Placing the 'B' Back in Beauty

September 30, 2008

Body care and brighteners are at the forefront of 2008 ethnic skin care product rollouts

Each ethnic skin product strives to shine out competition.
Placing the ‘B’ Back in Beauty

Body care and brighteners are at the forefront of 2008 ethnic skin care product rollouts.

Melissa Meisel
Associate Editor

Today’s face of beauty comes in many colors—from deep mahogany to pale alabaster skin. With that, more and more personal care companies are focusing on the ethnic consumer, traditionally known as African-Americans in the health and beauty care market but now including those of Latin, Middle Eastern and Asian descent. Different levels of melanin in ethnic skin often correlate with distinct issues pertinent to daily personal care, such as quenching dry, ashy areas or fading pigmentation spots—making an innovative market for facial moisturizers, body lotions and much more.
Timothy Dowd, a senior analyst for market research firm Packaged Facts, Rockville, MD, forecasts that ethnic skin care sales would reach $257 million by 2012—an 8% rise from the previously reported estimate in Happi last year. This includes $198 million of basic skin care and $59 million in shaving products—as sold in mass, prestige, beauty and barber (B&B) and online outlets, according to Mr. Dowd.
Sales of the ethnic skin care category in U.S. supermarkets, drugstores and mass merchandisers—excluding Wal-Mart, Club Stores, HBC Specialty Chains or Gas/C-stores—totaled $40.9 million, according to an Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) report that ended July 20, 2008—up 5% from last year’s figures. E.T. Browne’s Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula skin care topped the list again at $24 million, followed by Johnson & Johnson’s Ambi at $6.6 million and Hain Celestial’s Queen Helene at $5.8 million.
So, what’s the secret of a successful product targeted toward ethnic skin? According to Jennifer Leonard, senior product manager, E.T. Browne Drug Co., Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, it’s all about fulfilling consumer expectations.         

“Many ethnic skin care needs are universal skin care needs—soft, smooth, healthy, even-toned skin,” she said. “Ideally, we all want skin that looks hydrated and radiant.  But there are some concerns that are more prevalent for an ethnic consumer. Some of these include dry, lackluster skin, uneven tone and dark spots.”  
Dr. Andrew F. Alexis, director for the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital and assistant clinical professor of dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York, NY, said that the leading skin concerns in the darker-skinned patient population include acne, dyschromia (including hyper- and hypo-pigmentation) and pseudofolliculitis barbae (razor bumps).
Dr. Kenneth Howe, consulting dermatologist for Lubriderm, Johnson & Johnson, Skillman, NJ, agrees that different ethnicities encounter unique skin issues and problems, thus requiring specific treatments, as seen in his company’s product line. 
Brown sugar formulation from Carol’s Daughter.
“For example, the outer layer of the stratum corneum of African-American skin does have some significant differences when compared to Caucasian skin,” he said.  “It has a lower water and lipid content, thus requiring thicker, fuller-bodied moisturizers. These chemical differences explain the dry, ashy and flaky appearance of African-American skin.  This skin type requires a thicker, richer formula.”
As for Asian and Latin skin, both tend to be dry and suffer from eczema, according to Dr. Howe.
“The tendency toward dryness of Latin skin is often made worse by where Latin people typically reside. For example, the Western states have low humidity, which in turn dries out the skin. Asian and Latin skin are also prone to developing a ‘dry riverbed’ appearance,” he said.

