Natural Ingredients for Skin Care


Consumers want beauty products that are both natural and effective. The ingredients industry is responding.

Consumers may increasingly seek natural ingredients, but they still want beauty products that deliver results. In response, ingredient suppliers are launching new natural-based ingredients backed by scientific research showing efficacy.

The Demand for Science-Based Naturals

Market research firm SPINS reports that sales of natural and organic personal care products in the United States have grown from $783 million to $852 million between March 2010 to February 2011. (Sales were based on natural and personal care products sold through natural supermarkets, specialty gourmet stores, conventional food stores, drug stores, and mass merchandisers, exclusive of Whole Foods and Wal-Mart.)

“The strong sales story points to consumers responding to the gradual evolution of the sector and increased natural and organic product availability in personal care aisles,” says Mary Ellen Lynch, director of consumer insights for SPINS LLC.

According to SPINS, consumer demand for efficacy and purity will continue to drive innovation. “Mainstream manufacturers will continue to add natural and organic ingredients to their products, while natural manufacturers will look to science for added efficacy,” says Lynch.

Beauty marketers are noticing the demands as well and responding by continuing to develop new natural product lines.

“Consumers are definitely much more attuned to natural ingredients,” says Jack Surrette of beauty brand SkinHealth Technology. “They want products that are [gentler]. We hear that feedback all the time,” he says. SkinHealth Technology is an R&D-based product line sold primarily through dermatologists. Its formulas are developed by Jeffrey Parks, MD, along with a team of skincare experts.

Dermatologists are traditionally in favor of using products with proven efficacy, whether or not their ingredients are natural. But consumer feedback is driving SkinHealth Technology to move toward using more natural ingredients.

“Sometimes there isn’t always a simple solution…especially when tests conclude that it’s the ingredient that isn’t natural that works best,” says Surrette.

Luckily, consumers may no longer need to choose between a natural or an effective product because more brands are marketing products that deliver both, according to Julie Campbell, vice president of marketing for Astral Health and Beauty, maker of the mineral makeup brand Pur Minerals.

“There are many more effective natural products being developed,” she says. “Natural ingredients are being processed using better methods, and there is a lot more data and better analytics surrounding the effectiveness of new ingredients. Formulators have many more options now.”

Kemin’s New Ingredients

As mentioned, many ingredient suppliers are doing their part to meet the demand for new natural-based ingredients for beauty products.

Kemin Industries (Des Moines, IA) is an ingredient supplier expanding in the beauty market. The company’s new personal care division was created last January and has been promoting its new natural ingredients at trade shows this year.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest in our natural ingredients from beauty and personal care product manufacturers. Companies have shown positive interest and willingness to test our natural ingredients in their formulations, partly due to their desire to meet the rising consumer demand for natural products,” says Marsha Bro, principal marketing manager for Kemin’s personal care business.

“Our promise-‘Natural with Science’-is the foundation for our natural ingredients. Customers and consumers want to be assured of consistency, safety, and efficacy of personal care products,” she adds.

Kemin now offers its trademark FloraGLO lutein for topical use. A natural antioxidant derived from marigold extract, FloraGLO lutein may provide moisturizing and elasticity benefits to the skin, the company says. “We’re seeing a lot of interest in FloraGLO lutein for skincare applications such as after-sun care, creams, and lotions,” Bro adds.

Lutein’s skin benefits have been tested in several studies. A clinical study published in 2007 in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology (P Palambo et al., vol. 20, no. 4) researched the ability of FloraGLO lutein to improve skin hydration, skin lipid content, skin elasticity, lipid peroxidation, and photoprotective activity, both in topical and ingestible forms. According to Kemin, the study concluded that FloraGLO lutein, topically and/or ingested, had a positive impact on these parameters.

