Goji Berry and Wolfberry—Living a Double Life in Innovation?

The goji berry lives a double life in the beauty arena. The berry, also known as wolfberry, is seen as a strong Chinese medicinal, herbal ingredient. Although the goji is known for its strong antioxidant protection, it comes with its own controversy. Some groups argue that the goji berry is a completely different berry known as the Tibetan Lycium berry, indigenous to the Tibetan and Mongolian regions. According to the Tibetan Goji Berry Company, the goji berry “grows in very remote, unpolluted hills and valleys of Tibet and Mongolia, in soil so rich in nutrients that the berries are exploding with this special nurturing vitality.”

Other groups, however,  claim that the wolfberry is simply the name that is most commonly used in English, while gǒuqǐzi (goji berry) is the Chinese name. Mintel Cosmetic Research shows that the while wolfberry has been showing up in skin care products for a few years, it is indeed the goji berry that is being listed in some of the newest, most innovative products this year. The wolfberry is touted for its strong antioxidant protection, while the goji berry is being used in more forward-thinking products.

Estée Lauder launched Re-Nutriv Revitalizing Comfort Crème in 2005, citing the use of Reishi mushroom and Chinese wolfberry to “boost natural collagen levels while rich emollients lock in moisture.” The product was inspired by ancient Chinese medicine and used ginseng extracts, along with the Reishi mushroom and wolfberry, for their powerful antioxidant protection. Sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil and cupuacu butter provide the skin with hydration.

Elizabeth Arden First Defense Advanced Antioxidant Cream SPF 15 was launched in China in 2004, claiming that carnosine and wolfberry plant extracts were used for their ability to outperform vitamins A, C and E in neutralizing skin-damaging free radicals. The ingredient is actually listed as Lycium Chinese fruit extract, which some would claim to be goji berry if it came from the right region. However, the use of “goji berries” had not yet become popular.

Interestingly, the most recent wolfberry cosmetic product that shows up in the Mintel Global New Product Database is a men’s foot product that launched in China. Life Origin Foot Bath Sachets for Men is a product that claims to remove bad odors and also aids sleep. The product was formulated with Chinese herbs including Philose asiabell root, membranous milvetch root, Chinese angelica, peeled tangerine, epimedium herb, eucommia bark, Chinese taxillus twig and wolfberry.

The following products have all launched in the United States this year. The use of the goji berry is one of the newest trends in cosmetics debuting from Lavanila, Smashbox and Pangea Organics--all known for pushing the envelope of innovation in the beauty industry.

Lavanila Vanilla Grapefruit has a unique fragrance that claims it is “good for you.” It is free from harsh ingredients, containing 30 vitamins and minerals, 19 amino acids, and the goji berry. The founders of Lavanila wanted to formulate a fragrance that would “nurture and condition the body with each spray.” Out of personal concern for skin care and the environment, Lavanila Laboratories was born. The company wanted to use only healthy ingredients and chose the goji berry for its antioxidant power. This product is especially innovative because it is one of the first fragrances to make a claim that it is good for the skin.

Smashbox O-Glow Microcirculating Cheek Color with Goji Berry-C Complex is a color cosmetic that claims to have skin benefits. It is said to be the first “intuitive blush” as the clear gel “reacts with your personal skin chemistry to turn cheeks the exact color you blush.” Apparently, the skin’s moisture activates the Goji Berry-C Complex, creating a microcirculatory effect that produces a rosy flush lasting all day. The Goji Berry-C Complex contains vitamin C, pomegranate seed oil, and marine plankton for added healthy-skin benefits. This product is especially innovative because it starts out clear and reacts to give a true “blushing” effect, all while delivering a product high in antioxidants.

The Pangea Organics Facial Mask Japanese Matcha Tea with Acai & Goji Berry uses super ingredients to cleanse, detoxify, exfoliate, tone, hydrate, stimulate collagen and regenerate skin cells. It also claims to prevent wrinkles, nourish, protect and balance. The product is antiaging and full of antioxidants. However, it is not the product itself that makes this product especially innovative. The box contains Genovese Italian sweet basil seeds that allow the consumer to plant the box directly into the garden.

The Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) tracks new product launches, trends and innovations internationally. The Mintel Cosmetic Research Database tracks mass market and luxury cosmetic innovations in France and the United States. For additional information regarding either Mintel GNPD or Mintel Cosmetic Research, visit www.gnpd.com or call Mintel at 1-312-932-0600.

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