The future of Skin Care: Connecting health, science and tradition
As we enter a period of skincare enlightenment, consumers are increasingly invested in gaining more knowledge around skin health. They are also becoming more educated on modern skincare problems caused by external aggressors and overuse of certain active ingredients that can sometimes do more harm than good. Post-pandemic search interest in "skin repair microbiome" increased +1,600% YoY from May 2021 and a search “how to strengthen the skin barrier” rose by 120% YoY from October 2021.
As skin rewilding, barrier repairing, and microbiome skincare are embraced as the antidote to modern skin problems, these trends will move from niche to mainstream by 2025 (WGSN).
The skin's microbiome is a complex ecosystem of microorganisms that live on the skin’s surface. These microorganisms help to protect skin from harmful bacteria, viruses and other environmental stressors. However, certain aggressors can disrupt the balance of the skin's microbiome, leading to irritation, inflammation and even acne. To address this issue, many brands are now creating skin care products that specifically target the skin's microbiome and the number of ‘microbiome’ related product launches has increased +850% from 2018 to 2022 (Mintel GNPD, 2023).
Due to the unique nature of each person’s skin flora, new possibilities have been opened in terms of personalised products to track the health of the skin.
- UK-based Skin Trust Club's skin microbiome testing system uses genome sequencing, location data, UV count, weather and air pollution to monitor skin and identify imbalances in its health. Users receive lab-assessed reports and recommendations via the accompanying app.
- Skinnovator Shiseido has launched a rapid skin bacteria measuring service at its Global Innovation Centre in Yokohama. The PCR-style test measures the balance of indigenous skin bacteria tied to skin health and delivers results in approx. 40 minutes.
How to action this?
- Bet on bio-fermented ingredients. Fermentation creates the probiotics and prebiotics that feed the skin's good bacteria and increase the potency, penetration and preservation, making products highly appealing to clean and value-focused consumers.
- Make collagen the hero to help improve elasticity and hydration as a solution to repair damaged skin.
- Promote barrier-supporting skincare that highlights microbiome-balancing ingredients.
Microbiome - Insight Scoop
Ingredient inspiration for strengthening skin care
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The idea behind geo-skincare is that different climates, air pollution levels, and water qualities can all have a significant impact on skin’s appearance and health. From UV rays, blue light, pollution, extreme weather like wind, heat and cold, consumers are concerned about how to protect their skin from environmental stressors and geo-aggressors.
Driven by climate changes and erratic whether, this new approach to skin health will call for products specifically designed for local climates and seasonal changes. According to WGSN, skincare routines based on geography will increasingly determine consumer purchasing choices.
What’s behind this?
Season-specific - Skintellectual consumers do not believe skin remains static throughout the year and demand products tailored to seasonal weather changes and associated problems. In Japan, searches for "spring cosmetics" have doubled since 2021 and searches for “pollen” in the skincare category increased by 1.1 times from 2021 (cosme), popularising beauty routines dedicated for spring. Monsoon season in certain countries brings a host of skin problems, including rashes, breakouts and dull skin due to the high humidity and allergens and increased oil and sweat deposits. Consumers seek 'skin fresheners' such as cleansers, scrubs, clay masks and light, oil-free moisturisers.
Weather extremities - People in non-temperate climates have specific skin and hair problems due to the extreme weather conditions. These include cold weather in the polar region and hot weather in tropical regions alongside arid, dry air in the deserts, and strong UV and wind exposure in marine areas. Consumers are looking for products inspired by the local climate that include ingredients which are adaptogens, regionally sourced or those whose use can lower or raise the temperature of skin in hot and cold weather respectively.
Extreme protection – Due to rising temperatures, pollution levels and increasing frequency of natural disasters, consumers are much more aware of the associated hazards and risks. Protection against various environmental aggressors like dust pollution, toxic smoke, microscopic particles, volatile chemicals, atmospheric gases, infrared rays and blue light have become priority. SPF protection will be paramount even with the cost-of-living crisis and demand for higher UV protection in PA ratings (PA++++) and even SPF100 will continue to grow.
