European facial skin care is a mature market and sales growth has been modest, notes Euromonitor International, which predicted total European skin care market sales would top $20.6 billion last year, an increase of 1.6% year-on-year. Western Europe accounts for the majority of sales at 81% of the total, a market that is dominated by Germany (more than $4 billion), France (nearly $3 billion) and the UK (nearly $2.9 billion). Russia is the largest East European market for facial skin care at more than $1.7 billion, accounting for nearly half of all sales for this region, while Poland comes a distant second at $796 million.
Recent research from Mintel shows that roughly three in 10 (28%) British women have reduced the number of products in their facial skin care routine, especially young women aged 20-29%, of whom 54% are most likely to have simplified their routines.
A Sharp Decline
Significantly, the proportion of women using four or more products to cleanse their skin fell sharply from 26% in 2018 to 18% in 2019, with the cleanser category proving to be the biggest casualty: usage of facial cleansing wash dropped from 55% to 50% and facial cleansing wipes fell from 54% to 43%.
While not disputing the trend toward simpler routines, a different view is offered by Amy Rollinson, an associate analyst at Euromonitor International, who argues that cleansers are still benefitting from multi-step regimes.
“Many consumers adopt a double cleanse due to newer balm and oil formulations which continue to enter the market,” she observed.
Sustainability issues further contribute to the slimlining of skin care routines as consumers become more aware of their environmental impact and aim to minimize it. Disposable wipes are one of skin care’s biggest casualties.
“As sustainability issues grow in importance, many beauty consumers are deliberately cutting out these single-use products,” comments Alex Fisher, global skin care analyst at Mintel.
Fisher predicts that wipe sales will continue to decline unless manufacturers can produce more sustainable products.
“Women will abandon wipes altogether, swapping them for reusable options or washcloths.”
Packaging waste is one part of the sustainability issue and skin care brands are evaluating the impact ingredients may have on the planet.
“Renewable natural ingredients are already being brought to market, and we’ll see a host of new alternatives, such as vegan collagen, the increased use of yeast and algae-based products and bioengineered palm oil,” points out Fisher.
Those in on the act include Icelandic brand Bioeffect, which bioengineered a plant-based replica of greenhouse-grown barley for its anti-aging skin care range, which includes EFG Serum and Imprinting Hydrogel Mask. Another, One Ocean Beauty, uses blue biotechnology to produce marine actives from marine micro-organisms, kelp and algae living in extreme ocean environments for its range of face and body products.
Sustainability Is Trending
The use of upcycled ingredients in beauty is a further example of ways in which skin care brands are tapping into the sustainability trend. Food waste is a serious problem with millions of tons of blemished fruit and vegetables thrown away. However, these foods have just as many nutritional and skin health properties and are being diverted into the manufacture of skin care and other beauty products. Recent Mintel research, for example, showed that high levels of antioxidants (phenylpropanoids) were measured in the peel of scab apples that are infected with the fungus Venturia inaequalis.
British brand UpCircle Beauty uses leftover food waste ingredients, including coffee grounds and chai tea spices, which usually end up in landfill. Sourced from London cafes, the repurposed grounds are incorporated into a variety of skin care products, including face scrub. The Body Shop’s Carrot facial skin care formulas contain carrots that have been rejected by the food industry for their imperfect appearance. According to GlobalData’s Q3 2019 global survey, 72% of respondents find fruit/vegetable extracts to be appealing as they are perceived as “real” ingredients that are natural.
“Consumers want to trust the products they put on their face and body, hence their appeal,” comments Yamina Tsalamlal, associate analyst, GlobalData.
While vitamins E and vitamin C have been used for some time within skin care, they still hold appeal for consumers who demand “cleaner” formulations and familiar natural ingredients. Vitamin C is also having its moment due to the trend for brightening and illuminating skin care formulations. For example, vitamin C has been used at 10% concentration in L’Oréal-owned La Roche Posay Pure Vitamin C10 Serum, described as a “dermatological renovation serum to reveal sensitive skin’s radiance.”
Euromonitor International has highlighted three European facial skin care launches which are making waves:
- Glossier Futuredew blurs makeup and skin care with its oil-serum hybrid formula offering a highlighting effect. It is aimed at consumers looking for a more natural makeup look with a healthy glow.
- Clarins is reaching out to Gen Z and Millennials with its sub-brand MyClarins. The products are vegan with sustainably-sourced packaging, designed to appeal to the 34% of Gen Z European consumers who desired vegan moisturizers in 2018.
- Zitsticka Killa offers a new format for the mature acne treatment market, using patches with microdarts that enable active ingredients to target spots directly.
Mintel’s Fisher predicts that dermatological credentials will become ever more important within European facial skin care category as consumers focus on skin health.
“Dermatologist- and doctor-branded products will hold more credibility and consumers will look for products that are suitable for sensitive skin as a mark of safety,” she argues.
The skin care market will be defined, in part, by sustainability issues. Even dermatological formulations will incorporate more natural ingredients, but only if proven to have a specific purpose.
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Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher who commentates on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles, has served on the Board of Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW UK) and won the prestigious Cosmetic Executive (UK) Achiever Award. Founded by Imogen in 1993, The Premium Market Report remains the only in-depth report to examine trends in the premium cosmetics, skincare and fragrance industry.