Consumers prioritize personal care

Seth Mendelson
Editor in Chief & Associate Brand Director
Seth Mendelson profile picture

With consumers suddenly looking for all types of products to enhance their skin and basically make them feel better about themselves, many suppliers and retailers are charging full speed ahead into 2021 with innovation-driven skin and bath launches.

There is no doubt that these trends are fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that shoppers are eager to purchase certain types of beauty products, even during the crisis. So, while cosmetics sales are flailing, skin and bath sales are doing quite well. 

Suppliers sense the opportunity and the work ahead of them. To nudge sales along, several brands are working on formulas to bring consumers back into the fold.

The healthy state of the skin and bath category is reflected in the IRI numbers for the 52-week period ended Nov. 29. A much different story is told by the IRI numbers during the same period for skin and bath. Bath category sales jumped 8.3%. Within the category, sales of devices used for at-home self-care soared by 24%. Skin care sales accelerated by almost 3%, paced by a 16% jump in moisturizers. 

Industry experts said they believe the habits adopted during quarantine in skin care and bath will remain long after the pandemic has eased. Brands are developing products to serve the demand. 

For example, clean and purpose-driven have emerged as major initiatives for Frisco, Texas-based Urban Hydration. “COVID-19 showed us that while customers are home, they are reading labels and they are voting for brands that actually meet their individual needs,” company founder Psyche Terry said of mounting consumer preferences for clean and sustainable items. 

Urban Hydration sales are up, she said, not only because of its clean formulas, but also its altruistic efforts — the company has a keystone partnership with the organization WaterisLife, which looks to provide clean drinking water in areas with limited access. “Customers want to do something positive,” Terry said. “We give back with every product we make.”

Listening to the brand’s shopper base will drive new launches. “In response to what our customers want more of, we’ve expanded our Castor Oil Skin Care Collection from just a face wash and face lotion to a clean ingredient creamy body lotion for dry and eczema-prone skin and a creamy body lotion with SPF for dry and eczema-prone skin,” Terry said. The items will roll out to select CVS Pharmacy stores.

Ingredient stories also continue to be important for Urban Hydration. “Aloe is such a great antiseptic and natural cleaner that our Aloe collection of skin care is really selling well in retailers, so much so we’ve added an Aloe Body Moisturizer to the collection that will also launch this fall in a wide selection of CVS stores across the nation,” Terry said.

Going forward, Terry said she believes a more price-sensitive consumer will emerge. To that end, the company created a hair care line that mirrors the brand’s salon-inspired lineup at JCPenney InStyle Salons. “It is formulated exactly the same and achieves the same great results, and is more economically affordable for OTC customers that shop at drug and value-conscious stores,” she said.

Executives at Edgewell Personal Care said they noticed the impact of people turning to self-care during quarantine. That opened the opportunity to flip the script, turning mundane routines into rituals. Female grooming is a case in point.

“Self-care has become more of a trend during the pandemic, with consumers isolated from close friends and family, taking time for mental health and self-care has become increasingly important for consumers,” said Anthony Pietrini, head of marketing for female grooming at the Shelton, Conn.-based company. “The shower is a place where women gravitate to as a haven of sorts to help escape and briefly recharge. Skintimate has been of service to our women by trying to help bring some good vibes to a small piece of her day.”

Self-care has become more of a trend during the pandemic, with consumers isolated from close friends and family, taking time for mental health and self-care has become increasingly important for consumers.
Anthony Pietrini, head of marketing for female grooming at Edgewell Personal Care.

With growing interest in its brand, Skintimate is rolling out its refillable razors to more retailers in the new year. “The Skintimate brand is designed for consumers who are looking for a source of positive energy, so our razors and shave gels are designed to give women a spirit-lifting, skin-caring experience,” Pietrini said. 

Beyond the experience, the razor blade technology also provides a close and smooth shave fused with a chic, style-centric razor handle and shave gels that deliver pleasing fragrance, Pietrini said.

Edgewell said it noticed women have grown uncomfortable about hair removal needs at salons because of today’s safety concerns. Skintimate’s sister brand, Schick Hydro Silk, is assisting women who wish to transition from salons to the confines of their own bathrooms. “Hydro Silk has continued to see success with Dermaplaning and Brow Shaping tools. Brow Shaping specifically has been a major success for the brand,” Pietrini said.” Our brow shaping tools have been trending in or near the top 10 best sellers of Amazon’s total beauty and personal care items since August.”

Another trend emerging during the pandemic was the challenge of interpersonal communications linked to wearing masks. With that in mind, Hydro Silk recently concluded a new advertising campaign, called “Brows are the New Lips,” to help consumers understand how to use eyebrows as the new focal point of the face. The company offers advice on how consumers can keep eyebrows trimmed for their individual preferences. 

Pietrini said he expects trends served by Edgewell’s products will continue to flourish even as the virus is conquered. “We’re expecting women to continue engaging with at-home grooming and hair removal at an increased rate,” he said. “We’ve seen that women have become uncomfortable in utilizing salons for their hair removal needs due to the close one-to-one contact, which will potentially lead to increased usage of shaving as a hair removal method.

