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Communicating Anti-aging Skin Care Benefits to the Consumer: Part II
By: Katerina Steventon, PhD, FaceWorkshops; and Steve Barton, Skin Thinking Ltd.
Posted: January 8, 2013, from the February 2013 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
Author's note: This dialogue, the second of a two-part series (see Part I of the series), is based on a presentation given by Katerina Steventon, PhD, (KS) at the Anti-Ageing Skin Care Conference on June 12, 2012 in London. It establishes a conversation with Steve Barton (SB), a skin biologist, to discuss concerns and perceptions of British consumers related to skin care. Barton has extensive experience working with marketing teams to improve communication of skin care benefits to consumers by initiating communication between the consumer and the formulator.
KS: British consumers want to resolve all concerns, often without understanding the cost and risk involved. Cosmetic procedures, including surgery and injectables are a fast growing business, with £1.3 million procedures bringing in £2.3 billion in the U.K. in 2010. However, the recent implant crisis shows that the risks have been downgraded and there are issues with realistic consumer expectations. Skin care can never be as effective as radical surgery. Air-brushing and enhanced images that mimic the effect of surgery are false promises and are damaging to the skin care industry. The realistic targets include matching the efficacy of retinoic acid, the benchmark prescription therapy for fine wrinkles, and endorsement of skin care routines that deliver noticeable, small differences in reducing skin concerns.
SB: Recent agreements between Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association (CTPA) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the U.K. have clarified the use of pre- and post-production changes in advertising images. While consumers may compare their skin care to surgery, a review of consumer expectations of “surgical” procedures suggested that people prefer subtle alteration. This may be supported by L’Oréal’s Laser Renew, a product presumably trialed versus laser resurfacing, a less invasive form of “surgical” intervention.
KS: The U.K. consumer responds to media coverage of new launches. A good example is the third party endorsement of Boots Protect & Perfect Serum on the BBC's Horizon in March 2007. The trial has been critiqued by the scientific community; however, the consumer demand brought Boots significant commercial success at the time. Two papers published since the TV program show a significant increase in fibrillin-1 deposition in six months and clinical improvement in facial wrinkles after 12 months (6 month, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial with a further 6 month open phase) compared to the vehicle and vehicle projection, respectively. This was the first clinically proven product that brought a step change in consumers’ expectations.
SB: Cosmetic formulators have a long history of utilizing dermatologist's view of the processes in skin and its changes with age; however, the prevailing view of dermatologists is that cosmetics only providing temporary improvement in skin dryness or protect from UV damage using high SPF products. Accepting this dialogue requires agreement on standards of proof and scientific methodology, focusing on clinical outcome. Can cosmetic performance be tested in a clinical trial? The choice of placebo for placebo-controlled studies is also a challenge, with no real definition of a cosmetic placebo.
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