Fully Loaded

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | December 1, 2011

Active ingredients are a must in today's anti-aging skin care products.

Proteins. Peptides. Enzymes. At one time, only chemists got excited about these materials. Today, they catch the attention of smart women who are using modern communication to educate themselves about what can slow down or counteract the signs of aging skin. Armed with that knowledge, consumers expect their skin care formulations to be packed with active ingredients that lead to visible results.

“With the amount of information that is now readily available to consumers through the internet as well as traditional media, we’re finding that they are now much more savvy about the ingredients that they want in their skin care products,” said Joe Pastorkovich, vice president of Lumene North America.
“Nowadays, consumers can easily get and share a vast amount of information on products, formulations and ingredients through media, internet and social media. Especially lifestyle media has recently taken more and more advantage of experts to advise on product safety concerns and overall benefits of cosmetic products.”

It has made for a perfect storm in the personal care market. Sales of anti-aging skin care products have been on the rise, and the powerhouse ingredients that wage war against wrinkles, dullness, fine lines and dark spots, are in demand as well.

In 2010, the US specialty actives market was valued at nearly $240 million, according to Kline & Company. The Parsippany, NJ-based research firm—which includes in that number botanicals, proteins, peptides, biotechnology products, marine ingredients and enzymes—says US specialty actives for personal care is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of approximately 3.8% by value during the next five years.


Clinique has incorporated collagen-boosting peptides in its Lid Smoothie Antioxidant 8-Hour Colour shadows.

According to Kline & Company’s Anna Ibbotson, industry manager, chemicals and materials, anti-aging trends are fueling the sector.

“Many active formulations are centered on anti-aging, claiming to either slow, stop, or even reverse the effects the environment and age has on the skin. Anti-aging products have been developed to fight all types of aging signs, be it age spots or wrinkles,” she said.

In fact, Kline reports that more than half of the specialty actives market is focused on anti-aging products that delay or reduce the effect of aging, and it is also the fastest growing category by functionality.

Show Some ‘Pep’

One of the active ingredients that has become a mainstay in a chemists’ toolkit is the peptide. Formulators are tapping these materials to improve the appearance of skin that’s loosing its luster.

HydroPeptide’s Even Out Brightening Pigment Corrector, for example, is designed to block melanin pathways and fade age spots, sun damage, acne scars and pregnancy mask via patented peptides.

Designed to lighten hyperpigmentation and brighten skin, it features five mechanisms for skin brightening, including Chromabright, a new brightening active that safely inhibits tyrosinase activity, a key determinant of melanin production in skin. In clinical tests run by Lipotec Group, Chromabright exhibited a better depigmenting effect than kojic acid and arbutin, similar to hydroquinone.

HydroPeptide Even Out Brightening Pigment Corrector features Chroma- bright, a new brightening active that safely inhibits tyrosinase activity, and oligopeptide-68.

Even Out also features oligopeptide-68 (beta white peptide), which reduces the microphthalmia-associate transcription factor (MITF) pathway to regulate the actions that cause pigmentation, and inhibits tyrosinase and melanin production.

Even Out is the only pigment corrector on the market that contains this exclusive patented peptide, asserted company officials.

The formulation also relies on licorice, a natural plant-derived skin lightener which also has tyrosinase-inhibiting properties; lactic acid for skin renewal benefits; and allantoin, which is derived from the comfrey plant and stimulates growth of healthy tissue and promotes exfoliation of layers of darkened skin.

At Dermalogica, the AGE Smart Overnight Repair Serum is formulated with palmitoyl tripeptide-38 and alaria extract to help increase collagen renewal, hydration, firmness and dermal strength. The serum also features argan oil, vitamin E and essential fatty acids help restore a weakened barrier layer, lock in moisture and increase elasticity, as well as rose hip seed oil to help minimize discoloration and boost cell renewal.

Clinique has incorporated collagen-boosting peptides in its Lid Smoothie Antioxidant 8-Hour Colour shadows, which rolled out in August. Said to smooth skin texture as its leaves a soft, powdery finish with some shimmer, this lightweight shadow—which is available in 12 colors—also features an antioxidant-rich blend of extracts like vitamin E, broccoli, carrot, blueberry and spinach, plus cucumber, aloe vera and caffeine. In addition, a metallized tip helps deliver a cool, refreshing feel with each application, according to the Estée Lauder brand.

Over at Jan Marini Skin Research, the R&D team has formulated Retinol Plus and Retinol Plus MD, billed as “retinoid-antioxidant peptide complex solutions.” The latter has 1.0% retinol and is available through the physician retail marketplace, while Retinol Plus has a 0.5% concentration, and is available to licensed skin care professionals and physicians.

