Novel Cosmetic Ingredients

March 3, 2009

Recession. What recession? Despite an economic slowdown, cosmetic R&D labs continue to roll out an array of products based on a wide range of new chemistries.

Novel Cosmetic Ingredients

Recession. What recession? Despite an economic slowdown, cosmetic R&D labs continue to roll out an array of products based on a wide range of new chemistries.

Tom Branna
Editorial Director

No doubt that the recession has put a damper on cosmetic sales. But ultimately, anti-aging products could prove to be the most recession-resistant category in the industry. After all, what 40-something year-old doesn’t want to look younger if she’s hunting for a new job?

Prestige beauty sales declined 3.3% last year in the U.S., according to The NPD Group. However, the Port Washington, NY research firm noted, “skin care may be an area in which opportunity exists. While overall growth in skin care remained flat in the U.S., it is anti-aging products that continue to show promise.”

While not exactly a glowing endorsement, it underscores the fact that sales of anti-aging skin care products may stand the best chance of surviving when consumers begin to cut discretionary spending.

It’s no wonder why marketers tell Happi that despite cutbacks in other areas, there is no slowdown in the search for innovation.

“We are constantly looking for innovative ingredients; whether they are used internally or topically,” explained Barbara Salomone, founder and president of Bioelements, Chicago. “We don’t limit ourselves or the aesthetician to one set of ingredients. You get the best results when you take advantage of everything that’s available to help the skin help itself.”

Dr. Daniel Maes, senior vice president, Estée Lauder told Happi that there has been a tremendous change in cosmetic research in recent years.”

“Suppliers are doing excellent work these days and spending tons of money to do research,” he observed. “Sometimes, we are even learning from them.”

Ms. Salomone noted that suppliers continue to improve the quality of their raw materials and, at the same time, keep expanding their ranges.

“When I first started there was a limited number of raw materials and nothing was really high-tech,” she recalled. “Today, the variety is mind-boggling and keeps getting better and better. Suppliers are discovering botanicals that have never been used before in cosmetics.”

Dr. Maes noted, however, that regardless of an ingredient’s potency, much of its efficacy depends on delivery.

“We must make sure that the molecules penetrate slowly,” he said. “Biology works at its own speed; if the molecule is transferred too fast, it will never find the binding site to activate the biological process.”

A New Age for Cosmetics?

While some critics may insist that stimulating collagen synthesis is all hype, industry experts insist that cosmetic chemistry has come a long way in the past two decades.

“We are in a totally new era where we treat the issue of genetic aging now,” said Dr. Maes. “In the past we always dealt with premature aging caused by environment.”

He pointed toward recent research conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard linking sirtuins and the aging process.

Time Zone from Estée Lauder helps older skin look younger, according to company executives.
Estée Lauder’s new Time Zone line and wrinkle reducing crème contains Sirtuin EX1 technology that is said to support skin’s natural stimulation of proteins.

“By activating Sirtuin 31, we can increase the lifespan of cells in simple animal models by 30%,” explained Dr. Maes. “We’ve performed work to show that the same thing happens in humans.”

The primary ingredient behind the Sirtuin EX-1 technology is a patented hydrolyzed rice extract. But the Time Zone crème also contains Tri-Hyaluronic Acid Complex, a blend of three hyaluronic acid technologies that work at multiple levels in the skin to help replenish, rebuild and sustain it.

Another new Estée Lauder product that promises to keep skin looking young is Re-Nutriv Ultimate Youth Crème. The product contains Estée Lauder’s patent-pending Youth Molecule, which includes Resveratrate, a material that mimics resveratrol in efficacy, but is more stable and more potent, according to the company.

Years ago, cosmetic chemists were interested in increasing cellular division, a concept that has fallen out of favor at Estée Lauder.

“We strongly believe that if you increase cellular division you exhaust the number of cells,” Dr. Maes insisted.

New CreateFirm answers the consumer’s need for skin that feels firm.
The newest product from Bioelements is CreateFirm skin tightening serum. It contains Aquamide-5, a material that contains five types of ceramide lipids that are said to activate lipid production, as well as microalgae to stimulate collagen formation and tighten tissues.

