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The term “cosmeceutical” was coined after numerous products emerged on the market that combined common cosmetic preparations with nutraceuticals. While not officially recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the term is used industry wide to describe products that claim therapeutic value by way of ingredients that affect the structure or function of the skin, hair or nails1.
Cosmeceuticals is the fastest-growing segment of the natural personal care industry, with worldwide annual sales over $14 billion. The category is projected to grow 8–12% annually, according to HighBeam Research. Consumers are obsessed with maintaining a youthful appearance and aging gracefully, and as the global population’s median age increases, this market will progressively expand. Cosmeceuticals often target consumers who are image-conscious but leery of plastic surgery.
Cosmeceuticals that have origins in natural ingredients have sold well in department stores as well as mass outlets. Several botanical and vitamin ingredients used in cosmeceuticals on the market today have traditionally been used in folk medicine or kitchen logic. Red wine and honey are two such ingredients that could be linked to wined egg mask, an antiaging mask with a long and amazing legend dating back to the Chin dynasty. Traditional Chinese medicine is one building block to understanding how to combat aging, inside and out. Ritual and cultural heritage also play an important role as marketers develop global strategies for products that address antiaging. Asian women have much knowledge to share in the way of skin care. Most women around the globe understand that a key factor in reducing aging is avoidance of the sun. As early as childhood, Asian girls shun the sun, and when older, sometimes use chemical lightening agents to even skin tone. Light, luminous skin is viewed as a symbol of innocence and femininity in Asian culture. The historical rationale behind this cultural attitude is based on a belief that a lighter complexion was associated with wealth and higher education levels, whereas darker skin was indicative of a life of outdoor labor. Western women, especially in North America, generally possess the opposite attitude with regard to skin color. A tan makes one more attractive. Hence, the practice of sunbathing, tanning beds and self-tanning methods still are prevalent.
Pushing Ingredient Boundaries
The sheer size of the skin care market enables cosmetic and skin care companies to research the newest innovative technologies in achieving the “fountain of youth.” There are a variety of new ingredients in cosmeceuticals that are pushing the boundaries of science to deliver the best next-generation solutions to antiaging. Many of these ingredients contain antioxidants, which protect against free radicals, a major contributor to the signs of aging. Important botanicals include teas, soy, pomegranate, date, grape seed, Pycnogenol, horse chestnut, German chamomile, curcumin, comfrey, allantoin and aloe. Some of these ingredients have gained increasing attention in the West after a long history of use in Asia, specifically curcumin and soy.