While these beauty ingredients are so varied in their composition and function, they all share a common trait—these components are all actives in a skin care formula. Actives make a skin care product work!
In general, consumers in the active cosmetics space have a realistic outlook on skin care, according to Stephen Lynch, PhD, scientific affairs, L’Oréal USA Research and Innovation, Clark, NJ.
He told Happi, “There is an emphasis on maintaining healthy looking skin as opposed to seeking dramatic reversal of skin appearance. Active consumers are looking for recognizable ingredients in meaningful concentrations in simple, but elegant formats. They are often looking for both convenience and products that can multi-task.”
There has been a gravitation toward well-established, dermatologist recommended ingredients. According to Lynch, these include hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, retinol and glycolic acid.
“These ingredients are backed by extensive research and have been proven over time to offer meaningful benefits to skin,” he said. “We are seeing these offered in more channels at increasingly higher concentrations which used to be more exclusively available through professional channels. Consumers are becoming more patient and educated and they realize the power of these ingredients even though it may take time to reveal their full benefits. In addition, many of these ingredients are being offered in new formats such as gels and serums which bring freshness, simplicity and fast absorption.”
In the mass market, skin care sales rose 4.5% to $4.1 billion, according to data from Information Resources Inc. (IRI) for total US multi-outlet (supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains) for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 6, 2019. Hand and body lotion maintained at $2.1 billion. Facial cleansers rose 3.6% to $1.6 billion while facial anti-aging climbed 5.7% to $1.1 billion, but body anti-aging plunged 30.8% to $19.9 million. Facial moisturizers jumped 12.9% to $646.1 million, but acne treatments slipped 1.7% to $565.6 million. Depilatories fell 0.7% to $147.3 million while fade/bleach dipped 7.6% to $64.4 million.
In the third quarter of 2019, sales of US prestige skin care rose 7% to $1.4 billion, according to The NPD Group. In skin care, core products including facial moisturizers and cleansers were notable performers, as were lip treatments and exfoliators—which both grew double digits.
“Shoppers want products that give results that are seen, felt and immediate. However, they are becoming increasingly aware and informed about the products they use and, therefore, are most interested in products that are natural, safe, and effective,” said Eddie Omar PhD, CEO of Phyto-C, Elmwood Park, NJ. “As consumers become more educated and informed about skin care actives, they will become increasingly aware of the importance of different molecular forms and weights of actives.”
Omar added that there are a lot of variables that contribute to whether or not an active will work.
“The formulation as a whole is very important,” he told Happi. “Actives can work synergistically enhancing the desired result while other actives can be antagonistic. Additionally, the concentration of the active used in the formulation is a key component. It’s common to see companies utilize certain ingredients for marketing purposes. However, it’s important to note that just because a formula contains an active, does not necessarily mean it will have the desired outcome usually associated with the active if the concentration is too low.”
Skin care has come a long way in the past decade and there are more encompassing products that can eliminate steps in someone’s regimen, explained Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon based New York.
“Instead of treating the symptoms of skin damage, we are addressing issues at the cellular level. This means we are not only improving our skin health, but are capable of reversing some of the damage that has already been done,” she said.
Olay’s new retinol line is for more than just wrinkles. The Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Collection (shown on p. 62) hydrates, brightens, minimizes pores, and smooths and evens skin tone without irritation. According to the P&G-owned brand, Olay’s retinol moisturizer sandwiches Olay’s retinoid complex with hydrating ingredients like vitamin B3, glycerin and niacinamide, so users get all the benefits of using a retinol with no irritation.
The latest creation in the Eight Hour franchise at Elizabeth Arden is Great 8 Daily Defense Moisturizer Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 35 ($42), a do-it-all beauty multi-tasker. As an extension to the iconic Eight Hour line, which boasts infinite uses and infinite fans, Great 8 delivers as a primer, moisturizer and SPF combo.