Head to Toe

Consumer studies have shown that 59% of women with melanin-rich skin tones between the ages of 25 and 54 experience dry skin on a regular basis, according to Ambi, a 40-year-old mass market skin care line for consumers of African, Latin and South Asian heritage. To address these specific concerns, the company recently launched its Soft & Even body care collection formulated with ingredients to hydrate skin and visibly improve tone and texture. The focal point of the line is the Ambi Soft & Even Creamy Oil Lotion, a 2-in-1 body oil formulation that contains hydrating ingredients to restore skin’s elasticity, enabling it to provide moisturization for 24 hours, according to the company.
Another mass marketer, Alberto-Culver, is also tapping the body care ethnic consumer this season by taking a foray from the hair care arena with the recently launched Soft & Beautiful Skin, a companion line to its 35-year-old Soft & Beautiful hair care collection.
According to the company, its new skin care line speaks directly to the needs of women of color who are looking for hydrating body products for dry, itchy skin. With a combination of cocoa, shea and almond butters, the new dermatologist-tested product collection delivers moisturization for thirsty textures. 
“Our consumer told us that she needs a practical solution for her extremely dry skin,” said Tiffanie Jones, global marketing manager for Soft & Beautiful brands. “But she is also looking for a dab of indulgence all at once. Soft & Beautiful Skin delivers all of that within a series of products designed to moisturize, nurture and soften a woman of color’s best fashion accessory—her beautifully unique skin.”
The collection is composed of a variety of hand and body products, including a body lotion infused with cocoa, shea and almond butters; a firming lotion infused with ginseng and collagen proteins; a body oil gel blended with aloe vera and olive oil and an in-shower exfoliating scrub formulated with sugar crystals and sunflower oil.
Naturals are also a big draw to the ethnic body care consumer. An example is the eco-friendly ethnic skin care line Carol’s Daughter, endorsed by both Mary J. Blige and Jada Pinkett-Smith. Founded in Brooklyn, NY over 13 years ago, creator Lisa Price’s homemade concoctions have become beauty staples. Ms. Price continues to deliver treatments using natural ingredients ranging from mango to mint.
The company’s latest rollout is its “SweetHoneyDip ChocolateBrownSugah” scrub, a follow up to the same-named body butter. According to the company, the new scrub polishes away dead skin cells and leaves the body hydrated, soft and glowing. It features a natural exfoliant, real brown sugar, which cleanses pores as it whisks away dead skin cells. Other scrubs in the line include Ocean, Ecstasy, Groove, Mango Melange, Jamaican Punch and Almond Cookie flavors.
“A yummy and enticing confection of chocolate and honey aromas with a touch of sweet vanilla bean make this treatment truly irresistible,” said Ms. Price of the new scrub selection. “Brown sugar reveals radiant skin, while natural oils help moisturize for unforgettable soft and supple skin.”
Ms. Price added that green formulations angle to soothe dry patches—a common ethnic skin care quandary. “Since African-Americans have darker skin tones, we are prone to visibly dry skin. Moisturizers that have natural ingredients like shea and cocoa butters are essential to actually penetrate skin instead of sitting on top of skin,” she told Happi.

