Marketing Efficacious Anti-Aging Products

By Heather Granato



In her new book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” Nora Ephron addresses many of the curiosities of aging. There are the larger purses, the increased prevalence of hair coloring, and the preponderance of scarves and turtlenecks that make their way into women’s closets. Because botox and face lifts can help turn a shiny image to the world, it’s the wrinkles set in the neck that really tell the tale.

Popular culture has always extolled the beauty of youth; unfortunately, in today’s society, the other half of the equation—the wisdom of age—seems outdated. Instead, consumers are aiming to look like the airbrushed, 40-something celebs on high-def and in the pages of the tabloids. At the same time, they’ve bought into the eco-friendly movement, seeking more natural solutions to problems facing the environment at large, and their own problems in the vanity mirror.

“The driving force behind the growth of the anti-aging cosmeceutical market is society’s infatuation with staying young,” said Suhail Ishaq, vice president, BioCell Technology. “Baby Boomers are looking for safer alternatives than the common solution such as surgeries and pharmaceutical drugs. People are also more educated, informed and understand the importance of natural alternatives.”

Vladimir Badmaev, Ph.D., M.D., vice president of medical and scientific affairs, Sabinsa Corp., agreed with the assessment, noting Ponce de Leon’s dream of a “fountain of youth” continues to attract interest. “The pursuit of youth has become a global preoccupation with consumers, especially from the Baby Boomer population,” he said. “A growing appearance-consciousness is fueling the global anti-aging market. People of all professions and walks of life are under pressure to look good and to live healthier lifestyles.”

This obsession with appearance and youth is certainly driving demand for anti-aging products, which are projected to rise to sales of $30.7 billion in 2009, according to Steve Holtby, president, Soft Gel Technologies Inc. (SGTI). He suggested marketers specifically target their promotional efforts to the Boomer demographic. “These individuals, who belong to one of the most affluent generations, are willing and able to pay for products that provide anti-aging benefits,” he said.

At the same time, while demand started with the Boomers—and continues to be the mainstay of marketing endeavors—the target demographic for these products is increasingly younger, with teenagers beginning preventive care, and broader, as men are becoming more interested in retaining a youthful appearance.

“Manufacturers are targeting a wide range of age groups with different beauty products and messages, ranging from ‘preventive’ for the younger population, to ‘treatment and repair’ and ‘reduce the signs of aging’ type of messages for the more mature segment of the population,” said Caroline Brons, senior marketing manager, functional food marketing group, DSM Nutritional Products. “As an example, there is a segment of teen-oriented skin care products and supplements. This is an important group, since it is at this age that the long term structural health of the skin is determined.”

Ishaq added, “We also happen to live in the age of technology and information, which is influencing the buying behavior of younger generations. The youth are now in favor of prevention rather than waiting until it’s too late, which only increases the demand for anti-aging products.”

The age of technology is not simply educating a greater swath of the population, but driving product innovation as well, said Denise Elias-Costrini, global marketing manager, Amerchol. “The technology advancements that slow or even reverse the signs of aging are really enabling the market’s growth,” she said. “Breakthroughs in nanotechnology, peptides and identifying natural ingredients and plant extracts that provide benefits have allowed formulators to increase the functionality and efficacy of anti-aging products.”

Obviously, simple soap, water and moisturizer don’t cut it any more. “Gone are the days of using a basic cream on your skin,” said Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D., R.N. (“The Natural Nurse”), and Ellen Delisle, technical sales manager – cosmetic sales, Bio-Botanica. “A simple cream has become a sophisticated vehicle for delivery of complex nourishment and regulatory molecules to the skin. These delivery systems, or ‘vehicles,’ can be loaded with a variety of active ingredients. There are numerous delivery systems used in cosmetics today to deliver anti-aging benefits such as encapsulations, micro-emulsions and triple emulsions. Also, film forming ingredients can deliver actives at the skin surface, as well as enhance penetration.”

Consumers also seem to be invested in the concept of “beauty from the inside out” and the idea of nutricosmetics, combinations of topical and oral product offerings delivering synergistic benefits to the body. “Anti-aging for the skin is not all about hormones and having to cosmetic surgery, there are natural alternatives that are growing in popularity,” said Karen Todd, director of marketing, Kyowa Hakko USA. “New, exciting beauty products that target beauty on the inside are extremely popular. Instead of just relying on topical creams and locations, now beauty foods and diets are becoming the craze—it is becoming the norm for someone to eat foods and supplements that target the specific needs of their skin.”

