Saving Face

By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor | February 12, 2013

A look at the facial skin care segment over the years.

By many accounts, 1964 was a very good year. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared The War on Poverty and the landmark piece of legislation, the Civil Rights Act, was approved. Beatlemania was sweeping millions of teenagers off their feet and Ford rolled out its first Mustang.

It was also a watershed year for today’s burgeoning billon-dollar skin care industry (mass market sales alone topped $2.3 billion for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 7, 2012, according to SymphonyIRI).

In 1964, Estée Lauder launched Aramis, the first line of cosmetics products designed specifically for men including shaving gels and skin care; Mary Kay also tapped into the male marketplace with its own skin care range and hosted its first company convention in Dallas, TX. Brands such as Noxzema, Pond’s and Germaine Monteil Super Royal Cream were big on the shelves, creating a clean canvas for the “mod,” long-lashed Twiggy-inspired makeup look. And, L’Oréal acquired luxury brand Lancôme.

But, on a broader scale, a major consumer enclave was hitting the scene, as the last set of Baby Boomers was being born.


P&G’s Olay is one of the most famous facial skin care brands of all time.
The Last of the Boomers
That all-important demographic, the Baby Boomers, were birthed between the years 1946 and 1964. Today, at 80 million strong, Boomers are one of the largest demographics in the US, spending more than $160 billion on packaged goods last year alone, according to SymphonyIRI.

And when it comes to skin care, anti-aging facial products are very popular among Boomers, as spending on these products jumps significantly between younger and older boomers.

As the economy gains momentum and new ingredients and products come to market, skin care marketers have a significant opportunity to renew momentum in this area and to convert facial anti-aging category buyers to the body anti-aging market with messages around value and effectiveness, noted SymphonyIRI in its findings.

One of the ways is to gather attention with effective ingredients, according to beauty industry insiders.

Innovative Components
Natural ingredients and ingredients with proven anti-aging action are two of the biggest trends to hit skin care during the past 50 years. For example, Johnson & Johnson, a leader in the mass market with its Aveeno natural skin care, has built off the Aveeno colloidal oatmeal bath treatment to create a library of natural ingredients that are used to solve many skin care needs, according to Cathy Salerno, VP-R&D, global skin care product design, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc., Skillman, NJ.

“We know that in order to deliver clinically-proven efficacy, natural ingredients must be included at high enough levels in the formula. However, most natural ingredients carry components that lend odor, color and instability to the finished product,” she told Happi. “Our scientists have focused our research to develop processing technologies that overcome these issues and we can now source ingredients such as Total Soy Complex and feverfew in our Aveeno products that provide an aesthetically pleasing experience while also delivering superior skin evening and smoothing benefits.”

Today, the brand crosses over both the OTC/medicated and standard skin care segments with a variety of products, including the recent release of Aveeno skin care wipes. It also is tapping into the celebrity segment, as it just named Jennifer Aniston its new spokesperson.

Fruit acids have also become an increasingly popular way to treat acne and other skin imperfections over the years—bridging the gap between professional skin care only available at doctor’s offices to the prestige marketplace. According to Dr. Howard Murad, founder and CEO of Murad, Inc., El Segundo, CA, his office was among the first to bring alpha-hydroxy acids to the field of dermatology and topical skin care in 1989.

“Alpha-hydroxy acids, sometimes known as fruit acids because they are found naturally in fruit, were truly the first cosmeceutical ingredients,” he told Happi. “They are more active than cosmetics, but don’t have the uncomfortable or harmful side effects that drugs do.”

Murad noted that the most popular alpha-hydroxy acids for the skin include glycolic acid, from sugarcane, and lactic acid, from milk. The exfoliating properties of glycolic acid also make it successful in addressing hyperpigmentation, acne scarring and age spots.

Advancements in Anti-Aging
Oil of Olay was created in 1949 by Graham Wulff, an ex-Unilever chemist, but the skin care brand didn’t hit US stores until 1970, when Richardson Merrell Inc. (later Richardson-Vicks Inc) acquired the Wulff’s Adams National Industries that year. Procter & Gamble acquired Richardson-Vicks in 1985 and shortened the brand name to Olay in 2000. Today, the P&G-owned powerhouse is still churning out innovations. In fact, its latest rollout is Fresh Effects, a skin care collection targeting the younger set known as “Millennials.”

Mary Kay Ash (center) built her business with skin care.
P&G also debuted a reformulated version of its best-selling Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream (also available in a fragrance-free form) with Skin Energizing Technology to help fight the look of skin fatigue and accelerate the appearance of anti-aging results with two new anti-aging ingredients: Olivem and Lys’lastine. And, it took the BB cream craze to the next level with its CC cream.

Other skin care brands have built on cornerstone ingredients to gain brand loyalty. For example, dermo-cosmetic brand Eau Thermale Avène is based on the reported curative properties of thermal water. The modern age of Avène began in 1975 when Pierre Fabre, now the second-largest, independent pharmaceutical company in France, acquired the spring and its surrounding land.In 1990, the Eau Thermale Avène skin care brand was created to capture these same healing benefits plus anti-aging components.

Aveeno skin care circa 1987.
Modern Miracles
Dr. Dennis Gross, a New York-based dermatologist and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skin Care, agreed that the topical use of antioxidants is a major milestone in skin care.

“Facial skin care is constantly evolving. Antioxidants prevent free-radical damage,” Gross told Happi. “Antioxidants work to neutralize and fight free radicals. The topical application of antioxidants helps to prevent skin damage caused by free radicals, which is why they are becoming popular beauty products on the market today.”

Another skin care company, Jan Marini, is said to be the first to utilize TGF beta-1, thymosin beta-4, a combination of glycolic, salicylic and azaleic acid, and lipid soluble C and DMAE in its products, according to its Founder Jan Marini, Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc., San Jose, CA.

“Skin care formulations are becoming more sophisticated,” Marini told Happi. “This is in response to emerging technological developments and the appetite of greater numbers of savvy consumers who expect measurable results. We are going to see advances in the area of topical growth factors, peptides and more efficient and efficacious delivery systems.”

And yet, despite all the scientific breakthroughs during the past 50 years, slow and steady often still wins the race.

According to Anthony Gonzalez, senior skin care manager, Avon Research & Development, New York, whose company recently expanded its popular Anew franchise, “Facial skin care technology has been more of an evolution rather than a revolution.”