Breakthrough Active Naturals Grow in Personal Care Sector

By Imogen Matthews, In-Cosmetics | November 10, 2011

Two hot topics, anti-aging and naturals, combine to create a dynamic growth sector in the global personal care market.

While growth in the global personal care market has been affected by the economic downturn, consumer demand for naturals has remained strong. Satisfying this demand, though, is very much a case of balancing contrasting needs, including the desire for scientifically proven ingredients alongside more natural products.

Euromonitor confirms that growth in personal care ingredients is slowing and forecast to grow at less than 2% per annum through 2013. The recession has certainly impacted product choices, while growth has been restricted due to the maturity of certain markets in developed countries. One area that is bucking the trend is natural/organic personal care products, although it remains a niche market. A much greater opportunity is coming from mainstream brands that are adding botanical extracts to their products. An example is L’Oréal-owned Vichy, which has incorporated rhamnose, a naturally-derived active ingredient found in a Brazilian plant, into its newest Liftactiv Derm Source anti-aging range. With seven pending patents, as many clinical studies and two in vivo studies, this ingredient was chosen out of 50 potential ingredients by Vichy scientists for its ability to stimulate activity in what it terms the “superficial” dermis, described at the compartment of the skin that helps regenerate youthful characteristics, such as firmness and smoothness.

As demonstrated by this example, even with natural ingredients, the science is still extremely important. According to Euromonitor, natural products won’t succeed unless there is enough scientific evidence to convince increasingly demanding consumers. Its research suggests that antioxidant ingredients from naturals, such as polyphenols, plant extracts and ACE vitamins, are one area that is continuing to develop, due to widespread consumer recognition of their role in natural protection.

An interesting development noted by Euromonitor has been a strong focus on ingredient blends and blending of multiple agents, rather than the use of a single active ingredient. One recent significant launch that reflects that trend is La Roche-Posay’s Derm AOX anti-aging serum, which is said to be the first serum to tackle both oxidation and glycation, believed to be the twin causes of older-looking skin. The product combines a blend of active ingredients to achieve this, including vitamin C and pycnogenol (pine extract) to act as antioxidants and carnosine to inhibit the glycation process and maintain skin suppleness.

Botanicals Dominate

According to Anna Ibbotson, industry manager for chemicals and materials practice at Kline, botanicals dominate the ingredients market due to their natural positioning and the extensive range of products available that address almost any skin care related functionality.

“Botanical suppliers are periodically launching new products, therefore expanding the already wide range of products available,” she points out. “They are looking to new sources for a combination of efficiency and a positive image in the mind of the consumer. Differentiation between different products is done on their source and efficacy data linked to a particular product.”

Through its long-term analysis of “truly natural” versus “natural inspired” formulations, Kline has discovered that a number of brands have improved their formulations to become more natural. They include Avalon Organics, Aveda, Jurlique, Korres, L’Occitane, The Body Shop and Tom’s of Maine. However, one of the main challenges facing companies wanting to include active naturals in their formulations is that the consumer does not always know the difference between what Kline describes as truly natural, pseudo natural or natural inspired products.

Nancy Mills, industry manager, consumer products practice, Kline, explains why: “This is because of lack of awareness in general, although this is reversing at different rates in different regions, confusion about natural certifications and the varying legal requirements for labeling. For example, in China and India, full ingredient disclosure is not required by law.”

A further challenge facing companies is the cost of formulating efficacious products naturally, which is still high compared to not using natural ingredients. This is especially true for certain categories, such ashair care.

“The consumer doesn’t know what to choose. Even if he or she is willing to pay more for natural products, they don’t know if it is worth it and why in many cases,” maintains Mills. “So formulating truly naturally is not always paying off for marketers, even though Kline believes that in the medium- to long-term it will.”

Specialty Actives & Anti-Aging

Specialty actives, such as surfactants and rheology control, continue to outpace personal care ingredient growth, according to Ibbotson.

“Historically, activity was the most important purchase criteria, but as consumers become more ‘savvy’ they want an ingredient with a natural source,” she explains. “Animal-derived products in most categories are less desirable than something that is plant based.”

According to Kline, European consumption of specialty actives for personal care applications is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of approximately 4.6% by value for the next five years. For this growth estimation, price fluctuations are not taken into consideration and are held constant over the next five years. According to Kline, the overall specialty actives market is expected to take advantage of the general growth of the personal care industry.

Anti-aging actives account for almost two-thirds of total European consumption of specialty actives for personal care, notes Kline, with sales estimated at approximately $212 million in 2010.

“In terms of finished products, anti-aging ingredients represent the best opportunity for specialty actives due to their important share of the personal care market, but also due to their usual higher price compared to other product types,” concludes Ibbotson.

As one of the most important themes in personal care, anti-aging is likely to continue to be a key focus for formulators, according to Euromonitor’s research, suggesting that further scientific research into the most effective ingredients, many of them natural, is inevitable.


In-Cosmetics 2012 will take place April 17-19 in Barcelona.

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