Kemin’s other new ingredients for beauty and personal care products include Lysofix, a natural emulsifier extracted from soybeans; MicroCurb, a natural antimicrobial from fermented soy extract; Rosamox, a natural antioxidant derived from proprietary rosemary extract; and Speramox, a natural water-soluble antioxidant derived from spearmint leaves using a gentle water extraction process.

Indena’s Proven Results

Indena, an Italy-based supplier in business for over 90 years, is one of the oldest processors of plant extracts in the world, it says. This year, the company launched new cosmetic ingredients, growing its personal care portfolio.

“There’s been a lot of interest in the new ingredients we launched at the InCosmetics show last April, especially surrounding OmegaBlue,” says Guy Langer, founder of Qumulus Group and Indena’s sales representative in the western United States through national distributor Greentech USA.
OmegaBlue is derived from the oil of bilberry seeds, which are wildcrafted and handpicked. Its skincare benefits include anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to prevent pathogens and irritants from getting into the skin, according to Langer. “OmegaBlue was tested in vivo at a 2% concentration and it completely repaired the skin’s barrier following damage by sodium lauryl sulfate within 72 hours,” he says. (Sodium lauryl sulfate is a commonly used but harsh surfactant that can strip the skin’s natural oils. The OmegaBlue test showed that the ingredient improved the skin’s barrier-repairing properties following irritative damage induced by SLS.)

Indena also offers an ingredient ideal for antiaging skincare products, Siliphos, which can be used as an alternative to retinoic acid. “It acts similarly to retinol derivatives on the skin by increasing cell renewal, but without irritation,” says Langer. “Tested at 0.5%, Siliphos accelerated cell renewal and thickened the epidermis, without triggering inflammatory cytokines or irritation,” he explains.

Another ingredient, Xilogel, a natural hydrating polysaccharide, is already being marketed in beauty products by a few small beauty companies, Indena says. It is a greater-than-97.5%-pure powdered extract of tamarind seed (Tamarindus indica).

“Xilogel has extraordinary hydrating properties,” says Langer. He says that it was tested in vivo at 0.5% and hydrated skin by 59% in 30 minutes-outperforming hyaluronic acid in this regard. “It sustained its moisturizing effects for 60 days by boosting moisture in the skin by 36%. Within 30 days, it improved skin elasticity by nearly 20%, decreased skin roughness by 27%, and increased skin density by close to 8%, which makes it a multifunctional antiaging ingredient.”

Natural and Nourishing

Three of Croda’s (Edison, NJ) newest ingredient launches are ideal for many types of natural beauty applications, especially products formulated for sensitive skin.

Phytessence Blue Daisy comes from Globularia alypum, a flower that the company says has anti-inflammatory properties. Blue Daisy’s active ingredients are mainly iridoide glycosides, including catalpol, which is a molecule known for its soothing and antioxidant properties. The company says that the ingredient is perfect for antiaging creams, eye creams for puffiness, and after-sun products.

“It’s been shown to help reduce skin inflammation by reducing the release of two inflammatory molecules, interleukin 8 (IL-8) and prostaglandin 2 (PGE-2),” explains Victor Low, marketing executive, botanicals, at Croda.

He says that cell cultures were incubated with Phytessence Blue Daisy and exposed to UVB light. Measurements were made on the release of IL-8 and PGE-2 and showed that the cells incubated in Phytessence Blue Daisy released 47% less of both IL-8 and PGE-2 compared to untreated cells. “This correlates to a reduction in skin inflammation following skin damage,” he says.

Another ingredient, Crodarom Black Quinoa, is ideal for dry haircare products and sensitive skin.

“Black quinoa is native to the Andes region and is rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to help keep skin looking and feeling healthy,” says Low. The extract derived from black quinoa is supplied by cooperatives practicing organic, sustainable, and responsible farming methods, he says.

“Quinoa is one of the most nutritious foods available to consumers today,” says Low. Although many mistakenly assume it’s a grain, quinoa is actually part of the spinach family.

