Ethnic Beauty From A to Z

By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor | September 30, 2010

Marketers provide a variety of solutions for every skin tone.

While the personal care market has slowed down due to the general state of the economy, there has been continued growth in facial skin care—albeit at a slower pace than in previous years, according to a new report from market research firm Mintel. Growth has been fueled by sales within ethnic groups—such as those of African, Latin or South Asian descent—purchasing niche skin care products to treat quandaries such as hyperpigmentation or pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB).

Additionally, while fade/bleach has been a lackluster segment in previous years, it has benefited from advances in skin whitening technology, which has led to rejuvenation in the category. Fade/bleach sales increased nearly 15% between 2007 and 2009—the highest increase posted after that of anti-aging items, noted Mintel in its study. Asian women tend to use more facial skin care products than other ethnic groups, particularly items such as fades and bleaches, due to the cultural emphasis on fair skin in Asian countries.

Tom Pecheux for Estée Lauder at the Derek Lam Spring 2011 show.
Formulation innovations within the personal care category are making an impact, as ethnic skin care sales reached $39.1 million for the year ended July 18, 2010 in supermarkets, drugstores and mass-market retailers excluding Walmart, according to market research firm SymphonyIRI Group. E.T. Browne’s classic Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula led the way with a majority of sales—$27.3 million, to be exact. Ambi products followed at $4.3 million and Queen Helene SKUs at $1.4 million.

“As with changing demographics in the U.S., there is an increase in the proportion of nonwhite racial/ethnic groups seeking dermatologic care,” noted Dr. Andrew F. Alexis, director, Skin of Color Center, St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital. “In my practice, an increasing number of patients are seeking advice regarding skin care that is appropriate for their specific skin type—for example, darker skinned patients are looking for products that have proven safety in skin of color.”

According to Virginia Lee, senior research analyst, Euromonitor International, the ethnic skin care market is doing well in the U.S. because the ethnic population is growing at a faster pace than the country as a whole.“Americans of African, Asian and Latin ancestry have unique beauty concerns and are seeking out products that address these issues,” she noted.

“There is indeed a trend toward multicultural beauty products,” agreed Ethan G. Foster, managing partner of E.G. Foster Group, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in the marketing of products and services to multicultural consumers.

“This is a slippery slope, as formulations may not effectively address the needs of ethnic consumers,” he added.

Unique Concerns
Some beauty quandaries of particular interest to ethnic consumers include hyperpigmentation, an ashy appearance and ingrown hair, noted Lee of Euromonitor. A major issue sometimes unique to ethnic skin is hyperpigmentation (brown spots) due to the excess production of melanin.

Specific Beauty is a new collection from dermatologist Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd.

“Products that treat hyperpigmentation include hydroquinone, retinoids (tretinoin) and kojic acid,” she said. “African-Americans commonly have ashy skin (where dry and flaky skin takes on a gray, ashy appearance), which can be combatted with moisturizers and body lotions.”

Dark skin is also disposed to sagging and unevenly toned skin, noted Lee Graff, president, Cover FX Skin Care Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, a marketer of cosmetics dedicated to specifically match skin tones of ethnic descent (see sidebar below).

“Darker skin pigments and scars more easily than lighter skin tone and tends to have a thicker composition, enlarged pores and ages more slowly because the outer skin layer is strong with more collagen production,” she said. “Hispanic and black skin is prone to dark under eye circles and stretch marks, which are more obvious because of the contrast of the white marks against darker skin. Scarring and keloids are also common in ethnic complexions.”

“In the past year, we have seen the introduction of several lines focusing on hyperpigmentation,” observed Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, founder of Specific Beauty, a new ethnic skin care range available in the mass market. The skin care collection was specifically designed for African American, Latina and Southeast Asian women. The range includes products formulated to be used together, resulting in a more even skin tone and an improved texture.

Specific Beauty is targeted to consumers with “multi-hued” skin, which refers to the range of tones including tan, olive and brown. The collection launched with a Daily Gentle Cleanser, Exfoliating Cleansing Cloths, Daily Hydrating Lotion SPF 30 and Night Treatment Complex. Also in the range is a Skin Brightening Serum, a “special multi-benefit complex” of licorice, antioxidants, retinol and niacinimide to provide the skin with brightening benefits.

Excessive facial hair is also a problem with black skin and electrolysis or shaving can lead to scarring and pimple/bump formation on the affected areas. Because this skin type tends to be oily, acne is common, added Graff. Brands like SoftSheen-Carson’s razorless hair removal system Magic Shave still lead in this category.

