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How the wellness trend is impacting beauty formulation: Top tips for personal care innovation

In today's fast-paced world and challenging emotional landscape, prioritising self-care and holistic wellness has become essential. This has seen a significant shift in the beauty industry and its consumers. The traditional notion of beauty has expanded to encompass not only external appearance but also the deeper focus on health and internal balance. This emerging paradigm has given rise to the beauty and wellness trend in personal care, where consumers seek products that promote self-care rituals, holistic health, and a mindful approach to beauty.

Alongside these desired wellness features, the benefits to skin and hair and sustainability credentials are still fundamental elements for consideration within product development and beauty innovation. Consumers search for beauty products with clear claims and are much more aware of the impact their buying choices can have on the planet. There is now a much stronger emphasis on proven performance and formulations that are sustainably sourced and manufactured.
woman in sunshine making heart shape with her hands

In this blog, we will highlight the main factors driving this transformation, the key elements of wellness-focused products and routines, and the impact this trend has on consumer choices. Additionally, we explore how this can influence beauty innovation and Holly Jones, Lead Applications Scientist at Croda, provides her top tips for personal care wellness formulating.

What factors are driving the beauty and wellness trend?

Health as a priority

The first key driver of the personal care wellness trend is the prioritisation of health. The demands of daily life, growing use of technology and moving from a health crisis to a cost-of-living crisis is creating fatigue amongst consumers, and health concerns are growing. They are increasing focus on their overall health and acknowledge that this includes nutrition, sleep and mental wellness in harmony (Figure 1).

How do consumers define health graph
Figure 1 – The top 5 responses to the question ‘What does being healthy mean to you?’, taken from Euromonitor International’s annual Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey.2

Mental wellness

New research into the mind-skin connection suggests our thoughts, feelings and emotions, good and bad, are often expressed through the skin. Consumers are aware of this with 74% of people saying that their mental state and their skin are connected.1 As we enter an age of 'emotional beauty', brands will be looking to put this connection at the centre of product design. They have a unique opportunity to create playful escapism through cosmetics and meet the needs of the 76% of consumers that say they are actively seeking ways to reduce stress.3 Elements to consider include calming and soothing ingredients, hydration and moisturisation benefits, mindful fragrances and science-backed claims. 

Sleep and stress

With a push on productivity and rising levels of stress, it is no real surprise that 35% of Europeans have been struggling to get a full night’s rest.4 Getting enough sleep is a key component of health and therefore targeted products and rituals that offer a chance to de-stress and unwind at the end of the day appeal. Popular products include relaxing bath oils, soothing mists and nourishing creams, infused with calming scents like lavender and camomile. Conversations have shifted from rest to recovery, giving brands the opportunity to profile the overnight powers of their beauty portfolios.5

Me-mentality

The second trend driver is the emphasis on oneself. After spending the last few years prioritising community, public health and safety in the global pandemic, consumers have adopted a ‘me-mentality’. In fact, 51.3% of UK consumers are prioritising their health more than they did two to three years ago.6 This has seen them carve out regular me-time and incorporate self-care rituals into their daily life, whether via full step-by-step routines or beauty snacking moments. 

Preferences and personalisation


This me-mentality also reflects a growing emphasis on individual preferences, personalisation, and self-expression in the realm of personal care. Consumers are increasingly seeking products that cater to their unique needs, align with their values, and empower their sense of self. A McKinsey report found that 76% of those surveyed are more likely to buy from brands that personalise.
7 This expectation goes beyond offering solutions for different skin and hair types. Incorporating life stages or moments, and even mood and emotions, is becoming more popular. 

Tailored offerings can also inspire consumers to build new parts of their identity and encourage experimentation, all in the pursuit of better overall wellness. Beauty and personal care brands can help their customers to take centre stage as they navigate through this period of reinvention and refocus.
 

How is the wellness trend impacting beauty innovation?

We know that navigating the complexities of formulation can be a daunting task, with countless variables to consider. Here, Holly Jones, Lead Applications Scientist, provides her personal care wellness formulating tips.

1. Fragrance

Once a consumer has picked a product with branding, packaging and claims that appeal to them, they will open the product and release the scent inside. The fragrance used will impact the mood, emotion and feeling created, so it is important to consider your options carefully.

Some fragrances such as rose or peppermint  are very polarising and may deter people from choosing to purchase. In contrast, selecting the correct fragrance for your target market can be a big selling point and enhance the wellness effect of the product in use. 

For example, lavender is well renowned for its relaxation effect so would be perfect for a night-time product, whereas citrus is more energising and uplifting and would be suitable for an early morning shower gel. 

