Get Active, Get Serious

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | June 4, 2012

Cosmetic companies continue to roll out anti-aging products that make plenty of promises, but some observers say these launches, and the claims behind them, are more about marketing than science.

Everyone, every man and woman, wants healthy skin, or better yet, wants to recapture the supple, radiant firm skin of their youth. How can Baby Boomers achieve all that? Stay out of the sun, of course, eat properly and drink plenty of water. But for those consumers who are willing to go further, applying a moisturizing skin cream or serum that’s packed with an array of active ingredients can provide the finishing touch to a more youthful appearance.

With more women and men interested in looking younger, demand for anti-aging products, and ultimately, the active ingredients that go in them have become big business, but of course, some ingredients are more popular than others.

“Hyaluronic acid (HA) has been very popular in the last few years and have been introduced in a number of formulations,” explained Nikola Matic, project manager at Kline, which recently issued a report on active ingredients. “Its popularity is due to the fact the product is well-recognized by consumers. Important use of HA in some cosmetic procedures has also boosted its consumption in cosmetic products.”

It’s all about aloe: The Lexli line is based on aloe, not water.
According to Kline’s data, sales of “substantiated actives” topped $500 million in the US and Europe in 2010, with US sales rising more than 8% a year since 2007 and European sales increasing nearly 6.5% during that time. Ingredients that keep appearing on the anti-aging radar screen are retinol, antioxidants and peptides.

But for some dermatologists and entrepreneurs, the long list of active ingredients has only served to confuse consumers who are forced to choose between acids, peptides and the like.

“There are so many products out there, that consumers are completely confused by them and what they do,” insisted Ahmed Abdullah, a dermatologist, surgeon and author of “Simple Skincare, Beautiful Skin: A Back-to-Basics Approach,” which will be published in September.

According to Abdullah, proper skin care requires just four steps: cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize and protect.

“There is a complexity of products and most don’t work,” he insisted. “There is so much marketing hype out there. Skin care always over promises and under delivers.”

According to Joni Rogers-Kante, founder and CEO of SeneGence International, 90% of the products in the cosmetics industry don’t work.

“The molecules are too big,” she insisted. “The products only provide short-term moisture and short-term beneficial feel.”

Abdullah noted that many formulators incorporate peptides in their formulas, but he said that absorption of these materials can be a problem and, if they somehow manage to reach their target, what will they actually do?

“But peptide technology is getting better,” he added. “In the next 10 years, there will be a lot of useful products that can deliver this technology to the skin.”

Zein Obagi, founder of ZO Medical, has even harsher words for today’s cosmetic formulas.

“Companies sell dreams and nice words, but no activity,” he charged. “Their formulas contain trace amounts of actives. If they used the right amount, the skin would react with peeling. Their focus is on moisturizing. They have no anti-aging applications.”

What Works?
While it may be relatively easy to convince the consumer to try a product once, if it doesn’t work, a brand may have lost a customer forever. Abdullah puts the blame squarely on the corporations, noting that products are made to sell first, rather than being effective. Most consumers, he maintains, evaluate products by the package, how it smells and how it feels on their skin.

“The key thing that the chemist must do is make sure the product smells good,” he told Happi.

Furthermore, Abdullah has little use for products that are primarily made with water.

“Water doesn’t do anything externally. It’s great when you drink it, but skin is a barrier—if it wasn’t, we’d blow up like the Michelin Man every time we went swimming! Water is cheap, but it makes no scientific sense to incorporate it in a topical product.”

So, if water’s not the answer, what is? Aloe, maintains Abdullah, who calls it the perfect base for skin care. That’s because it has all the benefits of a solvent, like water, but it also has an excellent coefficient of absorption and anti-inflammatory properties.

“Most skin care problems, like acne, rosacea, eczema, UV damage and psoriasis, are inflammation-based,” he observed. And inflammation is the primary culprit in a host of other ailments such as diabetes and heart disease. While steroids are the most potent anti-inflammatory agents available, they come with side effects. In contrast, aloe is a natural anti-inflammatory.

According to Abdullah, aloe has more than 200 active components, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, polysaccharides and fatty acids. No wonder why, as a surgeon, Abdullah applies aloe to all those surgical incisions that he makes.

“The body doesn’t like to get cut,” he said matter-of-factly.

“I have been involved in aloe research for years. Everyone knows it is good, but nobody uses it as a base in their products,” observed Abdullah. “It’s the perfect base.”

So perfect, in fact, that Abdullah created an entire skin care range based on aloe. The line, called Lexli, is billed as “Pure Aloe. Simple Truth.” Of course, the products contain more than aloe. Ingredients in the acne treatment kit (which includes clarifying lotion, acne cleanser, moisturizer and exfoliant) are glycolic and salicylic acid, vitamin E and retinol. The products are available online (lexli.com), in salons and spas and in dermatologist offices.

The Good and the Bad
Most skin care brand managers tout what’s in their formulas, but Sean Patrick Harrington, founder of Previse, is quick to point out that his products are free of ingredients such as silicones, petroleum, harsh surfactants and parabens. With that out of the way, Harrington is eager to explain the science behind Previse, a company that asks potential customers 11 questions in order to make sure products match their skin care needs.

The new Previse line of products gets personal with consumers.
“Nobody takes skin care down to the personal level like we do,” explained Harrington, an industry veteran (most recently with L’Oréal) who teamed up with Dr. Ellen Marmur, a dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, to create the algorithmic tools necessary to determine what products are best for the consumer’s DNA.