Packed with eight benefits in a single step, Great 8 is said to protect against the damaging effects of sun, blue light, infrared and pollution, as it hydrates, purifies, brightens and fights excess oil. Great 8 is ideal for all skin types. Its semi-translucent lightweight gel melts into skin on contact, leaving no white cast or residue, unlike typical SPFs on the market today. This unique aesthetic and “addicting” texture, combined with Eight Hour’s signature energizing scent, makes Great 8 a fit for everyone, according to the brand. African whitewood tree bark extract reduces oil on skin and the appearance of pores, while Deep Sea Organism Ferment, derived from an ocean organism that thrives under extreme conditions, helps protect, calm and soothe skin from harsh environmental exposure. White horehound flower extract neutralizes oxidative stress on skin’s surface and helps reduce the signs of aging, while also protecting from the effects of pollution and blue light. Japanese bloodgrass extract provides long-lasting hydration by attracting water to the surface of the skin.
When skin visibly “acts up” due to stressors, irritation, redness and dehydration can occur. To combat this, Estée Lauder introduced Advanced Night Repair Intense Reset Concentrate, an overnight treatment that’s said to rescue and reset the look of irritated, stressed skin. With new Chronolux S.O.S. Technology, this serum reduces skin irritation in just one hour and immerses skin in 24-hour hydration and advanced antioxidants, helping fortify its natural ability to respond and adapt to intense visible stressors. Delivered in a velvety gel emulsion, the formula boosts skin’s clarity and smoothness and gives it a more poreless appearance. Active ingredients include stabilized salicylic acid as well as a multi-molecular weight hyaluronic acid complex.
Bliss Glow & Hydrate Niacinamide + Hyaluronic Acid Day Serum is an antioxidant-rich formula packed with 5% of the brand’s special grade of niacinamide. Hyaluronic acid and a blend of vitamins A, C, and E hydrate and protect skin. According to Bliss, this product layers beautifully under makeup and moisturizer. It is sold at Target.
Nicholas Perricone spent 18 years developing a proprietary polyamine technology. The result? Perricone MD High Potency Growth Factor Firming & Lifting Serum. The three-tiered complex, a combination of novel ingredients including polyamine growth factor, eggshell membrane and encapsulated retinol, delivers dramatic anti-aging results. Working to improve skin plumpness, texture, strength, cushion, bounce and resiliency for a rejuvenated appearance, the High Potency Growth Factor Firming & Lifting Serum also creates a lifting effect while supporting skin’s moisture barrier.
Clinically proven to nourish and protect the skin, Perricone MD has harnessed the power of its highly-acclaimed eggshell membrane for its newest serum. The thin, water-soluble layer that lines an egg’s shell was designed by nature to nourish and protect the egg white and yolk. Mimicking that concept as a gatekeeping barrier, the membrane supports protective and regenerating collagen, elastin and cellular renewal to improve skin’s elasticity over time, according to the company.
Rounding out the trifecta of youth-boosting ingredients is encapsulated retinol, a stabilized form of powerful vitamin A. The encapsulation not only makes it more effective, by improving the serum’s ability to penetrate skin’s surface for optimal results and minimizing the likelihood of destabilization, but also negates the adverse side-effects commonly associated with the powerful ingredient. Giving retinol the ability to be slowly released over time, High Potency Growth Factor Firming & Lifting Serum has both immediate and long-term skin benefits.
“After many dedicated years of research and development, we’ve brought the High Potency Growth Factor Firming & Lifting Serum to market with a combination of proprietary polyamine growth factor and other key sciences,” said Perricone. “The polyamine growth factor plays a pivotal role in the skin’s structural integrity for strengthening and ultimately generating a more youthful, radiant complexion. This makes the High Potency Growth Factor Firming & Lifting Serum unlike anything on the market.”
Also news is La Roche-Posay’s Hyalu B5 serum billed as a winning combination of Hyaluronic Acid + Vitamin B5 specifically Formulated for Sensitive Skin. The brand's award winning retinol formula, Redermic R, combines 0.1% PURE retinol with an exclusive retinol booster to provide dermatological-grade efficacy on deep wrinkles without irritation, said the company.
Actives are definitely having a moment right now in the acne skin care sector, fueled the launch of gentle, yet effective formulations, from key players in both mass and prestige.
According to Danielle Gronich, CEO and co-founder, Clearstem Skincare, San Diego, CA, consumers looking for actives should see where the desired ingredients are listed in the ingredient deck.
“The further an ingredient is to the bottom, the less concentration. This is a great way to gauge potency and value prior to purchasing!” she told Happi.
CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum, formulated with encapsulated retinol, licorice root extract and niacinamide, helps reduce the appearance of post-acne marks and pores. Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe offers a complete line of skin care products that contain ceramides 1, 3 and 6-II to help restore the skin’s natural protective barrier. The non-comedogenic formula is fragrance-free and paraben-free.
Clinique’s new Blackhead Solutions 7 Day Deep Pore Cleanse & Scrub is a 3-in-1 multifunctional formula that works as a daily cleanser/scrub and deep-cleansing mask to visibly reduce the appearance of pores and blackheads. It controls excess oil and smooths the way for clearer skin, helping to prevent future blackheads. A potent blend of salicylic acid and glucosamine clears away dead surface skin cells, while silica, kaolin clay and laminaria saccharina extract help dislodge blackhead-causing dirt, oil and debris. Soothing ingredients like vitamin E leave skin feeling calm and comfortable, according to the company. Thermal Active Technology helps loosen dirt to unclog pores.
AcneFree, another L’Oréal brand, has unveiled AF Adapalene Gel, an over-the-counter, once daily topical retinoid treatment for acne-prone skin. Adapalene, once prescription-only, is now the first over-the-counter acne-fighting ingredient approved by the FDA in more than 30 years. According to L’Oréal, AcneFree is built on a foundation of dermatological science and research, offering skin care products to help treat acne and care for the skin with dermatologist-recommended ingredients. AF Adapalene Gel features 0.1% adapalene that works to treat acne with less irritation compared to other prescription retinoid treatments.
At the drugstore, C&C by Clean & Clear spot on spot treatment is formulated with witch hazel and salicylic acid to promptly zap zits. The oil-free formula helps to reduce size, swelling and redness of pimples, one by one, and can be used as often as three times a day on the affected area, said the company.
Put a Mask On!
It’s no secret that masks are on the rise in skin care. From deep cleansing to soothing, there’s something for everyone when it comes to masks. According to Anglea Jia Kim, CEO and founder of Savor Beauty, New York, formulators are “hyper-focused” on clean and cruelty-free acid and enzyme peels.
“Consumers are asking more and more about how the products are made and are seeking transparency from the brands. They are shopping online and in-store to discover brands that resonate with their values,” she told Happi. “People are seeking natural methods to improve the texture of their skin to achieve ‘moist skin.’ Fruit enzymes such as papaya and pineapple are attractive since they offer gentle, yet effective, exfoliation.”
The brand’s hero product is a cherry collagen peel. This cooling concoction features cherry, pineapple and papaya active enzymes for exfoliation. Bearberry, mulberry and licorice extracts brighten and plump skin. Pea peptides provide plant-based protein and 22 amino acids to build collagen for smooth skin, added Kim.
Peter Thomas Roth’s latest collection is Pro Strength, which includes a Retinoid Peptide Serum, Exfoliating Super Peel and Lactic Pore Strength Treatment. The Peter Thomas Roth Pro Strength Retinoid Peptide Serum contains expert-level concentrations of 10% Granactive retinoid and 5% hexapeptide in an advanced leave-on anti-aging treatment serum. Ingredients work to improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles without irritation or dryness. Peter Thomas Roth Pro Strength Exfoliating Super Peel is a supercharged AHA/BHA rinse-off peel with 35% phytic acid extreme, 14% GlyAcid 70 HP and 0.4% salicylic acid USP. They are said to work together to help transform the look of rough skin showing symptoms of aging, reduce the appearance of uneven texture and improve smoothness.
And, the Peter Thomas Roth Pro Strength Lactic Pore Treatment contains extra-strength 30% lactic acid complex and witch hazel in a clarifying and decongesting rinse-off treatment. The highly concentrated yet non-irritating lactic acid complex helps purify and reduce the look of enlarged pores, while witch hazel works to clarify and clear excess oil. The treatment also contains 0.5% glycerin to combat any post-treatment dryness. All products are sold at Sephora.
Lancôme’s new Rose Milk Mist & Rose Sorbet Cryo-Mask is a mist and mask suitable for all skin types developed to smooth the look of skin. This unique rinse-off mask has an instant cooling effect as it revitalizes skin with a rosy looking glow. The formula, which includes salicylic acid, rose water and meadowsweet extract, helps reduce the appearance of pores, revealing smoother feeling skin that looks as if purified with a refined texture and visibly more even tone, according to the company.
