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Claims and Promises

By: Imogen Matthews
Posted: November 29, 2011, from the December 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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According to U.S. independent skin care expert Wendy Lewis,* in the U.S., Olay and Neutrogena are sweeping the category for advanced formulations with a dermatologic heritage. Olay Pro-X Acne, for example, is a newcomer that goes head-to-head with Proactive, Murad and others. “It is positioned to be a huge win for the brand,” maintains Lewis. “These affordably priced cosmeceutical ‘lights’ are offering consumers a new option between prestige or premium brands and the doctors’ clinic—they define masstige in a new way. The R&D these big consumer brands can bring to the skin care arena is second to none. Consumers today need clinical evidence that products really work to buy into the concept and trade up what they are using.”

Lewis notes, too, that the cosmeceutical/high-tech product segment is one in which niche brands will have a difficult time competing because they can be outspent by larger brands for development and testing by a factor of 10 to 1. And consumers will continue to look for claims backed by extensive testing as they grow dubious to loosely backed marketing claims.

The Dove Spa Strength Within Anti-Wrinkle supplement is an example of a brand launch with the full weight of its parent company Unilever’s backing. The brand was developed following five years of clinical research by a team of leading scientists, dermatologists and nutritionists. The efficacy of the product was tested using clinical protocols versus a placebo control, and the final combination of actives were tested in a 14-week clinical trial involving 164 women. In addition, extensive research, backed by the British Skin Foundation, involved 500 women in order to isolate key ingredients that fight against the signs of aging. The ingredients used to formulate the supplement include soy isoflavones extracted from soy beans, lycopene and vitamins C and E.

According to the research findings, the actives within the supplement hit the bloodstream and reach the dermis through its supply of blood. At the product’s recent London launch, Unilever’s R&D spokesperson Gail Jenkins said the supplement is meant to deliver the greatest anti-aging benefits to the face, neck and hands, which are the most vulnerable to aging.

All Things Not Equal

Clinical trials are becoming the norm, but not all trials are equal. Lewis points out that the typical data used to launch a cosmetic may be a study of just 10 people, rather than the broader clinical studies and druglike trials of big pharma. “Most skin care brands do not offer documentation of their claims because they are not required to do so,” she says.