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We specialize in making the personal care products that move us. Starting with innovative formulation, we manufacture and package some of the most trusted brands in skin, oral, and hair care.
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R&D Formulation, Trends, Innovation
While it may be difficult to envision a post-pandemic consumer market, the beauty and personal care industry is poised to experience a surge of growth and innovation not seen in some time. The story is unfolding much like it began, with inventory levels normalizing and our social activities resuming. We’re now able to interact face-to-face with our coworkers again, even if it’s only a few days a week.
We’re discovering new ingredients and novel processes for extracting them, expanding the range of textures we can formulate and the diversity of individuals we formulate for. Moreover, we’re making significant strides in delivering active ingredients more effectively.
Over the next decade, we’ll witness the emergence of new approaches to product development, sustainability, and innovations from every direction.
As researchers delve deeper into the science behind our skin, they are uncovering more about what can either enhance or hinder the overall effectiveness of our products. We typically associate the term “inflammation” with joint pain, but overlook the fact that inflammation also plays a significant role in our skin, hair, and oral health. Even the most subtle inflammation can serve as the catalyst for various skin conditions.
Acne, breakouts, and blemishes provide a prime example of this concept. We’ve long understood that clogged pores are at the root of acne, and proper cleansing and toning regimens can help alleviate these issues. However, the efficacy of skincare products depends not only on their ingredients but also on their ability to maintain their effectiveness over time. When inflammation is present, our pores become further reduced, leading to increased sensitivity to breakouts and further inflammation.
In fact, the overall toxicity and pollution we encounter in our environment often contribute to chronic inflammation. Blue lights, UV lights, particulate matter, parabens, and phthalates are ubiquitous elements in our surroundings. Our exposure to these elements leads to inflammation throughout our bodies, exacerbating existing conditions.
In this arena, potent ingredient combinations can help address topical concerns while reducing inflammation. These combinations often feature at least one active ingredient, such as Ginger + allantoin to soothe gums, sea kelp + acai extract for brightening face washes, and Lanolin + Turmeric Root Extract for overnight moisturizers.
One of the most generative advances in beauty care has come through the process of biofermentation. The same scientific principles behind our heightened hobby in brewing can help the beauty care industry develop more effective ingredients, reduce the footprint of chemical manufacturing, and help companies meet corporate-level ESG initiatives.
In this process — microorganisms like bacteria and fungi feast off of a substrate, converting the byproduct into useful ingredients like sea kelp and glycolic acid. It has advantages up and down the sustainability ladder, like allowing manufacturers the ability to create new natural alternatives to cheap synthetics, or reducing waste and byproducts during extraction. Moreover, these processes contribute to clean and sustainable certifications.
Two heads are better than one, so it’s natural to want our products to do more than just their core function. For instance, refrigerators that can browse the internet or, perhaps more relevantly, a daily moisturizer that doubles as a light foundation.
Traditionally, this duality has fallen to dual-purpose products like shampoo/conditioner, toner/cleanser, or moisturizer/foundation. However, innovation in this area is shifting towards a duality of approach and function.
Exfoliation provides a clear example of duality in approach. By encapsulating alpha hydroxy acids into beads, like Cobalt Labs’ Revive formulation, two stages of exfoliation are provided. First, the beads provide physical exfoliation, followed by an AHA-based chemical scrub.
Innovation can also reinforce brand experience or even provide sensory feedback. Imagine a hand cleanser that changes color as the product is worked through, or a face masque designed to measure the intensity to which a product has been applied.
Understanding the benefits of microdosing is bringing new innovation to the problems we’re able to solve, and broadening the reach of customers who can use these products. By combining smaller doses of actives, formulations can bring synergies together in ways that wouldn’t be as effective individually. Lowering the amount of actives also allows for catering to various sensitivity types, or aftermarket customization of regimens.
This aligns with the Educated Consumer – a new breed of shopper born out of the pandemic who prioritizes researching what goes into their brands. Of the consumers who research before purchasing, 54% do so to understand the efficacy of the ingredients within.
