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Taking Initiative



Innovative active ingredients are fueling growth within the skin care industry by way of anti-aging, specialized SKUs.



By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor



Published November 21, 2012
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Taking Initiative

Active ingredients in skin care can offer a variety of benefits—from turning back the clock to busting blemishes. They can also lighten skin, provide UV protection and even reduce the appearance of cellulite.

According to Carrie Mellage, director, consumer products, Kline & Company, who presented at Happi’s Anti-Aging Conference in September, consumer trends are driving innovation in active ingredients. After all, consumers want products that deliver on their claims, so R&D teams are hustling to keep up with the latest developments and incorporate these novelties into future formulations.


Estée Lauder recently added on to its anti-aging portfolio.
“Hot ingredients right now include botanicals, hyaluronic acid, stem cell-related ingredients and marine ingredients,” she said, noting that specialty actives in personal care target a wide variety of performance benefits—although anti-aging functionality dominates.

“Active ingredients (topical or otherwise) are simply ones that deliver a targeted, pharmacologica or therapeutic effect to the skin,” noted Dr. Ava Shamban, board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills, CA and author of “Heal Your Skin.” “The bottom line is that you will see better results when you use skin care products that contain the appropriate type and concentration of active ingredients for your skin type.”

Dr. Marina Peredo, board certified dermatologist and founder of Spatique Medical Spa in Smithtown, NY, agreed that active ingredients are beneficial to skin care products because they work as the main agent in achieving what the product was formulated to do.

“If an active ingredient is listed on a product, it performs its listed duty,” she told Happi. “It is beneficial to use active ingredients in skin care products because they enhance the formula to produce better results. The active ingredients are also what often draw consumers to a product. If they see an ingredient they are familiar with, they are more inclined to buy it.”

Sales of skin care as a whole—including acne treatments, body anti-aging, facial anti-aging, facial cleansers, facial moisturizers depilatories and fade/bleach products—in food, drug and mass-market outlets (excluding Walmart) rose 2.1% to nearly $2.3 billion for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 7, 2012, according to data from SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm. Sales of facial moisturizers alone rose 4.9% to $266.1 million; however, facial anti-aging products fell 1.4% to $807.9 million, demonstrating that mass marketers are adding a multitude of benefits to their standard SKUs as opposed to targeting a specific niche of consumers.

Prestige skin care sales climbed 12% to $3.3 billion for the year ending September 2012. And sales within total prestige anti-aging skin care market also rose 12% to $1.7 billion, according to The NPD Group, a market research company. Will mass market sales rebound? If recent rollouts in drugstores are any indication, sales may already be on an upswing.

Critical Mass
As a leader in skin care with an eye for emerging trends, Olay brought the first-ever mass market CC line of products to the US this season. CC, or Color & Correct, Creams have started to emerge in Asia as a new category and are designed for women who love BB Creams for their ability to provide a quick, flawless finish but are seeking skin care solutions that deliver long-term benefits, according to the company. The products are fueled by Olay’s unique set of actives, the Glucosamine Complex containing N-acetyl glucosamine and niacinamide.

The Olay Total Effects CC Tone Correcting Line treats seven signs of aging, while also providing immediate color correction with tinted formulas that include UV protection or tone correction over time. The multiple, must-have instant and long-term benefits leave skin luminous and even-toned with the reduced appearance of discolorations, fine lines and wrinkles.


Resurfacing Facial Cleanser from RoC.
Another pioneer in the anti-aging category, RoC Skincare, developed a new, two-step regimen that helps deliver maximum benefits from an anti-aging skin care routine. The new RoC Max collection is the latest addition to the brand’s portfolio of effective, wrinkle-fighting solutions. Designed to optimize the performance of the Retinol Correction Max Wrinkle Resurfacing System, the RoC Max Resurfacing Cleanser preps skin to achieve the maximum results. Using beads to exfoliate dead skin cells, the Cleanser helps prime the face for the Max System treatment, all while making skin smoother and more radiant. Post-cleanser, finish the routine with the RoC Retinol Correction Max Wrinkle Resurfacing System—a lightweight, two-step moisturizer that combines RoC Retinol with an E-Pulse Resurfacing Serum.


