Tuesday, 03 August 2021

'Skinimalism': how UK beauty customers replied to the pandemic

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Sora Shimazaki

As we could expect, the pandemic dictated what to buy or not to buy, and expanded its impact way beyond our social life. The distress and uncertainty took their toll in a very personal sphere of our daily habits: buying skincare. It is the rise of a new trend, the 'skinimalism'.

Pinterest’s 2021 Trend Predictions Report forecasted ‘skinimalism’ as one of the main beauty trends for this year. Skinimalism is a return to the very basics with a minimal approach to skincare regime and conscious beauty choices.

According to the NPD group, the periodical closure of retailers in the attempt to slow down the spread of the virus, caused a drop of -23% in 2020 in luxury beauty sales in the UK. The country has been hit harder than the US (-19%) and also European countries like France (-20%) and Germany which followed with -16%. Hence, Pinterest's prediction seems to have been anticipated in 2020. In fact, customers in the Western countries have been more scrupulous for what concerns what to buy to fulfil everyday skin necessities already a year ahead.


If the sales dropped, all is not lost. At a closer look, Pinterest's forecasted trends and the past year reality do not have a negative connotation. The skinimalism trend means a straightforward skincare routine and minimal makeup with simple cosmetics and multipurpose products; a return to the basics needed by the economic restrictions but also by the request for active results in simple to use products. Although Korean skincare is still in the hype with its 10-step regime for clean and glass-looking skin; skinimalism is a more conscious and savvy approach to shopping to answer questions like 'do we really need this?'.

Beauty Statistics

Customers' choices are echoed in sales statistics. Emma Fishwick, account manager of NPD UK Beauty reported that in 2020: 'face cream, facial cleanser and facial exfoliators are the three sub-segments where consumers have gone back to basics whilst some ‘additional steps’ such as eye treatments and masks have declined in importance in face skincare as consumers have ‘skinimised’ what products they’re using'.
Another interesting market evidence comes from anti-acne serums sales which increased by 51% in 2020 as a result of so-called 'maskne' caused by the mandatory masks.

In times of hardships and recession, we would have expected the appearance of the well-known 'lipstick effect', the boom in cosmetics as seen during the 30s' Great Depression as a way to cheer up spirits with a touch of bright rouge. Women during WWII were encouraged and loved to wear makeup to look impeccable in any situation and also to match it with their uniforms; today's habits aims at the feel-good sensation with a totally different approach. Wellbeing is not flaunted but nurtured with effectiveness, formulations and sustainability in mind. Companies started to market their products with the same approach to connect with the buyers. Emma Fishwick continues: 'we have also seen an increase in beauty brands concentrate their messaging on the active ingredients in their products. Just some examples of brands that we have observed doing this include Estee Lauder with its latest Advanced Night Repair Serum re-launch, Origins New Multi-powered Youth Serum and in Makeup, Charlotte Tilbury’s new Lip Launch called Hyaluronic Happikiss'.

The pandemic did not sign the end of luxury beauty for sure, but it did show what people put first when buying cosmetics in stricter situations: effectiveness, simplicity and quality above consume and splurge. In one word, skinimalism.