This type of consumer exists in every demographic, presenting ample market opportunities for companies to customize their brands. A more clinically-centric brand might find value in horizontal SKU expansion with a variety of active percentages to onboard and upsell customers. A strategic masstige brand, on the other hand, can capitalize on aftermarket ‘add-ons’ in the form of boosters or activators.
In the past, beauty care has primarily focused on inclusivity in terms of skin tone and body type. However, the true innovation lies in expanding into a new platform of diversity that takes into account the connections between mind, body, and spirit. As personal care continues to evolve beyond purely cosmetic concerns, formulas are being developed to cater to this new market.
Brands are going genderless and gender-specific, products for everyone and only you, and defining ageless as covering every age. These shifts in brand strategy aren’t exclusively based on marketing angles — they are real consumer intent to reward brands that are authentically diverse.
Diversity can bring innovative changes and inherent growth for companies, but there are logistical risks. A single brand isn’t capable of catering to every demographic at once, so it’s important to align on the best way to diversify. Some brands will be better poised to expand across value, masstige, and prestige tiers, while other brands will be better suited to extend their offering through additional hero active ingredients.
The beauty and personal care industry is no stranger to cyclical shifts, with consumer demand and product trends in a constant state of flux. However, the recent introspective period we’ve all experienced has given rise to a new wave of innovation that is set to transform the industry over the next decade.
From AI-powered skincare systems to plant-based hair dyes, the future of beauty and personal care is poised to be more diverse, creative, and forward-thinking than ever before. This surge of innovation is not just a means of self-expression but also a tool for self-care and empowerment.
As we move towards a more inclusive and sustainable future, the beauty and personal care industry is set to play a key role in shaping the way we express and care for ourselves.
It’s easy to overlook sunscreen. Even though it’s been a pivotal growth engine for personal care, we often find ourselves forgetting about it until we’re heading to the beach or about to step onto the green. However, brands across the spectrum are championing SPF as a daily essential.
We’re outdoors a lot more than we think, and sun exposure is far-reaching with long-lasting effects on our skin’s health. That’s why innovators in the segment are looking to redefine what sunscreen is and how we use it.
What if for example, instead of protecting against UV exposure sometimes, we prioritized sun protection every day of the week, all year long, indoors and out? What if, in addition to sun protection, and SPF helped combat acne, wrinkles, and blue light damage?
Brands have been embracing this mindset for years, but consumers have been slow to adapt. That’s changing, as more shoppers are looking for prestige SPFs, particularly those that serve a dual purpose or are made with mineral ingredients.
This realignment is growing the sun care segment, which has a 3.5% CAGR and expected to be valued at $16.8 billion by 2027.1 While the segment did experience a significant decrease in 2020 (8.7%), analysts expect sales to rebound as vacations resume, and education on daily SPF use increases.
As brands reach out and connect with the consumers looking to reprioritize sun protection, the industry should expect a strong decade of innovation. Even today, subcategories for mineral SPFs and makeup SPFs are up growing at a rate of 5% and 16% respectively,2 and Google reports that keyword searches for ‘SPF moisturizer’ have increased 204% over the decade.3
Innovation will also be seen as brands address the unique needs of different consumer niches. SPF use in women is more than double that of men, but men are more likely to re-apply throughout the day — both use cases that can affect the adoption of new product types.
Furthermore, mineral sunscreens are often reef-safe and sans the greasy feeling, but can leave darker skin tones with a white cast. Consumers need products that not only address their personal needs but are practical enough for everyday use.
While we might be entering a new phase of innovation in sun care, the groundwork for groundbreaking innovation has been underway ever since Hawaii passed its “Aloha Reef Safe” law, banning the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate.
Studies linked these ingredients to increased mortality in coral reefs, compelling legislators to act. Coral reefs support 25% of the Earth’s marine life, and Hawaii’s 410,000 acres of living reefs accounts for 85% of all of the coral reef in the United States.4 Since the law passed, California has written similar legislation, and Hawaii is set to add more ingredients to the list.
