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A Regional Overview For Skin Care Applications

Beauty-conscious consumers are becoming more aware of the impact that environmental factors, such as pollution, have on the appearance of their skin. New options in anti-pollution products are increasingly available, capitalizing on this global trend, while respecting the regional needs.

Anti-pollution beauty products have been around for several years but haven’t made yet a real impact on the market. Less than 2% of global beauty & personal care launches target pollution. However, the trend is on the rise as 25% of launches recorded in the last 5 years occurred in the last 12 months and skincare is by far the most active category featuring anti-pollution claims in the last 5 years (1).

On the physiological side, the impact of pollution is not up for debate anymore: air pollution is responsible for 1 in 9 deaths worldwide.
Its presence is essentially measured in PM2.5 and its distribution across the world's major cities is heterogeneous:

Air pollution in cities
SOURCE: on August, 2018
PM2.5: Fine Particules or Particules matter 2.5 PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air that are two and one half microns or less in width. With heavy metals, polluting gases emitted by cars and industries, they affect the skin: loss of radiance, dryness, hyper-sensitivity, acne, pigmentation or premature aging.

The anti-­pollution cosmetic trend started in Asia but has been gaining rapid momentum in Europe and North America.Today, Asia Pacific, Europe & North America are the 3 biggest regions for launches of anti-pollution beauty products (1).
However, opportunities for anti-pollution products differ between East and West and adopting a different strategy to suit each region is a relevant way to answer the growing demand.


In this part of the world, products with a targeted action on pollution and on its effects are expected.

In particular, air pollution is of increasing concern to Asian consumers and receives extensive media coverage. For example, 61% of Chinese consumers are very concerned about PM2.5 and 58% are very concerned about vehicle exhausts (1) charged in heavy-metals.  Cosmetic excipients and actives help over protection to these particles.

SENSANOV™ WR & SOLAGUM™ AX: protective association against air pollution

Aware of the growing problem of air pollution in many regions, SEPPIC has tested the association of 2 sensorial ingredients in a polluted environment of a big city in Asia to analyze its protective effect on the skin.
The combination of the 2 following complementary ingredients have been made:

  • SENSANOV™ WR, an O/W emulsifier that brings non-occlusive barrier properties and water resistance to the emulsions.
  • SOLAGUM™ AX,  a unique natural polymer of xanthan and acacia senegal gums, that brings filmogen and stabilizing properties.

It has been shown in vivo that 3% SENSANOV™ WR + 0.5% SOLAGUM™ AX brings a non-occlusive filmogen effect allowing the specific protection of the skin against environmental pollutants like zinc and chromium.

Proof positive that the right base ingredients, the right chassi formula, can protect from pollution. Then the addition of actives will strengthen the final formula, making it super efficient in protecting the skin against the negative impact of our outside environment.
A good example would be the “Bike Riding film former” formula (US20092), protecting the skin both from pollution and friction.

In addition, as skincare is mainly driven by prevention of dullness, blemishes and dark spots in these regions, linking anti-pollution products with acne and inflammation has emerged as a strong approach for young Asian women for instance.

The link between pollution and acne or inflammation is becoming more accepted as pollutants can induce oxidative stress and favor acne flare-ups and skin inflammation.
It also appears to affect different skin types with greater frequency. Asian women (at 20%) are reported to have double the incidence of inflammatory acne compared to Caucasian women (2).

CONTACTICEL™: regulation of oily-skin exposed to pollution

To protect the skin from the ravages of pollution, SEPPIC is innovating with CONTACTICEL™, a skin-purifying active ingredient.

It is an extract from a little known red algae, Acrochaetium moniliforme which lives in contact with other algae. In association with other microorganisms, it helps to protect its host against outside aggressions (3).
Drawing inspiration from the properties of this algae, SEPPIC’s new active ingredient offers the skin protection against pollution: in two months, it effectively reduces the sebum of skin exposed to a polluted atmosphere with a visible and lasting result. CONTACTICEL™ is an exceptional skin-purifying agent that works against several pollutants (ozone, microparticles, heavy metals) through its combined properties (3).

“Anti-pollution ideal care” (EU07407) is dermo-purifying emulsion ideally adapted to urban environment. Its efficacy has been proved clinically after 56 days passed in a polluted environment (Shanghai): CONTACTICEL™ reduces the pollution biomarker, ozonized squalene, by 61% and sebum excess by 34%. The texture of this formula also fits the sensorial expectations in this region. Emulsion has a light texture with a powdery finish adapted to oily skins thanks to the organic emulsifying agent MONTANOV™ 202. The combination of SEPIPLUS™ 400 and SOLAGUM™ AX brings also a gliding feel during application.

CONTACTICEL™: Formula EU07407 - Anti-pollution ideal care


In Western countries, consumers often use fewer beauty products and demand for multifunctional products with anti-pollution claims will be on the rise. European consumers - both women and men - blame “modern life” (technology, chemicals, pollution) for skin damage, premature ageing and loss of radiance.

