By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | March 1, 2017

Over-the-counter treatments provide consumers’ skin and hair with extra care.

Whether it is a minor annoyance or a persistent issue, breakouts, flaking scalp, diaper rash and other similar conditions can often be alleviated by over-the-counter (OTC) skin and hair care treatments. And while these remedies may not be fun to shop for, they are crucial components in many personal care routines—and represent steady revenue streams for companies like Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Chattem and RB—as well other manufacturers that have recently rolled out new SKUs in the category.

One is Galderma. Company officials have high hopes for Differin Gel, its new acne care offering that is the first and only FDA-approved, prescription-strength retinoid acne treatment available over the counter, and as the Fort Worth, TX-based company is quick to note, is the newest advancement in the OTC acne category in more than 30 years.

“OTC acne is flat to declining over the past several years but the number of acne sufferers have been steady,” said June Risser, VP-marketing at Galderma.
Mass market shoppers didn’t invest more into their acne care routines last year. According to data from Information Resources, acne treatment sold at US multi-outlets (supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains) fell 5.45% to $578.1 million for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 25, 2016, and unit volume dropped slightly more than 6%.

“We believe consumers are frustrated; they are trying different brands, different products, but since they have the same active ingredient, they are getting the same results,” Risser said.

Something Different
Differin Gel’s mode of action is different than salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide (BPO), those workhorse ingredients that fuel mass market acne products; instead, it contains 0.1% adapalene, a key active that doctors and dermatologists have prescribed to more than 40 million people globally for more than 20 years.

“We decided to invest and push for FDA approval to increase access to acne sufferers. Fifty million Americans suffer from acne, and the vast majority do not visit dermatologists or health practitioners,” Risser told Happi.

Differin Gel is a once-a-day topical treatment designed to be used over the full face or affected areas rather than spot treatment. Besides the gel, Galderma is launching a non-foaming, fragrance-free balancing cleanser and a gentle balancing moisturizer, under the Differin banner.

Galderma saw a big white space opportunity with older consumers, citing study statics in which more than 80% of adult sufferers agree they have never found a completely effective treatment. And the company is bullish about Differin Gel’s chances to become the category-leading treatment. The line is targeting millennials, especially women, but Risser told Happi that officials expect teens to trade up to this retinoid acne treatment, too.

Galderma will back the launch with media placement and education campaigns in consumer publications and online. In addition, there will be broad distribution at drug, food and mass retailers and through Amazon, according to Risser.

“There’s a lot of excitement, with patients and consumers, and retailers to re-energize the category,” she said.

Galderma is taking on category leaders including J&J’s Neutrogena, Reckitt’s Clearasil and others like AcneFree, which will soon be under the ownership of L’Oréal, following the beauty giant’s recently announced $1.3 billion deal with Valeant that also included Ambi and CeraVe skin care.

According to Frédéric Rozé, president and CEO of L’Oréal USA, “the acquired three brands, built on strong relationships with health professionals and widely distributed, will nearly double the revenue of L’Oréal’s Active Cosmetics Division in the US and will help us satisfy the growing demand for active skin care at accessible prices.”

Don’t Flake Out

Another major player is looking to increase its presence in a mainstay sector of the OTC market, too. Unilever’s Dove recently rolled out a dandruff care line, the DermaCare Scalp Series, which features three variants: Pure Daily Care 2in1 Shampoo, Invigorating Mint 2in1 and Shampoo and Dryness & Itch Relief Shampoo and Conditioner.

The collection, which debuted in January, was specifically created for women to address the need for a more feminine anti-dandruff solution, according to Robert Candelino, vice president of marketing and general manager for hair care at Unilever in the US.

“For the three in 10 women who suffer from dandruff, they are often conflicted, as they feel they cannot get the nourishment they need for healthy, beautiful strands while also having an effective dandruff solution,” Candelino told Happi. “Historically, consumers have felt that other shampoos on the market designed to treat dandruff leave their hair feeling stripped and dry.”

Dove DermaCare Scalp is formulated with pyrithione zinc to treat dandruff, along with a blend of oils known to nourish the scalp.

Candelino said the Dove variants rely on a powerful blend of skin-focused technology to eliminate flakes along with proprietary technology that provides shine and hydration, so women don’t have to compromise on the healthy look of their hair to fight flakes.

“The line features micro-silicone technology that has been optimized over the years to deliver a thin, more uniform layer of conditioning to keep the hair smooth and free-flowing. This, in addition to smaller particles of zinc pyrithione which are designed to deposit uniformly on the scalp, are how we fight flakes while keeping hair nourished,” he said.

The range will try to steal share from the clear leader in the $556.4 million dandruff shampoo category—Head & Shoulders. But while the venerable brand has a half-century under its belt as a go-to dandruff shampoo, P&G doesn’t rest on promotion or product development. In fact, a new campaign features actress Sofia Vergara talking up its newest variant, Head & Shoulders 3 Action Formula.

Like the Dove launch, size matters here too; Head & Shoulders 3 Action Formula is formulated with micro zinc mineral particles. According to P&G, the particles deposit deep into the scalp pore and are left behind—even after rinsing—improving the scalp’s condition and enabling long-lasting dandruff protection. In a nod to the demand for products that work and have great aesthetics (even in a medicated shampoo), this new Head & Shoulders formulation is said to contain a gentle cleansing agent that provides a rich, deeply indulgent lather.

New Remedies

Additional launches destined for the OTC aisle include products designed to soothe health concerns of the youngest consumers.

A new entrant in the $183 million baby ointment/lotion category comes from Beiersdorf, which added Aquaphor Baby 3 in 1 Diaper Rash Cream. Formulated with zinc oxide and panthenol, the treatment creates an effective barrier that protect baby’s skin all night long.  

Also perfect for little ones is Oilogic Essential Oil Care’s new Ear and Tummy Trouble Essential Oil Roll-On, which can found at stores like Target and Meijer.

“Ear and Tummy discomfort are such common complaints among kiddos that we’re so excited to launch this product to families across the country,” Oilogic co-founder Worth Anne Herrell said in a press statement. “We believe in safe, natural, and easy to use essential oil solutions that fit into your hectic everyday lifestyle. We know parents are busy and we’re here to make things a little bit easier for them.”

The roll-on is a blend of chamomile, lavender, grapefruit, geranium and lemon oils diluted with jojoba and castor oils, according to the Addison, TX-based firm. For ear discomfort, users apply the oil in a downward motion behind the ear toward the neck; for tummy troubles, it should be applied to the belly followed by a specific massage technique that’s available on Oilogic’s website.

While not headliners in the beauty marketplace, the workhorses of the OTC aisle provide consumers with much-needed TLC, and can be a shot in the arm for manufacturers, too.