Longer term, Pietrini said, a redefined sense of well-being will become more important for consumers, and “we believe the importance of self-care is here to stay.”

COVID-19 limited opportunities that brands had to present items during 2020 and some resets were put on pause. For Kyle LaFond, founder of American Provenance, the year 2021 offers the chance to bring retailers up to speed on his brand, which he developed based on his experience as a middle school science teacher. Concerned about ingredients in brands that his students favored, LaFond launched his own company based in Mount Horeb, Wis.

We believe the importance of self-care is here to stay.
Anthony Pietrini, head of marketing for female grooming at Edgewell Personal Care.

LaFond’s products will be among those featured at ECRM’s Everyday and Holiday Cosmetics, Skin, Fragrance & Bath program, which will take place virtually from Jan. 11 to 15. “This may be the first time that [some retailers] see our hand sanitizers, liquid soap and AP Botanics line,” he said. 

Hand sanitizers and liquid soaps have performed well for American Provenance, along with beard products, LaFond said. 

The brand’s Botanics line performed well as people looked for products to beat stress and anxiety. The only slower category for American Provenance was deodorants. “Sales were down because people weren’t going out and socializing, and didn’t feel the need for everyday application,” LaFond said. He said he feels deodorants will rebound. 

American Provenance has new packaging to boost exposure. “Specifically, the packaging for our skin care line is intended to be approachable by both men and women looking to enhance their skin care routine,” LaFond said. “We’re trying to convince men especially to care about their skin more. I’m anticipating significant growth in 2021 and beyond.”

Moisturizing and nourishing products are on consumer checklists and benefit Beiersdorf, with its U.S. headquarters in Wilton, Conn. The company is emphasizing both with recent launches of its Nivea Body Wash with Nourishing Serum, an entirely new portfolio with 10 distinct body washes, and a first-to-market, breathable skin technology featured in a new item called Breathable Body Lotion.

Less thick than traditional products, the formula allows for fast absorption without a heavy barrier. Also, under the Nivea banner is a 2-in-1 lip balm and scrub to exfoliate and nourish lips — a popular product in these days of mask wearing. Eucerin, another Beiersdorf brand, focuses on serious skin care relief. It has two new entries: Eucerin Itch Relief Intensive Calming Lotion and Eucerin Eczema Relief Cream Body Wash. 

Reacting swiftly to consumer needs was paramount during COVID-19. This gave more nimble, smaller companies a chance to be discovered by a broader consumer base. “We are a go-to company with many of our retail partners due to our ‘speed of thought’ and capabilities to develop products with buzzworthy trend items and sophisticated packaging that deliver premium value to our customers at affordable prices for cash-strapped consumers,” said Jack Savdie, senior vice president of New York-based Global Beauty Care.

Global Beauty Care’s SpaScriptions is benefitting from its problem-specific solutions, such as personalized masks for face, lip, eye and nose. “We have seen tremendous sales increases as consumers are shopping for DIY items to solve problems related to masks,” Savdie said. 

New going into 2021 is a line called Clinicals, which consists of serums, face oils and capsules. Also debuting is a multivitamin collection including kits, serums, under-eye pads, and lip and facial masks.

Global Beauty Care is gearing up for growth with a new business development, sales and marketing team. It also is engaging a broker network and consultants to help monitor consumer insights. 

New York-based EOS is no longer just known for its spherically packaged lip care and face care. Its new body care lineup features body lotions and body creams in scents that include coconut water, jasmine peach, pomegranate raspberry and vanilla cashmere. Its gift product bundles, including body products, were singled out as strong holiday performers by retailers. 

Retailers are doing their share to highlight natural products, such as Walmart with another up-and-coming line, Eco Lips. The lineup includes lip balms, lip scrubs, lip tint and plumpers. 

To give a boost to the lackluster of makeup sales such companies as CoverGirl, e.l.f., Pixi, Flower by Drew Barrymore and Physicians Formula are delivering fresh ideas. The ammunition includes better-for-you options, such as New York-based CoverGirl’s Lash Blast Clean Volume Mascara, which features a clean, sustainable, vegan and cruelty-free formula. 

E.l.f., based in Oakland, Calif., continues to build market share — it now ranks as a top five mass brand — via product innovation and its savvy use of social media. The company created the first Tik Tok reality show with its campaign called “Eyes. Lips. Famous.” The brand also is generating interest for the upcoming launch of a non-makeup product, Keys Soulcare, backed by the star wattage of Alicia Keys. 

Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based Physicians Formula is fusing its hypoallergenic positioning with bolder color entries for 2021. One launch getting retail notice is the Mineral Wear Diamond Plumper. “It gives lips a boost for when you take your mask off for Zoom calls,” said Regina Mendoza, director of product marketing.

 Physicians Formula also is solidifying collaborations with influencers for product creation, as illustrated by a new collection of face powders called All-Star Palette.