L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum is the newest addition to the Derm Intensives family. This daily exfoliating serum evens out skin tone and reduces wrinkles. In one week, skin is resurfaced, appears visibly brighter and feels smoother, said the company.
When designing a new skin care line for Millennials, Neutrogena enlisted those who know that skin type well: four staff scientists who are Millennials. The team—Anna Rose, Carine Hardy, Anna Trondoli and Diyana Sudarsono—paired their firsthand personal skin care experiences with their scientific expertise to develop a four-part collection for brighter skin known as Neutrogena Bright Boost.
After rounds of prototyping each formula, communicating across different time zones, and coming together for two weeks in the lab, the team brought Bright Boost to life. Neutrogena said the scientists then merged Johnson & Johnson research with premium ingredients known to resurface and retexturize to develop the line.
The Bright Boost collection is made up of four key products including a resurfacing micro polish, an illuminating serum, a gel cream, and a facial moisturizer with broad spectrum SPF 30. The Neutrogena Bright Boost daily regimen can reveal brighter, wide-awake skin in just one week, according to the company.
Three of the products are powered by Neoglucosamine technology, a non-acid amino sugar exfoliant that helps boost surface cell turnover. Other ingredients driving the formulations are mandelic acid and glycolic acid to brighten skin.
Give skin a shot of glow serum while resurfacing and retexturizing the canvas of the face with Rodial Vit C Brightening Cleansing Pads. Formulated with a combination of vitamin C, 0.5% salicylic acid and 1% fruit acid complex, each cleansing pad is infused with a daily dose of brightening fruit acids to renew the complexion.
Meanwhile, SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight is a corrective nighttime cream that delivers an active 10% free glycolic acid for quantifiable glow come morning. The potent free acid value and 2% phytic acid breaks up cellular cohesions to reactivate cellular turnover. The result is refined texture, visible improvement in skin tone, fine lines and skin’s overall light reflection, said the company. The 1% soothing complex improves tolerability while inverse emulsion technology preserves acid levels and stability of the formula. Glycolic 10 is recommended for users looking for tolerable daily exfoliation to target signs of aging, fine lines and dullness.
Bliss Pumpkin Powerhouse Resurfacing & Exfoliating Enzyme Mask is infused with 10% skin-smoothing pumpkin blend of natural AHAs and pumpkin enzymes that gently exfoliates and resurfaces skin to reveal a refined texture. This mask helps stimulate skin’s renewal process while hydrating for fresh, smooth, glowing skin. Formulated with prebiotics to help maintain the strength of skin’s protective barrier to hold moisture in and keep impurities away, this product targets dull, congested complexions.
Swisse’s line of Australian clay masks also recently rolled out in the US as part of the brand’s expansion into the North American market following a 50-year presence as a health and wellness leader in Australia. The masks offer a premium and luxurious skin care experience made with natural ingredients like blood orange, manuka honey, matcha tea, dragon fruit, cranberry and turmeric. Available on Amazon in four versions, the range benefits include cleansing, brightening, clarifying and pore perfecting. All feature Australian clay, which has been used traditionally for centuries to help achieve healthier looking and feeling skin.
A Bright Outlook
Actives are making personalized skin care a reactive, according to Lynch of L’Oréal USA Research and Innovation.
“There are a growing number of options for consumers to purchase formulas containing active ingredients which are tailored to their specific skin needs,” he told Happi. “One can thus adjust the active composition or even the active concentration based on seasonal needs or periodic skin fluctuations. The future holds increasingly more complex diagnostics which are capable of reliably recommending specific ingredients based on probability of response and achievement of visible skin benefits.”
Also next in skin care development are “white paper” actives such as melanoregulators. According to Gronich of CLEARstem Skincare, cosmetic scientists work to develop “cosmeceutical” style ingredients to achieve a specific effect.
“Proprietary formulations are also in higher demand. Anyone can private label or copy an ingredient deck from a large supplier. That’s easy,” she told Happi. “Creating unique, targeted formulas that satisfy multiple skin concerns is what’s hard, but that is what consumers fall in love with and more companies are realizing that to exist in this space, you must deliver unique value!”