Another ingredient, Phytofoam, has foaming and cleansing properties that can help make a natural or mild skin or hair cleanser more effective, while providing users with a better sensory experience. It’s ideal for foaming face cleansers, body washes, and natural shampoos, the firm says.

Phytofoam is made from a synergistic blend of three exotic botanicals that are rich in saponins: the Skikakai tree (Acacia concinna); fruit from the Desert Date tree (Balanites aegyptiacus); and the roots of the Gypsophila plant, often used in soap in the Mediterranean.

“Phytofoam was evaluated via the cylinder shake method, and it boosted foam height and improved foam structure, resulting in a taller, creamier foam formulation,” says Low.

Another supplier, Naturex (Avignon, France), launched Dragon’s blood extract, which can be used as a revitalizing active for personal care products. Dragon’s blood extract comes from the bark of Balanites aegyptiacus, and it contains a high content of antioxidant proanthocyanidins, as well as taspine. These compounds protect the skin and stimulate its fibroblasts, helping to speed wound healing, according to Naturex. Dragon’s blood sap also helps regenerate the whole tissue, the supplier says.

Dragon’s blood extract is backed by in vitro and ex vivo studies, which have shown visible skin improvements, Naturex says. It can be used in beauty products formulated to prevent the signs of aging or in products that provide skin protectant or rejuvenation benefits.

A Classic

Aloe vera may not sound like a new, exotic ingredient, but it has staying power when it comes to personal care products. And aloe’s popularity isn’t showing any signs of slowing, according to Jeff Barrie, Eastern regional sales manager, Aloecorp (Lacey WA).  “There has been a tremendous increase in interest for aloe in ingestible products, such as beverages, but we’re also receiving many requests for samples from companies launching new topical beauty products.”

Aloe vera has long been used in beauty products, but the first clinical studies demonstrating its skin benefits were just completed a few years ago, Barrie says. One showed an increase in moisturization and skin elasticity, and another demonstrated positive effect on increasing the bioavailability of vitamins C and E. “Aloe is widely recognized and trusted by consumers,” he says. “Like any classic, it gets better with age,” he jokes.

The beauty industry has come a long way in terms of the way it uses natural ingredients. Barrie reminisces about the early 1990s when it wasn’t unusual to add a fraction of a percent of a natural ingredient to a product, just for a marketing claim.

“Those days are long gone,” he says. “The fact that botanical ingredients are being used now as natural actives has [created] an exciting new market, which will continue to develop-especially since the benefits of the majority of the plants in the rainforest still have yet to be discovered.”

New Testing Tools

With so much emphasis being placed on testing the efficacy of natural ingredients, it makes sense that some suppliers are developing improved testing methods. Symrise (Holzminden, Germany) has partnered with Cutech to develop a new ex vivo human skin model that includes subcutaneous tissue and hair follicles, instead of just the skin’s outer layers.

This skin model is one of the most comprehensive in existence, according to Symrise. The model is patented in Europe and allows ingredients and finished products to be tested conclusively for efficacy, including benefits such as antiaging, skin whitening, and anti-cellulite.

“We are constantly looking for new technologies to advance our development work of active ingredients for cosmetic products,” stated Dr. Gabriele Vielhaber, senior vice president of Life Essentials at Symrise, in a press release.


Natural Success

Developing effective natural products that target specific skin issues can be a challenge, but these brands have had success with certain natural ingredients.

Plants’ Potential

Origins’s Plantscription line is both natural and effective. Global president and general manager Jane Lauder has even called it one of the most significant product launches in the history of the Origins brand.

The Plantscription line launched last March with an antiaging serum. It then created an eye treatment that launched in October. Plantscription’s key ingredient is sustainably harvested from the leaves and bark of the Anogeissus tree in Ghana, West Africa. The concentrated compounds obtained from the tree help stimulate production of natural fibrillin, the skin’s elastic fiber, the brand says.

In addition, the antiaging serum contains rosemary extract to maintain elastin and Siegesbeckia, a shrub native to eastern Asia, to maintain collagen. Vitamin C and peptides are also included, to boost collagen and elastin production.