When two high-profile sun states set standards, the industry takes notice. The upside is that this legislation has actually helped stimulate innovation when it was needed the most. Instead of stifling brands, the mandate to find newer, better, more effective ideas may have helped propel innovation and set a decade’s worth of growth.
This innovation continues to expand, going beyond formulas and packaging and into the ingredient supply chain. Researchers at the University of Sheffield and Imperial College London have discovered a new method for making zinc oxide that uses less energy and produces a wider range of particle types.5
So what’s next for sun care? These are some of the trends we are likely to see over the next year and beyond.
While outdoor social distanced gatherings should always come with a side of SPF, the easing of guidelines and a return to normal will lead to a rebound of vacations, concerts, and other missed activities. Sun care unit sales were down 12.3% by the end of 2020,2 so brands are eager to rebound.
Dual-purpose sunscreens are a main driver for growth and have a huge potential for expanding the category into new consumer markets. We want our post-shower moisturizer to protect us from UV rays, yes, but we also want them to combat redness and protect against blue light damage.
All across beauty care — from face, to hair, to body — in women’s, men’s, or baby — almost every segment has the potential for new brand launches.
There are a few barriers that consumers have to increase their use of SPF (let alone using it in the first place). That greasy, coconut experience pairs well with the pool but not so much with the office. Mineral sunscreens have been able to design lighter, more oil-free formulations, but have the tendency to leave a white cast on darker skin types.
The innovation that will address these concerns will include new fragrance options, vegan formulations, on-the-go packaging options, and ingredient alternatives.
Consumers are very interested in knowing what goes into their personal care products and are eager to seek out new trends. This has put sun care in the spotlight, like the most recent news about unsafe benzene levels found in several brands.
Consumers will be paying attention to ingredient lists, manufacturing process, and what effect it has on the ecosystem. Transparency will be table stakes for disruptors.
Overall, sun care is one of the fastest-growing, dynamic segments in beauty and personal care today. Our idea of what and SPF is, the ingredients that protect us from ultraviolet rays, and the daily rituals we possess around sun care will continue to evolve, spurring a golden era of innovation.
It may be somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but if our industry enters a new roaring twenties of brand exploration and development, hair care is sure to shine.
Hair care is growing into a new phase of innovation — one with brands diving into the who, what, and how of follicles and what truly keeps our heads nourished and maintained.
The growth rate among brands in the category is driven by a convergence of awareness and exploration. Consumers are excited to research and try out new brands, particularly when it comes to hair care (especially since the pandemic). Our focus on topics like clean beauty and sustainability has been supercharged and we’re ready to double down.
Here are some innovations in hair care that are trending:
The motto for shampoo used to be lather, rinse, repeat. Nowadays, consumers understand the science of scalp care and why daily washes may not be the best for our overall sebum levels.
“Shampoo is an emulsifier that captures and traps excess oil, dirt, and product residue,” Angela Lamb, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai told WebMD.1 Shampoo in effect rinses out both the good and bad of what we have on our heads.
This education and awareness are leading some consumers to rethink their current brands and try out ‘alternative shampoos.’ Many personal care experts agree that only a small number of us need to shampoo every day. Fitness buffs and those in humid climates will benefit from daily sudsing, but the rest of the population need a few skip days (and maybe a spritz of dry shampoo).
It sounds like a Macy’s/Gimbels gambit, but by getting consumers to use their product less, hair care brands can push more masstige products and increase sales.
Brands are formulating innovations in hair care and rethinking the ingredients that do or do not belong. Taboo additives — like sulfates and silicones, alcohols and abrasives, synthetics and sodiums — are all being reconsidered in the quest to develop healthier hair.
This reformulation sometimes requires a reboot of our perceptions of what a product does or how it behaves. Sulfates, for example, are widely used in shampoos and are often responsible for the product’s foaming nature. As a detergent, they’re also responsible for stripping essential oils when we shampoo. Replacing sulfates oftentimes requires an adjustment to our expectations of a shampoo (and that yes, it is still cleaning your hair).