Pigmentation Properties

Some new ethnic skin care releases also feature ingredients for brightening dark spots. Dr. Susan Taylor’s Rx for Brown Skin—a collection of cleansers, toners and moisturizers designed to meet the needs of women of Asian, Latin, Middle Eastern and African-American heritages—recently introduced its Skin-Evening Body Butter and Body Lotion at Sephora stores.  According to the company, both body moisturizers contain an exclusive brightening blend, which penetrates deep below the skin’s surface and helps to protect against inflammatory responses in skin, which often results in uneven skin or dark marks.  The products also repair the way pigment forming cells function, evening skin tone as the appearance of discoloration and dark spots improve.
“The ethnic skin care consumer who has brown skin requires products that address the structural and functional differences of their skin. The key difference in brown skin is its tendency to hyperpigment (produce dark marks) when irritated or inflamed. So, skin care products should be free of ingredients that potentially irritate brown skin as irritation can lead to dark discolorations,” said Dr. Susan Taylor, creator of Rx for Brown Skin, Philadelphia, PA.
Brown sugar formulation from Carol’s Daughter.
Key ingredients of Dr. Taylor’s new body products include SulforaWhite, clinically shown to inhibit melanin formation to help block the causes of cellular breakdown that lead to pigment development in the skin; Nano-Max, a blend of encapsulated multi-vitamins and antioxidants including vitamins C and E; and Lipobelle Soyaglycone, potent isoflavones in the purest and most active form from soybeans that are delivered in a liposome to cells.
The quest for smooth and even-toned skin has led many women to use traditional lightening products on problem areas such as knees and elbows.  As an alternative for those who are sensitive to products containing hydroquinone, Ambi’s new Soft & Even line also features its Skin Tone Enhancing Cream with natural soy that helps brighten skin tone and even texture. It has been clinically proven to visibly reduce skin discoloration in as little as two weeks.
Another launch to look out for is PCA Skin’s TrueTone, which will make its debut in December 2008. The company touts a combination of natural and bioengineered brighteners as the universal remedy for hyperpigmentation. The proprietary blend combines clinically proven ingredients that not only inhibit the production of tyrosinase—the enzyme responsible for initiating the pigment response—but also act as antioxidants.
The face is also a key area for brightening formulations. According to Corey Huggins, marketing director for Black Opal, Long Island City, NY, the need for products that effectively treat the major beauty of skin issues (hyperpigmentation or acne) while simultaneously working with the ethnic skin profile is key for 2008. The prestige skin care and cosmetics company’s most recent release is Total Coverage Concealing Foundation, a product that goes beyond camouflaging imperfections by shielding the skin from environmental stress with a proprietary blend of minerals including magnesium, potassium, zinc, lysine and sodium. The product is available in six “skin tone true” shades to match the major shade range for African-Americans.
African-American celebrity makeup artist Khuraira Musa of Tenafly, NJ—who has worked with Brandy, Paula Abdul and Nathalie Cole—also recently rolled out a line of skin-nourishing makeup that also functions as a brightening booster. The self-titled Khuraira collection features “double duty” makeup products such as age-control foundations and moisturizing concealers. The line is infused with a patented anti-aging complex, which is clinically proven to regenerate photo-aged skin and is said to be more effective than retinol at visibly reducing the appearance of fine lines without any irritation, according to the company.
“The secret to ethnic skin beauty is to understand the many undertones found in darker skin,” Ms. Musa told Happi. “Consisting of many different tones, ethnic skin has a high concentration of melanin. As ethnic skin ages, it often becomes irregularly pigmented, showing up as dark patches on the skin.”
Because ethnic skin can be sensitive, many ethnic products focus on natural, organic, sensitive and fragrance-free formulations, according to John Deputato, senior vice president, client solutions, IRI, Fairfield, NJ.  For example, B.l.a.c. Minerals, a makeup line for women of color and ethnic backgrounds, plans to launch a collection of organic skin care this year. The facial product line aims to tap the need for “green” ethnic skin care.

Tomorrow’s Launches

In 2009, consumers will still be looking for the best ways to get rid of dark marks and even out skin tone, according to Dr. Brown. “New trends include identifying and including new ingredients (similar to SulforaWhite, Nano-Max and Lipobelle Soyaglycone, as seen in Dr. Brown’s products) that address the structural and functional differences of ethnic skin,” she said. Dr. Brown also added that hydroquinone-free natural brighteners are also going to be big this year.
According to Dr. Alexis, arbutin, kojic acid, retinols, licorice, niacinamide and alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) are ingredients to look out for in 2009 as alternatives to hydroquinone in skin brightening formulations.
“I predict increased popularity of these ingredients because of increased interest in and consumer preference for natural alternatives to hydroquinone,” he told Happi. “This is especially likely in the context of increased consumer concerns about hydroquinone following the FDA’s proposal to ban over-the-counter hydroquinone. Their efficacy is generally less than that of hydroquinone, therefore, they are not a replacement but rather a set of alternative ingredients.”
Dr. Alexis also added that dermatologist-developed skin care lines for ethnic skin will likely be a growth area for the next few years as only a few options currently exist.
“Patients often ask for products developed specifically for their skin type,” he said.
Additionally, ethnic skin care consumers are starting to understand the importance of sun protection, and SPF-enhanced products (as reported in Happi) are becoming more prevalent in ethnic skin care, noted Dr. Brown.
Overall, the U.S. is a melting pot of different ethnicities—and marketers will continue to identify those niches and develop products that provide specific benefits. According to Mr. Deputato of IRI, “Ethnic skin care will continue to be an important category as our country will, over time, change its demographic skew.”
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