Cosmeceuticals & Antioxidants: Perfect Together

By David Sprinkle, Publisher & Research Director, Packaged Facts | September 15, 2012

Using Mother Nature as inspriation, cosmeceutical marketers are pursuing antioxidant vitamins, minerals and other plant-based ingredients to bolster product lines.

Whether or not a marketer of skin care, hair care or color cosmetics proclaims outright that its products are cosmeceuticals, the ability to treat or prevent conditions—like wrinkles, sun damage, oiliness or the harmful effects of stress—is often taken for granted as consumers come to expect more from their health and beauty care (HBC) products. At the same time, consumers are less impressed with unsupported cosmeceutical claims. Innovation and proven efficacy are required to generate interest, especially in the case of new brands and products hitting the market.

As in the dietary supplement and functional food markets, cosmeceutical marketers are constantly looking for the next big ingredient. In an ingredient-driven market, marketers cannot afford to miss out on the opportunity created by the next açai or omega 3. Although consumers are typically loyal to the personal care products they use and can be ambivalent about reformulations or novel products calling out for their attention, new products that boast the hottest new ingredient do generate important sales opportunities for marketers and create a certain cachet among cosmeceutical product buyers.
Even so, for every consumer that equates “newest” with “best” there’s a counterpart who is extremely skeptical of product claims. In fact, individual consumers oscillate between these two attitudes based on factors such as mood, shopping occasion, retail channel, product category, and personal health and beauty priorities. Marketers therefore must balance embracing new ingredient trends with establishing a reputation for products that work
To truly bring about the functional effects sought by cosmeceutical skin care users, marketers have turned to a variety of ingredient sources. Because of consumer safety concerns, many have tapped Mother Nature for inspiration, using plant-based ingredient technologies that offer a more natural approach to beauty. Although these plant-based ingredients may be just as processed as any chemical compound, consumers generally equate plants with “natural” and “organic,” and thus “better for you.” And many of the products using plant-based ingredients are in fact organic, or at least partially so, and many are formulated without parabens, phthalates, sulfates or genetically modified organisms (GMO) materials.
Cosmeceutical Skin Care

Packaged Facts estimates U.S. retail sales of skin care cosmeceuticals at $4.7 billion in 2011. Our skin demands different sorts of attention at different life stages. Infants suffer diaper rash and cradle cap. During pubescence and the teen years, skin is pumped with excess oil and thus blemishes easily. As we get older, skin thins and holds less water, thereby drying and wrinkling. Other conditions affecting the skin include redness, scarring and uneven pigmentation. Cosmeceutical skin care provides products suitable for any of these skin conditions, covering the bases with cleansers, toners, moisturizers, anti-aging preparations and fade creams.
As one strategy for building out the cosmeceutical skin care category, marketers are riding on the coattails of dietary supplements and functional foods. In the past 10 years, for example, marketers have taken advantage of vitamin C’s healthy reputation as an infection-fighting, antioxidant-rich internal vitamin and turned it into one of the most popular topical skin health ingredients. PhytoCeuticals has introduced an entire product line based on vitamin C, which includes Velvet Gel, Active Serum, Pro-Heal Serum, Supreme Serum, Skin Firming Cream and Moisturize Cream. The products are said to offer a variety of benefits, including treating acne, rosacea, dry skin and vitiligo (loss of pigment).
Another important functional food ingredient is resveratrol, a component of red wine and dark chocolate that is valued for its antioxidant properties. Purity Cosmetics launched a product collection based on this ingredient as part of its 100% Pure brand line. The Resveratrol collection features a new Red Wine Resveratrol Antioxidant Serum said to be made entirely of red wine resveratrol, vitamins and antioxidants to protect the skin against aging. The line also features a Nourishing Cream, Scrub & Mask and Eye Cream.
A mainstay in the functional food market for its high fiber content, oatmeal has long been praised for its skin-soothing properties. Marketers introducing products using oats include Borba, whose Age Defying skin care line includes a new 4-in-1 Cleansing Treatment that is touted as “purifying the skin with soothing colloidal oatmeal, exfoliating with micro-diamonds and fighting free radicals with powerful açai berry antioxidants.” The cleanser is touted as a makeup remover, exfoliator, pore refiner and anti-aging skin treatment in one.
Superfruits, which are known for their antioxidant properties and concentrated vitamin content, are also finding their way into cosmeceutical skin care products. Purity Cosmetics features a Super Fruits collection of products, including a Concentrated Serum, a Night Balm and an Eye Balm, which contain superfruit ingredients such as pomegranate, açai, goji berry and mangosteen. Borba’s Age

Defying skin care line consists of several items formulated with “açai berry high ORAC antioxidant.”

