Active ingredients have long been the focus for anti-ageing products, but now many of the cosmetics giants are beginning to place an increasing emphasis on increasingly sophisticated delivery systems in an effort to improve efficacy.
Leading skin caremarketers like L'Oreal and Estee Lauder have adopted technologies from otherfields, including pharmaceuticals and electronics, to introduce anti-agingactives to the skin more effectively, more efficiently, and for a longerduration.
By employing novel delivery systems like nanoparticles, these companiesand their competitors have not only introduced several new product lines,they've also been able to breathe new life into existing ones.
This has ledto double-digit growth rates for skin care products - the only segment toshow such excitement for the short term in an otherwise mature cosmetics and toiletries market.
Retail sales of anti-aging skin care products are valued at nearly$2.5 billion (€1.9bn) in the US alone and the global market estimated to be worth $6.9 billion in 2003, to according estimates from market researchfirm Kline & Company . Indeed, a recent study by Kline, pegs US and Western Europeanconsumption of specialty active ingredients - compounds that provide a therapeutic benefit to the skin or hair - and the systems usedto deliver these ingredients, at more than $500 million at the manufacturerlevel and rising steadily.
"Skin care marketers have always focused a lot of attention on findingbetter and more powerful active ingredients, but they're also developing newand more effective ways to deliver the actives they're already using," saidGillian Morris, industry manager for Kline's Chemicals and Materials Practice.
"These new delivery systems can provide more targeted results to theapplication site and can really differentiate a marketer's product from therest of the field."
This has also helped to extend the anti-aging trend into the mass market,where there is enormous demand for effective - but affordable - noninvasivealternatives to cosmetic surgery. Morris also notes that until fairly recently,advanced specialty actives could be found only in 'professional' productspurchased from spas and salons, dermatologist offices and cosmetic surgeryclinics, or high-end prestige outlets.
Now, thanks in part to more effective delivery systems, the larger cosmetic and personal care marketers have been able to introduce their own anti-aging products in theretail market. Brands like Olay and Neutrogena have launched'professional-type' products in the mass retail market, positioning themselvesto compete with professional skin care brands but at much lower price pointsand with much larger distribution.
Another study recently published by Kline about the US skin care market states that sales of these professional-oriented productsincreased by more than 80 per cent in the past year, leaping to an estimated$285 million in 2004.
The anti-aging trend has also energised the raw materials side of thebusiness, attracting new entrants as well as generating mergers andacquisitions. In March, ISP Hallcrest was formed when US-based ISP acquired certainbusinesses and assets of UK-based Hallcrest, a leader in microencapsulation forcosmetics and toiletries. And Englehard, which previously focused on effectpigments, purchased Collaborative Labs, a leader in delivery systems andactives for personal care.
"Like their clients, raw materials suppliers are also scrambling to meetdemand for newer and better actives and delivery system technologies," saidMorris. "This is one of the only sectors in specialty chemicals where the supplier base is expanding right now, and many firms are leveraging technologies from pharma applications to capitalise on the tremendous growth in personal care."