Beauty’s Bet on Longevity

·11 min read

PARIS — The beauty industry’s lexicon — and focus — keep expanding. Health, then well-being, were buzzwords in the recent past. Now, with their convergence and scientific advances, longevity is becoming a key talking point and industry shape-shifter.

Its influence is expected to be widespread, on everything from product creation to services, as people’s lifespan and mind-set keep stretching.

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“Our life expectancy has been considerably extended, thanks to recent advances in the medical field,” said Virginie Couturaud, scientific communications director at Parfums Christian Dior. “Today, enabling the human body to remain in good health as long as possible is a major research challenge.

“In this quest for good health, aging, defined by the scientific community as a continuous process of alteration of the different functions of the body, seems to be a hindrance,” she continued. “Recent discoveries have shown that this process is not inevitable, and that it is possible to slow it down and even partially reverse it. This awareness has led to the development of a new research area, whose objective is to explore the different ways to reverse the aging process, offering new perspectives for human health.

“In the long term, this work will make it possible to significantly extend the human health span rather than the life span, so that people can get older in a healthier way,” Couturaud said.

Industry experts describe the growing emphasis on longevity as more of an evolution than a revolution.

“The wellness trend is not new,” said Charles Rosier, chief executive officer of Augustinus Bader. “But that wellness trend is evolving with the fact that we have more information and research being made on the topic of longevity and how to measure longevity.

“A few years ago, the main pillar was the length of the telomere,” he continued, referring to the natural end of a eukaryotic chromosome. “Now, other criteria have come into play and other discoveries on the topic.”

A confluence of phenomena contributes to this growing focus on managing aging.

“You’ve got the consumerism of health care being powered by artificial intelligence, technology and stem cell research — so people taking more proactive approaches to their health care, and seeing that in holistic inside and outside ways,” said Lucie Greene, founder and CEO of trend forecasting consultancy Light Years.

Also, as the oldest Millennials turn 40 or 41, age-related concepts and services are starting to skew toward them design- and discourse-wise.

Greene spotlighted concepts such as Millennial med-spa Ever/Body, for instance, which was launched by former Clinique executive Kate Twist as an alternative to traditional cosmetic dermatology offices. The chain, which raised $38 million in Series B funding last year, offers laser facials, Botox, HydraFacial, fillers and laser hair removal.

The VSpot medi spa, another example, is for vaginal rejuvenation and has on its menu treatments such as non-surgical breast lift, intimate lightning and hormone replacement therapy.

Inside VSpot. - Credit: Courtesy of VSPOT
Inside VSpot. - Credit: Courtesy of VSPOT

Courtesy of VSPOT

Modern Age, a “wellness clinic” officially opened a New York City location in April. Its tag line: “Feel good. Age well.”

The clinic takes a holistic approach to “take control of your aging journey,” combining things like IV drips for skin and hair health, energy and stress; micro-needling and hormone therapies.

Modern Age delves into client’s subjective age — how old one feels — and claims lowering that can lead to a longer, healthier life.

Female biohackers Lauren Berlingeri and Katie Kaps teamed to open Instagram-friendly infrared outposts, called HigherDose, also in New York. It has a location at the 11 Howard hotel and another in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y. The brand became famous for users’ “sweaty, sexy sauna selfies.”

Eventually, the duo decided to build out a product line for infrared enthusiasts to take home. There is the Infrared Sauna Blanket for $599, the Infrared PEMF Mat for $1,095 and the Red Light Face Mask for $299. The technologies are meant to be “stacked” and build on one another for additional wellness benefits.

HigherDose Red Light Face Mask. - Credit: Courtesy of HigherDose
HigherDose Red Light Face Mask. - Credit: Courtesy of HigherDose

Courtesy of HigherDose

The sauna blanket provides an at-home sauna experience, while the PEMF mat is said to have electromagnetic frequency that is “similar to the earth’s core,” for “calming, grounding [and] relaxing,” Berlingeri said during WWD’s Beauty CEO Summit in May.

The red light technology featured in the face mask is well-known for skin benefits, but the founders also purport that red light “feeds the mitochondria of every single cell to produce something called ATP, which is energy, which means that every single one of your cells in your body is functioning better.”

