bean grains, wheat germ kernels, aloe vera and cocoa butter to cleanse, exfoliate, condition and soothe skin. The next step is Advanced Dual Complex fade gel, which fades dark spots, discoloration, freckles, age spots, sun spots and pregnancy “mask”.

The formula also includes glycolic acid to exfoliate and hydroquinone to give the skin a lightened finish. The final step is Daily fade crème, an oil-free crème that contains triple-action moisturizers to brighten and protect skin with 2% hydroquinone, a sheer tint of color and SPF 15 sunscreen. It moisturizes, relieves dryness and ashiness, smoothes and evens skin tone, improves radiance and prevents new dark spots from occurring. The kit is currently available in retail stores for $19.99.

“Consumer research and field intelligence revealed that women of color were not satisfied with the performance of generic general market products,” said Mr. Jones. “Their desire to have products that focus on brightening the complexion and giving it a healthy, glowing look were not being met.”

Black Opal also takes a unique marketing strategy to get the word out about its products. The company provides samples of its products in major urban markets to help differentiate and prove the performance differences between Black Opal and mass market lines.

Getting Even

Treasured Locks LLC, West Chester, OH, is a small company that sells hair and skin care products predominantly targeting the needs of African Americans. The company distributes two of its own brands of skin care––HumiNature, skin care products for men and women and Ajuven, products specifically for men––while also seeking out companies that cater to the ethnic market and giving them a channel to distribute their products through the Treasured Locks website.

Black Radiance developed its color cosmetics to be flattering on darker skin ton

According to owner Tywana M. Smith, ethnic skin is very similar to non-ethnic skin in that the basic requirements of cleansing, toning, moisturizing and treating for specific conditions such as acne apply to both types.

“Ethnic skin, just as non-ethnic skin, varies widely in the skin type,” said Ms. Smith. “African Americans have widely different skin types and colors. However, there are some characteristics that many of us share. The number one concern we get from our customers concerns the issue of hyperpigmentation. African- American skin when damaged by either acne, chemicals or injury, tends to produce excessive pigmentation to protect the skin from further damage, which leads to dark spots. For this reason, many of our clients want products to prevent this damage, by reducing the number of acne breakouts, or by reversing the hyperpigmentation.”

Ms. Smith adds that while darker skin is less sensitive to sun damage, it can actually be more sensitive to other types of damage, which appear in the form of uneven skin tone. To tackle this common problem, Treasured Locks is carrying Microdermx, an in-home microdermabrasion system from Nikkel Holistic Skin Care.

According to Ms. Smith, microdermabrasion is very popular among African Americans for reducing hyperpigmentation and brightening dull skin from dead skin left on the face that can lead to an ashy appearance. “It's particularly important for African Americans to remove the dead top layer of skin to keep their faces looking fresh.”

Halsik recently reformulated its Formula 103 hair removal cream to be extra gentle to prevent inflammation.
The Microdermx line is a two-step system that features Refinish microdermabrasion cream, which contains medical grade crystals and concentrated amounts of botanicals, nutrients and active enzymes that further enhance results.
Step two is Replenish Nutrient cream, which is sold separately and was created specifically for the purpose of replenishing skin after an exfoliating treatment like microdermabrasion. It includes ingredients such as alpha lipoic acid and CoQ10 that work with skin's natural repair system to remedy past effects and prevent future damage caused by environmental pollutants, sun exposure and time.

According to Ms. Smith, it isn’t just about products anymore; ethnic consumers want a company that is knowledgeable about the issues and concerns of consumers.

“Largely, what they are looking for is more than just the products themselves. They want a company that understands their needs and can make recommendations based on their specific problems. Ethnic customers are no longer willing to seek advice from someone who hasn't been where they are in terms of dealing with their skin issues.”

Brightening Up

Most experts agree that hyperpigmentation is a common problem among ethnic skin. Comfort Zone, a line sold exclusively in spas, launched the Absolute Pearl line of skin brightening products this year. Each product in the four-step line utilizes pearl powder to moisturize, brighten and revive skin tone.

Jergens Natural Glow daily moisturizer now comes in a darker shade for tan skin tones.
The Absolute Pearl mask contains an exclusive combination of salicylic acid to minimize skin discoloration and improve slight blemishes while licorice reduces redness. The Absolute Pearl cream SPF 12 is a multi-benefit moisturizer that works to balance pigmentation, reduce the appearance of dark spots and restore radiance. Grapeseed extract and mulberry work together with pearl powder to oxygenate and hydrate skin for a visibly even, matte complexion. The UVA and UVB filters are key ingredients to help keep hyperpigmentation and skin discoloration from returning.  

The Absolute Pearl light concentrate can be used as a base under makeup to help even skin tone and fade dark spots. Vitamin E and olive oil nourish skin while the pearl powder works to regulate tone and give an overall more radiant complexion. With the combined action of kojic dipalmitate––a fat soluble skin whitening agent––and bearberry extract, Absolute Pearl corrector evens out excessively pigmented areas while pearl powder works to moisturize and licorice extract soothes skin.  

A Close Shave

Women of color aren’t the only ones with specialized skin concerns; ethnic men face the same challenges in finding skin care products to address their needs. According to Packaged Facts’ Mr. Dowd, due to particular skin care concerns, ethnic men have been using skin care products for quite some time and are less self conscious about buying these products, whereas the men’s grooming trend is just starting to gain momentum within the Caucasian segment.

