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Justifying Skin Care Claims

By: Imogen Matthews
Posted: February 3, 2009, from the February 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

New ingredients and technologies have led to a flurry of new product claims for skin care products, particularly in antiaging. Twenty years ago, a brand could get away with far less specific claims, such as Estée Lauder’s “visible difference” promise, but today’s consumers have learned to expect a lot more. If they are paying a premium for a product, they expect to see results. “Now we want cosmetics to reduce cellulite, diminish the seven signs of aging, regenerate collagen and elastin, and so on,” said Jack Ferguson, managing director, Skinnovation.

According to Frost & Sullivan research analyst Yana Charushkina, product claims are changing: “We are seeing more biotechnologically derived antiaging ingredients. There is a change toward improving compounds’ compatibility with other ingredients and advancing quality, as well as improving stability and solubility. In addition, the production technologies are moving toward the green trend.”

Improved solubility can be achieved by blending compounds and developing different complexes with solubilizers and stabilizers. Enhancing stability is possible by developing derivative forms of vitamins that show higher stability than the pure compounds, so the market offers a variety of derivatives. Companies are looking to find ways to prevent their contamination and increase efficiency.

Charushkina points out that current legislation in Europe does not affect the introduction of new claims, but only regulates the market in terms of safety and environmental stability. “Many of the safety and environmental issues have been resolved recently—including exfoliating and safe antimicrobial ingredient concentrations in skin care products,” she says. “The regulatory environment is a challenging and restricting factor for skin care active ingredients manufacturers, but the main participants do not expect more regulations to come.”

Getting Tough on Claims

The claims brands make vary from country to country. For example, it is easier to make stronger claims in the U.S. than the U.K., which has the toughest regulations of any country. In the U.K., advertising is regulated through the independent body Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which, in the past two years, has become much more active in scrutinizing cosmetics. The type of claim a brand can make in the U.K. is “softer” than elsewhere. For example, a skin care brand can claim to reduce wrinkles in U.S. advertising, but in the U.K., it must talk about reducing “the appearance of” wrinkles.