The tech is said to be a mood booster, too.

During a separate interview, Berlingeri called the face mask her and Kaps’ Trojan Horse into the beauty space.

“What we’re focused on is longevity and vitality,” Berlingeri said. “It just so happens that red light is an amazing antiaging beauty tool, as well. But here we are trying to educate people [that] it’s beyond decreasing wrinkles.

“It’s been exciting to be in this beauty space as two female biohackers,” she continued. “[In addition to] wanting to feel our best, looking our best is something that is top of mind for us, too. But we’ve always felt [that] when you focus on wellness, then beauty comes effortlessly. It’s from the inside out.

“We do feel like there’s so much untapped upside around this whole idea of longevity, vitality and optimization, [with] men still dominating that space more than women are,” Berlingeri said. “Which is kind of an interesting concept, because we feel like women are the original biohackers.”

She and Kapps believe there’s no brand in the wellness space owning longevity.

“We really plan to do that,” Berlingeri said. “Biohacking is the ultimate way to achieve vitality, longevity and just looking and feeling your best.”

The pair seeks to revolutionize topicals and ingestibles that can help people achieve beauty.  HigherDose recently launched High-Dration Powder, based on the whole fruit of watermelon and coconut, mixed with electrolyte and Himalayan salt.

Clinique La Prairie, of Montreux, Switzerland, offers among its treatments a protocol using people’s own stem cells that are clinically harvested and reinjected in order to revitalize skin using the body’s natural resources for regeneration, according to Simone Gibertoni, the clinic’s CEO and cofounder of Holistic Health.

The race is on for beauty companies to tap into longevity.

Dior Science and its parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton have for decades worked with external scientific specialists, and the brand has been pioneering in skin antiaging discoveries.

In early July, Dior said it had entered into a research collaboration with Vadim N. Gladyshev, a professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, with the aim of reversing cellular aging.

“With this three-year partnership, our ambition is to decipher the biomolecular mechanism of skin aging in order to remodel the skin in a more youthful state,” Couturaud explained.

She added part of the tie-in will include the development of active ingredients to help with age reverse.

“Age reverse discoveries are part of a holistic approach to beauty, which involves healthy skin above all,” Couturaud said.

For Augustinus Bader, the focus has always been on the convergence of beauty, health and longevity. The doctor’s discovery is a communication mechanism to awaken dormant stem cells that can then trigger self-healing in skin.

Rosier described Augustinus Bader’s creams as “epigenetic,” which involves changes of gene functioning but not alterations in DNA sequencing.

“Our cream is all about empowering, nourishing the skin cell environments, so [they] work at their best,” he said. “On the biotech as well as the consumer goods side, we are working on topics about epigenetics and longevity. It could be topicals, ingestibles ­— different things.”

The audience for such products treatments is expected to expand.

“In terms of luxury buying, some people are switching from objects to experience,” Rosier said. “Therefore, in that field of premium experience, all the topics favoring longevity or doing something that has a net-positive epigenetic impact, is a focus that we grow, because the demand for that will grow, as well. Once you have everything, what is the thing that you want? You want to age gracefully and be in as good health for as long as possible.”

However, not all beauty brands will have the capability to tap into longevity, since that requires vast scientific backing.

“We could try to see what discoveries in the field of longevity can be scaled into a consumer goods product,” Rosier said.

Silicon Valley has been funding a lot of research in the field of longevity.

Start-ups such as Altos Labs, a biotech company focused on cellular rejuvenation programming to restore cell health and resilience, and Calico, a research and technology company delving into the biology that controls aging and life span, are helping pave the way in this nascent sector.

“The segment is growing on that tech side, and this is a bleed over into beauty,” Greene said.

Some skin care brands have already put “longevity” into their product monikers. There’s Guerlain’s Le Concentré de Longevité Orchidée serum and Mary Cohr’s Longevity and Tonicity Body Care line, both launched in 2019.