They both are said to offer significant advantages beyond just those of high-concentration retinoid, according to the San Jose-CA-based brand. The integrated peptides, antioxidants, hydrators and soothing agents enhance clinical benefits while simultaneously reducing the acclimation and sensitivity historically associated with high concentration retinoids.

But peptides aren’t just for skin care; EnvyDerm has tapped the technology for eyelashes. EnvyDerm Growth Mascara and Growth Liquid Eyeliner both feature Hydroplant specialized peptide combined with hydrolyzed keratin which stimulate keratin production in the lash line to repair damage and promote new lashes.

Another offering from EnvyDerm is its lash serum, which packs a powerful punch that takes into account the different stages of lash growth—anagen (active/ growth phase), catagen (transition/regression phase) and telegen (resting phase). According to Nadia Smith, creator of the line, EnvyDerm Eyelash Serum’s active ingredient works on significantly stimulating the keratin genes mainly kRT3, kRT4, KRTHP 1.5, KRTHB1, 2 and 4.

“These keratin genes are present in the anagen stage, so when EnvyDerm Eyelash Serum is used, the keratins are significantly stimulated to promote stronger, more voluminous and longer looking lashes,” she said.

Natural Predators

Green ingredients still rule the roost with skin care consumers. And leading skin care formulators are looking to specific situations where botanicals—the largest specialty actives category, according to Kline & Company’s recent data—can have the greatest impact.

Avon’s Anew Genics Treatment Cream features YouthGen technology, which the direct seller says is a unique blend of molecules and extracts including Avon’s patented melicope hayesii leaf extract and patent-pending mesyloxy BSA—both first-to-market technology. The cream is formulated to stimulate youth gene activity and increase the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, according to Avon.

The R&D staff at Helix Beauty says the secret to its Helix-D line of skin care is the combination of active ingredients and an effective delivery system.

At Vichy, the focus is on the function of the papillary dermis, or derm source. Located immediately below the epidermis, this vital layer is responsible for driving skin rejuvenation processes, including collagen and elastin production. Over time, Vichy says derm source function deteriorates, leading to visible signs of aging such as wrinkles, sagging and a loss of firmness.

To counteract that, the firm has turned to Rhamnose, a naturally-derived plant extract that has been proven to stimulate derm source activity. Vichy LiftActiv with Rhamnose 5% is proven to reduce the appearance of the most common facial wrinkles—forehead, crow's-feet, under-eye, and between the eyebrows—starting in just two weeks. Overall skin tone and texture also begin to improve after just four days of use, the company saidStiefel is touting Revaléskin Illuminesse Brightening Complex, which relies on coffeeberry whole fruit extract. According to clinical studies, coffeeberry helps replenish the skin’s lost natural antioxidants and neutralizes free radicals that can accelerate the aging process. It helps repair existing damage while also protecting against future damage.

Decleor has bulked up its anti-aging arsenal, too. In Expression De L’Age Smoothing Roll’On, hyaluronic acid promotes microcirculation and with the deep penetration of active ingredients. Keeping an eye on hydration—a key aspect of younger looking skin—the firm has infused the product with essential neroli, extracts of cherry tree bud and codium. Also new is Decleor’s Experience De L’Age Resurfacing Gel-Peeling Life Radiance, which features AHA fruit extract and fruit acid concentrate to exfoliate and minimize the appearance of photodamaged skin, and Excellence De L’Age Dark Spot Corrector Concentrate Face & Hands.

“Each area is different in terms of thickness and resiliency, but age does not discriminate and this spot corrector was created to reduce pigmented spots on all areas,” said Shannon Gallogly, Decleor’s national educator and training manager. She pointed out that at the heart of this SKU is a Light Balance Plant Complex, which works to regulate the skin’s pigmentation process.

While age spots are telltale markers, pore size is another factor that contributes to overall lackluster skin. Along those lines, Dr. Brandt has expanded its Pores No More collection. New Pore Solution clarifying lotion and Pore Thing with Evermat t-zone pore tightener both rely on active ingredients to strengthen pore walls to restore flexibility, reduce the appearance of dilated pores and mattify shine, according to the company.

In the clarifying lotion, salicylic acid exfoliates and removes dead skin cells as lactic acid smoothes texture. In addition, the lotion contains Pro-D.B.S., billed as an anti-inflammatory ingredient that regulates skin’s pH, and tea tree oil for its anti-bacterial benefits.