Garrett Lindemann, Ph.D., CEO, Gourmetceuticals, agreed, noting: “Topical cosmeceutical products have dominated the market for years, but as consumers are realizing more and more that what they eat affects how they look, they are increasingly looking for food, beverage and oral personal care products that support a healthy lifestyle and overall physical appearance. And the global market for nutricosmetics is nearly $1 billion with anticipated double-digit growth. Ingredients/products that expand and grow with the nutricosmetic market could be considered the next innovation.”

Ingredient Offerings

There are already a number of well-known ingredient categories in the cosmeceutical market—amino acids, peptides, botanical extracts, lipids and antioxidants. And scientists are pushing the envelope in discovering new ingredients and revealing new opportunities for existing ones.

Brons noted DSM has broken down its “beauty from within” endeavors into five science-based platforms: UV protection, oxidative stress protection, skin barrier maintenance and hydration, skin structure metabolism and repair, and healthy nails and hair. “Our ingredients, scientific studies, formulation and expertise are all specific to these platforms,” she said. In fact, the company recently promoted a positive study on skin health that showed oral and topical treatment with the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin significantly increased skin hydration and skin elasticity, as well as the level of superficial lipids.

These carotenoids also function as antioxidants, a long-standing tentpole for the anti-aging cosmeceutical market. In fact, vitamins A, C and E have a long history of use in anti-aging products, particularly topical ones. “Vitamin A is widely known for its ability to rejuvenate and exfoliate the skin, and provide a younger, smoother appearance,” Elias-Costrini said. “Vitamins C and E also provide anti-aging benefits, though their effectiveness can be limited as their stability declines over time due to oxidation.”

To address the stability concerns and enhance anti-aging benefits, Amerchol developed the SatinFX Delivery System. Elias-Costrini explained the system: “It forms multi-lamellar vesicles to encapsulate both hydrophobic and hydrophilic actives, which improves the stability of these vitamins and other ingredients to enable more targeted, effective delivery onto the skin.” As an example, she cited the possibility of encapsulating dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a common ingredient in self-tanners that can increase skin’s vulnerability to oxidative damage, with the SatinFX delivery system and adding vitamin A to the formulation to provide extra oxidative protection and an anti-aging benefit.

Another popular antioxidant is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), possibly best known for its role in metabolic energy production, but also a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant. “ALL-Q® Plus CoQ10 has anti-wrinkling activity, skin smoothing properties and protects skin from UV damage,” said Kathy Maurer, senior marketing manager, personal care, DSM Nutritional Products. In one placebo-controlled study, applying a cream containing 0.3 percent ALL-Q Plus for six months reduced the appearance of visible wrinkles around the eye by 27 percent.

Lindemann also cited antioxidants as a hot ingredient for the consumer anti-aging market, noting they “appear to be the most desirable ingredient that manufacturers and scientists are looking to add to personal care formulations.” Gourmetceuticals’ experience particularly relates to its antioxidant PPL-240™, which is derived from a South American fern (Polypodium leucotomos), used as a folk medicine in Central and South America for fighting inflammation. “The safety, efficacy and mechanism of action [of PPL-240] have been investigated in more than 12 in vitro and in vivo clinical studies that were placebo-controlled, randomized and evaluated more than 250 subjects,” he noted. “It works by inhibiting free radical generation, preventing photodecomposition of both endogenous photoprotective molecules and DNA, and preventing UV-induced cell death.”

In fact, plants from around the globe are yielding exciting compounds with anti-aging effects. Badmaev said Sabinsa has been exploring the role of inflammation in skin aging, following reports that receptors for the inflammatory enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) are increased in aged skin fibroblasts. “Specifically, aged fibroblasts have a decreased ability to multiply, decreased expression of proteins involved in cell repair and regeneration, increased expression of inflammatory enzymes destroying skin collagen and elastin, and decreased levels of tissue inhibitors of those enzymes and less collagen production by the aged fibroblasts,” he said. The company isolated tetrahydrocurcuminoids (THC) from turmeric roots, and found THC may inhibit many biochemical and morphological changes in the skin that are associated with inflammation and COX-2 activity.