Guerlain’s Le Concentré de Longevité Orchidée. - Credit: Courtesy of Guerlain
Guerlain’s Le Concentré de Longevité Orchidée. - Credit: Courtesy of Guerlain

Courtesy of Guerlain

Clinique La Prairie has just introduced a range of “longevity supplements,” called Holistic Health, “that boost the natural antiaging process from the cells up,” Gibertoni said. “They feature high-diversity plant-based compounds that even the healthiest of diets can’t offer.”

The range’s core product is Age-Defy Regeneressence and Immunity supplements, which Gibertoni said contains “the next-generation longevity formulation,” including antioxidant actives and vitamins.

Shiseido’s highest-end line, named Future Solution LX, is touted as having an exclusive youth-prolonging ingredient.

Shiseido Future Solution LX. - Credit: Courtesy of Shiseido
Shiseido Future Solution LX. - Credit: Courtesy of Shiseido

Courtesy of Shiseido

“We were more focused at the beginning of our research into the longevity of plants,” said Nathalie Broussard, scientific communications director at Shiseido EMEA. “This was our source of inspiration.”

In 2017, the group introduced a complex of ingredients named SkinGeneCell Enmei, which helps promote skin cell longevity, into Future Solution LX products. Those are meant to boost well-balanced, global beauty, such as general radiance.

“We have deep research into genes,” continued Broussard, who explained Shiseido researchers had honed in on the surtuin 1 gene, which revitalizes cells and extends their life span. So the idea was to figure out how to improve its functioning to increase skin cells’ longevity.

The Future Solution LX line keeps evolving. Most recently, Infinite Treatment Primer SPF 30 was added to it. At yearend, the Legendary Enmei Ultimate Luminance Serum and Ultimate Renewal Cream are being updated with the Japanese herb Enmei that’s cultivated in a more sustainable way.

“We have demonstrated another scientific action of the extract on another longevity gene, called surtuin 2,” continued Broussard.

Next, the LX Beauty Longevity Set is due to be introduced in March 2023.

As longevity becomes increasingly top of consumers’ minds, addressing changing psychographics is key.

“As you look forward, if you’d like to live longer, a lot of anxiety comes into play,” said Fernando Acosta, CEO of Roc Skincare.

Some of that angst is beauty-related. According to a Roc Skincare study, with more than 600 participants from around the world, but a focus on the U.S. and France, 90 percent of women feel anxious about aging, the primary driver being appearance-related.

“In China, people who are 20 years old are anxious about getting older,” Acosta said.

The overall study showed 60 percent are concerned about how they look as they get older, versus just 43 percent being worried about amassing enough money to retire.

“Ninety-three percent of women told us that optimism can change their life and expressed the desire to learn more about how to do this effectively,” Acosta said.

Roc executives went to a team of experts, including Daisy Robinton, who holds a Ph.D. in human biology and translational medicine.

“She helped us to put together this research between mental health and physical health,” Acosta said.

Another expert was Deepika Chopra. “She makes a link between optimism and longevity,” he said, adding Michelle Henry found the relationship between optimism and skin health.

They looked at people who have radiated optimism through their careers to amplify Roc’s message, and in July, the brand announced a partnership with Sarah Jessica Parker for the #LookForwardProject that is meant to change societal attitudes on aging.

From Roc Skincare. - Credit: Courtesy of Roc Skincare
From Roc Skincare. - Credit: Courtesy of Roc Skincare

Courtesy of Roc Skincare

“The headline for me about this is that it’s trying to have a conversation about not covering things up, or not being apologetic about the passing of time,” Parker told WWD in July.

“So our mantra is to change the conversation from being anxious about aging into [one] about the joy of living,” said Acosta, who explained the experts help with practical insights and other advice, found on Rocskincare.com, to anchor the project.

“This is just beginning,” he said. “A great conversation started around the world.”

Such discussions and deep-dives into longevity are just starting for the beauty industry at large.

“As time goes by, the topics of health spans, epigenetics and longevity will become more and more a concern,” Rosier said.

“We don’t know everything about longevity,” added Broussard. “There are a lot of mechanisms we are still trying to decipher, so of course it will open the door to new targets in cosmetics, too.”

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