“Black skin is prone to inflammation and is highly sensitive, hence any skin care product geared toward this market segment must take that into consideration,” said principal and managing partner, Halsik Limited, Nnamdi Uzokwe, citing a study conducted by Dr. Elton Tinsley, a Chicago-based reconstructive plastic surgeon.

To address these concerns, Halsik recently reformulated its Formula 103 hair removal cream, virtually eliminating irritation all together. “The challenge has always been to develop a hair removal cream with no irritation to accommodate those men who have very sensitive skin,” explained Mr. Uzokwe. “The new and improved Formula 103 mild/regular and mild plus has achieved that.” Both formulas feature herbazine, Halsik’s proprietary combination of herbal extracts, eliminateing the need for aftershave lotion.

Global Shades

When it comes to developing products to cater to the needs and wants of the ethnic consumer, it doesn’t just stop at skin care. Makeup shades also must be in tune with what looks appropriate with ethnic coloring and formulas must contain ingredients that mesh with ethnic womens’ skin types.

This month Jane Iredale Cosmetics launched its Global Shades line, the only mineral makeup line developed to appeal to all women of color. Foundation shades ranging from deep gold to deep mahogany are available in three different formulas: pressed, loose and liquid minerals.

“While the Jane Iredale line has always had wide appeal, there were many women for whom the existing base shades just didn't work,” said Theresa Robison, Iredale Mineral Cosmetics’ director of business development. “They loved the idea of an all natural, mineral line that's good for the skin and asked to have shades developed for them. That’s where it started, and it has just continued to evolve from there.”

Ms. Robison also adds that there are no sensitizers in any of the products, which means no perfumes, dyes, talc or parabens to cause an allergic reaction. It also has a broad spectrum SPF in both the bases and lip products. Jane Iredale’s Global Shades line also includes blushes, two shades of bronzer, eye shadows and lip glosses and other products.

It’s important for makeup lines targeting ethnic skin to not only develop colors that work with darker skin, but also formulas that will ensure the color shows up. “Many color products that are developed for Caucasian skin do not show up on darker skin,” explained Ms. Robison. “Rich, true pigment is the key to blushes, eye shadows and lip colors that pop.  Jane Iredale is pure pigment; there are no fillers to dilute the intensity of the color.”

Range of Colors

While finding a perfect match foundation shade can be trying for ethnic women, finding cosmetic shades that complement their skin tone is also a challenge. Black Radiance was developed 10 years ago at a time when the industry really lacked ethnic cosmetics.

“Every item takes into consideration how it will work best on African- American skin,” noted Claire Dennis, senior brand manager for Black Radiance. “It is not just a matter of adding darker shades, it is about formulating the products to best enhance the skin type. For example all foundations are created with olive or yellow undertone to better match darker skin. Also, all products are water-based and oil-free to cater to the oily skin of that consumer.”

In December, Black Radiance will extend its existing line with seven new products designed to highlight and create flawless skin. Perfect Blend concealer ranges in shades from latte to walnut and features buildable coverage to hide discolorations. Liquid Radiance and Mosaic bronzer help create a radiant glow, while oil-free Color Perfect liquid makeup stays true and won’t turn ashy, red or shiny throughout the day. Complexion Perfection is a cream-to-powder foundation that achieves a flawless finish in one step and features shades such as honey dipped and brown sugar. Lip Appeal pencil comes in shades such as alluring red and rich ginger, and Illusion lipgloss is available in divine diva, rose desire and diva deluxe.

Setting the Trend

The growing Hispanic population represents a great opportunity according to David Perez, chief executive officer of Latin Force, a business and marketing consulting firm specializing in the Hispanic markets. Latinos are expanding their purchasing power and forming households at a faster rate than any ethnic group in the U.S. The Hispanic audience is also much more influenced by trends, according to Tina Perez, vice president of marketing for Tropez, an ethnic cosmetics line created specifically with Hispanic women in mind.

“They want to be the trendsetter,” said Ms. Perez. To appeal to its target consumer, the Tropez line was completely repackaged last year to address the fast changing tastes and preferences of the Hispanic consumer.

The line is also adding new products for lips and eyes that will debut in December. Exotic Eyes mascara and liquid liner is a two-in-one conditioning and thickening mascara on one end and a liquid liner on the other. Double Dare primer and mascara is available in midnight black and thickens, conditions, lengthens and defines in a single step. Precious Kisses mini lip glosses are perfect for on the go and come in four color sets.

Going for the Glow

When Jergens first launched its Natural Glow daily moisturizer, a body moisturizer with a hint of self-tanner, in March 2005, it instantly became a favorite among consumers. It is reportedly the first and only mass-market body product to contain erythrulose, a skin color-enhancing ingredient that prevents streaking and provides a higher quality of color.

However the moisturizer only came in two formulas: one designed for fair skin tones and the other for medium skin tones. Jergens later realized that ethnic women were not able to benefit from this product and developed a new formula for medium/tan skin tones that became available earlier this year.

In March the company launched Jergens Natural Glow face daily moisturizer to complement the body line. The medium/tan formula is ideal for women who have a medium-to-tan skin tone and still want to achieve a summer glow all year long.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the ethnic segment is continuing to grow and with ever-increasing purchasing power represents a golden opportunity for marketers.

“Advertisers are learning not to alienate the ethnic consumer,” said Black Radiance’s Ms Dennis, who predicts that ethnic products will move from a niche category to a general one, in order to satisfy the needs of all consumers.