One of the newer entries into the bump-blasting category is Moore Unique Skin Care. Sold at select Walgreens locations nationwide, the range was created and patented by Houston-based dermatologist Dr. Milton Moore who developed the line after noticing a void in the market for shaving products. He set out to create a product that delivered “the smoothest, longest lasting results on any area of the body for use by men and women alike.” Its latest launch is Silky Hydroglide for Women, a shaving gel that lubricates, moisturizes and treats irritated skin.

All About Ingredients
Popular components in today’s leading ethnic skin care SKUs include cocoa butter, shea butter, olive oil, coconut milk and jojoba oil, observed Paul Carpino, senior product manager, E.T. Browne Drug Co., Inc. Skin tone correctors, such as hydroquinone and kojic acid, along with advanced acne ingredients, like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, continue to be integral in ethnic skin care products, he said.

“These ingredients continue to be well received not only for their efficacy, but also their long-standing, trusted heritage within the ethnic community,” noted Carpino. “These include not only superior moisturizers but also clinically proven ingredients for addressing many of the prevalent ethnic skin concerns—hyperpigmentation, acne and post acne issues.”

New SPF 30 swivel lotion stickCover FX: Confidence Through Camouflage

Vitiligo has been around for thousands of years, but marketer Cover FX claims to provide an aesthetic solution for the lack of pigment common with the chronic skin disorder.

Cover FX aims to conquer uneven skin tone with a variety of foundation products—like this setting powder.
Over the years, Cover FX co-founder and corrective makeup specialist Lee Graff used various products from many different cosmetic lines with her patients but always had to mix and blend colors to achieve a correct skin tone match. However, many of these products contained ingredients such as oil and fragrance that can be irritating to skin.

In 2000, Graff began to work with dermatologist and chemical engineer Jenny Frankel to create a “new generation” ofproducts that addresses the multicultural color palette.

Comprised of more than 30 skin tone shades and four different formulations—from “total coverage” cream foundation to mineral powder—CoverFX is a full range that treats common skin discolorations from vitiligo or hyperpigmentation. The brand’s Vitiligo Coverage Kit ($85) provides product to prime, cover and set Cover FX’s full coverage foundation with a professional application brush and is sold at Nordstrom and Sephora. The brand also recently rolled out Eye Prep FX, an anti-aging cosmeceutical primer with a blend of “ultra-elite ingredients,” Haloxyl and Eyeliss, to reduce the appearance of dark circles.
More info: www.coverfx.com

Naturally derived products (i.e. aloe, soy and pomegranate) have been essential in the treatment of ethnic skin in 2010, noted Brandalyn Fulton, a makeup artist for Face Atelier, New York, NY.
“A product that combats oiliness, but still provides moisture is key,” she added.

Although ethnic consumers often have darker skin than Caucasians, SPF is still advised in ethnic products because there is still the danger of photodamage and discoloration/hyper-pigmentation, said Graff. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a common issue with dark skin because there is so much melanin in the skin which, when damaged, will become even darker. Gentle enzymatic exfoliants help to even out dark skin and moisturizing helps the skin not look ashy, too, she added.

Clean and in Charge
Men and women of color experience the unique challenges in keeping their skin cleansed, smooth, even-toned and moisturized. To help ethnic consumers achieve a flawless-complexion, Johnson & Johnson’s Ambi brand—best known for its fade creams—rolled out the new Ambi Essentials Facial Care Line for Fall 2010. Exclusively available at Family Dollar stores nationwide, the new range consists of Ambi Essentials Gentle Cleanser, which contains soothing menthol and salicylic acid to help keep skin even, and Ambi Essentials Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15, which gently replenishes and moisturizes dry skin as it protects from the damaging effects of the environment with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection, according to the company.

Another notable ethnic skin care launch is Black Opal’s Fade Systems. Building upon the heritage of the original fade gel launched in 1994, the new multi-SKU sets target specific problems of skin of color—from hyperpigmentation to highly reactive skin, according to the company. For example, the Maximum Strength Plus System delivers “maximum fading benefits along with great conditioning to the skin” with the highest concentration level of hydroquinone in a non-prescription formula. Conditioning citrus and lotus extracts work in tandem to soothe and calm skin during the fading process.

Hair care marketer Crème of Nature’s Nourishing Body Lotions have also created a beauty buzz this season.

“Crème of Nature is a longstanding brand that speaks to more than just hair care,” said Teneya Gholston, brand manager, Crème of Nature Retail. “Our customers have distinct needs and the new lotions are great for addressing those needs. Like our hair care line, the ingredients in the lotion prove to nourish and help restore skin.”

The Crème of Nature body collection is available in African Violet and Chamomile, Olive Oil and Lemon Zest and Sweet Mandarin and Lemongrass variations.

An Even Base

Today’s skin care captures a wide audience.