Climate-resistant - As weather becomes erratic and less predictable, consumers will look to products that do not spoil with the climate and will seek extra guarantee of cosmetics safety. There will be a need for formulas and packaging that are climate-resistant in extreme cold or heat conditions. Consumers will demand full transparency around longevity and brands must provide lab test results that prove products have gone through the spectrum of heat, UV and freeze-thaw stability testing.
How to action this?
- Launch specific collections for the local area and climate or for a specific season.
- Create climate-adaptive products using extremophile or adaptogenic ingredients that are climate-resistant botanicals known to sustain harsh weather and conditions.
- Prioritise the planet and develop no-waste products that do not add to landfill.
- Think about packaging. In some cases, heat-resistant packaging could be a must as plastics can also deteriorate in high temperatures.
Botanical shields against climate aggressions
Ingredient inspiration for Geo skincare
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The no-make-up look will be still one of the top trends in 2025, driven by lasting importance of skinimalism that promotes minimal product routines and natural aesthetics (WGSN). What does it mean for brands? Minimal make-up requires maximal skin care. Customers have swapped full make-up and heavy contouring for lifting face creams and lip-plumpers. Tutorials with #dewyskin, #flushedcheeks and #plumplips have over 100m views on TikTok. Driven by a post-pandemic desire to optimise their health and beauty, consumers will increasingly seek smart, effective, science-backed products. They will increasingly see dermatologists, chemists and science professionals as trusted ‘genuinfluencers'. Reducing the biological age will be the new focus.
What’s behind this?
Notox - Ironically, the shift to the natural no-make-up look has seen a rise in ‘tweakments’, including fillers and Botox. However, this trend is also observed in products that mimic or heal minimally invasive procedures, with search interest for “creams like Botox” increasing by +56% YoY in 2022 (Lookfantastic). Claims such as science-backed, needle-free, injection-free and cosmeceutical-grade are appearing on the packaging of popular market products.
Cellular beauty – According to WGSN, anti-ageing conversation will enter a new era of science-backed products designed to boost the skin’s cellular processes. The term ‘biologial age’ is expected to become the new buzzword. This approach is based on the knowledge that chronological ageing cannot be stopped, but biological ageing is reactive and can be slowed or reversed by addressing root causes such as stress, dehydration, insomnia, poor lifestyle and environmental aggressors.
Synthetic skincare - Biosynthetic ingredients will be key for an effective skincare routine, containing nature-identical formulations that have minimal impact on the environment. A demand for the new wave of biotech ingredients will increase, offering lab-engineered formulas in a bid to reduce potential over-farming of natural ingredients. Brands have started to promote their synthetic products that do not burden natural resources, which has given rise to “lab-grown” skincare.
Lo-TEK skincare – Lo-TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge) comes from the book of designer and academic Julia Watson, who shares the idea that we should draw from the sustainable practices of indigenous people and apply them at scale in cities. This term translated into the beauty market creating the space where «tradition meets science». Future skincare should highlight traditional solutions with formulations rooted in ancient rituals proven by science. The interest in growing beauty regions such as India, Mexico, Africa and focus on Traditional Chinese Medicine will rise providing new opportunities for beauty to learn from and honour. For example, #AyurvedicSkincare has seen 1.5m views on TikTok.
How to action this?
- Seek out the ingredients known to visibly improve skin firm and smoothness, such as retinol, hyaluronic acid or collagen boosters like peptides.
- Prioritise clinically tested or developed in collaboration with dermatologists solutions.
- Evidence cellular skincare claims with clinical research and data using trusted and well-known ingredients such as peptides and ceramides.
- Communicate why your offerings include synthetic or natural ingredients emphasising the benefits of biosynthetic skincare.
- Promote regional experts and natives to ensure traditional knowledge in your product are being honoured properly.
- Invest in those suppliers that source with respect to people and the planet.
Matrixyl® Inside presentation
Ingredient inspiration for science-backed skincare
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- Intelligence: Future of Skincare 2025, Clare Varga, WGSN (2022)
- Buyers' Briefing A/W 23/24: Skincare, Hannah Mauser, WGSN (2022)
- Key Trend 2023: Climate- Adaptive Formats, Christine Chua, WGSN (2022)
- Top Beauty Trends for 2023 & Beyond, the WGSN Beauty Team (2022)