Aveeno’s active naturals by way of wipes.


Sister J&J brand Aveeno, a leader in “active naturals,” is putting its formulas into wipes with the new Ultra-Calming Makeup Removing Wipes. According to the company, these wipes soothe and cleanse, removing dirt, oil, makeup and even mascara with the active natural feverfew to balance the skin.

Setting the Stage
Advancements in actives are also on the rise at prestige skin care counters. According to Estée Lauder, its R&D department developed its most advanced, age-reversing moisturizer ever: the new Advanced Time Zone Age Reversing Line/Wrinkle Collection. A Tri-HA Cell Signaling Complex helps restrengthen skin’s natural cellular communication. Skin’s natural production of hyaluronic acid is boosted by 182% in just three days, according to the company. It also debuted Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum Infusion, a potent, fast-penetrating repair serum with all the benefits of its Advanced Night Repair product.

Dr. Murad is also looking to turn back the clock with his latest anti-aging treatment, Rapid Collagen Infusion, which debuts next month. Rapid Collagen Infusion is a youth building formula that infuses the skin with a unique botanical complex that encourages the skin’s own collagen production while helping maintain healthy hydration levels to plump skin and smooth fine lines and wrinkles, providing not only long-term benefits, but also the instant gratification of an immediate plumping effect, said the company. The product is clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in just two hours.

Rapid Collagen Infusion features Murad’s newest technology, RepleniCell, a hydration technology that utilizes a proprietary blend of complex ingredients to pre-treat the water phase of most Murad formulations, according to Jeff Murad, vice president of new product development at Murad, El Segundo, CA. The technology helps skin attract water, binding water within the skin’s surface and strengthening skin’s barrier to help it retain water.

“As opposed to using traditional deionized water, the base of this formula is RepleniCell water. This water has been pre-treated with a blend of the specific osmolytes and aquaporin stimulators that the skin requires to transport water through its membranes,” explained Murad. “In the pre-treatment phase, these components are fused to each water molecule through a proprietary technology via hydrogen bonding. As water comprises at least 50% of most topical formulations, this process transforms the bulk of the formula from a passive carrier of water soluble ingredients into a performance hydrator that actually has the ability to assist in driving the water into the skin.”

Murad continued, “The second high-performance ingredient in Rapid Collagen Infusion is the collagen itself. Historically, collagen has had little benefit in topical products because of its high molecular weight, which isn’t able to penetrate the epidermis—it has only been able to sit on the surface of the skin and act as a moisturizer to the upper layers. Until now, the only way to achieve true plumping with collagen was to inject it into the dermis in a medical facility. The new collagen technology in Rapid Collagen Infusion breaks the large collagen molecule down into its smaller component amino acids, which are small enough to penetrate. Once within the skin, these amino acids are able to attract water, which has a dramatic plumping effect that visibly reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This result lasts as long as the amino acids remain in the skin.”

To reduce the impact of “environmental assaults” and therefore the signs of aging resulting from chronic inflammation, Elizabeth Arden introduced Prevage Anti-Aging + Intensive Repair Daily Serum. Developed in partnership with bio-scientists and leading dermatologists, the formulation is said to blend the powerful antioxidant idebenone with an exclusive new ingredient, arazine, a new molecule that also has antioxidant properties that help protect against free radicals, soothe skin and reduce signs of aging caused by chronic inflammation.


Advanced Night Repair is now available in an eye serum too.
Elizabeth Arden Research & Development has discovered that the combination of idebenone with arazine helps neutralize 95% of environmental free radicals and minimizes the signs of aging caused by cellular inflammation, the primary cause of signs of aging. In just four weeks, this advanced formula is clinically proven to diminish the appearance of age spots and improve the look of skin firmness by up to 60%, according to the company. Panthenyl triacetate (PTA) and naringenin also soothe skin and reduce the look of redness, while botanical cork oak extract and polyimide-1 improve the look of skin’s firmness.

