What’s Shaping the Future of the Skincare Industry in 2021?
Beauty trends are usually a product of the prevailing times. They are, to some level, a result of what people do to express themselves at specific times. The very reason why the skincare industry is booming amid the pandemic.
At the beginning of COVID-19, people experienced a need for prevention and protection. As the pandemic progressed, there emerged several pandemic-related health issues. The likes of augmented stress, depressive fatigues, exposure to blue light, and more – all of which impacted the skin.
So as consumers dealt with allergies, acne, and other issues. ‘Throwing’ out expired beauty products. Skincare became increasingly essential.
Instead of constantly exfoliating their skin to achieve that glow, consumers are now inclined to nurture the barrier instead. And as healthy aging and longevity gain popularity, we’re witnessing a shift from youth-centric beauty coverage – to more brands making room for consumers of all ages.
What’s more? Consumers are gravitating towards data-driven results when considering product efficacy – as opposed to believing clever marketing-speak.
The bottom line, the trend in the skincare industry is hardly new. It’s more of what consumers want rather than what’s novel.
Skin Care Industry Trend: Market Overview
According to NPD data, skincare had the largest share of beauty sales between March and June 2020.
On a similar note, a report by IMARC Group valued the global skincare products at US$131B in 2020. And looking forward, IMARC Group projects the skincare market to grow at a CAGR of 4.1% between 2021 and 2026.
The surge in skincare popularity can be attributed to:
- Rising awareness about skin ailments and available preventive and curative measures
- Increased hygiene and health consciousness among consumers
- More men embracing skincare regimens. (Approximately 90% of 18-44-year-old men have adopted skincare routines.)
- Increased number of women needing anti-aging products – an essential segment of the skincare niche
- Increased levels of environmental pollution and the consequential adoption of regular skincare routines to alleviate skin damage
- Increased aggressive promotional activities
- Increased production of innovative skincare products with herbal elements for maintenance and enhancement of healthy skin. (Active skincare brands are embracing product innovation as an essential part of their growth strategy.)
- Consumers’ desire for a presentable personal image
Insights into skincare product types
In their consumer report, NPD noted that 22% of respondents have changed their skincare habits. And 33% are changing their skincare regimen to include more products.
Usage of moisturizers, cleansers, and other care products and treatments saw a substantial increase in 2020. The trend is expected to continue throughout 2021.
Consumers used the lockdown to research new products. And based on data from Google Trends, the popular searches involved salicylic acid serum, hydrocolloid patches, peeling solutions, and face masks.
The skincare market is also experiencing a demand for anti-aging care products. The likes of face cream, eye cream, and anti-wrinkle cream. (That’s a result of the urge for a youthful and beautiful appearance among consumers.)
Insights into skincare ingredients
Chemical or natural?
Consumers are constantly looking for eco-friendly, ethically-labeled skincare products. The need for cruelty-free products is consequently driving the demand for plant-based products. According to stats, nearly 78% of American consumersprefer fruit-sourced extracts for active ingredients in their skincare products. (76% prefer honey.)
A recent poll noted that 85% of American consumers prefer plant-based and Vitamin C-based organic ingredients in their care products.
Overall, the global skincare market is experiencing a demand for natural/organic products. On average, over 83% of Gen Z buy natural skincare products. Moreover, more and more consumers are likely to bypass a brand on its chemical formulation.
That’s to be expected as consumers become increasingly aware of the effects of parabens, aluminum, and other compounds in beauty products.
Insights into skincare products distribution channels
According to NPD, online sales of skincare products spiked at 93% year-over-year growth between March and June 2020.
The increased sales can be attributed to:
- Lockdown limiting access to brick-and-mortar stores
- Improved technology enabling better online shopping experience
- Evolution of easy and fast online payment methods
- Skincare brands’ creative narrative across platforms as well as consumer touchpoints throughout the sales cycle
So while supermarkets, hypermarkets, and other brick-and-mortar stores will maintain their role in the beauty sector, e-commerce will only grow in popularity. (Moreover, retail stores must meet the consumer where they’re if at all they’re to retain their dominance.)
So What’s in the Skincare Industry Trend? And What Are Brands Doing?
While “expecting the unexpected” may be the theme, going forward, there’s no denying the following skincare industry trends.
Less is more
Since most consumers had to work remotely for some time, there was no need to wear makeup daily. Instead, people experimented with different skincare regimens to identify the best routine for their skin. That not only reduced makeup usage but also birthed the less is more trend. That, in turn, has more consumers investing in skincare products and treatments.
According to Whole Foods, 85% of consumers who adopted the “less is more” trend in 2020 plan to continue throughout 2021.
The ‘less is more” trend is about consumers being more responsible and sensible of their consumption behaviors. It goes beyond buying less to encompass buying better.
That has resulted in yet another trend: multi-functional beauty products. Think of integrated moisturizers and cleansers.
(Multi-purpose products help consumers spend less time on their skincare routine – a welcome change for people on-the-go. They also reduce repetitive tasks around skincare, making it less tedious.)
As expected, more brands are embracing the “less is more” concept by formulating more multi-purpose skincare products.
Skincare brands are going beyond the topical to provide oral supplements in capsules, high-powdered gummies, or powder form. Most supplements promote skin elasticity, cell vitality, collagen production, and brightened skin.
