Hero Ingredients Propel Skincare Product Efficacy

Anti-Aging Medicine
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Social media still fuels skincare sales; showcasing the capabilities of these beauty products. After all, when it comes to shopping for facial care in 2023, there’s no greater sales pitch than watching a trusted lifestyle influencer try a new mask or serum on TikTok, according to market research firm Spate.

But what components make these products so effective? And, is there a method to gauge what’s “the next big thing” in beauty ingredients for formulators and other R&D folks who might be too busy in the lab to attend a trade show or see what Alix Earle is up to on TikTok?

All signs point to the finished product itself.

How is it selling?

What are the product reviews online?

For example, lately there’s been a lot of buzz surrounding pumpkin enzyme masks on TikTok, according to Spate— a surprising choice considering it’s not even pumpkin spice season yet! In fact, pumpkin enzyme masks have grown +11,518.2% month over month (MoM) in views on TikTok, and have grown +27.4% year over year (YoY) in Google Search. Related hashtags with high view volumes include #selfcare, #cleanbeauty, #exfoliate, #acne, #acnescars, #trending and #exfoliation.

As a result, pumpkin-based skin care products are sure to debut in 2024.

Additionally, vitamin C serums were a skincare staple for many beauty shoppers this summer, especially for those dealing with hyperpigmentation or residing in pollution-riddled cities. Right now on TikTok, #VitaminCserums are experiencing an average of 2.6M average weekly views and 1,887.2% MoM growth in TikTok views, according to Spate. Videos with hashtags such as #vitaminc, #salicylicacid, #retinol and #niacinamide, alongside #vitamincserum are gaining traction indicating that consumers are interested in active ingredients and how to cocktail them.

Beauty marketers should seize this opportunity to collaborate with content creators to film #grwm (get-ready-with-me) videos that entertain and educate their audience, said Spate.

According to Spate, it’s more important than ever to embrace TikTok trends, especially so for new brands without established name recognition. Sometimes, all it takes is one viral video to catapult your product to Mielle rosemary oil fame, said Spate in its report. 

The skin care sentiment is indeed shifting in 2023. According to Circana, in recent market research, face serum, body spray, and facial cleansers were the top gainers in the prestige skincare market for the first half of the year. Fueled by new launch activity, clinical brands brought in the majority of the prestige skin care sales gains.

PCA Skin specializes in anti-aging products.

According to David Petrillo, a beauty chemist and founder of Perfect Image, a Nevada-based beauty company that specializes in peels, a wide variety of ingredients are popular right now in skin care due to their proven effectiveness for treating various skin concerns such as anti-aging, brightening and hydration.

“Retinol, for example, is known to boost collagen production and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that helps reduce inflammation, while vitamin C is known to brighten and even out skin tone,” he told Happi. “Hyaluronic acid and ceramides help hydrate the skin, while peptides have been shown to boost collagen production. Tranexamic acid is a newer ingredient that helps reduce hyperpigmentation, while algae and Tremella mushrooms provide antioxidant benefits.

“Overall, these ingredients have been shown to provide various benefits for the skin and have gained popularity due to their effectiveness.”

It’s no surprise that board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon Dr. Dendy Engelman (known as Dr. Dendy) encourages consumers to protect their skin from the damaging effects of UV rays.

“Pairing SPF with antioxidants gives skin extra protection from environmental aggressors while preventing acne,” said Engelman, a long-time member of The Skin Cancer Foundation.

According to Engelman, vitamin C is a star ingredient when it comes to protecting against free radical damage from the sun and minimizing signs of aging. Layering a vitamin C serum underneath SPF is a great secret for clear, bright, healthy skin all summer long.

“I recommend applying a vitamin C serum to consumers before putting on sunscreen, as the antioxidants will counteract free radical damage from UV rays and serve as a barrier that prevents SPF-related breakouts,” she said.

Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant to add to the skin care regimen, according to Engelman.

“It can absorb the energy from UV light, preventing free radical damage to skin. In addition to fighting free radicals and minimizing signs of aging, vitamin E’s healing properties soothe skin and provide relief to a sunburn,” she said.

Engelman also states that “when vitamins C and E are paired together, they have a synergistic effect that provides even greater protection against UV damage.”

SkinCeuticals’ new Phloretin CF represents “a new class” of preventive and corrective antioxidant treatment, according to the brand. This patent-pending technology combines the broad-range power of Phloretin with vitamin C and ferulic acid in a synergistic bio-diverse formulation to “divide and conquer” sources of damage at every level of the skin.

A new glow toner is the latest creation at Mario Badescu.

