A dairy peptide shown to protect liver health is also an effective cosmeceutical ingredient, says innovative ingredients firm DMV International, which is exploiting milk fractions to build a new skincare range.
Earlier this year the company launched Praventin, a dairy fraction containing lactoferrin and other bioactives, which has been shown in a study to help reduce blemishes and redness associated with acne.
Just as the ingredient reaches the US market in the first finished product, DMV has begun pushing its cysteine peptide for skin health too, backed by a placebo-controlled trial on 64 consumers who found they had smoother, softer skin after taking the supplement for six weeks.
"There is a lot of interest in natural products for personal care, and the category is definitely growing," explained Fiona Taylor, product development manager.
"Most of our ingredients work on an inflammation basis and many of these skin conditions are benefited by reducing inflammation," she told NutraIngredients.com.
DMV's cysteine peptide has been on the market for two years, positioned as an energy ingredient and for liver health. Cysteine is a precursor to glutathione, an important antioxidant that is produced by the body in the liver and needed to break down toxic substances, like alcohol and caffeine.
DMV suggests that its peptide form of the ingredient, proven to increase levels of glutathione in animals, can boost energy and improve sleep quality by allowing the body to act more efficiently on alcohol and caffeine, known to disrupt sleep patterns.
This positioning has proved successful, and the ingredient is now found in supplements in the US, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and China.
With new skincare applications, the dairy firm is expecting demand to rise even further, and has committed $1 million for a new production line in the US next year. The product is a concentrated fraction of hydrolyzed whey protein.
"This will give us capacity in excess of 100 metric tons," said Taylor.
Cysteine has not previously been researched for its role in skin health but Taylor notes that "antioxidants are well known for their properties on skin health".
The recent consumer research was enough evidence of efficacy for the multinational drinks company that collaborated on the study, and has just launched a product containing Cysteine Peption on the Japanese market.
But DMV will also look into its UV-protection properties, giving the ingredient a role in long-term skin health.
Such benefits would merit a premium price typical of cosmeceutical products and in line with the cosmetics sector. Taylor declined to comment on this aspect but noted that the product is "very favourably priced compared to CoQ10", one of the most widely used ingredients in skin products yet currently very expensive.
She added: "We also have a different positioning. While CoQ10 is usually for combating wrinkles, we're looking at maintaining beautiful skin. This reflects current consumer trends."
"More and more young people are concerned about protecting their skin earlier on, rather than waiting until the wrinkles appear."
A recent report from Datamonitor predicts that the overall European cosmeceuticals market will be worth US$4.4 billion in 2009, growing 5 per cent from today. The analysts include all cosmetic products containing at least one bio-active ingredient for the skin in their definition of cosmeceutical.
Cysteine Peption, for skin health, will be on display in different kinds of products such as bars, tablets, yoghurts and beverages at SupplySide West in Las Vegas next month.