Global trends in skincare and beauty

There is no doubt that despite unprecedented times during the last 18-months, the skincare industry has remained resilient. Although routine visits to the dermatologist and browsing the beauty aisles were no longer possible in many countries, there remained a strong demand and steady stream of product launches and innovations. But, with an undeniable shift in consumer attitudes and needs, what does the future look like for skincare? Here, we examine the key the trends that are set to shape the next innovations in the industry. 

Beauty and wellbeing have always been inextricably linked. As we shed our make-up for evenings in front of the TV during the pandemic, we also had the time to scrutinise every pore and pimple, taking a more proactive approach to our skincare. No longer banishing that spot before socialising, skincare began to form an important part of our broader wellbeing and self-care routine.

But, with heightened stress and anxiety, we saw customers gravitating towards known and trusted ingredients. Vitamin C continues to be popular, with the latest Mintel [1] report finding that 67% of US women who use beauty and personal care products have heard of this ingredient and actively look for it in the products they purchase. We can expect to see more innovations and new high-performance products based on the tried and tested ingredients coming to market.

Topical and oral innovations are also more prominent: the link between the gut and skin is well established and consumers are acting on this knowledge. This is also giving rise to novel technologies such as edible skincare ingredients as developed by a Hong-Kong based company, Avant [2]. Using its cell cultivation technology it has created a multifunctional protein ingredient that it is hoping to be in cosmetics products by early 2022.

As well as giving rise to the new, Covid-19 has also accelerated existing trends: digital beauty is here to stay. Technology has greater appeal in supporting skincare and beauty post-pandemic. In Germany, 42% of female facial skincare users are interested in using a service (i.e. online routine builders) to help them understand which products to use [1]. While for many, online consultations are not the preferred channel of interaction, consumers are more aware of alternate methods of meeting their beauty needs. Beauty boxes have also surged. The UK’s Royal Mail is predicting that this market will grow 73% by next year (2022) [3].

The behemoth that is social media also continues to go from strength to strength. 31% of female facial skincare users in France have learnt about new products or techniques via social media [1]. Skin-fluencers (or even pharma-fluencers) also have a dominant voice in the conversation – whether for the awareness of new products and ingredients, myth-busting claims or deciphering technical jargon [4]. One example of this is the growing conversation around ‘clean beauty’. This term has exploded: searches for ‘clean beauty expert’ has increased 160% on Google in the last 12 months yet as many scientifically-orientated influencers will attest, our natural environment is full of chemicals and many synthetic ingredients can be made for a number of reasons: sustainability, efficacy and accessibility.

Technology also goes hand-in-hand with innovation – particularly artificial intelligence or AI. This brings rapid analysis and product recommendations and the promise of personalized beauty. Crucially, this offers vast potential for microbiome related beauty and the ability to target skincare and therapy based on an individuals’ microbial balance. Globally, there is an uptick in consumers who are actively promoting the protection of their microbiome for healthier-looking skin [1].

Naturally (pun intended), sustainability and the impact of products on the environment or society as still front of mind for many consumer. This is an increasingly influential factor in a consumers’ purchasing decision. But, we must not forget the increasing awareness of the environment on our skin: 42% of female facial care users in France cite environmental pollution as a top five factor impacting their facial skin [1]. This is again driving consumers towards high-performance, multi-benefit products that fit within minimalist lifestyles. Less is truly more. The key challenge for brands however will be not just educating about the environmental footprint and efficacy of their products, but the balance between business transformation to meet the quick wins, whilst keeping an eye firmly on the longer-term changes that will really make a difference.

So where does this leave us? No doubt the dominant forces of technology and sustainability will continue to drive change and resolutions for many of the concerns faced by consumers. Whether this is targeted therapies for skin care conditions, the broadening of holistic wellbeing or to help meet the need for products that are kinder to the planet. As older consumers are also exiting the pandemic more digitally-literate, the spending power of this demographic will no doubt be on the minds of many.

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1 – Global Skin Care trends, Mintel presentation, July 2021

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