Which signs of facial aging are really influence perceived age in Russian women?

Exclusive interview with Eve Merinville, the principle scientist of Oriflame R&D, Ireland.

The desire for a youthful look remains a powerful motivator in the purchase of cosmetics by women globally. But which signs of facial aging are really influence perceived age in Russian women? About it you can learn from the interview with Eve Merinville, the principle scientist of Oriflame R&D, Ireland. Eve and her team collected facial fotographs from 203 Russian women and identified 13 facial attributes which strongly influence perceived age (first wrinkles, followed by pigmentation). By providing a clear view on which signs of ageing really matter, this research offers an invaluable insight into anti-ageing strategies.

«RM&P»:  At "Sun Protection and Anti-ageing Skincare Conference Asia" you will speak about signs of facial ageing which influence perceived age of Russian women. We are a Russian cosmetics magazine and we wonder, why you chose for your research particularly Russian women. Does it mean that Russian cosmetic market is very important for Oriflame? Why, if it’s so?

EM: Russia and Commonwealth Independent States (CIS) represent a very important part of Oriflame Global business indeed. In addition, Russians are representative of the general aging European population, and therefore showing the typical needs of mature skin. Skin Care is one of the best performing categories in Russia currently, despite the overall slowdown of the FMCG markets. Skin care is also a very competitive market, with all the international and local competition placing a huge focus on developing their portfolios. Oriflame has always paid huge attention to winning in this market behind all the elements of the marketing mix: great quality and effective product portfolio for every age and purse, as well as Catalogue space and the competitive pricing and merchandising strategies.

«RM&P»:  Could you briefly outline the methodology of your study? We know that you have collected facial photographs from 203 Russian women and identified facial attributes which strongly influence perceived age. Meanwhile, Russia is a multi-national country, with a spacious territory, which is inhabited by many nations and even races. What were the criteria for selecting photographs for your research?

EM: While facial skin ageing and its perception has been well studied in Western European Caucasian populations such as France, UK and Germany for example, there was no available information on Russian women at the time we undertook our AGE REFLECTTM research. Beyond genetics, it has been shown that skin ageing is influenced by various external factors such as geographic environment and lifestyle for example. Also, cultural inheritance may impact on the way age is perceived. Therefore our objective was to generate this data in order to understand and better answer our key consumers’ anti-ageing needs. We recruited 203 healthy Caucasian women living in Moscow and of Russian descent, aged 30 to 65 years old (more details on the recruitment are available in the attached publication from C&T). Photographs of all our female volunteers were captured using a standard high resolution imaging device. This enabled two key steps within our methodology. The first was the assessment of the facial skin attributes severity via image analysis and grading by Oriflame’s wrinkle Expert graders. The second aspect was the actual “age guessing” exercise, or perceived age determination; each photograph was seen approximately 100 times by other “naïve” Russian women, 700 in total, recruited from 4 different cities in Russia (St Petersburg, Moscow, Voronezh and Rostov-on-Don).

Therefore, our study included nearly 1000 Russian women living across the west half of the country and provides for the first time insights on facial skin ageing and its perception in Russian women.

«RM&P»:  You have identified thirteen facial attributes which strongly influence perceived age in Russian women. What are these attributes? Are they really specific for Russians and do they differ from the ageing pattern of European women? If they differ, does it mean that anti-age cosmetics should be different too and needs special formulations and ingredients?

EM: Our results confirmed the significance of facial wrinkles as primary indicators of one’s age over hyperpigmentation (age spots and redness) and uneven skin tone. Large pores and dull skin were also found to promote “older-looking” skin.

Most studies published rely on differing methodologies and it can therefore be difficult to compare with our results. However, one key insight we obtained in this study was the development of localized redness in Russian women aged 60+, such as broken veins and capillaries, and its negative impact on perceived age. Severe redness would be associated with an average gain of 3 years above one’s actual age.

Another key insight was the age-specific impact of certain features. For example crow’s feet wrinkles were found to influence age perception from 35 years old until the late 50’s. The impact of glabellar wrinkles (vertical wrinkles between the eye brows) has often been underestimated and our results show that from 40 years old onwards, they will influence significantly the perceived age.

We are implementing these research insights within the core of our product development strategy in order to continuously customize our product portfolio offer to meet our specific consumers’ needs.

«RM&P»:  Do your results allow to conclude that the appearance of signs of ageing may be genetically determined, and each nation is ageing differently?

EM: Ageing is due to a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, and their precise relative contribution is unclear. However, recent epigenetic research has indicated that up to 80% of skin ageing could be controlled by an individual according to one’s environmental and lifestyle choices, leaving genetic determination to account for only 20%. Our research has been planned in this context, by studying specifically Russian women in their environment, and capturing information on their lifestyle. Having performed this study on nearly 1000 women allowed us to generate an average scenario of facial ageing and its perception.

«RM&P»:  What anti-age strategies do you regard most perspective and promising in future?

EM: All women dream of looking young and beautiful. Inspired by that dream, Oriflame endeavors to create a full range of world class skin care products for any age group and any skin need.

A simple yet key anti-ageing strategy is prevention, in order to delay the appearance of signs of ageing manifesting in the late 20’s. This can be achieved via an appropriate skincare routine including cleansing, boosting, eye care & face moisturizing. Keeping a radiant skin is key to retaining the “younger-look” at this age.

Photo-ageing can also be prevented by integrating the use of a day cream with an appropriate UVA/UVB protection, thereby delaying the appearance of mottled pigmentation and rough skin texture in the early 40’s, proven to make Russian women look older.

Of course, combining a great skincare routine with a healthy lifestyle is a powerful anti-ageing strategy.

«RM&P»:  For many people in Russia Oriflame is primarily associated with decorative cosmetics. Does your research mean that Oriflame intends to increase its presence in the anti-ageing cosmetic sector in the Russian market?

EM: Skincare represents the heritage of Oriflame with emblematic products inspired by Nature such as Tender Care launched for the first time more than 30 years ago and still present today in our product portfolio! Many innovative and successful skincare products have followed with our iconic Royal Velvet and Time Reversing ranges for example. The latest addition to our exciting and comprehensive anti-ageing offer is the Ecollagen range, designed to boost collagen and reduce wrinkles. It is aimed at 35+ women, as our research has shown that at this age, wrinkles around the eye area are the signs of ageing that really matter, and reduction of eye wrinkles means younger-looking skin.

The insights we generated from our research on Russian women enabled the development of more customized products in line with our key consumers’ needs. Ecollagen is a good example of one of many new products to come in Oriflame’s core product category – Skincare. 

«RM&P»: Oriflame was one of the first companies in the Russian market, which operated by the principle of network marketing and direct sales. It was new and unusual for Russian consumers. Do you believe that in recent years people in Russia have become more accustomed to this method of shopping? Are Oriflame sales in Russia growing?

EM: Direct Sales appeared at the same time that retail started growth in Russia, back in the early nineties. Since then, the channel has developed into one of the biggest channels in Russia, amounting up to 19% of total turnover in the cosmetics market. The business model is ideally suited the volatile economy dynamics of the developing markets of CIS. It not only provides consumers with great quality products at very affordable prices, but also gives people an opportunity of additional income. It also allows them to gain financial independence, fully in line with our Company’s offer to our global customers: Make money today and fulfill your dream tomorrow.

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