It is important to remember that fragrance may not always be suitable. Factors such as application, skin type and consumer association come into play. These areas can influence the strength (usage level) and substantivity of the fragrance used. 

Another element to consider is that wellness has increasing appeal across all genders. Rather than adding stereotypically ‘feminine’ floral or fruity fragrances, or ‘masculine’ woody/musky olfactive families, perhaps consider using a more unisex fragrance with green or aquatic notes for a more inclusive product. 

2. Sensory

How a product looks and feels is of utmost importance to a consumer, and they have come to expect certain attributes from each stage of the application process. Acceptability and perception of quality and efficacy are often impacted by a product’s sensory properties. For example, a light, cooling serum could stimulate feelings of freshness and hydration, or a thick body butter may convey luxury and pampering. These feelings of instant effect can engage consumers to establish continued use and drive repurchase.

However, it is important to note that the descriptive language used and the sensory attributes that appeal to consumers, may vary across different demographics. This can make navigating the sensory space as a personal care formulator a challenging task.

Croda’s SenStories™ selector tool saves formulators valuable time by suggesting oil-in-water emulsifiers which will give the desired sensory based on the semantics inputted (i.e. consumer language descriptors such as hydrating, fresh and fluid). This allows them to create products with targeted sensories that align with consumer expectations.

Presentation: Trending in Personal Care - Wellness

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Formulation: Anti-stress Facial Serum

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cosmetic formulation utilising natural ingredients to create on trend formulations

Formulation finder

Discover new formulation ideas for beauty and personal care that are trending at the moment. Get some formulation inspiration here.

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SenStories™ selector tool

This tool helps you make suitable oil-in-water emulsifier recommendations based on consumer expectations to help develop skin care formulations with targeted sensories.

3. Appearance  

Colour can be used to enhance the wellness experience, connecting physically and mentally with our body and mind.10 Most cosmetic formulations are colourless solutions or white/cream emulsions which are considered to be simple, clean and fresh. This lends itself to the theme of wellness as white has a historical association with healing and spirituality.10 Pastel shades such as light lavender are also a popular choice for wellness products because of their low saturation level which still evoke a sense of rest and calm. 

However, as well as being simple and calming, wellness products include those designed to brighten our day and boost our mood, so feel free to experiment with bright colour to add an element of fun into your formulations. For example, orange is usually connected to joy and creativity. WGSN predict that despite it being a polarising colour, orange will become an inclusive, youth-led wellness hue.10

Formulations with novel textures also influence the user experience and incite playfulness and fun. Examples of those formulated at Croda include a cleansing sand, melting hair pop treatment and a powder to cream body moisturiser.

Formulations with novel textures

Shape and Play Cleansing Sand

Shape and Play Cleansing Sand

This bright, playful cleansing sand will appeal to kids and adults of all ages. For use on the face...

Melting hair pop treatment formulation

Melting Hair Pop Treatment

Healthy ON TREND hair dessert. Drenched with DuraQuenchTM IQ SA this formulation offers mega...

Powder to Cream Body Moisturiser

Powder to Cream Body Moisturiser

Croda’s powder moisturiser is a waterless formulation that was developed under sustainable product...

4. Effect on body and mind (look good, feel good)

A quick spritz of a soothing body mist only takes a second but allows you to take a moment for yourself away from your busy schedule to refresh and reset. The formulation has a cooling sensation and actives to calm your skin whilst the fragrance boosts your mood, making you look good and feel good at the same time. It could be used any time of day or night for a wellbeing wellness boost and bitesize “me-moment”.

When formulating, ask yourself: what problem/s are you trying to solve? How can using the product improve someone’s wellness?

For example, dandruff and greasy roots, two big causes of negative emotional and mental wellness, can be tackled by a product such as a pre-shower exfoliating scalp cream. Some of the ingredients within the formulation may be added to gently exfoliate the scalp and leave the skin smooth, fresh, and radiant, while other ingredients work to bring vitality, energy, and soothing properties. This combination will help to reduce visible dandruff and grease, improving hair aesthetics and making the consumer feel good. 

All ingredient and formulation claims must be validated and backed up by data which is made available to the customer/consumer. 

5. Naturality/Sustainability

Formulations with a high ISO16128 % natural origin content and/or natural certifications such as COSMOS or NATRUE are increasingly desired by consumers as well as biodegradable formulations and a minimal INCI list.

Ingredient suppliers need to be transparent about the sourcing and sustainability of their ingredients. Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable and want to understand the purpose of each ingredient in the formulation and where it came from. 

