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The days of bathroom cabinets packed with an array of skincare products could be over as British women grow tired of complicated facial skincare routines, according to the latest research from Mintel on women’s facial skincare.

Over the last year*, almost three in ten (28%) women have reduced the number of products in their facial skincare routine, with young Millennials aged 20-29 (54%) most likely to have simplified their routines.

In a move away from multi-step routines, the proportion of women using just one product to cleanse their face has risen from 25% in 2018 to 28% in 2019. Meanwhile, the proportion of women using four or more products to cleanse has fallen sharply from 26% in 2018 to 18% in 2019. The biggest facial cleansing casualties include facial cleansing wash (from 55% to 50%), as well as facial cleansing wipes (from 54% to 43%) and facial toners (from 29% to 25%).

This comes as Mintel research reveals there has been a decline in the purchase of make-up, potentially led by reduced usage following the trend for naturally radiant skin. Indeed, some 31% of women who wear make-up are buying colour cosmetics less frequently now compared to last year, and 19% have spent less on the category in the last 12 months.

Usage of facial care products have also taken a tumble in the last 12 months. The number of women using day cream/lotion declined from (from 66% to 60%); while night cream/lotion fell from 48% to 44% and blemish balm (BB), colour correct (CC) and daily defence (DD) cream slumped from 21% in 2018 to 15% in 2019.

Overall, the women’s facial skincare market is expected to decline by nearly 1% in 2019, falling to an estimated £1.16 billion from £1.17 billion in 2018.

Alex Fisher, Global Skincare Analyst at Mintel, said:

“A growing number of UK women are turning away from the multi-step K-Beauty routine, hoping to reach the same glowing result without having to put the time in. This need for simplicity has pushed them towards minimalist skincare products with more intense active ingredients, such as serums and oils.

“Disposable wipes have been hit particularly hard as consumers become more aware of the product’s negative effects on the environment. As sustainability grows in importance, many beauty consumers are deliberately cutting out these single-use products. At the same time, there has been a decline in the purchase of make-up, potentially led by reduced usage following the trend for naturally radiant skin. Less make-up means less need for make-up removers, the main use for facial cleansing wipes. It is likely that women will continue to leave wipes behind unless they are able to meet consumers’ growing need for sustainable products. Other women will abandon wipes altogether, swapping them for reusable options or washcloths.”

Serum shines through as glow minimises care routine

One bright spot in the facial skincare market is face oils and serums. Penetration amongst women has remained at 24% from 2018-19, while usage of other treatments (ie eye cream, exfoliator, peel or wash-off masks, sheet or leave-on masks, overnight treatments) have declined.

Singing the praises of serums, some 40% of women who use facial caring products associate serums with being nourishing. Serums also have an association with ‘glow,’ as 20% of female facial skincare users think serums are brightening, representing radiance and luminosity.

According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), brightening/illuminating is the top growing claim in the UK women’s facial skincare category, up 22% from 2017-18.

“In the last few years, women have moved from matte make-up looks towards glittery highlighters, and are now choosing to ‘glow from within’ using skincare, rather than make-up. Serums and oils are the products of choice for creating this luminous look, while other options have been dropped from the routine. Serum is a well-liked format, perceived as brightening and nourishing, and often includes ingredients like vitamins and antioxidants which are said to illuminate skin. Meanwhile, oil is considered by some to be greasy, but this could also add to a more dewy/glistening complexion, which feeds into the overall desire to achieve glowing skin.” Concluded Alex.

*12 months to May 2019