Classified as a special group of polyphenols called dihydrochalcones, Phloretin’s unique molecular structure is responsible for potent antioxidant activity in peroxynitrite scavenging and in the inhibition of lipid peroxidation. This broad-spectrum molecule also displays a wide range of bioactivity such as anti-cancer, anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.  In addition to preventing photodamage, it corrects existing damage by stimulating the synthesis of essential proteins and fibers and accelerating cell turnover, said the company.

Another recent launch from SkinCeuticals is C E Ferulic.  This antioxidant combination is said to deliver eight times the skin’s natural protection against photoaging—neutralizing free radicals, helping build collagen and providing “unmatched” antioxidant protection, according to the company.

Containing 15% pure L-ascorbic acid and 1% alpha tocopherol, the addition of ferulic acid doubles the already synergistic benefits of its original high-potency formula, C+E, transforming it into an “unrivaled super-antioxidant combination,” according to SkinCeuticals. 

“We set the gold-standard for antioxidants in skin care and are pleased to prove that C E Ferulic now offers an even broader range of protection against environmental aggressors as compared to competitors,” noted Amy Sloan, head of SkinCeuticals US.

SkinCeuticals has been at the forefront of antioxidant research; in 2021 it introduced Silymarin CF, specifically formulated for blemish-prone skin. Last year, Phloretin CF  published new research demonstrating its formulation delivers brighter, more even skin across all Fitzpatrick types. The brand’s antioxidants are backed by 30+ years of research, 40+ clinical studies worldwide and 20+ US patents, according to the company.

Shiseido’s Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Eye Cream received an upgrade with a new formulation bringing together the power of ginseng extract and vitamin E. 

The brand’s best-selling anti-aging eye cream now visibly reduces wrinkles and diminishes the appearance of dark circles. 

The new-and-improved formula targets five types of eye area wrinkles—inner corner, under eye, crow’s feet, round eye and frown lines—plus priority concerns such as dark circles and eye bag puffiness.

Ingredients include peptides to boost collagen to reduce wrinkles around the eyes; squalane to hydrate and protect skin’s moisture barrier while smoothing fine lines; ginseng extract to brighten eyes and reduce dark circles; and vitamin E to help maintain the skin barrier and defend against pollutants and environmental stressors.

Fellow clean personal care leader Ilia Beauty is poised to make waves once again in the world of skin care with the highly anticipated launch of its newest product: The Cleanse Soft Foaming Cleanser + Makeup Remover.

Fenty Skin has a new blemish treatment.

Building on the success of its first skin care launch, Bright Start Activated Eye Cream, which garnered a 4,000 person waitlist and sold out two separate times since the launch in January 2023, the new cleanser showcases the brand’s “unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional skin care solutions,” according to the company. 

Ilia’s first face wash promises to sweep away impurities and makeup while respecting skin pH balance. The fragrance-free formula is made with Pentavitin 0.5%, a plant-derived sugar complex that hydrates and soothes the skin; as well as Barsolve 1.5%, an emulsifier known for its ability to cleanse excess sebum and remove unwanted buildup.

“Cleansers either broke me out, left a residue or stripped my skin. I was constantly looking for something gentle enough to cleanse, and effectively remove makeup. As simple as it is, The Cleanse solves for all those concerns and more,” said Sasha Plavsic, founder of Ilia Beauty.

Vegan skin care brand Pacifica wants to “future-proof” consumers’ skin with the new Future Youth Collection. The line aims to cleanse, moisturize, hydrate and deliver a more youthful complexion. Products include a serum, eye serum and moisturizer SPF 50. All are fortified with Pacifica’s Flora+Peptide 11, a “longevity complex” with multi-peptides, phytonutrients, functional flowers and kombucha for plump, glowing skin, according to the company. A foaming cleansing gel is formulated with plant-based surfactants for a rich lather; phytonutrients, flower oils, oat milk and vanilla help hydrate skin.

“We’ve been around for almost 30 years, and have stood the test of time as a cross-generational brand. You grow up with Pacifica, and are ageless with Pacifica. We have created this new pro-aging collection that is supercharged with powerful ingredients at an accessible price point. This was made for and by our community, aligning with our vegan lifestyle, ingredients, and planet-first philosophy,” said Pacifica Founder and CEO Brook Harvey-Taylor. 

Also hitting the shelves in the beauty space is the new Hydrating Glow Toner from Mario Badescu. President Joseph Cabasso and Dermatologist Hadley King recently rolled out the new product at a media event in New York City.

According to Cabasso: “This toner is immediately cooling and rejuvenating, which makes it great for summer! It is very versatile.”

Jojoba seed oil and polyhydroxy acids (PHA) are key ingredients in the toner.

“It’s part toner, part serum infusion: Jojoba Seed Oil and Sodium Hyaluronate boost moisture levels as Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-10, plus PHA exfoliation bring out skin’s natural luminosity with a hydrated, healthy-looking glow,” said Cabasso.