“Whenever we see a gap in our line, we search for the solution; we know that firmness is always an issue with consumers,” explained Ms. Salomone. “We were looking fora category killer in this area, so we developed CreateFirm around a blend of five skin-identical ceramides.”

Deep Cleansing Facial from Italy

For aestheticians and at-home use, Dermophisiologique is launching a new spa treatment called Maschera al Ferro. The 30-year-old Italian company, which established a U.S. office less than a year ago, markets a broad range of products that are free of mineral oil, parabens and artificial colors. All products are manufactured in Italy and aimed at upscale clientele.

“We have global sales of about $8 million, but we grew 33% last year,” explained Alessandro Fracas, president of the company.

The firm’s Maschera al Ferro (Iron Mask) contains iron microspheres that reportedly act like magnets to draw impurities out of the skin. After which, the aesthetician uses a tonic to remove the impurities. The formula also contains a variety of nutritive ingredients, such as Omega-3 and ceramides, to improve skin. The treatment isn’t cheap, it can cost as much as $300, but the mask produces immediate results, according to Mr. Fracas.

“We put an emphasis on quality ingredients,” he explained. “Our products contain ceramides derived from fish oil. They also contain essential oils.”

Magnets work their magic in a new mask from Dermophisiologique.
Discretionary spending may be down in the U.S., but Mr. Fracas insists that once customers understand the quality of the ingredients and see the results for themselves, they’ll be willing to repurchase Maschera al Ferro.

“We offer something different to the market,” he insisted. “People don’t want to throw money away. When they use our products they see the difference right away; skin glows and has a good color. So why complain about money?”

More than Cosmetics

During a recent Happi webinar on skin health (archived and available for viewing on www.Happi.com), dermatologist Zein Obagi, creator of the Obagi line of skin care products and founder of ZO Skin Health, insisted that skin can be divided into three states:
• Active (the skin you were born with);
• Altered (skin damaged by disease); and
• Inactive.

According to Dr. Obagi, when consumers reach 30 years of age, their skin begins to become inactive and the only way to “wake up” skin cells is with vitamin A. Retinol is most easily absorbed by the skin, which gets the cells to start functioning properly.

Unfortunately, according to Dr. Obagi, too many cosmetic companies focus only on moisturization, which he said is only a temporary solution.

“In an hour, the effects are gone and women have to use it (a moisturizer) again,” he explained. “Moisturizers are somewhat addictive, in two or three weeks, you will be hooked.”

When that happens, the natural exfoliation process is lost and skin becomes sensitive and dull, he said.

“Think of a tree. A tree doesn’t get moisture from the leaves. It gets it from the roots. Cut the roots and the tree dies,” he observed. “We have to enhance moisturization from within.”

Therefore, the first step is to apply microencapsulated retinol in the proper concentration. After which, the skin is ready to be “fed” peptides, CoQ10, growth factors and other ingredients, according to Dr. Obagi.

Some Question Efficacy

Despite the advances made in cosmetic chemistry during the past two decades, not all industry observers are convinced that these products truly work as advertised, and they insist that consumers still have a lot to learn about the creams and lotions that they so readily buy and apply.

“Current skin care is totally unscientific,” insisted Dr. Obagi. “Women buy skin care products blindly. They don’t know what they need, they don’t know their skin types. All of their purchases are based on advertisements and marketing.”

And Mitchell Goldman, a dermatologist with Cosmetic Laser Associates, La Jolla, CA, told Happi that too many cosmetic companies don’t perform the research that is necessary to back up their product claims.

Obagi’s Rosaclear formula is only available through dermatologists.
“They want to fly below the radar with the Food and Drug Administration,” insisted Dr. Goldman. “If these companies were to publish peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate their products eliminate wrinkles, the FDA will say it’s a drug. That’s not a defense. It’s a cop-out.”

According to Dr. Goldman, too many cosmetic companies market high-priced skin creams that contain only a few dollars worth of ingredients.

