The beauty market has never looked better. Just ask those keeping track.
Market researcher Euromonitor reported last year that the global skincare market grew 6% in 2019.1 Euromonitor in fact notes global skincare’s upward climb from as far back as 2004—without stopping since. Dietary supplement customers are also flocking to beauty products. Market researcher IRI reported late last year that the beauty segment of the U.S. supplements market saw 18% growth in the 52 weeks ending August 11, 2019.
With so many customers flocking to the beauty space, it’s not surprising that some of the most innovative movement in the natural and healthy products market is happening over in the beauty aisle. Ahead, we talked to the experts who gave us a quick tour of what will drive the beauty market in the future.
Clean and Green
Naturally derived, clean-label, and environmentally friendly ingredients are de rigueur in beauty these days. “Clean beauty,” which consumers associate with health, wellness, and social responsibility, is no longer necessarily a differentiator but rather a feature that today’s beauty consumers expect.
According to market researcher Mintel in a press release last November, “Mintel research indicates that ‘clean beauty’ mentions on online platforms have doubled between 2017 (0.6 million) and 2018 (1.2 million). Consumers are now seeking assurance that their skincare products will not harm them, their family, or animals.” At the In-Cosmetics Formulation Summit for R&D professionals last November, Mintel reported that nearly half (49%) of U.S. adults (aged 18-24) are seeking clean beauty products, while 51% of U.S. adults would pay more for a product made by a socially responsible company.
During the In-Cosmetics Formulation Summit, summit chairperson Barbara Brockway, PhD, director of personal care at AppliedDNA Sciences, said: “We are seeing consumers increasingly seeking out cosmetics that have less ingredients and avoiding products made with ingredients, such as palm oil, that are associated with damage to the environment. Today, the conscious consumer is also attracted to products with a positive message, such as improving health and mental wellbeing. As a result, beauty products with minimal impact on the planet, and those delivering a strong feel-good factor, are going to be hugely important to the future success of our industry.”
With clean and green claims so prevalent in the beauty market today, it can be difficult to know what’s real. At the In-Cosmetics Formulation Summit, one speaker estimated that up to 82% of companies that launched products in the past year made green claims. Those walking the talk are not only setting an example of where the beauty industry needs to go but also shedding light on how far some companies are from truly meeting that goal.
Many times, it’s small brands leading the way. Take a brand called LOLI Beauty, who stakes its existence on zero waste and ethical sourcing/manufacturing. Tina Hedges, LOLI’s founder, explains the challenge of being an independent brand making sustainability part of its core identity—while trying to stand out among a sea of greenwashing claims.
“At LOLI, our goal was to be zero waste—from upcycling organic food-grade ingredients and developing waterless products to packaging in recycled, recyclable, reusable, and garden-compostable materials—but that’s just not achievable for most big beauty brands,” says Hedges. “For them, their goal is what small changes they can make by 2025, and it tends to be a greenwashed effort outweighed by their larger, non-sustainable footprint.” By contrast, LOLI has been publicly recognized for its authentically meaningful practices. Among other awards it’s received, in 2019 the company received the Cosmetic Executive Women’s esteemed Sustainability Excellence Award.
Says Hedges: “Sustainable greenwashing is so prevalent and truly an issue, as we all need to stand together to stir up a meaningful shift in the industry. You just can’t have all the overpackaged, highly decorated jars and tubes, and all these fancy textured lotions or gels, and still be good for the planet. We need to shift how we consume beauty and start to pare down to the essentials that are multipurpose and powerful. Do you really need a regimen of 15 skincare products?”
More consumers need to be able to cut through the greenwashing, she says. “It’s truly heartbreaking for smaller indie brands who’ve done the hard work upfront and built their business on an authentic and meaningful platform of sustainability—like LOLI Beauty—when these larger brands market misinformation and greenwashed claims about being sustainable. A great example of this surrounds the misunderstandings perpetuated by some of these companies with huge marketing budgets on the claims of biodegradable versus compostable packaging. Most of the biodegradable packaging in the beauty industry is made with plastic resins and glues, which will degrade over time, releasing microplastics into our food sources—from soil to water. But the consumer is convinced that the pretty pink tube with gold lettering ‘Made from sugarcane’ is a sustainable, earth-friendly package.”
We all need to become more aware of the need for more sustainable ways to source and develop beauty and personal care products, Hedges says; doing so is “no longer a luxury” given the state of the world. “I wish the consumer was completely aware of what’s real and what’s a marketing ploy, but there is still a lot of work to do to get there,” she says. It will also take commitment from consumers themselves, as “sustainable is not gimmicky or cheap,” she points out. Whether more consumers are willing to pay up for a truly sustainable ethos could be the biggest question of all.
Microbiome is a term casually tossed around these days, but to really drill into how microbiome research is impacting the beauty industry, one should start with the ingredients.
The human microbiome is each person’s unique makeup of microbes. Researchers are increasingly discovering that a person’s microbiome plays a commanding role in his or her health and wellness—including that of the skin. The skin’s microbiome is made up of microbiota—yeast, bacteria, etc.—that colonize the skin that and, among other things, “help protect against infection, aid in wound healing, limit exposure to allergens and UV radiation, minimize oxidative damage, and help keep the skin barrier intact and well hydrated,” explained Euromonitor in its April 2019 report1, “The Role of Microbiome in the Evolution of Skin Care.”
Beauty brands are increasingly exploring how the ingredients that tip the scale toward a healthy, balanced microbiome—prebiotics, probiotics, postbiotics, and other biome-friendly ingredients—can benefit the wellbeing of the skin. Euromonitor points out that, increasingly, these products are making their way to the beauty market, with consumers in regions such as Europe and Asia among the earliest adopters.
Further possible growth of probiotic beauty products, for instance, will also depend on regulatory developments in terms of claims and labeling, points out Paula Simpson, an integrated health and beauty expert. Simpson is the founder of consulting firm Nutribloom Consulting and the author of a new book, Good Bacteria for Healthy Skin: Nurturing Your Skin Microbiome for Clear & Luminous Skin. “The ambiguity and regulatory inconsistencies around probiotics have challenged the market both for industry and the consumer,” Simpson says. “As labeling, claims, and regulations become more cohesive, probiotic-based skincare will evolve as a viable market in the beauty space.”
Furthermore, as microbiome research becomes more sophisticated, so do the resulting products. “Past probiotic skincare formulations were general in the bacterial species used and claims made for skin health,” Simpson says. “Based on evolving research and market expectation, formulations are moving towards synbiotic blends that include appropriate bacterial species/subspecies/strains that support the specific skin-health claims.”
- Euromonitor report. “The Role of Microbiome in the Evolution of Skin Care.” Published April 25, 2019. Accessed at: https://blog.euromonitor.com/webinar/the-role-of-microbiome-in-the-evolution-of-skin-care/
- Khanom R. “Why Personalization Is the Future of Beauty.” Mintel Blog. Published October 14, 2019. Accessed at: https://www.mintel.com/blog/beauty-market-news/why-personalisation-is-the-future-of-beauty2
- Ene I. “8 Interesting Brands Spotted at Indie Beauty Expo London.” Mintel Blog. Published November 14, 2019. Accessed at: https://www.mintel.com/blog/beauty-market-news/8-interesting-brands-spotted-at-indie-beauty-expo-london
- Jiménez J. “Use of Neuroscience Tools During the R&D Process of Cosmetic Products.” Prospector. Published December 8, 2017. Accessed at: https://knowledge.ulprospector.com/7532/pcc-use-neuroscience-tools-rd-process-cosmetic-products/