As cosmetic scientists look toward the world of wound healing and antiaging medicine for new ingredients and delivery systems, cosmetic beauty treatments have truly merged into the mainstream.
One recent trend is 20-something women who consistently use wrinkle-relaxing injections to delay the first signs of crow’s feet and glabellar creases. This trend will force more skin care formulators to seek new antiaging products beyond garden-variety topical anti-wrinkle creams.
Cosmeceuticals can fall loosely into the categories of products that are preventative or reparative. For example, sunscreen is preventative, whereas peptides would be considered reparative. Antioxidants are considered the most preventative type of skin care agents other than sun blocks.
Prevention is usually a more difficult message to sell to consumers eager for a quick fix. While preventative products won’t necessarily provide visible results, they offer cumulative benefits that may not be seen for years.
Going forward, we can expect to see an increase in new patents and advanced technology. In addition, more clinical testing will become mandatory as brands attempt to convince buyers of the validity of product claims. Consumers will advance their knowledge via word-of-mouth and online conversation before making a purchase.
The continuing trend of firms creating truly effective antiaging treatments is prompting beauty brands to look beyond traditional formulations to discover more effective, science-driven alternatives.
Despite the abundance of organic and natural brands, there has been a pendulum shift to science in beauty. There is increased focus on immediate results with clinically validated products and claims, which marks a giant leap from the ubiquitous “dermatologist-tested” or “ophthalmologist-tested” notices on product labeling that just doesn’t pass the consumer smell test anymore.
BlINDING US WITH SCIENCE
Not surprisingly, a recent article published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology1 looked at the most common botanicals used in antiaging creams and concluded that more randomized controlled trials are still lacking, but some ingredients showed promise and needed more science to validate them.
Researchers assessed the top antiaging creams currently on the market by evaluating their botanical ingredients to determine efficacy. The following botanicals were deemed to be the most commonly used and popular in antiaging skin care formulations:
- Rosmarinus officinalis;
- Vitis vinifera (grape seed extract);
- Oenothera biennis (evening primrose);
- Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice extract);
- Aframomum angustifolium (seed extract);
- Diosgenin (wild yam);
- N6 furfuryladenine (kinetin); and,
- Ergothioneine (amino acid).
Every dermatologist and skin care expert has their favorites, but a common theme is the recommendation of a potent, stable form of Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid in the morning and some form of retinoid at night (as the skin tolerates it). The retinoid may include an over-the-counter retinol as well as prescription-strength varieties as found in Retin-A Micro, Ortho Dermatologics, Flemington NJ; Avage, Allergan Inc, Irvine, Calif; Differin, Galderma Laboratories LP, Fort Worth, Tex; and others.
GENOMES AND GROWTH FACTORS
While antiaging product marketing claims tend to use language that targets wrinkles, prevents oxidation from free radicals, or boosts collagen and elastin, the new buzzwords in cosmeceuticals have been borrowed from regenerative medicine.
Gene therapy and the science of longevity are driving innovation in preventive antiaging medicine and skin care. For example, Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Cream is the result of a decade of research to identify a link between skin youth and genetics. The theory is that the origin of an individual’s young skin lies in his or her genes, which are expressed by producing specific proteins found on the epidermis that diminish with age. Researchers at Lancôme claim to have created a range of products aimed at reboosting the activity of the youthful genes. (The technology can also be found in L’Oreal Youth Code Serum).
Sirtuins are another antiaging advancement that has found a place in skin care. The main role of sirtuins is to selectively regulate the activity of the genes responsible for metabolism, cell defense, reproduction, and other functions.
This family of enzymes is touted to prolong the life span of cells and slow the visible signs of skin aging. For example, resveratrol—which is found in grapes, nuts, fruits, and red wine—is considered to be a sirtuin activator. Studies have shown that resveratrol can activate sirtuins and extend life span in selected species, such as yeast and mice. However, sirtuins are large and unstable proteins and may not be able to penetrate the epidermis effectively. Sirtuins can be found commercially in the Dior Capture Totale range of products.
Neocutis, from Neocutis Inc, San Francisco, is a brand whose proprietary technology platform called PSP (Processed Skin Cell Proteins) uses cultured fetal skin obtained from a cell bank originally established for wound healing and burn treatments using a single biopsy of donated fetal skin.
