Cosmetics Business reveals the top 5 skin care trends of 2023 in new report

By Jo Allen | Published: 2-Mar-2023

A first look at what's emerging and evolving in skin care from active ingredients to melanin-rich skin care and using Gen Z to target mature consumers

Skinimalism has become a catch-all term to describe what's happening in skin care in 2023.

Streamlined skin care regimes had already picked up as a trend as consumers had less time to dedicate to lengthy skin care routines post-pandemic. 

The skinimalism movement has also been fuelled by consumers shifting away from the overzealous use of competing actives – and a major focus on barrier repair and protection. 

But a third element has moved in as consumers cut back on skin care for financial reasons too. 

Connor Spicer, Senior Research Beauty Analyst at Euromonitor International states: “Notable price rises across both mass and premium categories owing to higher costs to raw ingredients, manufacturing and transport, have been a key contributor in consumers slimming down their skin care routines.”

Exclusive data from Kantar shows that in the UK, another impact of high inflation and the cost of living crisis is that consumers are trading down to less expensive private label skin care products. 

In the latest four weeks, sales of branded skin care products declined by 6%, while own-brand ranges grew by 0.4% 

“This is a sign of the times, with people cutting back on spending and it shows that this is now having an impact in skin care,” says Matt Maxwell, Strategic Insight Director at Kantar. 

And Spicer expects the ‘less is more’ approach to routines will continue, with consumers purchasing fewer products but with higher efficacy or dual-use. 

“Quality over quantity will continue to be a key theme for the category globally in the coming years, and especially in 2023, as consumer confidence and spending power is expected to be weaker than 2022.

As the ‘skinimalism’ trend continues to build, brands will have to prove their worth to make the cut, whether that's via supporting specific skin types, conditions or general skin health through expertise and evidence, or by appealing with multi-tasking and hybrid products, all as they find new ways to grow their customer base. 

Here, Cosmetics Business gives a taster of five key trends that are shaping skin care in 2023. 

Trends will be revealed in detail throughout March exclusively to subscribers, so don't miss out and subscribe

Trend 1: To Gen Z and beyond

Brands are obsessed with Gen Z, but not for the reason you think: their influence on the industry is winning beauty’s prized older consumers. 

The beauty industry’s fixation with Gen Z over the past five years has been clear for all to see, with spunky start-ups, legacy players and pretty much every brand in between, swooping in with fresh concepts and bright colourblock design hues to capture this young consumer group. 

Brands that meet this demographic’s expectations have created a new blueprint in beauty. 

But steeped as they are in new consumer values, Gen Z brands are clearly not just for Gen Z, and while they started with this demographic, they certainly aren’t ending there. 

Gen Z skin care and cosmetics brands are now speaking to older demographics – including Gen X and Boomers – something that has been made entirely possible through the influence that Gen Z are having on the beauty industry at large, and importantly, within their own households.

Trend 2:  Skin rewilding

Barrier protection and repair is dominating skin care. On TikTok, the hashtag #skinbarrier has jumped from around 300 million to 2.9 billion views in the past year alone. 

Protecting the skin barrier to enable the microbiome to repair and perform its natural processes is a trend that WGSN describes as ‘skin rewilding’.

“As we enter a period of skin care enlightenment, rituals that nurture and protect the dermis will take products back to their microbial roots,” says WGSN Director of Beauty, Clare Varga. 

“In 2023, skin rewilding will be embraced as the antidote to modern skin problems, with ‘seed and feed’ products that help to repair, strengthen and protect the skin’s natural flora.” 

A more prescriptive approach to the skin flora of individuals will create the next opportunities for this trend to thrive, with personalised products based on skin bacteria and even location data and weather.

Trend 3: Multi balm sticks

Welome to a new era of stick care: skin care that can be used anywhere, any time. 

This is the premise of Korean brand Kahi’s marketing for its famed Multi Balm, a product at the centre of the K-beauty trend for moisturising sticks, and also widely known for its frequent product placements in Korean dramas such as The King: Eternal Monarch and Extraordinary Attorney Woo.

The trend, led by Kahi’s pale pink Wrinkle Bounce Multi Balm – which sells three every second in Korea, according to the brand – has blown up over the past couple of years, taking the stick format and elevating its use within an all-day skin care routine, more in line with ‘skip-care’ than 10-step K-beauty skin care. 

But with its skinimalist appeal, and amid rising demand for multi-use products and hydrated, 'dewy' skin, could multi balm sticks become the latest K-beauty trend to hit the west?

Trend 4: Melanin-rich skin care

Hampered by a lack of scientific study and data, melanin-rich skin care is only just emerging. But new, mission-led brands are striving for change.

Their aim is to not only make melanin-rich skin care more accessible, but to start to overcome the decades-long disparity in skin care for diverse skin tones, in an industry where in the US, less than 3% of dermatologists are black.

“Unfortunately, melanin-rich skin care has been affected by the same bias that has affected this demographic over the years,” says Kamara Hakeem-Oyawoye, Brand Manager at The Red Tree.

“There are still limitations around the lack of science focused on skin with melanin. This includes the use of outdated systems such as the Fitzpatrick Scale which do not fully consider the structure of these skin types and thus, their needs.” 

But the creation of new brands, led by dermatologists who cater to melanin-rich skin needs specifically, are bringing necessary launches to the space, united by their desire for change.

Trend 5: Stress relief in a jar 

Stress affects the skin: it’s a widely known fact. But what if we could tell that a tough Tuesday could result in a skin reaction by the weekend – and that we could intervene by using a certain skin care product to lessen the impact? 

What if the feel of a skin care product could be proven to provide instant stress-relief? It is questions like this that brands are working on in a rising number of scientific studies. And they're about to change the future of anti-stress skin care. 

“Science is finally catching up with what Eastern medicine practitioners have understood for centuries,” Rose Sparacio, Tatcha’s Global VP of Product Development, tells Cosmetics Business

“We’re finally able to apply research to the multitude of mental and physical benefits that can be delivered through natural ingredients, and how those ingredients are received by our body.”

This trend looks at what the beauty industry is doing behind the scenes that will shape the future of stress-relieving skin care. 


A subscription offering unlimited access to all Cosmetics Business content is available from our subscription website.

You may also like