Even as some consumers turn away from the concept of “anti-aging”, demand for these products continues to grow. The global anti-aging skincare market was valued at over $40B in 2020, and the industry continues to make huge strides, combining the latest research in life sciences and innovative technology. What does the future hold for aging? 

It All Begins with the Skin

Skincare products target the top two layers of skin, the epidermis and dermis. The outermost coating of the epidermis, called the stratum corneum, is a waterproof barrier made of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. This barrier keeps moisture in and microorganisms out.  

Skin ages in two ways: 

  1. Intrinsic aging. This naturally occurs over time, as cell renewal slows down and hormonal changes begin to affect the appearance of the skin. As skin ages, ceramides and cholesterol decline. Subcutaneous fat layers get thinner, so skin appears less plump. Skin becomes slack due to reduced elastin and collagen production. 
  2. Extrinsic aging. This is a result of lifestyle and environmental factors. UV radiation accounts for up to 80% of extrinsic aging, while lifestyle choices such as smoking, poor diet, excess alcohol, and diseases such as diabetes also affect the appearance and health of the skin. 

As the distinction between “skincare” and “cosmetics” has blurred, consumers are looking for products and techniques that keep the skin looking full, moist, and firm, at any age. 

Next Generation Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients

In skincare and health, consumers continue to demand products and ingredients that are natural, sustainable, and ethical. Consumers are more informed and educated about skincare ingredients than ever, and in recent years have seen online search move away from problems and solutions (“acne”, “wrinkles”, etc) toward specific ingredients like “retinol” or “Q10”. This shift toward responsibility and transparency has led to the adoption of new ingredients and production methods, including: 

  • A moisturizing agent called squalene is made from the livers of deep-sea sharks. Thousands were killed annually, mostly to supply the cosmetic industry. Synthetic squalene, called squalane, is now manufactured by the chemical company Kuraray. Squalane costs slightly more but informed consumers prefer the synthetic agent.
  • In 2022, Unilever & Genomatica (Geno) are upscaling a process to produce a synthetic version of palm oil, a prime ingredient in many cosmetic products. Palm oil production causes devastating loss of tropical forests.
  • IFF/Lucas Meyer’s Greyverse™ is a biomimetic peptide that stimulates melanin synthesis, causing hair re-pigmentation and the reversal of grey hair. 

Innovations in Anti-Aging Skin Care Technologies

Rising demand, more informed consumer priorities, and changing global conditions are combined to bring genuinely novel products to the market. Some of the latest breakthroughs include:

  • Precision environmental protection. BreezoMeter is a world-leading lab exploring air quality, pollen, and fires. They’ve partnered with L’Oreal to create an ‘exposome platform’, a line of skin care products specifically tailored to the way skin responds to its unique environment.
  • Synthetic skin. Research into improving care for wounds and burns has led to the development of ‘second skin’ products, that invisibly seal and protect real skin while simulating a smooth, clean skin surface. Lily Bioceuticals and Shiseido already market a second-skin under-eye treatment, and laboratories are continuing to expand the possibilities with gelatin sponge scaffolds that both simulate and protect the real skin underneath. 
  • Cell regeneration. Altos Labs is a biotech company developing life extension therapy, reprogramming human cells to reverse the effects of aging and setting the clock in human cells back 30 years.
  • Skin microbiome. Cosmax, Dermala and other companies are studying the combinations of organisms that live on healthy skin, and the effects of transplanting younger microbiome components onto aging skin. Results are improved hydration, skin tone, and a more youthful appearance. 

The Future of Anti-Aging Skincare

More and more women are actively choosing to reject the concept of “anti-aging”. During the pandemic, an emphasis on mental wellness, self-care, and positivity has led to a questioning of traditional beauty standards and made more women want to embrace the aging process. 

However, this shift in attitude has not reduced the demand for these products at all. Instead of focusing on aging as a problem to be solved, new attitudes perceive skincare as an investment in health and beauty that applies to men as well as women, of all ages. 

In fact, “skinvestors” tend to be young consumers who see their appearance as an investment, and are willing to put time and money towards maintaining and improving it. In the US, for example, botox injections are up 28% among 20-29 year-olds since 2010. Influencers on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram provide personalized, word-of-mouth advertising for products that claim to extend a youthful appearance. In early 2022 the brand Plum hired 1000 influencers to launch their new skincare line, which pairs the terms “anti-aging” with “pro-skin”.

“If you want to be truthful with your customers and what your products can do, you’re not stopping aging. What you’re doing is trying to make your skin as healthy as possible.” Anthony Gonzalez, R&D Director Global Skin Care and Trend Innovation at Avon.

So, while consumers may move away from passé terms like “anti-aging”, they continue to embrace skin care, skin health, and skin preservation at all ages. And cosmetics companies, R&D firms, and life science laboratories continue to find new ways to preserve and protect healthy skin for a new generation. If you need the talent, teams, and expertise to be part of this global trend, grapefrute is the recruitment partner that can help make it happen. Contact us today.