Attitudes towards pollution in Europe
Source: Anti-pollution beauty - Mintel September 2016

OLIGOGELINE™ PF: Natural shield for pollution protection

To protect European women & men from pollution particles, SEPPIC has designed OLIGOGELINE™ PF. It is a cosmetic active ingredient containing carrageenans extracted from a red seaweed Chondrus crispus and marine minerals. This red seaweed grows at a few meters deep, is exposed to extreme conditions (UV, desiccation at low tide, waves), and concentrates carrageenans for a better water retention avoiding desiccation. OLIGOGELINE™ PF works as a second skin, forming a natural non occlusive shield to protect from pollution effects.
New results reveal that after application of emulsion with 3% OLIGOGELINE™ PF, then application of 1 micron urban microparticles, and finally standard rinsing with water only: 78% of microparticles are removed, meaning protection is about 43% versus non treated skin. Results are significant versus placebo.

Moreover, offering “total protection products” that target UV, blue light and pollution at the same time can be an interesting opportunity for the next years.

SAKADIKIUM™: Multiprotector for skin

Indeed, skin is  continually under stresses resulting to accelerating aging. These stresses can be external pollution such as blue light, smoke or hydrocarbons or internal stresses generating insufficient autophagy and energetic metabolism.

SEPPIC and its dedicated brand for cosmetic active ingredients wesource, offer a new active ingredient SAKADIKIUM™ from “butterfly ginger”, a plant from Madagascar locally known as Sakarivodambo.  It’s a concentrated extract of sugars from the rhizomes of Hedychium coronarium that offers wide skin benefits. It acts as a multiprotector when exposed to blue light, UV and pollution. This detoxifying approach is contributing to a better brightness on the skin.

With application of the “Multi-protection cream” (EU07497B), as clinical benefits, the trained evaluation technicians perceive a better brightness (+16%) in women exposed to pollution after 28 days of application versus placebo. Self-evaluation concludes on benefits from SAKADIKIUM™.
Skin is more luminous, moisturized, more supple and softer. Complexion is more radiant and homogeneous.
Also, the sensoriality of the formula is important and specific. Thus, MONTANOV ™ L provides a light texture to the application while promoting the maintenance of hydration of the skin. The association SEPIMAX ZEN ™ and SEPINOV ™ EMT 10 provides a medium and smooth consistency. Finally, EMOGREEN ™ L15, an emollient from vegetable origin, is an alternative to silicone oils and at the same time brings a fresh and light spreading.

Formula EU07497B Multi protection cream
SAKADIKIUM™: Formula EU07497B - Multi-protection cream


European consumers are driving the growth for anti-pollution products within the Western Market in the forecast period (2015­-2020) due to the higher levels of pollution in European cities compared to those found in North America (4). However, interest in anti­-pollution products is on the rise in North America and the different landscape surrounding the anti­-pollution category leads to contrasting opportunities.

Anti-pollution skincare offerings typically focus on the impact that pollution has on skin. US consumers have difficulties to recognize this benefits, as the don’t associate anti-pollution products with protection. One way to target US urban dwellers is with products that counter the effects of toxins such as dirt and stress. Detoxification and preservation from oxidative stress are equally important.

Also, anti-pollution skincare products are more and more associated with being environmentally-friendly. So, when consumers think of pollution, they are also thinking of the impact that product usage has on the environment.

EPHEMER™: Antioxidant efficacy from ephemeral macroalgae cells

SEPPIC has designed EPHEMER™, the first cosmetic active ingredient created from CELEBRITY™.

CELEBRITY™ name comes from “CELL” and “BRITTANY”. It is the world's first technology to cultivate macroalgal cells in the laboratory in order to propose active ingredients for cosmetics. This technology consists in selecting macroalgal cells from a single drop of marine water, and keeping them at the cell state during all the process. This requires isolation work to obtain monospecific cultures. Cells are then cultivated in photobioreactors going through a scale up process in order to produce biomass at industrial scale.

EPHEMER™ is a gametophyte extract taken from macroalgae cells grown in a laboratory and harvested at an ephemeral stage in the life cycle of Undaria Pinnatifida seaweed. During this growth stage, the macroalgal cells accumulate antioxidant molecules. It protects the skin, after 24 hours by acting on the mitochondria, causing momentaneous reduction of free radicals. After 8 days, it preserves mitochondrial DNA, which is essential for proper mitochondrial function. Mitochondrial DNA are also called 'Eve's Genes' since they are inherited solely from the mother. This property has been confirmed through in-vivo testing. After 28 days, the skin shows a better ability to fight free radicals, a cause of skin aging, versus placebo.


Courtney CLAY

Polymers Product Manager


Emulsifying & foaming ingredients Product Manager


Anti-aging actives Product Manager


Inspirational Marketing Manager


Anti-pollution cosmetic is not just a passing trend but a long-term concern. This development has already been seen in Asia on a relatively large scale. In Europe and North America, the diversity of anti­-pollution product offerings is expected to boom in the next few years.
Finally, regardless the region of the world, consumers rely on brands to teach them what the dangers are & how to counter them and it is important that they participate in this education.

(1) Anti-pollution Beauty, Mintel Septembre 2016
(2) Shake up anti-acne skincare with this new approach, Mintel March 2018
(3) A novel in vivo test for reduction of the oxidation of squalene by ozone. Limitation of the overproduction of lipids by sebocytes exposed to urban dusts. Protection of cell metabolism and regulation of inflammation mediators against the effects of heavy metals (cadmium) on the skin.
(4) Pollution: a business opportunity for cosmetics ingredients, Euromonitor September 2016