“Now we have 12 products that are designed fit to meet the customers’ needs,” he insisted. “At the fundamental level it means gently cleansing, feeding and protecting the skin.”

Products are designed for those with Skin Type 1&2, Skin Type 3, Skin Type 4&5 or Skin Type 6. Purify Step 1.0 removes impurities and readies the skin for nourishment, according to the company. Purify products contain ingredients such as Saponairia bark extract, algae extract and camellia sinesis leaf extract.

Nutrify Step 2.0 is said to nourish and fight free radical formation with the company’s “closely guarded recipe containing the highest grade active ingredients, which are slowly blended to retain maximum potency.” Harrington would say that the Nutrify ingredients contain ingredients such as green tea, resveratrol and daisy flower, which promises to mildly reduce hyperpigmentation from acne or age spots over a 28-day period. The product also contains soybean to improve the elasticity and density of DNA.

“We differ from other products on the market in that we use actives to improve skin and minimize damage to the environment,” explained Harrington. “A lot of consumers look at their skin care needs, but not what gets washed down the drain. Soybean is a better choice for the environment. We like to say our products ‘won’t clog pores or waterways.’”

Harrington acknowledges that not everything born in nature is good for you, but he maintains that Previse strikes the right balance of science and nature. The company was formed in 2010, but a heavy marketing campaign didn’t begin until this year. So far, Harrington is pleased with the reception the brand has received, noting that Previse is one of the brands-to-watch at this month’s HBA Global show in New York.

“We ask consumers to take 5 or 10 minutes to evaluate their skin on our website, but the payoffs are wonderful,” insisted Harrington. “DNA has a 28-day cycle, but our customers will begin to see results in just a couple of weeks. They’ll see diminished signs of wrinkles, no surface oiliness and better clarity.”
SeneGence International is targeting two widespread beauty problems with its latest launches: SeneDerm Solutions Spot-On Blemish & Acne Treatment and Dark Circle Under Eye Treatment. The former contains benzyl peroxide and other anti-acne agents to quickly clear up blemishes. The later works to correct under eye darkening and visible bagging by tightening loose skin in the sensitive area under the eyes.

SeneGence International is a direct sales company with an international distribution that includes the US, Canada, Italy, England, Indonesia and, later this summer, Brazil. The company offers more than 300 products, including makeup, skin care and anti-aging products. Rogers-Kante maintains the SeneGence began the long-lasting makeup movement, and is shaking things up in the anti-aging category as well with its SenePlex Complex, a blend of hyaluronic acid, orchid extract, avocado and more. Together, they speed up cell turnover that, in turn, enables cells to maintain a greater amount of moisture as they make their way to the skin surface, which ultimately makes skin more plump, supple and luminous.

Heady stuff, but Rogers-Kante insists she has the data to prove it. SenePlex Complex is a kinetic enzyme that fights the signs of aging by renewing skin an average of 23.3% more rapidly for 100% of users.

“We’re committed to clinical results, not advertising claims,” she told Happi.

ZO Skin Health is redefining how consumers use their anti-aging products.
Years ago, Zein Obagi developed Obagi Skin Care and the brand became the No. 1 player in the fast-growing dermatological field. After selling the company, Obagi came back with ZO Skin Health and the ZO Medical product line. Last month, the company rolled out Brightenex skin brightener, which stabilizes pure retinol (1.0%), melanin inhibitors and antioxidants with natural, patented oleosome technology. Oleosomes are microspheres of antioxidant-rich emollient oils and vitamins found naturally in plant seeds like almond and safflower. As these microspheres release, they provide immediate moisturization benefits to skin. By stabilizing and delivering retinol, oleosome technology also provides a delayed release of active ingredients, reducing potential irritation while improving performance.

“Retinol is going to be the hero ingredient for the next 25 years,” Obagi asserted. “Fruit acids are not sufficient for healthy skin, and until we can use stem cells properly and control them, we are limited to vitamin A and other vitamins.”

If you’re looking for a hero, turn to p. 86, where you’ll find details on new ingredients from industry suppliers.

Happi Anti-Aging Conference & Tabletop Exhibition
• Where is new product development heading in the fast-growing anti-aging category? What is really causing aging and how can it be fixed with topicals? What are some of the major problems that plague today’s anti-aging formulas? Get answers to these questions and many more by attending Happi’s Anti-Aging Conference & Tabletop Exhibition, Sept. 18 & 19, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency, New Brunswick, NJ.

Hear presentations from, and interact with, industry experts such as Dr. Nicholas Perricone, Dr. Jennifer Linder, Dr. Andrew Alexis and Dr. Jeanine B. Downie.

The exhibition hall is filling up fast and conference seating is limited, so save your seat or lock up your tabletop exhibit today by registering at http://conference.happi.com.

Hair today...
• Apple stem cells have been used in anti-aging products for several years now, but Aloxxi has harnessed the technology for its new Volumizing and Strengthening shampoo and conditioner.
Unlike other volumizing products that work by swelling the cuticle, Aloxxi’s Volumizing & Strengthening Shampoo and Conditioner utilize apple stem cells and 10 antioxidants and botanicals to protect and strengthen hair while adding volume without opening the cuticle and exposing delicate color molecules, according to Kim Donovan, marketing director, Aloxxi.

“We’re very proud of this as we are the first to use this technology in hair care,” said Donovan. “All of our products are designed for color-treated hair and keep it in the best condition possible.”

The apple stem cells, which strengthen hair during the critical anagen growth phase, are rich in phyto-nutrients, proteins and long-living cells and help protect against UV radiation and oxidative stress.

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