Animal appeal – Beauty and the beasties

Published: 31-May-2013

Beauty products containing animal venoms and by-products have taken the industry by storm over the last few years with NPD inspired by snakes, snails, bees and sheep

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Skin care cosmetics containing animal venoms and by-products have snaked their way into the C&T industry over the past few years. Lucy Copp explores the ingredients that go into this breed of products and where the trend is headed next...

It might be the year of the snake according to Chinese astrology, but for the beauty industry, 2013 really does seem to be shaping up to be just that – and snakes are just the start of it.

Over the past few years there have been an increasing number of skin care products hitting shelves that not only take inspiration from animal venoms or by-products, but also increasingly contain them. From synthetic snake peptides to real snail secretion, bee venom and even sheep placenta, the beauty industry really has gone all out for the animal kingdom.

Venom vanity

According to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), in 2011 there were 20 new ‘snake venom’ product launches, while in 2012, there were another 23 launches, demonstrating steady levels of innovation in the sub-category. Although many brands market their products as harnessing the power of snake venom, in the majority of cases this translates as a reference to Syn-ake, a synthetic tri-peptide derivative that mimics the activity of Waglerin-1, a polypeptide found in the venom of the temple viper snake or Tropidolaemus wagleri. When a temple viper snake bites its prey, the venom blocks nerve impulses to the muscles causing paralysis and death. Syn-ake, however, inhibits muscle contractions in facial muscles and reduces ‘mimic wrinkles’ or visible wrinkles on the face that persist and get deeper over time.

Trend revival

The trend for beauty products inspired by snake venom is not a new one, as Anna-Marie Solowij, former Beauty Director of Vogue and, more recently, co-founder of BeautyMart, tells ECM: “It’s interesting, because the whole animal toxin ingredient trend was big about eight or nine years ago, kicked off by Elicina Snail Cream [launched in 1995] and then Rodial’s serum that contained Syn-ake, which then became an almost staple ingredient in anti-wrinkle creams.” Syn-ake has been on the ingredients market for over ten years, but products containing Syn-ake have only really come to the attention of consumers over the last three. Rodial is one of the brands responsible for kickstarting this resurgence, bringing Syn-ake not only to the attention of the masstige market, but more recently, the mass market through its sister brand Nip+Fab.

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