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Cosmeceuticals Inject Innovation Into Anti-aging

By: Diana Dodson
Posted: July 23, 2008, from the August 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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With so much innovation going on, keeping the spotlight on facial anti-agers, and maintaining consumer interest, it is little wonder that new Euromonitor International forecasts point to growth of almost 8% per year from 2007–2012, more than twice the predicted gains in the cosmetics and toiletries market overall. And those figures only include dedicated facial anti-agers. It is worth noting that anti-aging properties have found their way into other beauty products, too, helping to inject new vitality into sales. Brands in sectors as disparate as color cosmetics, hair care, bath and shower products, oral hygiene and deodorants have begun positioning their products as tools in the fight against aging. There even exists a fragrance claiming to shave up to six years off the wearer’s looks.

However, going forward, anti-aging brands may have to work harder to attract sales. Increasingly, it is how a product’s benefits are communicated, rather than how the product is formulated, that is the key to winning consumers. The past year has seen increased media attention on the question of whether anti-agers actually work, and consumers have become more skeptical of marketing claims. In late 2007, U.K. pharmacists lashed out against top-selling anti-aging brands, describing claims about their rejuvenating properties as scientifically incomprehensible. Regulators in several countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom, have also begun scrutinizing claims more closely, and one company has even had to pull advertisements that claimed one of its anti-aging brands was an “alternative option to a facelift.”

This growing skepticism has meant consumers are increasingly being persuaded by independent studies on choice products—and not by manufacturers themselves. In early 2007, a U.K. documentary found a scientific backing for the anti-aging claims made by one particular brand’s beauty serum. The program led to a shopping frenzy in which the beauty retailer sold out an entire year’s supply of the product within two weeks of the broadcast.

Of course, another effect of rising cosmeceutical and anti-aging product demand is possible growing legislation regarding them. The increased scrutiny of product claims could mean greater regulation of the cosmeceuticals market and a subsequent slowdown in product innovation. Anti-agers found to live up to their claims by causing physiological changes to the skin could be reclassified as medicines and are subject to far more stringent regulations than a pure cosmetic.