Many brands today in the beauty-from-within category, also known as nutricosmetics, tend to highlight collagen because it’s the ingredient that has the most consumer awareness, said Sebastien Merchet, nutrition business development manager for the North American arm of French ingredient supplier Seppic.
Collagen was dubbed by market research firm Euromonitor as 2018’s hottest ingredient at the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, CA, earlier this year. That was based on the ingredient’s ubiquity in new finished product releases—both in the dietary supplement and functional food category.
“But I think it has some limitations for formulation and claims when used by itself—it’s not the best for skin moisturization for example,” he told us at the recent SupplySide East show in Secaucus, NJ.
His company manufactures an ingredient called Ceramoside, a branded form of phytoceramides extracted from wheat, which has been studied for its skin benefits when ingested or used topically. Seppic manufactures the ingredient in a 30 mg powder and a 70 mg oil.
Support from published clinical trials
According to Merchet, ceramides give finished product makers an ability to make claims that they could not get from other ingredients.
“Our ceramides are extracted from wheat because the complex of actives and lipids is very specific. The way SEPPIC extracts it creates a ratio of phytoceramides and auto emulsifier DGDG (digalactosyl diglyceride) that makes it water soluble, more bioavailable, and more efficient,” he said.
Seppic has supported more than five studies on the branded Ceramosides: Three in vitro studies, two human clinical nutrition studies (one of which has been published in a peer-reviewed journal), and two human clinical cosmetic (topical) studies, Merchet said.
“One of the biggest particularities is that it is so efficient by its composition, that our clinical studies show results after only 15 days. I think that’s something that the consumer was missing—getting a product for their skin that wouldn’t take months to see the effects,” he added, referencing a study on the ingredient published in the journal Cosmetics last fall.
He continued: “We asked the people in the study what they felt, and it gave very good results. 80 – 90% of the active group said they felt improvements or they felt less pulling sensations or smoother skin. In the same time, the placebo group, only 5 or 10% said they felt these improvements.”
But Merchet wasn’t arguing for formulators to use phytoceramides in lieu of collagen. “They’re all complimentary. They’re not really competing against each other. Ideally you create a product with both collagen and ceramides because they will act on different layers of the skin,” he explained.
A more established nutricosmetic market in the US
Seppic’s Ceramosides had its first commercial success in the US market around five years ago, Merchet recalled, though promotion started around 10 years ago.
“When we introduced it in the US [ten years ago], the beauty-from-within category was not picking up yet,” he said. “We started to have success with the MLM companies that are reaching Asia, where the category was much more developed.”
Today, multi-level marketing companies continue to make up a bulk of Seppic’s business activity for Ceramosides in the US, which also happens to be the company’s biggest market for the ingredient. The nutricosmetics category has experienced an upward trend in the US. Data from Euromonitor says that supplements positioned for beauty grew 23% in the three years between 2014 and 2017, rising from $72.6 million to $89.6 million.
Merchet added that in recent years, the ingredient is appearing in nutricosmetic products available in more diverse channels, including mass market, specialty retail, practitioner channel, and direct-to-consumer.
He’s also seeing a lot of interest from big topical cosmetic companies keen to enter the nutrition space. “For these brands, by nature, it takes more time to develop new products because of their size and their process, but we’re seeing a lot of interest from them.”