When formulating, a cold process (no heat) method can save energy and reduce the carbon footprint of the formulation. Where ingredients require heating, only heating to the minimum temperature required for the shortest amount of time is beneficial. The sustainability of the formulation can also be increased by reducing water usage. This can be achieved by creating anhydrous formulations, concentrated/reduced water products or no-rinse formulations. 

Alongside the ingredients and method, the sustainability of the packaging needs to be considered. Can you make a solid format which doesn’t require packaging? Is your packaging recyclable and/or made from recycled materials? Can you offer refills instead of purchasing a new pack each time? 

Knowing that the ingredients and packaging used in their beauty routine has minimal negative impact on the environment gives the consumer peace of mind and allows them to indulge in their favourite beauty practices guilt-free. 

6. Inclusivity

Wellness products should be inclusive and therefore you should consider how to meet the lifestyle choices of consumers e.g., vegetarian/vegan, Halal, Kosher etc and whether your brand offering fits with their values. 

All genders and ages should also be catered for across the industry and options available for all skin and hair types. There is therefore demand for formulations that cater to an inclusive variety of needs but can be personalised for a specific consumer.

The best way to do this is to start by creating a simple chassis to which additional boosters/actives can be added at varying levels to produce a customised product. For example, different amounts of conditioning ingredients could be added to a simple hair serum base to cater to the needs of various hair types.  

7. Multifunctional/cross-category/hybrid products

Consumer expectations are increasing; they want a product that does it all! However, a wellness routine doesn’t have to be complicated to achieve this. The rise of multifunctional/cross-category/hybrid products offer an effective solution to buying multiple products for different applications. In one product, they can provide simplicity, convenience, versatility, and mindful consumption to incorporate wellness easily and effectively into beauty rituals and help consumers to de-stress and feel good. 

A CC cream is a great example of a cross-category wellness product, combining colour cosmetic, skin care and sun care applications. It is colour correcting and can be used as a primer or moisturiser. Actives can also be added to provide anti-ageing benefits and the addition of UV filters give SPF protection. Sun care actives are getting more advanced and sun care formulations exist on the market which claim to protect against aggressors such as UVA, UVB, IR-A, HEV, blue light and pollution. An all-in-one product can provide the reassurance that you are getting the broadest protection.

‘Skinification’ of the hair is another term you may be aware of, treating the scalp as you would the rest of your skin. The category has taken inspiration from skin care, incorporating hero skincare ingredients into shampoos, conditioners, treatments and styling products. 

Putting our formulation tips into practice…

Here Holly makes the wellness-inspired Anti-stress facial serum formulation. 


How to formulate our Anti-stress facial serum

Conclusion

The wellness trend has revolutionised the personal care industry, transforming it into a space where self-care, wellness, and health are of significant importance. By embracing this holistic perspective in personal care innovation, brands can continue to provide the tangible benefits for the skin and hair expected from cosmetic products whilst contributing to consumer wellness.

References

1. Tatcha. 2022 Tatcha Study on Skincare & Self Care. Harnessing the Skin-Mind Connection: Why Conventional Skincare Isn’t Enough—And What We Can Do About It. 2022. https://tatchaassets.com/tatcha/docs/The_2022_Tatcha_Report_on_Skincare_and_Self-Care_Sp.pdf
2. Euromonitor. Consumer Health in 2022: Priorities, Opportunities and Concerns. 7 June 2022. https://www.euromonitor.com/article/consumer_health_in_2022_priorities_opportunities_and_concerns
3. Mintel. 2023 Global Consumer Trends. 2022. https://www.mintel.com/consumer-market-news/global-consumer-trends/
4. STADA. STADA Health Report 2022. https://www.stada.com/media/7197/health-report-2022_final.pdf
5. WGSN. WGSN Trend Curve: Sleep-Time Skincare. 9 March 2021. https://www.wgsn.com/beauty/article/91834
6. WGSN. Brand Strategies: Fragrance. 7 November 2022. https://www.wgsn.com/insight/article/94012
7. McKinsey & Company. Next in Personalization 2021. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/the-value-of-getting-personalization-right-or-wrong-is-multiplying
8. Faace. https://www.wearefaace.com/
9. McKinsey & Company. The beauty market in 2023: A special State of Fashion report. 22 May 2023. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/the-beauty-market-in-2023-a-special-state-of-fashion-report
10. WGSN. Colour Intelligence: Wellness Colours. 2 April 2022. https://www.wgsn.com/beauty/article/93010
11. Tara Healing Center. ‘What is Sylvotherapy?’. http://www.tarahealingcenter.be/en/pages/sylvotherapie/what-is-sylvotherapy.html

Would you like to discuss this trend and our tips for formulating in more detail?