“The ingredients work well together to keep consumers hydrated, yet provide instant brightening,” added King. “For example, one of the ingredients, red algae, is rich in vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium and iron, which can help to nourish and protect the skin.”

PCA Skin, a leader in the professional peels category, recently rolled out Pro-Max Age Renewal, an anti-aging serum that is clinically proven to lift and firm the appearance of skin by 60%, smooth visible lines and coarse wrinkles by 40%, as well as deliver visibly fuller skin with 58% improvement in plumping the look of the skin with results starting in just one week. Powered by the brand’s unique patent-pending Micro Growth Factor Technology (MGF), this formulation is designed to help enhance collagen production and diminish advanced signs of aging.

“Pro-Max Age Renewal is the most scientifically advanced skin care product I have had the privilege to work on over the course of my decades-long career,” said Dr. Lia Arvanitidou, VP-global research and development, Colgate-Palmolive.

The formula consists of four unique signal tripeptides to help enhance the skin’s collagen production. This advanced peptide technology works in multiple ways to support keratinocyte production, aid in fibroblast proliferation and increase collagen production. Key ingredients include organic kangaroo paw flower extract, which promises a rapid reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin. The formula also includes skin-firming biopolymers, a biopolymer matrix embedded with micro-algae that provides skin firming, said the company. 

Skinfix recently added an acne care line. 

Fighting oily skin and blemishes remains big business when it comes to skin care. For example, Murad added Rapid Relief Acne Sulfur Mask to its acne control collection. It is a liquid clay mask with a trio of acne-clearing ingredients—sulfur, salicylic acid and Austrian peat to instantly reduce oil and banish blemishes. At 5%, sulfur treats and prevents breakouts. The sulfur odor is neutralized with eucalyptus, according to Murad.

“Rapid Relief Acne Sulfur Mask is a clinically proven, tri-active mask with a powerhouse blend of bacteria-fighting sulfur, exfoliating salicylic acid and hydrating Austrian peat to instantly reduce oil and fast track major pimple reduction in just three uses,” Dr. Howard Murad told Happi. “We wanted to address common complaints with traditional clay/sulfur masks, such as texture, smell and over-drying the skin. We’ve neutralized sulfur’s notorious odor with refreshing eucalyptus in a silky-smooth formula that rinses off easily to minimize pulling and tugging. And while most clay masks crack and constrict, our oil-absorbing kaolin clay blends with hydration-replenishing Austrian peat extract to moisturize and prevent over-drying.”

The mask is clinically proven to instantly reduce oil by 92%, fast-track pimple (blemish) reduction after only three uses and to reduce redness after six uses.

Skinfix’s new acne Adapinoid Gel is a clean, clinically-proven daily treatment that visibly reduces blemishes with less irritation while balancing the skin barrier. It includes a new ingredient, Adapinoid, a retinoid clinically proven to improve acne-prone skin. The lightweight formula is packed with barrier restorative actives, helping reduce the look of pores, minimize excess oil and reduce visible redness while leaving skin feeling calm, according to the company. The product also contains barrier restoring actives such as 2% niacinamide to target redness.

The Garnier Micellar Water family is expanding with the newest version, Micellar Gentle Peeling Water. Formulated with 1% PHA and glycolic acid, it gently exfoliates, cleanses and removes makeup. It’s clinically tested to even and smooth skin tone and texture while accelerating skin cell turnover in seven days.

Kiehl’s launched Truly Targeted Acne-Clearing Solution. It is said to create a breathable seal to reduce pimple size in 24 hours, reduce pimple color in two hours and reduce post-acne marks in four weeks. This medicated acne solutions uses 2% salicylic acid to treat active and sub-surface inflamed acne lesions as well as 4% niacinamide. Finally, 0.2% licorice root is a natural anti-inflammatory to calm and fade post-acne marks.

The formula is designed for triple efficacy, according to the company, clearing, fading and preventing breakout across all phases of the acne cycle. It is also dermatologist-tested, is marked safe for sensitive skin, tested on acne prone skin, is non-irritating and non-comedogenic.

An exclusive “liquid patch” technology is used in the acne-clearing spot treatment to create a breathable seal that layers seamlessly with makeup and sunscreen.

L’Oréal Paris is introducing a brand-new franchise, Bright Reveal, to “democratize” the skin tone and texture segment. The Bright Reveal 12% [Niacinamide + Amino Sulfonic + Ferulic Acid] Dark Spot Serum is proven to visibly fade all dark spots, post-acne and sunspots in 12 weeks, said the company. This serum is designed to attack the dark spot process from all angles: 7% niacinamide to fight discoloration, 5% amino-sulfonic to gently exfoliate and ferulic acid to boost antioxidant protection. Tested on all skin tones, this serum is made for all skin tones.

Skinceuticals harnesses the power of vitamin C.