Philosophy is rounding out its top-selling Miracle Worker skin care collection in 2013 with Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Retinoid Eye Repair. The product features HPR, Philosophy’s exclusive retinoid, according to the company. Gaba, in combination with botanicals, softens the appearance of wrinkles, while pro vitamin C helps prevent lipid peroxidation for antioxidant protection.

Light and Bright
Products that fade dark spots and other markings are big in actives for the upcoming season. For example, Glo-therapeutics is rolling out a triplicate approach to anti-aging with the new Triple Action Serum. Aimed at transforming the appearance and texture of the skin, a potent combination of ingredients lighten, brighten and boost cell renewal for a flawless complexion, claimed the company. It is formulated with 2% hydroquinone to lighten skin and treat hyperpigmentation, while marine skin lightening active Algowhite facilitates the elimination of existing melanin to brighten skin. One percent retinol and 1% natural exfoliant glycolic acid work together to treat photoaging and increase enzyme activity to stimulate cellular renewal too.

Available in both light and rich formulations, Avene D-Pigment Dark Spot Corrector contains three skin-brightening active ingredients (Melanyde and patented retinaldehyde plus pre-tocopheryl) that work synergistically to combat dark spots. This unique formula for normal to combination skin slows the production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin color, while actively encouraging cell turnover. It also offers potent antioxidant protection whether hyperpigmentation is caused by hormonal changes, sun exposure, allergic reactions or age, according to the company.

Achieving efficacy akin to that of hydroquinone, Avene D-Pigment Dark Spot Corrector inhibits the synthesis of melanin without cellular toxicity, said the company. Melanyde, proven to have 10 times the skin-lightening effectiveness of kojic acid, is used at the safest, most effective level to ensure the ultimate in dark spot correcting. Mattifying powders leave a soft, matte finish. This SKU is clinically proven to reduce hyperpigmentation by 81% after three months, according to the company.

“Active ingredients are big in the lightening category,” noted Dr. Jeannette Graf, assistant clinical professor of dermatology, Mount Sinai Medical Center, NY, who also has a private practice in Great Neck, NY. “The most powerful skin lightener is hydroquinone. However, more recently non-hydroquinone alternatives have been used, such as arbutin, kojic acid and licorice extract and vitamin C. In addition, newer ingredients such as Melanyde in Avène D-Pigment Dark Spot Corrector formulas and melanozyme, which is a natural enzyme extracted from mushrooms, have been used in skin lightening.”

Professional skin care brand Neova has launched Serious Clarity 4X, an advanced serum with four highly effective brighteners that dramatically reverses the appearance of dark spots and skin discolorations. The result is an even skin tone and improved moisture without irritating side effects, said the company.

In a clinical evaluation of Sepiwhite, a key ingredient in Serious Clarity 4X, 93% of participants described the formula as safe, effective and comfortable. This brightening agent inhibits skin cells from producing melanin pigments and is effective in lightening the appearance of age spots and localized pigmentation. Manganese Tripeptide-1 Complex, a non-toxic inhibitor of melanin, also promotes even skin tone. Licorice root extract, a powerful anti-inflammatory extract that slows hyperpigmentation and soothes the skin; as well as tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, a brightener that possesses the lightening effects of ascorbic acid with improved skin penetration and less irritation, round out the mix.

A Boom in Botanicals
Plant stem cells are also all the rage right now in actives, judging from the rash of recent skin care launches. B. Kamins skin care, Pointe Claire, Canada, company utilizes heartleaf globe daisy plant stem cells in its new Nia-Stem anti-aging products.


Heartleaf globe daisy plant stem cells are incorporated into B. Kamins’ new collection of skin care products.
“Applying 2% plant stem cells to the face will reduce reactivity and increase skin transparency,” said Liga Upeslacis, an R&D specialist with the company. “Skin will be less blotchy, less inflamed and less red. Glycation byproducts are removed to increase the amount of light that can pass through the skin.

She explained that the primary mechanism of action is hormesis: providing controlled, low-level stress to the skin to stimulate a healthy response, so that the defense system is better prepared for the next, unplanned, external attack.