Consumers want to explore products sans sulfates and silicons. They want tea tree oil for retaining moisture, rambutan seed for deodorization, and apple extract to regulate the sebum levels. Beard oils with ginger root can bring anti-aging benefits. Japanese camellia in serums help smooth hair cuticles. The options for moving onto new ingredients have never been greater.
With the clean beauty movement being redefined from the pandemic, it’s now one of the most crucial table stakes in the game.
In the battle for market share in men’s grooming, hair care is entering a new phase of growth. Male grooming overall has seen a 5.2% CAGR and is expected to reach $81.2 billion by 20242 (with hair care being a key component to that growth).
A primary driver of men’s care masstige is the education on the benefits of good hair hygiene and the innovation of brands catering to hair loss, beard care, and better shampoo. Minoxidil is no longer the only treatment for thinning hair and 2-in-1 shampoos are no longer a shower caddy litmus test.
Brands are emerging with an endless line of grooming products that cater to today’s man. These include shampoos with carefully curated scents, beard oils that include ingredients to stimulate growth, and an array of pomades, waxes, and fibers that go far beyond dollar-bin hair gel. Many brands are also developing formulations that address genetic backgrounds, from those with thin to textured hair.
It should be noted that the comeback of barbershop culture and the rise of influencers has helped bring the male demographic on board as well. Both barbers and social gurus are effective ambassadors in educating a new class of guys on hairstyle trends, fashion choices, product categories, and how all of them come together to make a well-groomed man.
It’s no secret to anyone that hair coloring has been a major part of the market for decades, but today’s coloring products aren’t what they used to be. With advancements in formulation, packaging, and logistics, hair coloring is reaching a golden age.
Shifts in consumer behavior during the pandemic have led to massive growth in hair coloring products. At the start of the pandemic — when lockdowns were at their peak — sales for hair coloring grew 172 percent.3 This spike was largely caused by a huge demand for at-home products as many salons were shuttered or closed entirely.
However easy it might be, it’s unfair to credit the pandemic for the entirety of hair coloring’s recent numbers. In actuality, advancements made before 2020 were what allowed the at-home trend to be as successful as it was. Brands have spent the last several years improving online commerce and direct-to-consumer shipping, they’ve developed easier and less messy ways to color, and AI has allowed consumers to choose colors that have essentially been created just for them.
L’Oreal’s brand Color & Co. lets users take an online color quiz or speak directly with a coloring consultant to choose from an infinite selection of shades. Simpler Hair Color has developed an innovative brush application that allows for multiple touch-up applications from a single tube. Color Wow has developed a powder-based root touchup product applied by brush that will last through rain and rinses until your next shampoo.
Hair care is an industry to watch because we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. Today the number of SKUs that cater to washing, conditioning, growth, styling, and scalp health is increasing every day, launching an entire generation of products to tickle a trichologist’s fancy. In overall personal care news, that’s pretty exciting.
It was only a few years ago that skincare overcame makeup as the beauty category to watch. Having seen its market value increase 60% in a decade,1 skincare was experiencing a significant boom. Brands were popping up in social feeds and on Sephora shelves at a record pace and consumer engagement with brands was at an all-time high.
When the pandemic hit, the beauty and personal care industry experienced the tsunami of market effects many others felt — a lot of which we will be dealing with for a generation. Retail stores went on lockdown, workers we working from home. Date nights were a distant memory and though cosmetic and fragrance brands did suffer, skincare remained resilient.
This tenacity was in part driven by a perfect storm of events: millennials increased their purchasing power, consumers were more educated and open to new trends, and the side effects of COVID have changed our ways of life, possibly forever.
It’s important to realize that by the end of 2019 (before social distancing would permeate our lexicon) the skincare segment was already hitting a 5% growth year-over-year, for years. Amounting to more than $6 billion a year in growth into 2020,2 industry analysts were muddled not about whether the boom would continue, but about for how long.