Also new from L’Oréal Paris is Bright Reveal Broad Spectrum SPF 50 + Antioxidants UV-Lotion formulated with UVA and UVB filters in addition to antioxidants vitamin C and E to prevent and visibly reduce key signs of aging such as wrinkles, dark spots and dull skin. The lightweight, liquid formula absorbs and blends into the skin leaving no white cast and is perfect for layering under makeup, said the company. Created and tested for all skin tones and suitable for sensitive skin, Bright Reveal is fragrance-free, paraben-free, dye-free, mineral oil-free and validated by dermatologists.

The latest creation at LVMH’s Fenty Skin is an undetectable blemish shield for makeup lovers. New Fenty Skin Blemish Defeat’r BHA Spot-Targeting Gel creates an invisible shield between blemishes and environmental assailants to create a makeup canvas.

Suitable for all skin types, especially for those with oily skin, Blemish Defeat’r will help improve the appearance of blemishes with an action-packed formula containing salicylic acid and willow bark, Chilean mint, rhubarb, licorice and ginger extracts to clarify, calm and clear skin, according to the company. Its invisible, non-sticky gel formula is undetectable on the skin and dries quickly for an invisible matte finish.

Housed in squeeze-tube packaging, Blemish Defeat’r was designed with a slanted applicator tip so users can directly and precisely coat blemishes without spilling or spreading the product.

The skin care market is constantly evolving, with new trends and buzzwords popping up all the time. One day, everyone wants a glazed donut-like complexion, and the next day there’s talk about achieving dolphin skin.

So, what are beauty shoppers actually searching for when it comes to skin care right now? Currently, in the US, the top growth benefits searched alongside skin care are protective and bronzing, according to Spate. The term protective is currently the top growing benefit alongside skin care experiencing YoY growth of +101.9%. This growth aligns with the increasing concerns about the skin barrier, which has seen a YoY growth of +22.7%.

Brands should capitalize on this trend by positioning their products as protective for the skin barrier, utilizing strategies such as SEO, packaging and influencer content that speaks to these trends.

What about actives as a whole? The global personal care active ingredients market size is projected to grow 5.1% to reach $3.2 billion by the end of 2032, according to Fact MR. The market research firm says personal care active ingredients have seen tremendous growth and demand from consumers post-pandemic as people are adopting a more natural approach for a spectrum of skin concerns.

Many cosmetic brands are significantly using active ingredients for various skin problems at the forefront. These ingredients help to enhance beauty, cure ailments, speed up collagen production for younger-looking skin and provide anti-aging solutions. Some of the widely-used active ingredients in the cosmetic industry include niacinamide, vitamin C, retinol, hyaluronic acid, ceramides and salicylic acid.

By product category, anti-aging and anti-acne segment is projected to grow 4.1% and 4.9% during 2022-2032, respectively, according to Fact MR. By nature, the organic segment will have a dominant share in overall demand creation for personal care products in the future.

As consumer concerns about damage caused by ultraviolet radiation grow, the global sun protection active ingredients market is set to reach a valuation of $816.3 million in 2023 and further expand 5.3% to reach $1.4 billion by the end of 2033, according to a report from Fact MR.

The market for sun protection active ingredients has grown as a result of regional economic expansion and customer desire for high-quality cosmetics with longer shelf lives. This is expected to give the market an absolute dollar opportunity worth $373.6 million between 2028-2033.

The titanium dioxide segment is expected to hold the prominent share of 17% of the global target market.

As consumers become more educated about the risks associated with exposure to UV radiation, they are more likely to seek out sun care products that offer effective protection against the sun’s rays. Also, skin cancer rates have been rising in recent years, driving demand for sun care products that can help to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

As more people engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming and sports, the demand for sun care products that can provide long-lasting protection against the sun’s rays is expected to increase.

Overall, these factors are expected to drive strong demand for sun care products, which in turn will boost the sales of sun protection active ingredients. As a result, companies that specialize in the production of sun protection active ingredients are likely to see significant growth in the coming years. 

Murad activated its first out-of-home marketing campaign called ‘Not Your Ordinary Serums’ on Aug. 15 with a billboard in New York City’s Times Square and two large barricades and 30-plus postings across Los Angeles.

According to the brand: “This campaign raises awareness around the fact that Murad’s serums have a point of difference. It’s not just one ingredient or one active, their serums include a uniquely crafted formulation to address the skin concern and improve overall health, hence the name Not Your Ordinary Serums.”

Building on the momentum of its Retinal ReSculpt Overnight Treatment’s April 2023 launch campaign, the project continues to drive traffic and conversion around the new Retinal serum + spotlight on the hero SKU, Retinol serum. 

In addition, Murad has paid media running on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and YouTube, email support and influencer content creator videos and connected TV ads. 

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