Anti-aging aspects are everywhere in beauty—from face creams and foundations to nutritional supplements and beyond. Although new anti-aging ingredients are introduced all the time, this market segment is also widening its reach by further developing the idea of what makes for youthful skin, as well as the audience to which anti-aging beauty products should be targeted.
Anti-aging is no longer just about reducing fine lines and minimizing wrinkles. The trick for youthful, healthy skin also lies in skin that is hydrated, evenly toned and textured, and supple. “Even though no two people are alike in their wants and needs for skin care, studies show that today’s consumer wants a product that addresses all seven signs of aging: dehydration, fine lines, wrinkles, skin discoloration, large pores, and loss of elasticity and fullness. The product that can address all of these issues and make a consumer’s dollar go farther will be a forerunner,” says Jessica Sappenfield, general manager of Cellure Stem Cell Skin Care.
Additionally, anti-aging beauty products aren’t just for baby boomers anymore. Preventive skin maintenance is a huge trend right now, so even young consumers are being identified as potential targets for anti-aging products. “Our target market is anyone over 20,” says Detlef R. Fuhrmann, president and CEO of Immupure LLC, a skin care line that uses colostrum, a nutrient found in the pre-milk produced by mammals. “You have to start protecting and preserving the skin early in order for it to look and stay healthy, and although we have many customers in the 35–40 and older age range, if you don’t start using good moisturizer and skin care products and habits in your 20s, it’s much harder to maintain good skin.”
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Eric Bernstein, MD, a dermatologic laser surgeon and founder of the LaseResults skin care line, who has studied the biology of skin for more than 20 years, notes that good anti-aging ingredients need to address the right problems. “You have to understand the science of what is going wrong in the skin,” he says. “Photodamage hurts the skin directly while in the sun, then over time due to chronic inflammation. To correct that, you want a combination of ingredients that will protect the skin from any detrimental effects and also stimulate the repair process.”
Sappenfield adds, “A good anti-aging ingredient should not only be effective in reversing the signs of aging, but also help prevent further damage. Day after day, your skin is attacked by environmental elements, such as pollution, sun and temperature, and that makes protection key.”
It is also about helping clients understand what products do, as well as what products they should be looking for to treat particular problems. “In the past, it has always been about wrinkles, but now consumers are savvier and have a better understanding of what it means to age in terms of their looks,” says Michael Anthonavage, technical fellow for skin care at Presperse. “People are now seeking out products for treating focused skin problems, such as texture and pigmentation versus general anti-aging claims, as well as products for the hands, neck and décollétage. These areas are new frontiers for us, especially because an ingredient used for facial skin doesn’t necessarily work the same as it does on the arms, where many vendors tend to test materials.”
Often, even though marketing and promotional efforts focus on one anti-aging ingredient contained in a product, the best way for a product to be more effective is for it to include a collection of anti-aging ingredients that work well together.
“A combination of ingredients is what is going to make the biggest impact on people’s skin,” says Bernstein. “The skin has many extracellular matrix components, living cells and various growth factors all working together to maintain homeostasis, so when it needs to be repaired or healed, all these ingredients need to work together to stimulate healing or rejuvenation. It’s just how the skin works. You need that bunch of synergistic ingredients to come together and work at the right time to get the best results.”
Some of the most popular current—and upcoming—anti-aging ingredients include human growth hormones and stem cells, new antioxidants and peptides, as well as minerals and vitamins that work in concert with these ingredients.
“Next generation antioxidants are great, because consumers seem to really identify with what antioxidants do,” says Anthonavage. “Now it’s just a matter of figuring how to formulate with them properly, because some of them are really, really powerful, and you have to deal with aesthetic issues, such as how astaxanthin is blood red. There are also new ingredients that are growing up or evolving from ingredients such as vitamin E and coenzyme Q10, and it is pretty cool to see the progression.”
Ingredient compatibility, as always, remains a key factor in product effectiveness. “If the ingredients are compatible with each other, consumers are going to get a bigger bang for their bucks,” says Anthonavage. “The natural state of skin isn’t just doing one thing at a time—its physiology is multifactorial. You have to push and tickle and touch several different aspects to reduce redness and improve texture and moisturize to lessen wrinkles, and so you are better off with a product that includes many compatible ingredients.”
“Our cells are made up of so many different components that affect the aging process, and to my knowledge, there is not one single ingredient that addresses each of these,” says Sappenfield. “Using a combination of ingredients in a skin care regimen will maximize the skin’s ability to regenerate.”
Of course, introducing an additional element to anti-aging products can also assist with effectiveness. “My clinical practice involves using lasers to improve the skin, much of the time to reverse the five signs of skin aging,” says Bernstein. “Topicals alone can get you pretty far, and if you’re only doing one thing, topicals are the best choice. When you combine quality topicals with the right devices, however, it can turbo-boost your treatments, and I think that is going to be a huge, huge thing for the future. Especially because at-home skin care devices are on the cusp of becoming very big, and more and more are being developed in conjunction with topicals by beauty companies.”
Outside the lines
Engaging anti-aging clients—whether they are seeking to eliminate wrinkles or prevent them—does require the product to have a hook. “Consumers are looking for innovation and for the product developer to connect with them in terms of something that works, so you have to temper science with sensibility,” says Anthonavage. “In a way, the product developer has to get inside the consumer’s head and identify what her problem is and then focus on a creative way to tackle it. A lot of times that isn’t just with one product, so you also have to be willing to educate the consumer about daily applications and regular skin maintenance. Once you get the consumer engaging in the process, you’ll have more compliance and see better results.”
However, overwhelming the consumer with too much information is also a real danger, because information saturation may cause her to tune out. “If it gets too complicated, it will just go right over the consumers’ heads,” says Anthonavage, and Bernstein notes, “From a marketing standpoint, many anti-aging products tend to just focus on one ingredient, but what really changes skin is a good combination of multiple ingredients, in a similar fashion to how the skin normally heals or regenerates with just the right combination of growth factors. You have to get customers engaged, but once you do, it’s about keeping them with a product line that produces results.”
Luckily, there are now a variety of ways for brands to communicate product education to consumers—social media such as Facebook and YouTube, dedicated websites, magazines and much, much more.
“You have to take the time to convey the science of your products and ingredients in layman’s terms. You have to lay it out in a way that makes the consumers think, ‘Hey, that’s a pretty cool idea!’ and then makes them want to share it with their friends,” says Anthonavage. “A lot of this market is leveraging new discoveries in biology and skin care to pave the way in terms of innovation and new product development. You might develop a great anti-aging ingredient or product that can do multiple things, but then your next move is to know your customers well enough to know how to use this innovation to engage them. Do they want to talk about the moisturization or the anti-inflammation? If a product reduces fine lines and redness, but your customer is focused on wrinkle-reduction, that’s what you want to talk about. Focus on what your customers are looking for and let them be further engaged by the other great things the product does.”
Abby Penning is associate editor of GCI magazine. She previously was the assistant editor for Skin Inc. magazine, where she won a silver FOLIO: Eddie award in 2009.