Conscious beauty.
The evolution of the care cosmetics industry

The beauty industry is one of the most dynamically developing industries, which exists at the intersection of science, medicine, aesthetics and fashion. Purchasing care cosmetics is a highly conscious choice, as consumers are not only concerned about their health and the actual product features, but view the products as a means of self-identification. This contributes to increased competition and the constant emergence of product and marketing innovations. We study the latest global trends in skincare and haircare.

Personalized Skincare.
Personal care programmes

Consumers perceive their bodies as eco-systems, and try to find solutionsthat will benefit their health and meet their constantly changing needs. This concerns not only medicines, food and beverages, but also cosmetics. Knours, an American care cosmetics brand, attributes the state of a woman’s skin to her hormone levels, and offers her to choose a personal care routine based on her unique individual features. Skinsei is another American brand, which provides personal recommendations by using a test with various questions. Depending on the information about their location, climate, diet, stress level and harmful habits, respondents receive an individual set of products. Such a set can be bought once or purchased through a monthly subscription. Clinique released a personalised care programme, Clinique iD, with an option to create one’s own care formula: a choice of foundation (gel, cream or lotion) + a cartridge with the active concentrate.

Gender Neutrality

Instead of creating products intended only for women or only for men, a gender-neutral approach is now more commonly used in the care cosmetics segment. For Two, a Latvian brand, specialises in clay-based cosmetics, and its entire product line suits both men and women.


This tendency is noticeable even among products that generally have a rather strict gender differentiation. For example, the American brand  Agent Nateuroffers a line of unisex deodorants.

Environmental beauty

Modern care cosmetics are designed to protect skin from environmental pollution, which, in view of the current environmental situation, is especially relevant for city dwellers. Oskia, a London brand, produces concentrated products that protect skin from harmful environmental effects, both outdoors and indoors. Sisley Paris presented a universal moisture cream which, along with environmental pollution, blocks “digital pollution”—harmful emissions from gadgets and other devices.

Superfood ingredients for hair

Consumers are not losing interest in natural ingredients not only in the food segment, but also in cosmetics—they are quite demanding about what they eat and what they apply to their skin and hair. Rich in antioxidants, superfoods are positioned as products ensuring protection against adverse external factors. Today, such ingredients are used not only in the skincare segment, but also in haircare products. For example, Be Gentle, Be Kind, a line of shampoos by Briogeo, includes products familiar to proponents of health-food: kale, avocado, quinoa and matcha tea. Sauce Beauty, a brand inspired by natural food, also produces care cosmetics from “healthy ingredients” for “happy hair”.

Waterless future

Consumers continue to carefully read the composition of cosmetic products, demanding a good reason for the use of every ingredient. Increasingly, water is the ingredient most often criticised. Despite its cleanness and harmlessness, a question arises — is it really necessary? The ecological side of the problem is making brands reconsider the composition of their products: By 2020, L’Oreal is going to reduce its water use by 60% as compared to 2005, and Unilever has launched the Smart Water Initiative, intended to reduce the consumption of water resources. For example, the company has developed a line of hair conditioners, Love Beauty & Planet, using technology that makes it possible to wash them off much faster than other conditioners.


In addition to the ecological component, water reduction in products may target another problem—cosmetics can be produced with fewer preservatives and parabens, as water is a favourable environment for bacterial growth. For example, Glosslab, a New York network of manicure salons, has incorporated “waterless” procedures in its list of services, including for reasons of hygiene as well.

Un-tabooing the last frontiers

The beauty industry continues breaking stereotypes and openly proclaims what had previously been kept hushed up—the market of intimate care products is developing stably, and may by 2024 grow by 7.2%, or 35.2 billion US dollars (according to WGSN). Independent brands do not fear speaking out on delicate topics and treating taboos with humour, as there is nothing indecent in caring for your body—this kind of attitude is demonstrated by such brands as Fur, Lady Suite and Anese. Thus, intimate hygiene and health is not only becoming an openly discussed subject, but is taking a positive and even playful form, while the procedures previously deemed not proper for discussion are turning into fashionable beauty rituals.

Unique packaging

In the Instagram era, the visual component is becoming as important as the product itself. Social media have a huge influence on consumer spending in the beauty industry—72% of Instagram users bought cosmetics or clothes/accessories after seeing the product on this platform. Design is becoming the key aspect of branding on the beauty market. Glossier, an American direct-to-consumer brand, provides stickers with every purchase, which can be used to personalise the brand’s rather ascetic packaging, which can then, of course, be shared on Instagram. The brand has acquired cult status and gathered a large number of fans, while its stickers are now a collector’s item, being sold on such third-party platforms as eBay.

Probiotic Skincare

The human body is home to trillions of microorganisms and complex bacterial eco-systems. About one thousand bacteria live on our skin. They form a protective barrier and help maintain a natural pH balance. Today, beauty brands are using these bacteria to create products that care about the skin’s immunity and help it maintain its natural balance. The European brand Esse, one of the pioneers in this segment, has for 10 years been producing its serums and creams with “good microbes”; however, more and more brands are now jumping onto the probiotic production bandwagon, such as, for example, the English producer Mother Dirt. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the probiotic cosmetics market is expected to reach 22.5% over the next five years, and will by 2024 amount to 67 million US dollars in the U.S. (Global Info Research Study).


While the entire world was following Korean and Japanese trends (K-beauty and J-beauty), the beauty industry in China started to actively develop on its own: on the local market, the phrase “Made in China” is becoming something to be proud of. Both the government and e-commerce platforms (TMall from Alibaba) are encouraging consumers to buy Chinese-made products instead of imported ones—the percentage of C-beauty brands using the key words associated with local brands (for example, “the glory of Chinese goods,” 国货之光) had grown from 40% in 2017 to 72% by the beginning of 2019. It can be expected that the growth in this market will lead to C-beauty expansion into other countries, after which China will not only be copying, but also setting global trends.

Multitasking Products

Unlike the 10-step care routines that came to the market from Asia, the brands are returning to a more minimalistic approach, which K-beauty calls “skip-care”—more benefit with a smaller quantity of more potent ingredients. Such a “lazy” all-in-one product style allows consumers to simplify their daily skin care routines: one product can combine three functions: toner, moisturising cream and emulsion, for example, in the form of patches by Peach&Lily or Re:p essence.


The growth of the beauty industry is challenging both independent indie brands and corporate giants, demanding constant improvements in developments and approaches, forcing them to make quick decisions and find answers to complex questions open for most players.


Consumers in the care cosmetics segment are focusing not only on the products themselves, but also on their value component, which helps consumers define the unique brand identity of the product and its attitude to the environment in which it is located. On the one hand, this creates additional opportunities for branding, while on the other hand, it raises a new question — how to catch the consumer’s attention and engage his emotions in conditions of information overload, and to find simple yet powerful meanings for positioning the offer on a highly competitive market?


The environmental trend is still relevant on the key markets, but not all cosmetic brands adhere to the principles of sustainability — it’s an approach more characteristic of small independent companies. The major market players will need more resources and time to change their approaches and processes to meet these relatively new consumer demands.


Japan and Korea have already become trendsetters, making the entire world take into account the Asian tendencies. The growing Chinese market is also posing threats that are becoming a serious barrier for European and American companies, which will have to find ways to effectively compete with strong Asian brands.

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