Cosmeceutical Hair Care

A quick look at any hair care section in a drugstore or mass merchandiser will show that hair care products are increasingly cosmeceutical in nature. As with the skin care market, hair care products are more frequently touting additional benefits beyond those of regular or “all-purpose” shampoos and conditioners. Hair care cosmeceutical functions include the ability to moisturize, repair split ends, strengthen, fight frizz, add volume, impart sheen, treat dry scalp or fight dandruff.

Packaged Facts estimates that the cosmeceutical hair care category approached more than $3 billion at retail in 2011, up 4% from 2010. A powerful category driver is that many HBC marketers are turning to hair care products as a growth strategy, a trend evident since 2007. Unilever, for example, extended its popular Axe men’s body wash and deodorant line with shampoo and conditioner. In many cases, these extended or revised lines include cosmeceutical hair care products. With recessionary conditions diminishing, marketers are less hesitant to introduce new products, or even entire brand lines, so the recent sales increases will likely be maintained.

As in the skin care category, cosmeceutical hair care marketers have taken a cue from the functional food market and harnessed both the ingredient and marketing power of antioxidants. Unilever’s Suave Professionals brand released a Leave In Conditioner in a Black Raspberry and White Tea formulation, which is said to be “salon proven to protect as well as Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil.” Suave’s website and product packaging note that black raspberry and white tea “are known for their nourishing and antioxidant properties.”

Garnier has introduced Fructis Pure Clean Fortifying Shampoo and Conditioner with Acerola Berry Antioxidant. The acerola berry antioxidant claims to provide “the ultimate daily refreshment with no heavy residue and weightless shine.” Therapy-G’s Antioxidant Shampoo for Thinning/Chemically Treated Hair is said to both thoroughly cleanse and protect the hair follicle while encouraging blood circulation to the scalp, and Alba Botanica’s Rainforest Açai Antioxidant shampoo is said to “protect against the damaging effects of free radicals.”

In addition, argan oil and keratin are noteworthy ingredient trends in cosmeceutical hair care. Agadir International, for example, markets a new argan oil-based hair care product, Argan Oil Moisture Masque, containing antioxidants and vitamin E, and is touted as an “ultra-rich, deep conditioning masque that moisturizes while repairing damaged hair.” Organix offers a Keratin line-up, including Ever Straight Brazilian Keratin Therapy Shampoo, Conditioner, Anti-Breakage Serum, Hydrating Keratin Masque, Flat Iron Spray and Shimmering Keratin Oil. The line, meant to enhance the results of Organix’s 14-Day and 30-Day Smoothing Treatments, offers “an exclusive blend of antioxidant-rich cocoa nut oil along with lush keratin proteins to strengthen and soften the hair, while organic avocado oil and cocoa butter smooth the cuticle for straight, strong tresses, adding a brilliant glow and luminescent shine.”
Cosmeceutical Makeup

At the same time, the assortment of cosmeceutical makeup products available to consumers is wider than ever. Segments such as face and lip products are more often than not positioned along cosmeceutical lines, trumpeting claims such as “plumping,” “firming” and “soothing” even when the product formulations are not particularly distinctive.
Packaged Facts estimates that sales of cosmeceutical makeup reached more than $2 billion in 2011, up 7% over the previous year. Lip colors were the fastest-growing products in 2011, with sales increasing 12%, although face makeup is the largest segment. Overall, though cosmeceutical makeup is a smaller category than cosmeceutical skin care or hair care, sales growth has proven more stable and recession-resistant than is the case for its big sister categories.

The “more for the money” mentality seems to especially justify a slightly higher price tag for cosmeceutical makeup. If a consumer can spend $5 for regular eye color, or $7 for eye color that also claims anti-aging benefits, the $2 difference seems like a small price to pay for protecting the windows of the soul from the ravages of time.

And time is now rattling the nation’s Baby Boomer women—all of whom, by 2013, will be 50 or older. Boomers trailblazed the self-researched treatment or prevention of aches and pains, exploring acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, fitness fads, folk remedies and yoga. They will try almost anything to alleviate the effects of aging, whether by choosing cosmeceutical makeup, skin care and hair care preparations, or by resorting to plastic surgery or injections. A point in cosmeceutical makeup’s favor is that Boomer women are at the stage of switching emphasis from being beautiful to remaining healthy, and color cosmeceuticals can help navigate that transition.

The selection of cosmeceutical makeup options is expanding, providing users with a growing range of product types and shades, and this kind of growth is critical for cosmeceutical makeup to remain a major growth opportunity in the market. For example, Clinique offers 12 shades of its cosmeceutical Lid Smoothie Antioxidant eye shadow—short of the 18 single shades of its non-cosmeceutical Color Surge eye shadow in two finishes, but at least recognizing the need for color options if marketers want their cosmeceutical lines to fire on all cylinders.