One better-known botanical in the skin health arena is Aloe vera. However, companies have looked at specific isolates and compounds for particular anti-aging effects. Unigen and Aloecorp, for example, developed a specialized, patent-protected aloe ingredient that the companies have found exerts anti-wrinkling effects, said Kim Pohlman, director of marketing, Unigen. In fact, she added: “a study performed by the Korean FDA confirmed the results that a functional health food containing [the ingredient] used in the study had significant improvement of clinical indexes of skin aging, in terms of factors such as wrinkles and elasticity.”

Ingredients that support the skin’s elasticity are also in high demand. “As new research is conducted almost ever day, and with the advancements of dermatological sciences, there is surmounting evidence that collagen and hyaluronic acid (HA) play a key role in the aging process,” Ishaq said. “HA and collagen are found naturally in healthy skin and connective tissues and it is imperative to replace these lost nutrients if we hope to maintain and strengthen the integrity of the skin.” BioCell developed a bio-optimized form of HA, BioCell Collagen II, that has undergone extensive scientific research to support its bioavailability and efficacy in anti-aging formulation.

SGTI also offers an HA ingredient, Injuv®, a 9-percent, low-molecular weight HA ingredient. “Depletion of HA in the extracellular matrix of the skin causes elastin to dry up and become brittle, which leads to fine lines and rough, dry, brittle skin,” Holtby said. “By taking Injuv, consumers can increase their HA content throughout the entire body and help reduce the appearance of fine lines and aging.” Studies on Injuv have shown supplementation can increase HA content throughout the body, including the dermis, and that it can increase skin smoothness and firmness.

Kyowa Hakko offers a low-molecular weight sodium hyaluronate that can hold up to 500 times its weight in moisture, as well as the specialty ingredient Lumistor® L-hydroxyproline. “This naturally derived amino acid has been proven to penetrate deeply to moisturize skin and enhance collagen synthesis,” Todd said. Studies have shown topical application of Lumistor can reduce fine lines and wrinkles by up to 32 percent after just seven weeks, while oral consumption can significantly increase facial moisture content and increased perception of improved facial conditions after eight weeks.

There are also specialty ingredients making inroads into the anti-aging cosmeceutical category. Steve Dillingham, Strategro International, cited marine-derived ingredients and human growth factors as two areas of cutting-edge product development, “particularly those providing a safe, ‘green’ alternative to synthetics or harsh chemicals.”

On the marine side, he called attention to a patented, natural marine enzyme developed by Aqua Bio Technologies. Known as Zonase, the enzyme helps remove dead skin cells, stimulates regeneration of new skin, and allows for transportation of moisture and active substances down into the epidermis.

As far as growth factors, Dillingham has worked with ORF Genetics, which he said “introduced the next generation of growth factors to the cosmetic industry. Their biorisk-free growth factors are shown to have great potential as anti-aging agents.” Marketed under the name ISOkine™, the ingredient is produced utilizing a plant-based expression platform.

As suppliers continue their quest to deliver innovative ingredients in more bioavailable forms and products, they’re also looking into their crystal balls to project trends. Ishaq, for example, expects to see formulators tapping into traditional health care systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurveda and the Native American cultures. “These practices have stood the test of time and are now being recognized for their use of nature’s resources such as herbs, botanicals and extracts,” he said. “These same ingredients are fundamental in regard to anti-aging cosmeceutical products and with increasing demand for such products, we can expect their continued use.”

Interestingly, Sabinsa’s foundation lies in innovative ingredients with a basis in India, such as its turmeric or piperine ingredients. Badmaev said the company is looking at new offerings that may support skin immunity—enhancing its barrier function and other aspects of immune support.

Today’s fast-paced society is also driving innovation, particularly in the functional food and beverage space. “Beauty you can eat is the hottest new trend, as consumers incorporate functional ingredients into their daily beauty regimens,” Lindemann said, “by consuming a beverage or granola loaded with antioxidants in conjunction with a daily sunscreen application for extra protection against sun damage.”

Brons echoed the sentiment: “Many new product launches in ‘beauty from within’ are taking place in the beverage segment. A beauty beverage nicely combines two beauty aspects: that of hydration inherent to the beverage itself and that of the skin nutrients that are in it. Also, the dairy segment is coming up with quite a variety of new skin-related products, such as yogurt-based drinks and smoothies with skin health benefits.”

Whatever the delivery form, the anti-aging market is ripe with opportunities to help consumers protect their bodies—internally and externally. After all, as Dolly Parton said in “Steel Magnolias”: “Honey, time marches on, and eventually you realize it’s marching across your face.”


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