Plantscription’s eye treatment formula also features ingredients derived from Anogeissus, kombucha (fermented black tea), blue skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), and magnolia, which provide benefits including boosting collagen; repairing lines and wrinkles; improving crepey lids, saggy skin, and skin tone; and reducing dark circles.

According to Origins, Plantscription tested well against a prescription retinoic acid product. The serum worked 88% as well as the retinoid formula on wrinkles, without any of retinoic acid’s side effects, which can include irritation, burning, redness, dryness, and photosensitivity.

Dr. Lieve Declercq, Origins’s global scientist, plant physiology and molecular biology, discovered the benefits of Anogeissus while collaborating with scientists at the University of Strasbourg. The team was searching for new plant extracts that would effectively protect the skin against collagen degradation.

Flower Power

The key to developing more effective products is to combine ingredients that work synergistically, according to formulators at dermatologist brand SkinHealth Technology. The brand’s bruise balm, BruiseCare X8, is made with 92% natural ingredients. It’s a topical treatment for bruising often generated by other internal health complications, according to Jack Surrette, executive director. “Bruising is often prevalent among patients with cardio conditions who are taking blood thinners or other medications,” he explains.

Surrette describes the complexity of creating such natural formulas. “It takes an extensive amount of research and experimentation to develop our formulas. It must be naturally functional, as well as stable. Often, it’s the different combinations of ingredients that will make them work better than if they were used alone,” he says.

SkinHealth Technology also markets a product called BruiseCare Treatment Balm, and its key ingredient is Arnica montana, at an 8% concentration. Arnica has anti-inflammatory properties that help the body reabsorb trapped blood and fluid more efficiently, which helps heal bruises, according to Surrette.

Formulators at SkinHealth found that Arnica montana worked best when combined with the other key ingredients in its bruise balm, especially a peptide and polysaccharide blend.

“It took seven months to create this formula. We did a short clinical trial and saw some results, but then reformulated to achieve even better results,” says Surrette. “Our raw material supplier was helpful by providing insight about what was happening on the skin and how we could achieve better function with a different combination of complementary ingredients.” In clinical tests, he says, 73% of patients showed a clear improvement in bruised skin in seven days.

Nerida Joy, who has been called one of the top 15 facialists in the country by Elle and Self magazines, is another fan of the ingredient Arnica-but for its antiaging benefits.

“I love to work with products that contain Arnica, mulberry extract, and flavonoids because they all work together to support capillary walls,” says Joy. When capillary walls weaken, which can be caused by sun damage, poor circulation, aggressive treatments, and aging, they move closer to the surface of the skin, according to Joy. “They’ll become more noticeable around the nose and cheeks, which can appear ruddy, while a purplish-gray shadow can appear on the thin skin around the eye area,” says Joy.

The Nerida Joy skincare line and the new line BeautyMint both contain eye gel products formulated with Arnica. BeautyMint, launching at the end of October, was developed by Joy in partnership with celebrity Jessica Simpson and the online retailer/social media company BeachMint.

Formulation Tips

When evaluating ingredients for a new formula, testing can provide a lot of data but Surrette suggests going beyond an ingredient’s research and consulting with suppliers.

“They have the expertise to advise you on things like timing, because certain ingredients are faster to show results while others may show impressive improvements over a longer period. The formula’s base vehicle or delivery system is also often as important as the special ingredients,” he explains. “Suppliers will usually facilitate a more holistic approach to formulation.”

Joy says that there’s no substitute for testing different formulas yourself. “I’ve been lucky to have been able to use different products on clients every day for over 30 years so I’ve been able to see the benefits that certain ingredients have on the skin firsthand,” she says. Working with a team of trusted, knowledgeable chemists is also key, and developing a formula involves many discussions, according to Joy. “The success of any brand will always depend on whether or not you have a good chemist,” she adds.

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