Ensuring healthy cells and a strong skin barrier is the other half of the Nia-Stem name: niacin at 5%, added Upeslacis.

“Proven and used for decades in dermatology, niacin repairs stratum corneum integrity for a stronger outer layer and the results are increased hydration, reduced TEWL and beautiful skin. Plus, niacin at 5% is proven to reduce sun spots and pigment deposits in the skin, by inhibiting melanosome transfer, and is gaining a reputation for its protective role in sun damage,” she explained.

The new Nia-Stem products—which range from an eye serum to moisturizer—contain B. Kamins’ trademark Bio-Maple compound, a naturally-occuring maple resin, with AHAs to exfoliate and sugars that will attract water to the skin’s surface.

Stila is also joining the stem cell movement with a new six-piece skin care system that draws on the strength of the Alpine Rose, a resilient flower known for its ability to thrive in the extreme conditions of the Swiss Alps. Alpine Rose Stem Cell Technology closely mimics the human skin’s (epidermal) stem cell function responsible for renewing, maintaining and repairing tissue, according to the company. Products vary from a gel cleanser to a correcting and brightening serum.

Dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD is set to launch Stemulous with LMC14, a scientifically advanced natural skin care solution that delivers multiple and immediate benefits as it helps rebuild the skin’s extracellular matrix (ECM) to help reverse visible signs of aging, according to the company. The serum helps to calm inflammation from adult acne-prone or rosacea-prone skin and correct the appearance of deep lines and wrinkles as it helps to restore a youthful appearance to dull, sagging skin. It contains a proprietary combination of natural ingredients: lipid-soluble vitamin C, lilac stem cells, algae extract and a marine extract harvested off the coast of Brittany, France, which rejuvenate skin by helping to activate 14 genes. The certified organic lilac stem cells are said to help reduce 40% of breakouts within 30 days of use.


Dr. Babor’s latest innovation is a booster kit fueled by actives.
Researchers at Babor Cosmetics have created a new four-step system. Doctor Babor Ultimate Derma Optimizer, billed as a “private skin care lab,” features a serum that contains multi-active ingredient agicyl (3%), a stem cell extract from of the globularia cordifolia flower; a Specific Hydro Booster (Blue) with the intensive active ingredient hydracyl (35%), a combination of the essential amino acids proline, alanine and serine which are elements of the skin’s natural moisture factor; Specific Anti-Stress Booster (Red), a balancing formula with sensocyl (10%), a combination of sitostreol (anti-flammatory) and linolenic acid; Specific Cell Protect Booster (Green), an antioxidant with the active ingredient oxidocyl (25%), a combination of rosemary acid, rutin and a mineral complex (manganese, zinc and selenium); and Specific Anti-Wrinkle Booster (Gold) that lifts and fills with epocyl (10%), a marine exopolysaccharide that works to “fill” in wrinkles and fine lines.

According to Fabienne Lindholm, executive director of education, Babor, West Palm Beach, FL, it’s all about actives in this set.

“A skin care product without active ingredients will not work—they will not be absorbed by the skin. Without active ingredients you’ve got nothing but oil and water,” said Lindholm. “The benefit to them is you will see actual improvement in your skin. You need active ingredients in a product to have any type of result or action.”

Facing Forward
As the population continues to age in the US, Europe and Japan, consumers seek alternatives to medical procedures such as Botox and fillers due to the high cost and side effects. Most of these alternatives start at home.

“We will be seeing more and more products that use cutting edge ingredients that are able to simulate the immediate, visible plumping effect of these fillers with the ease and safety of an at-home treatment,” explained Murad.

One of the ingredients swiftly gaining ground is niacinamide, added Dr. Shamban.

“Recent published reports show that it can help with reducing pore size and improve wrinkles, spots and scarring. It increases production of key protective enzymes needed to slow aging and prevent inflammation; and helps with the production of natural emollients that help the skin stay hydrated,” she explained.

According to Mellage of Kline, anti-aging skin care will always be a factor, as consumers want to stay younger-looking—but both suppliers and marketers have to keep up with the current demand.

“Winning brands will have intelligence about the market, suppliers and consumers,” she said.



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