Today’s facial cosmetics have evolved beyond just setting makeup and covering skin’s imperfections. They function more like foundations and are used to perfect complexion and enhance skin’s overall beauty. Mineral powders are the most skin-nurturing type of product, and up until now did not always address darker skin tones, according to Fulton of Face Atelier. They also contained ingredients that can often leave ethnic skin looking dull or ashy.

To address those needs, Face Atelier recently launched Ultra Foundation for Women of Color, a collection of cosmetic shades for darker skin. According to the company, the silicone-based collection is comprised of hues that range from a cool caramel to black/brown.

“Women of color have red, yellow green and blue undertones that present a daunting color theory challenge,” said Debbie Bondar, president and chief executive officer, Face Atelier, Calgary, Canada.

According to Bondar, it was “impractical” to produce dozens of shades in an attempt to solve the color quandary, but it was viable to formulate shades that simplified the matching process. Face Atelier formulated five new shades that took into consideration the color issues. They feature various yellow, red, green and blue undertones, and are additions to the existing two shades that served darker skin.

Face Atelier is already known for its unique Ultra Foundation color adjusters: Zero Minus, a pure white to lighten, and Zero Plus, a complex mid-tone brown with warm undertones to darken shades. The Women of Color Collection includes two more singular color adjusters: Heat, a unique mango-orange foundation that warms up shades while also serving as blush for dark skin; and Zero Plus Plus, a black brown with blue undertones that may be the darkest shade ever offered to this demographic, according to Bondar.

This season, Black Opal launched a new range of facial products. The Mineral Brilliance Natural Color Collection is hypoallergenic, oil-free, paraben-free, fragrance-free and talc-free. The Mineral Brilliance Powder Foundation works to camouflage and care for ethnic skin. With illuminating pigments, it also allows darker skinned women to achieve a natural complexion, according to the company. The foundation is available in Light, Golden Tan, Medium-Dark, Dark and Very Deep tones.

Future Focus
So, what are the future trends in ethnic skin care products for 2011 and beyond? According to Alexis of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, it’s all about botanicals.

“A continued increase in the marketing of ‘natural’ ingredients as well as skin lightening/fading products marketed as alternatives to hydroquinone are next in line,” he said.

“The upcoming trends in ethnic skin care will remain focused on key ingredients that have worked for generations, but will also begin to look at new natural and organic oils and extracts,” agreed Carpino of E.T. Browne.

“Sources such as the oceans (marine ingredients) and rain forests will continue to reveal new and exciting ingredients,”healso told Happi.

The future for skin care products in general are ways that cosmetics products can be skin care products as well, noted Bondar of Face Atelier. She explained foundations that have active skin treating ingredients (i.e. hyaluronic acid or serum-based formulas) is a trend that is here to stay, and companies will continue to capitalize and make skin care-cosmetics an affordable option versus just a luxury.

According to Graff of CoverFX, “influential” retail leaders such as Sephora have dedicated space and marketing support to ethnic beauty brands, so the industry will see more winning releases from brands such as RX for Brown Skin, Carol’s Daughter and Phytospecific—as well as CoverFX, of course.

Those with multi-hued skin tones (tan, olive and brown skin) have similar skin care quandaries, so future lines will address these conditions together, said Woolery-Lloyd at the Specific Beauty brand.

For example, companies will focus on multiple ethnicities to solve a common problem such as hyperpigmentation.

All things considered, Woolery-Lloyd noted, “the ethnic skin planogram will likely be integrated into the main planogram, because these consumers are primarily shopping in the general skin care aisle”—serving all shades of beauty, expanding the marketplace one product at a time.

Millions and Counting: The Success Of E.T. Browne’s Palmer’s Cocoa Butter

E.T. Browne’s classic Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula accounted for the majority of ethnic skin care sales for the year, according to SymphonyIRI data. So, what’s the secret to a product that rings up more than $27 million in sales?

“Melanin imbalances or hyperpigmentation is probably the largest and most challenging problem for

New SPF 30 swivel lotion stick.
darker skin,” said Paul Carpino, senior product manager, E.T. Browne Drug Co., Inc. “Hyperpigmentation is the uneven distribution of melanin in the skin, often resulting in light and dark patches on the skin. This problem, while also existent on lighter skin, is more noticeable on darker skin. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula products have long been trusted to help smooth marks, scars and tone skin; while Palmer’s Skin Success products help eliminate darks spots and even skin tone.”

The brand’s latest rollout for Fall 2010 is Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Swivel Stick with SPF 30 (at right).

According to Carpino, “Historically, sun protection has been overlooked in the ethnic community. However, ethnic consumers are becoming more aware of the dangers of the sun. An SPF 15 is the minimal amount that should be worn to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays as sun damage can not only accelerate the future signs of aging but can also increase the likelihood of dark spots and uneven skin tone.”
More info: www.palmers.com

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