These gains were in large part thanks to a new generation of skincare brands that appealed to contemporary audiences, niche segments, and a new breed of consumers. Companies were, at last, addressing the honest differences in individual skin due to ethnicity, gender, or medical conditions. The industry as a whole was beginning to redefine what the term personal care was all about.
Melanie Bender, from the skincare brand Versed, told Vogue in 2019 that skincare had a personal connection that other categories didn’t.3 “Makeup is temporary and feels like something you put on for others, skincare is an investment in yourself,” she said.
The emerging brands that came about during this period tackled today’s consumer needs, leaned heavily on natural formulations, and appealed to untapped audiences looking for daily skin regimens. They were built on operational frameworks that favored large amounts of small-volume sales. So many brands emerged in fact, that in the prestige channel, the number of brands outside of the top 20 made up the largest share of market sales for the first time in history.4
When the pandemic’s effect began to influence our industry, a lot of product categories had already suffered crippling setbacks. Color cosmetics were down 37% in just the first half of the year5 and the main drivers of makeup — office work and date nights — were no longer what they used to be. Despite the turbulence, COVID was inflicting upon the world, skincare was able to find a silver lining.
There were two major contributors to skincare’s COVID boost: our collective increase in hand-washing, soap and sanitizers (and the lasting effect that was having on our skin), and the overnight trend of ‘me time’ and what we could do to pamper our souls at home. Overnight antibacterial soap was as valuable as toilet paper, and masstige cleansers filled in the gaps. Skincare treatments guaranteed to ‘bring the spa to you’ were in vogue.
The result was a boon to brands that had been clamoring to get noticed, hoping to be spotted in a field of global CPGs and instantly recognizable brand identities. It heightened our awareness around what it means to take care of oneself, particularly beyond the bounds of basic hygiene and germ control.
Contract manufacturing in turn surged, with thousands of brands — even those owned by the field of large, multinational CPGs — were desperate for more production capacity and safety stock. Trend-worthy products like CBD-based lotion, tinted moisturizer, and at-home hydrating face masks were given the spotlight to shine.
Overall, the pandemic ended up breathing more life into the skincare boom.
Brands that were growing at a faster pace than the category average — both before and after the start of the pandemic — were those that embraced digital channels for marketing and direct-to-consumer workflows. Millennials — now the United States’ largest living adult population — spend more time online (and do so with an aggregate annual income expected to surpass $4 trillion by 20306).
This results in a consumer market that is more diverse, more educated about the topic of skincare, more interested in what goes into a formulation, and more connected to influencers they trust and listen to. Today, 93% of consumers read product reviews before purchasing,7 and place a great deal of weight on virtual word-of-mouth.
Furthermore, every new brand that popped during this boom has been built digitally from the ground up. Not only do they have easy-to-use websites with integrated stores and subscription pricing, but also connect directly to their audiences through digital ads, social media, and email marketing.
Overall, these improvements to our business have contributed to a collective enhancement of the skincare industry. Our sales are more linked to user behavior, products are formulated to tackle the needs of today, and our supply chain workflows are designed for the future, not the past. We are feeding into an ethos of innovation driven by actual consumer feedback.
When the waves settle around COVID and markets fall back in line, skincare will likely be one that remains on top and continues to grow. Some of our old habits may reemerge and some safety choices will be here to stay, but it’s safe to say we’re no longer the customers we used to be.
Today's market is quickly shifting, experiencing unique demand constraints. Accupac supports brands by providing manufacturing support and expertise in challenging times.
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Read our article, Innovation Sensations: The New Roaring 20’s Get ready for an era of ingredients, technologies, and formats that will challenge the way we care about beauty
Read our article, Baby Boomers How New Parents Have Allowed the Baby Care Segment to Grow Up
Read our article,
The Bright Outlook
to Sun Care
Read our article, This Year’s Hair Care Trends
Read our article, The Skin Care Boom How COVID Took a Flourishing Segment and Supercharged It
Read our article, The Shopping (Re)Volution The discovery of new brands used to hinge on immersive, in-store experiences. In a post-COVID world, everything changes.