The cultured cells are incorporated in a topical skin care product to obtain an optimal, naturally balanced mixture of skin nutrients, including cytokines, growth factors, and antioxidants.
PSP can be found in the firm’s different brands, including Neocutis Bio-restorative Skin Cream, Journée Bio-restorative Day Cream, Lumière Bio-restorative Eye Cream, and Bio-Gel Bio-restorative Hydrogel.
The science of epigenetics may also play a role in cosmeceutical skin care in the near future.
One theory suggests that genes can also be affected by the lifestyle of your parents and grandparents. Epigenetics advances the concept that diet, stress, smoking, drinking, exposure to pollution, and obesity of your ancestors can get passed down to at least one successive generation. Therefore, if your father was a lifelong sun worshipper or chain smoker, his lifestyle and behavior will factor into the genetic traits you inherit. In essence, the bad genetic traits (being overweight, premature wrinkling) you inherit can potentially overpower the good genetic traits, such as longevity.
FILLER AND LASER BRANDS BRANCH OUT
In 2010, a postinjection makeup with skin care benefits called Teosyal Cosmeceuticals Covering Repair Tinted Cover-Up Skin Care was launched by Teoxane Laboratories, the Swiss company that markets the Teosyal hyaluronic acid range of dermal fillers in Europe.
Not to be outdone, Q-Med Esthetics, most recently reported to be acquired by Galderma Holding AB, in 2010 also launched its own Restylane-branded skin care range into the medical aesthetics market.
Products that use light-based technologies are likely to become increasingly popular as traditionally invasive surgical techniques continue to experience a steady decline. The current trend is for manufacturers (and physicians) to offer consumers treatments they can perform themselves as an adjunct—as well as an alternative, in some cases—to professional clinical treatments.
Leading the category: launches of LED- and IPL-based technologies for skin rejuvenation and acne. These softer, high-tech treatments strike a note with consumers determined to look after their skin and who seek convenience and technology.
Consumer acceptance of this concept will serve to make laser- and light-based energy treatments more accessible to more groups, as well as offer a vital daily component of an effective skin care regimen. Newcomer to the consumer market, Palomar Medical, is poised to launch its long-awaited home care device for the treatment of periorbital wrinkles in 2011.
HIGH-TECH MEETS SIMPLICITY
As the beauty market grows more complex, there is also a parallel trend back toward simpler and more basic solutions for age-reversing skin care.
Some brands are launching global antiaging skin care products suited for all ages and all skin types as an alternative to the super segmentation trend of targeted products by age and skin condition.
For example, NeoStrata Exuviance, NeoStrata Company Inc, Princeton, NJ, launched the Age Reverse collection, which uses a multimechanism approach that includes peptides, polyhydroxy acids, the firm’s patented NeoGlucosamine, Retinol, and antioxidants that target all the signs of aging—loss of firmness, sagging skin, rough texture, fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.
According to Barbara Green, RPh, MS, vice president of technology & clinical affairs at NeoStrata, “During a 12-week clinical study, participants noticed substantial visible benefits after using the Age Reverse regimen twice daily for 4 weeks—including 100% overall appearance improvement; 96% improvement in clarity and radiance; 96% plumper, more youthful skin; 94% firmer skin; 92% more lifted skin appearance; and 92% reduction in the appearance of brown spots.”
According to Prevention magazine’s 2010 annual “Defy Your Age” study, when it comes to antiaging beauty products, affluent women are still looking to cut costs. Of the 1,500 women surveyed, 27% say they look to pay less on products they already buy, 16% changed brands, and 14% stopped using a product altogether due to cost.
Most women see a difference between eye cream, day cream, and body cream brands, but fewer are willing to pay for a high-priced product. Only 35% of the women surveyed say they would pay a premium for eye cream, while 32% would pay top dollar for a day cream.
However, the most encouraging finding is that being more frugal doesn’t stop women from desiring to look their best. When it comes to instant products that address the signs of aging by “filling” or “freezing” wrinkles, 57% of the women surveyed say they are likely to use these types of beauty products.
Wendy Lewis is president of Wendy Lewis & Co Ltd Global Aesthetics Consultancy and author of 10 books. She can be reached at
- Dracos Z, Cronin H. Top 10 botanical ingredients in 2010 antiaging creams. J Cosmetic Derm. 2010;9(3):218-225.