Safety and efficacy concerns drive innovation efforts in cosmeceuticals. For example, the toxicity of some chemical sunscreen agents has been in focus in recent years. Photo- aging is accelerated by exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, and prolonged sun exposure over a period of several years is reported to increase the risk of skin cancer. Sunscreens serve to protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation, and the toxicity of effective dose levels of synthetic sunscreens in terms of potential damage to the body is a matter of great concern. A recent study reports the possible endrocrine disruption effects of certain sunscreens, and approved sunscreen ingredients, such as octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) and 4-methyl benzylidene camphor (4-MBC), have been found to show estrogenic activity in in vitro and in vivo studies.
Certain natural extracts are reported to function as sunscreen boosters, allowing lower effective doses of conventional synthetic sunscreen actives to be used in a formula. In related research, several natural antioxidants have been shown to augment the effects of sunscreens by trapping free radicals that exacerbate sun damage.
Several botanicals with a history of use in traditional cultures have entered the growing cosmeceuticals market. With fewer potential side effects and the added advantage of multifunctionality, these natural-based cosmeceuticals are increasingly being used in mainstream cosmetic products. Spice extractives, for example, have a long history of use in personal care products as aroma constituents, facilitating brand identity and aesthetic appeal. It is only recently that mainstream personal care products focus on the cosmeceutical benefits of such ingredients, and the goodness of ginger, mint, cinnamon, pepper and other spices is no longer limited to their sensory characteristics alone. Such spices represent the new image of the “healthy and natural” in personal care. In addition, lipids play an important role in maintaining the barrier functions of the skin, providing structural integrity to the skin damaged by external influences, and are anti-inflammatory, among other beneficial activities. Lipid compounds that provide an occlusive effect to prevent water loss, repair lipid layers and restore barrier functions are, therefore, an integral part of antiaging formulations.
Bioactive peptide technology—inherent in ingredients such as Matrixyl (a branded palmitoyl oligopeptide)—has made a mark in antiaging skin care products, in the wake of the increased demand for Botox alternatives that lift and smooth aged skin and the runaway success of these products. Nutrients such as vitamin A and derivatives, vitamin B-5, vitamin C and derivatives, and vitamin E and derivatives also find versatile uses in personal care products.
A wide range of natural actives are available for use in antiaging topical formulations. It is important, however, that the ingredients selected are amenable to formulation and do not damage the appearance, texture and general acceptability of conventional cosmetic compositions. These requirements often pose challenges, necessitating careful application-oriented research to facilitate the development of innovative extracts from traditionally used botanicals.
By: Lakshmi Prakash, PhD
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the September 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.
A cosmeceutical is an ingredient with medicinal properties that manifests beneficial topical actions and provides protection against degenerative skin conditions. The word “cosmeceutical” was popularized by Albert M. Kligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, in the late 1970s. The term encompasses cosmetic actives with therapeutic, disease fighting, or healing properties—serving as a bridge between personal care products and pharmaceuticals.
The term “cosmeceuticals,” “performance cosmetics,” “functional cosmetics,” “dermoceuticals” and “active cosmetics” have become the buzz words in 21st century personal care, and U.S. cosmeceutical sales are now worth $16 billion and expected to reach $21 billion by 2012, according to Packaged Facts, June 2008.
Originally appearing in global markets in the 1990s as an off-shoot of the nutraceuticals revolution, cosmeceuticals are now recognized as a rapidly growing segment in health and personal care in the U.S., Europe and Japan. The results of this revolution are apparent in that cosmetics are no longer visualized as products that cover up or camouflage imperfections in personal appearance. Today’s healthful cosmetics strive for protective, healing and rejuvenating attributes as well. Note, however, that no “disease healing” or “structure altering” label claims are permitted to define cosmeceutical benefits. For example, a skin care product containing cosmeceuticals that help to reduce the signs of aging can only claim to “reduce the appearance of wrinkles.”
Several leading manufacturers of personal care products are active in cosmeceuticals, and they find niche markets that can be targeted with specific claims. The success these companies are finding and the phenomenal growth of the category is nurtured by the aging baby boomer generation, which has sought natural alternatives to cosmetic surgery. And within the cosmeceuticals category, antiaging cosmetics are the most popular segment.
More recently, the emerging trend of “beauty inside and out” is becoming increasingly popular, wherein orally consumed nutritional supplements (nutricosmetics) and topically applied cosmeceuticals work in harmony to promote physical appearance and well-being.