Overall, combining ingestible alongside topical offerings is a promising trend in the skincare space.
Skincare products that help consumers sleep better, for example, are gaining popularity. According to Mintel data, 60% of American consumers embrace a preventive approach to skincare. And 34% of Spanish consumers are interested in personal care products that can help them relax.
Mintel data also shows that consumers are spending more time on their beauty regimen. To them, a skincare routine is a time to relax and decompress.
Translation: Resurrecting evening wellness rituals through skincare is an overlooked avenue for innovations. But brands are leveraging the opportunity. Birchbox, for instance, offers a Complete Sleep Kit constituting a relaxing eye mask, overnight hair mask, sleep-enhancing pillow spray, and CBD supplements. In so doing, the brand appeal to the emotional and beauty needs of consumers.
Another rising trend is personalized skincare – with more brands making customized skincare products for their customers.
Often, consumers describe their skin problem or answer an online quiz – after which the brand creates a beauty product that caters to the needs of that specific customer.
Skincare brands are increasingly transparent about their products formulations. It’s not uncommon for brands to highlight what’s in a formula, in what proportion, why it’s there, and what the consumer can expect from it.
And yes, consumers expect to be more informed about the products they’re consuming.
It’s no longer enough to state that you’ve used Vitamin C in your formulation. Consumers will want to know:
- What vitamin C is it?
- In what proportion is it used?
- What preservatives are added to ensure the vitamin remains stable?
- And so on.
Seeing that brand transparency is key to building trust with customers, you can expect this trend to continue.
In the mentioned Whole Foods poll, 57% of respondents expressed their interest in knowing what ingredients are in a skincare product before purchase.
Similarly, Spate notes that:
“consumers continue to show interest in understanding what ingredients will get them the results they want. While searchers for typical anti-aging claims have decreased, searchers for ingredients that fulfill those claims are on the rise. Searchers for common skincare ingredients—such as hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, retinol, and so on—are up 44%.”
Sustainable skincare products are in demand. They are also on the rise as more brands commit to sustainability.
To quote Jenni Middleton, director of beauty at WGSN,
“In 2023, products will need to be fit to function in a trading environment where collective activism has increased, and industry practices are … continually challenged on environmental and social grounds.”
As we emerge from the pandemic, consumers need more ethical, inclusive, and sustainable beauty products. Thus, product development should involve processes that heal the world – processes that leave no footprint behind.
It’s no longer about taking less from the environment. Instead, brands are embracing development processes that give back to the environment.
The growing efforts to create a sustainable world have birthed upcycling of discarded ingredients.
As Whole Foods Market states,
“… seeing repurposed ingredients in beauty products— think quality coffee grounds, discarded apricot stones, leftover argan shells…giving what would have beenfood waste, new life.”
Upcycling is gaining popularity – think of the making of essentials oils and using the waste to create lavender water. And the resulting benefits are undeniable.
Given the delicate relationship between the skin and sex hormones, there’s an increasing need for menopause skincare.
According to a report by Female Founders Fund, nearly 1.1 billion women will be postmenopausal by 2025. Better still, this untapped market has tremendous spending power. According to Forbes, women above 50 are “the healthiest, wealthiest, and most active generation in history.” They have a purchasing power of over $15 trillion.
Bacteria in beauty care is booming, with mass proliferation on the horizon.
The idea behind the microbiome is simple: balanced microbiomes equals healthy skin. (And imbalanced microbiome triggers eczema, acne, and other skin conditions.)
Given the benefits Microbiomes have to offer, consumers need beauty brands with adequate research to support their probiotic claims. There’s also a push for “pre” and “post” biotics – to cater to the existing and introduced skin microbiome.
Blue-light is a concern, as people spend over six hours a day in front of tech screens.
As Shari Marchbein, a board-certified dermatologist points out:
“[when] blue light penetrates the skin, reactive oxygen species are generated, which leads to DNA damage, thereby causing… hyperpigmentation.”
This solitary, tech screen-filled existence has spurred innovation in blue-light protection skincare space. According to NPD, sales of HEV-blocking skincare products have skyrocketed by 170% between January and June 2021.
With the virtual life still ongoing and more negative effects of blue-light coming to light, we can expect this trend to continue.
Barrier repair creams
In response to COVID-19 stressors – like wearing masks – there’s an increase in barrier repair-centric creams of protective, strengthening, and restorative nature.
Repair creams help fortify the skin weakened by physical abrasion, cold weather, or product additives.
Barrier-loving lipids and hydrating superstars (hyaluronic acid) help strengthen the skin – and are popular among skincare buffs.
(Some creams include thick, moisture trapping occlusive formulated to shield the skin from potential irritants.)
Leverage Skin Care Industry Trends with Clinically-Studied Ingredients
As the beauty industry recovers from the economic effects of the pandemic, there’s an increasing demand for holistic regimens. Of those, there’s even more demand for menopausal beauty care and barrier repair beauty treatments. As consumers go beyond skin appearance to care for what’s beneath the surface, there’s a need for barrier loving-lipids and hydrating superstars like hyaluronic acid.
And that’s where NuLiv Science’s Astrion™ comes in. This clinically-studied cosmeceutical ingredient provides advanced hydration while enhancing collagen synthesis and hyaluronic acid. Learn more here.