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You Can Lead a Woman to Nutricosmetics and Cosmeceuticals, But Will She Try Them?

Alisa Marie Beyer, The Benchmarking Company

Women who want beauty products that complement the natural lifestyle they want to lead are finding more and more options with every stroll of the beauty aisle and, lately, the grocery store. But what do they really want or expect from these products?

The Natural/Organic Beauty Buyer: How She’s Different

Today, beauty mottos center around the concept that what’s good for the inside reflects how the outside appears to the world, and women who buy natural/organic beauty products take that concept to heart.

According to the 2008 Pink Report, The Age of Naturals, 72% of women who buy natural/organic beauty products believe in the concept of inside/out beauty, compared to 49% of women who buy only traditionally made beauty products.

The study found that natural/organic beauty buyers are more likely than traditional beauty brand buyers to engage in activities that are good for the mind, body and spirit. Women who buy natural/organic beauty products are twice as likely as traditionally made beauty buyers to:

  • believe in or use holistic medicine
  • limit their daily sugar or junk food intake
  • meditate regularly
  • engage in yoga
  • visit a day spa once a quarter
  • believe in the effects of acupuncture
  • Women who buy natural/organic beauty products are nearly 30% more likely than their traditionally made beauty buying sisters to:
  • drink more than eight glasses of water daily
  • try to live a low stress lifestyle
  • wear SPF outside every day

They’re also 20% more likely than traditionally made beauty buyers to believe that strong will and humor can decrease the effects of disease.

We know that women who buy natural/organic beauty products tend to be in better shape than their traditionally made beauty buying counterparts. Seventy-eight percent of natural/organic beauty buyers exercise three–six times per week by going for walks that last from 30–60 minutes or by engaging in vigorous cardio or weight training, compared to 56% of traditional beauty buyers who also exercise in the same manner.

Attitudes Toward Nutriceuticals/Nutricosmetics

Most women, regardless of their beauty brand buying habits, claim to take vitamin supplements daily, with 74% of natural/organic beauty buyers and 63% of traditionally made beauty buyers indicating an everyday supplement regimen. Supplements they take on a daily basis include echinacea (38%); green tea supplements or drinks (36%); garlic (29%); gingko biloba (29%); aloe vera (27%); and St. Johns Wort (23%).

Most women are also regularly buying some type of nutriceutical food product on a regular basis. These include green tea, black teas and other types of teas (67%); omega-3 product additives (32%); digestive-aid yogurts (30%); vitamin waters (28%); and cereals known for nutriceutical properties (27%).

Functional foods are certainly becoming mainstream. But, when women were asked by The Benchmarking Company if they knew the definition of a nutricosmetic product, only 9% of those surveyed said they did. A definition of nutricosmetic was then offered as: some beauty brands have begun to co-brand ingestible “nutricosmetic” products to either eat or drink in coordination with a usual makeup or skin care routine for a better overall result. Women were then asked if they used any nutricosmetic products, garnering a 3% response, with brands cited such as Borba, Arbonne, Avon and Olay vitamin products.

While the small percentage of use was not surprising, women’s willingness to try a nutricosmetic product was highly encouraging.

Willing to Try Nutricosmetics

Women were asked which types of nutricosmetic products they’d be willing to try, with one of two answers provided for each: I am not willing to try, or I would be willing to try this. The results indicate that women do not fear ingestibles, and that perhaps they have not been offered a nutricosmetic in their preferred delivery system.

Seventy-four percent of all women would be willing to try a nutricosmetic product easily consumed “on the go” for maximum convenience. Because women are used to taking supplements, 72% indicated they’d try a nutricosmetic in the form of a pill or a capsule. Sixty-five percent of women would feel comfortable taking a nutricosmetic product in the form of a chocolate bar or another traditional consumable product. Fifty-three percent of women would try a nutricosmetic that was either lickable or dissolved on the tongue. Finally, 48% of women, the lowest positive percentage recorded, indicated they’d prefer a nutricosmetic in the form of a drink made from a powder.

Nutricosmetic Turn-ons

Women were asked how important the following factors are to them when considering a nutricosmetic product that they will ingest as part of their beauty regimen.

Women who buy natural/organic beauty products were most concerned with whether the nutricosmetic product has been independently tested and analyzed for potency, effectiveness and purity at 67%, that segment’s highest factor. Traditionally made beauty buyers are most interested in their dermatologist’s recommendation, at 58%, as the factor that would most inspire them. Word of mouth or a friend’s recommendation was the least important factor for both groups when considering a nutricosmetic product. Interestingly, women who buy natural/organic beauty products listed “only natural ingredients are used” at 61% as a factor that is important for them, compared to 44% of traditionally made beauty buyers.

Cosmeceuticals Confound

When asked about cosmeceuticals, topical products containing active ingredients that claim to provide a clinical benefit in addition to their traditional cosmetic function, 10% of all women said they understood what they were, and another 26% of all women said they use a cosmeceutical product right now.

Cosmeceuticals, however, are confusing for many women. When the 10% of women who claimed to use cosmeceuticals were asked to list them, the list contained only a few actual cosmeceutical products. Answers ranged from Aveeno products (with “active naturals” in them) to Avon, Almay, Clean & Clear and Proactiv, to true cosmeceutical products by brands.

Clearly, brands that truly offer cosmeceutical benefits need to educate the consumer on why the cosmeceutical product differs from the task of a normal cosmetic product.

Warming To Cosmeceuticals

More than 80% of women surveyed want to try a cosmeceutical product and use it like their other cosmetic products. The cosmeceutical delivery systems they’re open to include:

  • 83% would try a product applied like a normal cosmetic product
  • 79% would try a rub-on cosmeceutical product
  • 69% would try a wash-on product
  • 68% would try a mist-on product
  • 63% would try a spray-on product

As cosmeceutical delivery systems become even more innovative, it will be interesting to track the true acceptance of these products in terms of sales volume.

What She Expects

Of women claiming to use cosmeceutical products, 81% say they are using them to benefit their skin. Seventeen percent use them to enhance their lips, and 15% use them for hair care.

Of those who use cosmeceuticals for their skin, 67% expect younger looking skin and a more even skin tone as a result; 63% expect radiant skin and a slowing of the outward skin aging process. Seventy-six percent of women who use cosmeceuticals for their lips expect moister lips, and another 60% expect a decrease in lines around the lips. For those who use cosmeceuticals for hair care, 74% expect more moisturized hair and 31% expect hair growth.

Women don’t expect to wait long for these results, with little variation between the expected length of time they expect a cosmeceutical or a nutricosmetic to show visible results. Eighty-four percent of women expect to reap the benefits of using a cosmeceutical product in two weeks to one month, while 80% of all women expect a nutricosmetic product to show its benefits between two weeks to one month.

The expectations are high for nutricosmetics and cosmeceuticals, as is the skepticism. Success will be measured not in industry buzz or initial acceptance but in long term sales stamina.

Alisa Marie Beyer is CEO of The Benchmarking Company (TBC), a research and branding firm focused exclusively on the beauty industry. TBC’s women-only, permission-based Pink Panel provides beauty consumer data for the award-winning Pink Report, the quarterly research report that reveals what consumers of female beauty products want, what they’ll buy and why. E-mail:;

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