Dr. Brandt describes the pore tightener as a breakthrough “memory gel” developed to gently clear pores, reduce excess oil and restore enlarged pore walls, snapping them back into shape. Driving this formulation are lentil extract, a multi-action oligosaccharide; Evermat, a combination of oleanolic acid and an extract derived from an African tree that balances the activity of sebaceous glands; Eijitsu rose, a rose bud active (dried fruit of Rose multiflora) commonly used in Japan for its medicinal properties; and alpine extract, which decreases sebum production and reduces shines.

While some brands search the globe for the right actives, for skin care and wellness brand Lumene, its key actives share a similar heritage—there’s Arctic cloudberry in its Vitamin C+ line, arctic sea buckthorn in the Premium Beauty line and arctic heather in the Time Freeze line. The firm says due to the environment in which they thrive, these plants and berries are super-concentrated in vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients, and each ingredient has its special benefits for the skin. For example, cloudberry boosts radiance and protects the skin against the signs of aging; sea buckthorn rejuvenates and nourishes the skin, protecting it against free radicals; and heather protects the skin’s elastin fibers, and firms and smoothes the skin, as well as prevents pigment changes.

It’s About Delivery Too

Also new to the anti-aging scene is a new line from Jafra International—Jafra Pro—which was created through the leadership of Pragna Chakravarti, chief scientific officer and VP of worldwide R&D. The range—which includes Even Tone, Face Lift SPF 20, Night Recovery Concentrate, Dermal Line Filler and Eye Transformer—takes a multi-dimensional approach to address the seven dimensions of visibly younger skin such as lasting hydration; vitality; even complexion; firmness, elasticity, resiliency and suppleness; reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles; inflammation or redness; and enhanced facial contour lift, according to the company.

Active ingredients used in Jafra Pro embrace a range of technologies such as matrikine peptides, aquaporines, cross-linked hyaluronic acid, polyphenols, stem cell botanicals and marine based oligosaccharides.

The active ingredients used in the collection embrace a range of technologies such as matrikine peptides, aquaporines, cross-linked hyaluronic acid, polyphenols, stem cell botanicals, marine based oligosaccharides and several plant-derived superior performance driven compositions.

“These carefully selected actives collectively address all of the aspects of skin aging, simultaneously offering effective maintenance and recovery of youthful looking and behaving skin for women ages 20 to 50s plus,” said Chakravarti.

Skin care chemists recognize that the right actives are critical and a fully-loaded formulation is sure to generate interest. But there are other aspects that must be addressed if the product is going to deliver the efficacy the brand is promising.

“The delivery system plays a critical role in ensuring that the actives reach their target sites for effective performance,” Chakravarti told Happi. “Cell communication principles, specific gene array monitored selection processes of key actives and the careful assimilation of multiple pathways can result in final formulas that deliver, meet or exceed expectations.”

Louis Rinaldi, chief cosmetic officer for Helix Beauty LLC, agrees.

“Great ingredients are a necessary first step—but it is just a first step. The key to making those ingredients effective in helping aging and damaged skin look younger and more beautiful, depends on stability and absorption/delivery of those ingredients to the areas of the skin that show the signs of aging,” he said. “If you load a product with ingredients, but they sit on the surface of the skin, they won’t do the job.”


Vichy has turned to Rhamnose, a naturally-derived plant extract that has been proven to stimulate derm source activity.The firm says LiftActiv with Rhamnose 5% is proven to reduce the appearance of the most common facial wrinkles starting in just two weeks.

The company's new Helix-D range, which debuted at Cosmoprof Las Vegas this summer, includes a face and neck serum and an eye serum. Both are fueled by actives such as advanced power-peptides, matrikines, anti-oxidants and nano-hydrators that rejuvenate, rehydrate and restore skin to its youthful appearance.

The key to the line’s efficacy, however, lies in the Helix Delivery System (HDS). It features a dual-liposome, low polar, friction-free delivery system that suspends the active ingredients in a protective matrix, preserving their potency until fully activated by skin temperature.

According to Rinaldi—the former chief cosmetic officer of Strivectin-SD—when the matrix and base are blended at the skin surface during application, the formulation is activated and the delivery system transports the actives past the protective outer layer of the skin to deliver the active ingredients where they are needed most. As the delivery system is absorbed past the skin's surface, first the exterior, then the interior liposomes dissolve, providing a sustained active ingredient release for the best possible results.


Driving Avon’s Anew Genics Treatment Cream are patented melicope hayesii leaf extract and patent-pending mesyloxy BSA.

The secret to great products, say experts, is about reaching an ingredient’s full potential.

“Cosmetic actives for skin have to be absorbed to reach their full potential,” Rinaldi said. “Only then, will you see that the product really improves your appearance.”

Related End-User Markets:

Related Raw Materials: