The Growth of the Global Cosmeceutical Market

By Kat Cooke / 07 Apr 2016

With new research predicting the global cosmeceutical market will reach $61 billion US dollars by 2020, Aesthetics investigates what could be driving the market and fuelling growth

New research by business consulting firm RNCOS has indicated that the cosmeceutical market share will continue to ‘incessantly increase’, and is estimated to reaching a staggering 61 billion US dollars by 2020.1 The increase in popularity of cosmeceutical products has been noticeable to many, with this years’ International Master Course on Aging Skin (IMCAS) conference dedicating a whole day to the products, and it’s scientific director, plastic surgeon Dr Benjamin Ascher, predicting the sector is set to ‘explode in popularity’ over the coming years.

So what is causing cosmeceuticals to grow in popularity so significantly?

The definition

“First of all, we need to establish what is and what isn’t a cosmeceutical,” said independent nurse prescriber Lorna Bowes. She explained, “There is absolutely no legal requirement that a product must meet to be branded a ‘cosmeceutical’. Could some of the growth be because there are just more brands using this term? Maybe. I think there needs to be more clarity in the market of what constitutes a cosmeceutical.”

According to the Oxford Dictionary the term cosmeceutical can be defined as ‘a cosmetic that has or is claimed to have medicinal properties’,2 but the word itself is not officially recognised by the FDA3 or the Medicines and Healthcare product Regulatory Agency (MHRA).4 This means that any company can use the term to describe its products, regardless of the ingredients or their effects.

Results driven

Cosmeceuticals aim to be more effective than basic cosmetic products such as moisturisers, makeup and hair products. They claim to contain active ingredients that are known to be beneficial and Bowes describes them as products that have ‘genuine, medical peer-reviewed published data’.

Cosmetic doctor and general practitioner Dr Rabia Malik has seen a change in her patients’ wants and needs over the past few years, “Consumers are looking for results and there is a real consumer demand for products with active ingredients that actually deliver.

I think people are fed up with products that make lots of claims and then don’t work. They want products that can be supported by science or with data, they want cosmeceuticals.” Founder of QMS Medicosmetics skincare brand Dr Erich Schulte agrees, “People are willing to spend a lot of money on skincare but they want to see results. The ‘promises’ are not enough anymore with the big brands and consumers demanding more, knowing more and wanting something that scientifically works.”

New and improved

Bowes suggests that the introduction of new ingredients, added to existing core ingredients to further improve cosmeceuticals, has had an influence on their growth. She said, “We have second and now third generation hydroxy acids that improve on the results that you get with the first generation alpha hydroxy acids. We now have ingredients that are multi-tasking; so instead of just resurfacing skin and creating neocollagenesis, you get skin barrier support, matrix metalloproteinase inhibition (MMP), antioxidant properties, anti-glycation properties – all from one single ingredient.”

Dr Schulte believes changes in EU regulation have also had an impact on the quality and quantity of ingredients in the products over recent years. He said, “There are now regulations which mean you have to be clearer on the statements you make.5 For example, if ingredient ‘A’ is proven to be effective when used at a concentration of 50% during laboratory testing, then when you put ingredient ‘A’ in your product and claim it is effective, it must be at the same concentration. In the old days you could find products on the market containing, let’s say, just 5% of ingredient ‘A’ but also claimed to be 100% effective, which in fact it was not, but more or less nobody was questioning this. So now things are getting better for the consumer.” Dr Malik adds, “The formulations are always changing and evolving and the way in which we can utilise the active ingredients is getting better and better, which makes them easier to use. You also get less irritation and less downtime with products now, such as ones that contain newer formulations of vitamin A. So this is also making them more popular.”

Complementary treatments

Practitioners are also more frequently recommending that patients use cosmeceuticals in conjunction with injectable and energy-based treatments to enhance their results. “Cosmeceuticals are definitely an adjunct to aesthetic treatments,” said Dr Malik. “Cosmeceuticals prepare the skin and often you can get better results with your energy-based devices. The two go hand-in-hand and once you have done the treatments, whether you have had injectables or a laser treatment, cosmeceuticals will protect your investment.” Dr Schulte agrees, “If you have deep frown lines, you need botulinum toxin; if you have deep nasolabial folds, you need fillers; but with all these procedures you never change the quality of the skin and this is so important. I see it this way; if you look at a house, cosmeceutical products are the roof and the injectable treatments are the cellar.”

Continued growth?

Bowes believes the cosmeceutical market share will keep growing, “There is an increasing awareness of skincare that truly delivers, such as cosmeceuticals, and consumers are going to start to demand it more and more.” Dr Malik adds, “I think we will see a lot more nanotechnology and newer delivery systems. There is still a lot of work going on in getting a higher percentage of actives in to the skin. I also think we will see improved raw materials and so we will get better quality products, and, as a result, the cosmeceutical market is likely to become even bigger in the future.” 

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