Why the unstoppable rise of skin care isn’t slowing down anytime soon


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Skin care has never not been a thing, but it’s always taken a backseat to makeup. Where electric blue eyeliners are easy to swap notes on, the answer to why one’s skin glows could be the result of any number of factors. But recently, there’s been a culture shift. No longer are we enamored with glossy perfection; instead, we’re craving what’s real—pimples and all. At the same time that a new tide rolls in, we’ve also been inundated with technology that allows us to peer into spaces that were once kept private: shelfies, nighttime routines, and #selfcare don’t whisper on Instagram, they roar.

At current, skin care is a $5.7 billion industry in the United States, and it’s up 8 percent year-over-year, according to research on prestige beauty from the The NPD Group. This growth is driven by the sales of natural and clean brands and those that offer up targeted treatments to their customer base. Real life stands as proof. “Over the past few years, I have seen a big shift in growth for skin care,” says Sephora beauty director David Razzano. “When I first started working for Sephora as a beauty advisor, I found clients were often looking for makeup to cover up or hide their skin concerns. This has shifted over the past couple of years—I have now noticed a tremendous interest and love for skin care.”

It isn’t slowing down any time soon either. Data compiled in 2018 by Statista showed that skin care is now the largest category in the beauty and personal care industry, making up 37 percent of the total market. And as sales continue to expand, one estimate from Grand View Research surmises that by 2025 the worldwide skin-care market will grow to $183 billion. So why skin care? I noticed a few factors that are pushing the needle forward, so to speak.

A focus on health and wellness

While clean beauty is but a segment of the skin-care world, it’s become a significant category. “I believe a big driver on why skin care is growing so much faster [than anything else] is because of clean beauty, and people’s desire to move more in that direction since there’s so much innovation happening in it,” says Michelle Connelly, director of merchandising and planning at Credo Beauty. “In the wellness movement, with people being conscious of beauty from the inside out, I think skin care plays a strong piece in that because it’s about nurturing your true self versus covering something up.”

A more educated consumer

Out of all personal care products, skin care is the one that gives you true results. We hear about buzzy ingredients all the time, from hyaluronic acid to vitamin C and retinol, and consumers are becoming more savvy as to what these ingredients do. “Something that’s more prevalent in skin care is that people have been shopping by ingredients and the results that they can get from those ingredients,” says Connelly. As the ingredient innovations rise (like bakuchiol, the retinol alternative we called as a trend for 2019), so too does the need to grab ’em all up for your skin-care shelves and for the sake of your best complexion ever. Actually, this is why you’re seeing more hybrid beauty products on the market, like makeup that works double duty as skin care.

A push for transparency

With social media, we’re now able to peek inside people’s bathrooms, which has largely opened the door for the skin-care trend to dominate even more. “I think social media has had a huge effect on the awareness of skin care,” says Razzano. “On Sephora’s YouTube channel, we often draw back the curtain and really give our audience an unbiased overview of all things beauty. As viewers began to see that almost every professional makeup artist relies heavily on good skin-care prep for those flawless complexions, the message spread that skin care is the first step. The more people see the power of skin care, the more they want to know and learn about it.”

A surge in authenticity

Over the past year or so, we’ve seen a surge in acne positivity, cellulite and stretch mark positivity, and body positivity. But it all goes to show that people are way over the idea of being filtered or Photoshopped. A quick search on Instagram comes up with 17.9 million results for the “#nomakeup,” compared to 4.2M for “#makeuplooks.” “Makeup will always have a place in the beauty world because trends are constantly evolving as beauty ideals shift and grow,” says Razzano. “Our clients’ purpose for using makeup has shifted from covering skin-care concerns to now utilizing products that enhance their natural beauty. When our skin looks good, we tend to feel better about ourselves, and this opens the door to trying new makeup trends.” After all, skin care is the foundation.

To read up on other wellness trends updates, here’s what’s up with sexual self care and Big Bush Energy. And this is why the fitness tech world is all about recovery right now. 

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