Rosalia Di Gesu
Rosalia Di Gesu is a Senior Innovation Analyst. She focuses on delivering cross-category insight and commentary on innovative new product launches and trends.

COVID-19 has challenged beauty markets like never before. It continues to disrupt beauty usage habits, engagement, and ultimately, sales. This disruption is due to a range of factors, not least lockdowns (localised or country-wide), a shift to homeworking, temporary closures and challenging re-openings of retail outlets and beauty salons.

Mintel’s consumer data shows that in May 2020, over four in ten adults in France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain carried out BPC activities less often as a result of COVID-19 because of reduced need. While in the UK, in June 2020, a quarter of adults indicated that they expect to spend less on beauty products and toiletries over the coming month.

However, in times of adversity creativity can thrive. Over the past few months, beauty and personal care (BPC) brands have been super creative as they navigate around a disrupted beauty space, explore ways to minimise any fall in sales, and encourage consumers to re-engage with beauty. Below is a round-up of some of the more disruptive and inspiring concepts and innovations. 

Be face-mask-friendly

BPC brands that factor in the impact of face masks on the skin are emerging, offering something more unique, and helping consumers re-engage with beauty products.  

Innovations have focused on minimising skin chafing from face masks, making the wearing of face masks more comfortable by using scent and essential oils, minimising acne outbreaks due to wearing a mask (‘maskne’ – a now trending term), or stressing transfer-proof formulations.

Be inspired by: MedZone’s Face Balm For Masks that helps reduce friction, chafing and chapped skin; the AspUraclip Mini-Inhaler Fresh variant nose clip with a 100% essential oils, or the Collagen Peptide fabric face mask that blurs with beauty by having an anti-bacterial and anti-acne formula.

Source: MedZone Corp, Asura Clip, Rojukiss

Appeal to those stuck indoors and on their devices

During the COVID-19 crisis, beauty brands have been developing innovative products that fully take on-board the impact on skin and wellbeing from enforced and lengthy-time spent indoors, and on electronic devices.

Amid a disrupted travel/holiday market, sunscreen sales are set to decline. To help maintain brand awareness, Hawaiian Tropic has moved into candles, and brought the scent of the outdoors inside. The aptly named, limited edition Beachside (Inside) scented candle targets those missing out on beach visits during COVID-19, and offers “scent memories of carefree beach days” for those stuck indoors and steering clear of busy beaches.

We have also seen more innovation focused on protecting skin from blue light, a concern that will heighten given increasingly online lives. A recent entrant into the blue light protection space is Goodhabit, a brand that is fully focused on defending skin against blue light.

Source: Instagram/Hawaiian Tropic, Goodhabit

Show support for healthcare workers

With frontline healthcare workers increasingly revered as the world battles against COVID-19, many BPC brands are looking to support and honour them in equal measure. Moreover, once the COVID-19 crisis passes, we expect a renewed sense of community among consumers.

Tula supported healthcare workers with a ‘Masks For Masks’ initiative whereby all proceeds from its Star Bright Hydrogel Mask went to helping provide medical masks to New York City’s COVID-19 frontline healthcare workers.

Symrise has created the Hero unisex eau de cologne and donated to frontline healthcare workers in an effort to contribute to their wellbeing.

The Nursem hand care brand, while launched pre-COVID-19, was co-founded by a paediatric nurse and developed with a group of British nurses in order to offer therapeutic formulas that focus on combating the effect of relentless hand washing.


Source: Nursem, Tula

Align with the renewed focus on immunity support

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, immune support benefits have been at the forefront of food and healthcare innovations as people seek to improve the body’s chances of fighting off illness. Beauty brands can also tap into this trend, and turn to both renowned and emerging immune support ingredients.

Brands can also use clear on-pack messaging that clarifies how immune support ingredients not only help stave off colds and illnesses but can also be beneficial to skin health and appearance.

A soap/body care brand shifting its messaging to highlight immunity support is Nesti Dante; its latest soap/sanitiser range is aptly and clearly named as the Immunity collection and stresses how ‘soap kills Corona’.

The beauty supplements segment, a bright spot in BPC, is also developing collections that boldly stress immunity support and the link to skin health. Stand out innovations include the D-Lab Immunity Program and The Beauty Chef Immunity Kit. 

Source: Nesti Dante, D-Lab, The Beauty C

Fully consider the impact of stress and disrupted sleep on appearance

Stress and anxiety levels are being exacerbated due to COVID-19 and can have a detrimental impact on appearance and skin (hairloss, skin breakouts, dark circles). 

BPC brands can offer some relief, and appeal to half of UK adults who agree that beauty and grooming routines are a good way to reduce stress.

In April 2020, Skintimate in the US released guided shower meditations to pair with existing shower products and promote mental wellbeing.

Source: YouTube/Skintimate

Engage with the increased focus on hand care

Hand hygiene is crucial in the fight against COVID-19 and consumers are fully engaged with the hygiene message. Indeed, at the onset of the outbreak, there was a spike in handwashing.

In April 2020, Glossier moved into the hand care segment with the launch of its Hand Cream, housed in a handy palm-sized pod-shaped 360-degrees squeezable bottle. Another player planning to further increase its focus on hand care, given increased demand, is L’Occitane. Meanwhile, Uruguay-based The Chemist Look has launched a special edition “quarantine hand cream” designed to strengthen and care for the skin on the hands. 

Source: Glossier, The Chemist Look