Understand exactly what scientific skincare is to the consumer.

The Scientific Skincare Consumer and Market

A mistake to polarise the scientific and the natural.

Scientific skincare leaders come from outside the cosmetic box.

The natural and alternative medical traditions inspire scientific skincare products and treatments.

June 2015

Since 2008, we have been documenting how consumers’ expectations of what a skincare product might, or should, deliver have dramatically changed. As noted previously, new formulations, which originated in the world of pharma, have revolutionised skincare.

Scientific skincare melds the cosmetic with the medical. Previously, these were two totally distinct categories. Scientific skincare democratised the beauty market making types of products and treatments, which had been for the elite, more affordable and widely available. These innovations blurred sales channel and product formats.

Years later, what remains striking is how scientific skincare developed largely under the cosmetic radar. We suggest that a common misconception – due to a failure to think outside the box - about the market and the consumer could be the reason.

Product formulators are unable to appreciate the scope and depth of the market. Significant sales have been missed and the true size of this market underestimated because of an insistence in seeing as separate what is not. Natural skincare is also a crucial part of the scientific skincare market. The distinction between the natural and scientific is unwarranted. It is artificially imposed and does not reflect market actualities in any of the regions – the USA, Europe, Asia - which we have researched.

The reality is that scientific skincare draws on "alternative" (also known as “natural”) medical traditions – both products and practices - from around the world. In "alternative" medicine the natural and the scientific are not mutually exclusive concepts. This holds true in Asia where the best example of the “natural” is Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Chinese skincare market can draw heavily on acupuncture and a wide range of traditional medical practices. The same pattern is repeated in the West where scientific skincare taps into a long established tradition of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Consumers across Asia and Europe are familiar with, and open to these product formulations and treatments.

This fundamental misunderstanding about market reality and consumer attitudes probably explains why legacy beauty brands have largely ignored - or missed - the category. They failed to appreciate the sea change in the skincare market. They are still working “within” categories. But it is the innovations from outside the cosmetic box – mainly new and small brands – which are meeting consumers' requirements for effective skincare.

The scientific skincare market is fully explained in our Global Skincare: Consumer Behaviour/Regimes and Market Report 2015. Contact for details

A 35 minute webinar which quantifies and explains future directions of the scientific skincare market is available. Contact for details