Similarly, Korres Natural Products released a new concealer as part of its Korres Quercetin & Oak brand line that is available in four shades. The anti-aging & anti-wrinkle concealer is claimed to be “ideal for hydrating and protecting the delicate skin around the eye, and to contain powerful natural antioxidants to help reduce the appearance of fine lines while improving skin texture.”
Another marketer tapping into the antioxidant trend in cosmeceuticals makeup is Clinique, which has introduced Age Defense BB Cream, claimed to have “antioxidants for prevention, plus enough coverage to banish imperfections.” Clinique’s Lid Smoothie Antioxidant 8-Hour Eye Colour line of eye color, which is designed to help protect the eye area, is available in eight shades. The marketer added to its Vitamin C Lip Smoothie line as well, introducing six new shades: Guava Good, Pear-fection, Blackberry Nirvana, Running Latte, Strawberry Bliss and Pom-a-greatness. The brush-on lip color is said to provide “antioxidant protection, moisture, and smooth lips.”

Additional marketers introducing antioxidant or vitamin-enriched color cosmeceutical products include Smashbox, with its Photo Finish Luminizing Foundation Primer To Go, which contains “a silky blend of vitamins and antioxidants;” Target’s Sonia Kashuk line, with Super Sheer Shimmering Highlighting Liquid boasting “vitamin E and grapeseed oil to impart antioxidant and anti-aging properties;” Neutrogena, with its Healthy Skin Custom Glow Bronzer, formulated with a patented blend of antioxidants to help enhance skin’s appearance over time; and Mary Kay, with its Cream Blush in Cranberry and Sheer Bliss shades, which are “infused with emollient white lily bulb extract plus peach extract that is rich in vitamin C and skin-protecting antioxidants.”

One of the more popular trends in cosmeceutical makeup in recent years has been the development of mineral makeup. The unquestioned leader in this regard is Bare Escentuals, whose entire bareMinerals product line is built around the concept, as noted above. Bare Escentuals’ mineral makeup has won prestigious beauty awards, including the “Glammy” from Glamour for 2005-2011, Allure’s Reader’s Choice Award for 2006-2011, the 2011 QVC Customer Choice Award, and InStyle’s Best Beauty Buys Award for 2009 and 2010. In addition to its extremely popular mineral foundation products, bare Minerals introduced its READY eye color collection in 2011, calling it the “be-all and end-all eye shadow collection.” Available in 15 color duos, four color quads, or two selections of eight, the collection is said to be “powered by our proprietary SeaNutritive Mineral Complex and powerful antioxidants, cold-pressed borage oil, caffeine and cucumber” to “depuff” eyes and deliver smoother application.
Cosmeceuticals and the Competition

Cosmeceutical products satisfy multiple needs in one product. This kind of consolidation—the merging of health and wellness with beauty—is appreciated by consumers not only because of the convenience, but because of the economics involved. Paying slightly more for a cosmeceutical facial wash that also has acne-fighting properties is less expensive than purchasing regular facial cleansers and separate acne treatments. Although Americans are no longer spending as freely, carefully weighing need vs. want, they are typically willing to spend a little more to get a lot more. Most consumers understand the importance of maintaining their health and wellness goals, a pursuit assisted by cosmeceutical products. Those offering both cosmetic and medical benefits should therefore continue to be worth the extra price in the minds of shoppers, retaining their value-focused outlook even as the impact of the recession recedes.

Natural and organic skin care, hair care and cosmetics have experienced remarkable growth in consumer packaged goods markets over the past 10 years, and these products are still going strong. As natural and organic personal care products are more prominently organized into their own sections and given more space by retailers, it is likely that some cosmeceutical marketers are feeling threatened by the unified faces of these other premium-to-prestige-priced splurge items. Target Corp., for example, markets natural brands such as Alba, Burt’s Bees, Jason and Kiss My Face near premium cosmeceuticals such as Fekkai hair products and Nip+Fab skin care products.

However, shrewd cosmeceutical marketers will find ways to capitalize on the ascent of natural/organic HBC. There is a good deal of overlap between the two product classes. Cosmeceutical marketers are increasingly turning to more natural sources for their products, moving away from cosmeceutical ingredients that appear “chemical” and ingredient lists that are far from “clean.” Consumers have clearly demonstrated their interest in products that derive their benefits from identifiable sources, such as plant-based antioxidants and moisturizers. At the same time, because natural and organic personal care products are formulated to be free of harsh chemicals, many consumers automatically identify these products as being at least half way to cosmeceutical—that is, as the medical precept has it, as doing no harm. Furthering this cosmeceutical aura are the increasing numbers of new natural or organic health and beauty care products that marketers have positioned on cosmeceutical functions, such as natural lipstick infused with antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, or antioxidant minerals. For the future, cosmeceuticals that are natural ingredient based or certified organic can provide consumers with the best of both worlds.

About the author:
David Sprinkle is the publisher and research director for Packaged Facts, New York, NY. For more information on Packaged Facts syndicated market research reports, please see www.packagedfacts.com. You can reach Mr. Sprinkle by e-mail at: dsprinkle@marketresearch.com