The marketing term lacks any formal definition, courting consumers on the basis of just an ‘implied claim’, and plays part of the enormous global enthusiasm for naturals and organics among consumers.
Rates of ‘superfood’ new product development have tripled in the past five years, according to Mintel, and among brands such as Origins, Aveda and Kiehl’s, it seems the trend has now made its way across to beauty.
Bulking up beauty
A recent report from the South China Morning Post outlines the rising trend of the use of superfood ingredients and claims in the product offerings of several major Asia brands.
"Superfoods were almost unknown to the public 10 years ago, but today they are part of the modern lifestyle of many consumers," Christina Lykiardopoulou, the Hong Kong and UK country director for Apivita, told the publication.
"They know about their positive effects and appreciate them in cosmetic products, where they're no longer just 'marketing-attractive', they are active ingredients - the bar has been raised."
Aveda, for example, plugs its Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Soothing Treatment Lotion to consumers looking for the superfood beauty experience, with the skin cream containing reishi (lingzhi) mushroom extract, claimed to have immune-boosting properties.
Just a label?
Superfoods are often criticised by commentators for being an empty claim: with no clear definition, the label is used freely by consumers and brands alike, and rather than backed up by science, it plays to consumer demand for products perceived as richly nutritious and natural.
“Much of the appeal of superfoods comes from their natural benefits. In general, superfoods are seen as healthy, nutrient dense or antioxidant rich foods,” Stephanie Mattucci, global food science analyst at Mintel, recently told NutraIngredients.
“The term ‘superfoods’ continues to tap into that desire to be healthy and is often used to promote the benefits of nutritionally dense foods.”
Despite the fact that the nutritional benefits of superfoods are largely lost when applied topically rather than ingested, it looks like for now, the unwavering demand for naturals among beauty consumers means superfood ingredients may be taking centre stage.
CosmeticsDesign is hosting an online event on SkinCare Ingredients on 15 June, featuring a full digital conference program tackling the most pertinent and relevant issues in the skin care formulation arena.
Sign up for free here and be part of the debate.