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Markets & trends

Global market trend towards skin lightening cosmetics reaches Brazil

Women aged from 30 to 60 are the biggest consumers of products to lighten the skin and even out its tone.

Freckles and skin spots can appear as a result of excessive sun exposure, hormonal changes or simply be a visible reminder of the passing of time. They are one of the main beauty concerns of Brazilian women, behind only dark circles and “crow’s feet”, those dreaded branching wrinkles at the outer corner of the eyes. Although Brazilians love having a tan, they are increasingly looking for products that claim to lighten the skin and even out the skin tone.

Racco Clear Age Skin Moisturizer

Racco Clear Age Skin Moisturizer

The skin care segment leads the beauty industry at global level, having recorded a turnover of US$107 billion in 2013, according to data from Euromonitor. Of this total, around 65% stems from facial treatments, of which 30% are related to lightening products. Asian countries, where white skin really is an obsession, are the biggest consumers in the category, followed by the U.S. “Skin lightening products still represent a niche market in Brazil, but it is a world trend and we will not remain immune to it,” says Vanessa Salazar, global sales manager at Beraca, a company that operates in more than 40 countries and supplies natural active ingredients to the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and personal care industry.

Nicolle Nogueira, marketing manager of Racco, says the category has been gaining market share every year. “Skin lightening products represented approximately 20% of Racco sales within the skin care segment in 2014, which is a significant number.” She believes the good result is due to a change in consumer behavior. “Brazilian women do not only want to cover the spots with makeup, but to actually treat them to achieve a more uniform skin tone.

Until very recently, hyperpigmentation treatments were restricted to the use of harsh compounds that could cause allergic reactions, sensitiveness, redness and, in more serious cases, irreversible spots. The most popular – and controversial – of these ingredients is hydroquinone, a derivative from benzene that destroys the cells that produce melanin, thus removing freckles and skin spots. It is regarded as toxic and has been gradually disappearing from the market. Hydroquinone is banned in Japan and in a number of U.S. states. In most European countries, its concentration must be limited to 1% of the formula.

The ban on hydroquinone has forced innovation and gave rise to new active ingredients that are effective in lightening spots as well as gentle on the skin,” says Nogueira. The market started to look for alternative solutions – a derivative from hops, Swiss chard sprout, pea extract, golden caviar, and an ingredient derived from daisy flower blossoms are among the new raw materials used in treating skin spots.

Earlier this year, Beraca launched Beracare BBA, an active lightning active ingredient extracted from pracaxi oil. The company had been recommending Beracare BBA for hair care formulas, but recent research carried out by a French laboratory showed it also has skin lightening and anti-aging properties. “There is a demand for active ingredients in this category that are 100% natural and organic. We saw an opportunity to develop a product that stands out in the marketplace by being natural and providing multiple benefits for the skin,” says Salazar.

Racco says that the biggest consumers of skin lightening products in Brazil are women aged from 30 to 60 who usually look for anti-spot treatments in wintertime. “This is due to the old habit of using certain compounds to remove the spots which could cause reactions when exposed to sunlight,” says Nogueira. She also mentions another habit that is changing: “The average SPF of sunscreens has steadily increased. A 15 SPF used to be enough for Brazilian women to head to the beach. Now they are looking for sunscreens with a SPF above 50 for daily use. The trend towards having lighter skin should arrive in Brazil in the coming years.

Renata Martins

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