Within the US skincare category, the highest spend is allocated to facial skincare, comprising more than 60% of 2014 category sales. This is due to the wider availability of premium priced options and the regimented approach of facial skincare routines that require the purchase of multiple products. In light of a highly saturated market, brands often turn to unique or exotic ingredients in order to stand out.

Exotic skincare ingredients create buzz online

In August 2016, several industry sources suggested that cannabis may be the next big anti-aging ingredient. Dermatologists have reported that cannabis has anti-inflammatory benefits that neutralize sun damage, though they stress that such benefits are only achieved when the ingredient is used topically in skincare products.

The US market is looking to Asian and African skincare trends for inspiration.

The US market is also looking to Asian skincare trends for inspiration on product innovation. While BB creams and products designated for nighttime use have been most impactful in recent years, new product launches have taken the Asian skincare influence a step further, incorporating unique ingredients like bee venom and formats such as sheet masks to stand out from current product offerings. Recent product launches include the Tony Moly Premium Snail Intense Care Snail Hydro Gel Mask which features filtered snail mucin to boost skin’s vitality and Wei Energize-Yang Manuka Bee Peptide Anti-Wrinkle Serum which contains bee venom peptides from New Zealand to help stimulate collagen and improve skin’s elasticity. African skincare trends are an additional source of inspiration as they typically focus on natural ingredients, increasing their appeal to US consumers. Trending African-inspired ingredients include Marula oil, Yangu oil, and Kalahari Melon Seed oil.

Natural skincare ingredients have also heavily focused on inspiration from food, using options like coconut oil, argan oil, and almond oil that are familiar to consumers, while also supporting an overarching natural/gentle theme. For example, Tony Moly Magic Food Cucumber Water Gel is a watery, soothing and refreshing gel enriched with cucumber water and aloe. Perricone MD uses eggshell membrane, claiming that the ingredient rejuvenates and restores skin’s health.

Metals are also trending, with gold, silver, copper, and platinum appearing in product launches, with products touting the ingredients’ anti-aging claims. Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle 24K Gold Intensive Wrinkle Sheet Mask uses pure 24K gold to provide anti-inflammatory benefits and to help soothe and comfort skin.

Bee Peptide Anti-Wrinkle Serum24k Gold Sheet Mask Cucumber Water Gel  Snail Hydro Gel Mask

What we think

Going forward, skincare brands will continue to think outside of the box. Recent trending ingredients feature those not commonly found in skincare products, creating perceptions that the ingredients are exotic. However, most of these up-and-coming ingredients are nature-based, further highlighting consumer interest in natural or gentle ingredients.

While exotic ingredients may initially push consumers out of their comfort zones, skincare users are ultimately results-driven, and will likely be receptive to trying out new products and ingredients if they offer promising results. Asian skincare trends have been met with enthusiasm in the US, which can pave the way for additional launches from other regions as well, exemplified by interest in African skincare ingredients.

 Margie Nanninga is a Beauty Analyst at Mintel and a member of the US Reports team. Her diverse background, which includes qualitative research and data analysis, allows her to spot patterns and trends in the market and create actionable recommendations across beauty, home and personal care topics.

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