“The rest of the money is spent on expensive packaging and the counter person at Macy’s,” insisted Dr. Goldman. “That’s the reality of the situation. There is only $5 worth of product in that magical tube that costs $100.”

For his part, Dr. Goldman is a firm believer in the efficacy of Obagi products.

“The products are physician-dispensed and their efficacy has been proven by real clinical studies,” he insisted.

The newest addition to the Obagi line is the Rosaclear System, which the company bills as the first and only all-in-one prescription based system designed to effectively reduce redness and flushing, along with treating papules and pustules.

The system includes Metronidazole Topical Gel USP (.75%), which is available by prescription only; Hydrating Complexion Corrector, which contains calming agents to protect and moisturize, while light-reflecting minerals reduce the appearance of redness; and Skin Balancing Sun Protection SPF 30 (sold separately), which is said to blend with skin to help reduce the appearance of redness and blotchiness.

Hair’s to You

Another medical doctor, Antonio Armani, a cosmetic surgeon based in California, insists that no one knows for sure if the products sold in department stores and mass markets are helpful or harmful.

“There are multiple products for dandruff, but they actually dry the scalp and cause more dandruff,” he insisted.

To fill the need for effective hair care products, Dr. Armani created his Origenere line of hair care products. The dandruff shampoo contains lavender, urea and salicylic acid that reportedly hydrate each follicle and the skin cells by increasing fluid in the cytoplasm.

The Origenere line contains
a blend of botanicals.
All of the products in the line also contain a proprietary OrganoNutrients complex, which is comprised of a synergistic blend of ingredients including organic glyceric phytocomplex made up of hops (Humulus lupulus), sage (Salvia officinalis) and fenugreek (Trigonella graecum) extract.

According to Dr. Armani, these ingredients, along with provitamin B5, help protect hair, feed it and help protect against hair loss.

“We conducted our own studies and 99% of people reported a major improvement,” said Dr. Armani. “We’re in the process of conducting a clinical study by a third party and should have the results by the end of March.”

For consumers who are looking to improve the appearance of a different kind of hair—eyelashes in this case—Mashpee, MA-based RapidLash, has the answer.

Just three months after its November introduction, RapidLash had already exceeded its maker’s first-year sales projections. According to Robert Trow, chief executive officer of the company, RapidLash strikes a chord with consumers for three reasons.

“Women always have been and always will be interested in improving the appearance of their lashes,” explained Mr. Trow. “But now, instead of using permanent makeup or lash curlers, they can dramatically change the appearance of their eyelashes and eyebrows by applying the product every day in just five or 10 seconds.”

What’s more, the fashion world today is more focused on the eye area than ever before. And finally, there is an entire generation of women who have plucked and tweezed their eyebrows and put on permanent makeup that damaged eyelashes and eyebrows.

The RapidLash R&D team developed a peptide cocktail and combined it with vitamins, and licorice, pumpkin and comfrey extracts. The end result is a formula that promises to increase the volume and thickness of lashes, replenish and fortify them, and add shine and flexibility.

There’s a Big Market for Beautiful Lashes

Priced at $49.95, Mr. Trow explained that RapidLash retails for 33-50% less than similar products on the market.

“When you look at our price point, product performance and consumer demand, you have an explosive combination,” he insisted, noting that the entire eyelash rejuvenation category“will easily exceed $500 million at retail this year and could reach $1 billion.”

Driving much of that growth, of course, are sales of Latisse, the novel treatment for hypotrichosis of the eyelashes, which was developed by Allergan. The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Latisse (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) late last year to enhance eyelash prominence as measured by increases in length, thickness and darkness of eyelashes.

When sales of eyelash-enhancing products can top half a billion dollars, it’s clear that the beauty industry can withstand a recession better than most.

Yet only those companies that continue to invest in R&D and are determined to roll out unique products that are based on novel ingredients will exceed market averages. But Dr. Maes points out that all of this exciting research still falls under the cosmetic umbrella at his company.

“We respect nature and respect the evolution of cells,” explained Dr. Maes. “We are improving skin by activating the genes that are already present. It’s very simple; we’re not here to create, but improve. That’s cosmetics.”
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