Heightened hygiene and increased time at home have helped to revive British women’s interest in facial skincare routines, with cleanser and moisturizer usage increasing, according to the latest research from Mintel. Following a dip in usage in 2018-19, facial cleansing is back in vogue. Usage of face wash among British women rose from 50% in 2019 to 55% in 2020, while usage of micellar water rose from 25% to 29% and usage of toner rose from 25% to 31%.
“In this COVID age, consumers are seeking physical and mental wellness, and facial skincare has benefited from the wellbeing benefits of following a beauty routine. The significant rise in face wash and facial toner usage in particular may be impacted by a greater focus on health and hygiene during the pandemic,” says Roshida Khanom, head of beauty and personal care for Mintel.
And the COVID boost goes beyond cleansing, Mintel reports. Usage of moisturizers declined in 2019 as women cut back on their beauty repertoires, but 2020 has seen renewed popularity. Day cream/lotion is proving to be the cream of the crop, as the number of Brits dipping into these has shot up from 60% in 2019 to 67% in 2020. Night cream usage also has flourished, rising from 44% to 47% over the same period.
Women’s beauty routines were influenced by the lockdown, according to the research. Attention to hygiene including hand washing increased significantly at the beginning of April, when 81% of Brits said they had washed their hands more often. Overall, 30% of facial skincare users say they have moisturized more since the outbreak of COVID-19, and younger women were more likely to have done so (41% of 16- to 24-year-olds). One in five facial skincare users spent longer on their routine, and one in seven had used more facial treatment products such as face masks.
As face coverings in public places have become the new norm, facial skincare masks in the home have seen a boost in popularity. Usage of peel-off or wash-off masks rose from 25% in 2019 to 32% in 2020, while sheet leave-on mask usage increased from 15% to 22%. These masks have particularly captured the interest of 16- to 24-year-olds, 62% of whom enjoyed the luxury of a peel-off or wash-off mask in 2020.
“The face mask segment has benefited, with the lockdown giving people more time to themselves. Sheet masks have also seen new product development in biodegradable formats, targeting sustainability concerns,” says Khanom.
The uplift has raised the category’s value. Women’s facial skincare has increased by 1.4% in value in 2019 to reach £1.18 billion. Star performers include the cleansing (including cleansers, toners, and makeup removers) and face mask segments, which both saw a 9% rise in value in the year ending June 2020.
Drop in color cosmetics
But not all beauty segments are benefitting. Color cosmetics sales have declined 5%, falling to £1.76 billion last year. Indeed, according to Mintel, usage of makeup is in decline, as 55% of female facial skincare users have reduced how frequently they wear makeup.
“Even before the pandemic, the color cosmetics category was struggling as women cut back on makeup spend. Korean beauty trends have benefited the women’s facial skincare category in recent years, with women reducing their use of makeup to show off the hard work on their skin. The pandemic may well have played a significant part too with frequency of makeup usage down. As women gave their skin a break from using makeup, many turned to skincare to rejuvenate their facial skin,” Khanom explains.
She sees continued opportunities for growth for skincare brands, and suggests new product launches that leverage today’s demand.
“The mandatory use of face masks/coverings in a number of public places in 2020 could boost prospects for facial skincare, with new product development in skincare products to soothe irritated skin. Skincare brands can also extend their ranges to release comfortable face coverings to reduce skin issues,” Khanom says. “Increased hygiene also presents future new product development opportunities for gentle facial cleansers designed to be used multiple times a day, or cleansing formats that can be used on the go, while including antibacterial claims could also appeal.”
But she warns cosmetics brands to expect further declines in makeup usage throughout the remainder of 2020, thanks to social distancing and the growing remote work practices. Yet Khanom has suggestions for product launches to capitalize on the trends, too.
“Makeup/skincare hybrid products, such as BB/CC creams, could have more appeal as women cut back on using heavy foundation,” she says. “The category has already seen new product development from makeup brands entering skincare in 2020, which will continue.”