Skincare’s Next Frontier: Body Care Gets a Dermatological Makeover

Skincare actives aren’t confined to the facial category anymore. Proclaimed as “skin care’s next frontier,” a new wave of dermatology-focused body care releases are bringing the science and ingredients of anti-aging, exfoliation, and hyperpigmentation correction to below the neck. Consumers who have educated themselves on which ingredients to include in their facial care routines are now demanding the same efficacy from their body lotions, body washes, deodorants, and more—and with the bath & shower product market set to reach $59.72bn in revenue by 2027, it’s worth listening to them. 

“We believe anti-aging body care is going to be a big trend this decade,” says Aimee Werner, co-founder of skincare brand Whish. A WSGN report on the future of hand, nail, and foot care predicts that skincare formulas will hit the mainstream for these sectors by 2023, with derma-backed brands proliferating as especially trusted product sources. Given the increase in hand cleansing and moisturizing amidst the pandemic, consumers are demanding more benefits from these formerly simple steps, and all aspects of their body care routines are following suit. “A lotion or cream without active ingredients just isn’t doing it. As the consumer becomes savvier in skincare, they are seeking out products that are clinically proven to work,” Dr. Dennis Gross states. “I really think that we are going to see a spike in consumer demand in the next 2–3 years.”

Body serum sales increased by 32%, body oil sales by 10%, and body exfoliator sales by 15% this year alone. First Aid Beauty’s KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub With 10% AHA is a Sephora best seller, while the fifth-highest selling body wash at Walgreens is CeraVe’s formulation containing salicylic acid, evidencing a demand for these products at a prestige as well as mass-market level. Body care product reviews on Influenster grew by 40%, while specific issues such as cellulite increased by 252%. Anti-cellulite and firming products constitute 14.6% of global spend alone, and body lotion is set to be the fastest-growing product segment with a CAGR of 5.1% over the next five years. One could argue that the increasing amount of body exposure on social media channels may be driving these spending behaviors, but there are additional facets to consider.

“Perhaps we have all been so focused on skin care of the face, that our myopic view did not allow us to consider active ingredients for body skin care, but a wider perspective is now in play. I attribute this to how well the anti-aging and facial skin care market is doing both in terms of efficacy and revenue,” states Dr. Alicia Zalka, dermatologist and founder of Surface Deep, a range of actives-infused body care including glycolic acid-infused underarm pads and body wash. “There is a familiarity and trust in active ingredients that we know and love and use daily for our facial skin. It is a natural transition to see where else these benefits can next be realized.”

Consumer intelligence platform Spate shows a 58.2% increase in acid body wash search queries, the most popular being salicylic and glycolic acid. Ceramide body lotion searches increased by 106%, and retinol as well as vitamin C body lotions by 23% each. In terms of anti-aging concerns, searches for wrinkle categories beyond the face are showing increased consumer interest, specifically the hands and chest (20% and 10% respectively). This ingredients-driven approach is indicative of an overall interest in efficacy, origin, and safety, as evidenced in the lucrative rise of natural beauty. While this actives-infused body care may not directly appeal to said demographic, it does cater to audiences looking beyond Instagram-worthy packaging.

The latest launches include Dr. Dennis Gross‘ Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment, a towel drenched in a cocktail of lactic acid, salicylic acid, bakuchiol, squalene, and bromalin to tackle everything from ingrown hairs to keratosis pilaris (small, goosebump-like patches usually found on the back of upper arms and thighs). Nécessaire launched its first deodorant packed with mandelic and lactic acids to combat odor, marketed with the tagline “treat your body like your face.” Drunk Elephant’s lineup now includes a cream body cleanser with an amino acid blend to moisturize skin. Dr. Jart+ has expanded its Ceramidin range with a body lotion infused with 5 types of ceramides and hyaluronic acids. 

It would be tempting from a production perspective to simply take a successful, existing facial care formulation, dilute it, and sell it as a body care product. Chemistry begs to differ. “The main challenge is that the skin on the body is much thicker than the skin on the face—this makes it much more challenging to successfully deliver active ingredients through the dermis, deep into the epidermis,” Gross explains. “Body skin also has fewer pores and sebaceous glands, making it more prone to dryness.” Therefore, a formulation that may be fine for combination facial skin won’t be enough to moisturize the body.

COVID-stressed consumers will continue to search for self-care practices via their skincare routines, but with 73% aiming to adopt more sustainable purchasing habits, multipurpose products will become more desirable. The predominant skincare consumer is shifting to a younger demographic due to the online availability of ingredients and product knowledge, but the rising geriatric population will also be seeking the benefits of wrinkle-smoothing and potently moisturizing creations. “The appeal of acid-powered body products is they do not discriminate and are not focused on one demographic,” Zalka adds. “I expect to see the use of actives in body products growing exponentially in both legacy and indie beauty brands. We will continue to see the market develop with more offerings in the near future from all classes of retailers.”

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