Maddie Cullen
10 May 2018

There has always been innovation in skincare. From introducing new products to entirely new categories, the market has always been open for development and experimentation. Brands want to solve our problems (whether they’re real or not).

Innovation is now at an all-time high, with a new miracle cream or super ingredient appearing every week. However, is this just innovation for innovation’s sake? Or are the latest ‘fads’ here to stay? Let’s analyse a few of them…

Korean skincare

Asia Pacific holds the largest share of cosmetic skincare and this is for good reason. A lot of the most innovative and most popular products originate there, particularly in South Korea. They produce skincare with weird and wonderful things from fizzy water to fermentation and are setting trends across the globe.

Korean skincare innovation               (Image: The Beauty Context)

In the last few years, Korean skincare products have particularly taken off in the West as consumers want to try the newest and coolest things. Who can resist those cute animal sheet masks! (We all secretly want to look like a panda whilst we moisturise, let’s admit it).

As consumers buy up these products, American and English brands have taken note and tried to match the trends. Sheet masks are now readily available from most well-known brands and some luxury ones are using probiotics to keep skin happy.

As there’s also more money in beauty than ever before, brands have had the space and time to work on this innovation. They can incorporate technology in ways they never could before, both through producing in South Korea and replicating in the UK and US.

Korean skincare innovations               (Image: Cosmetics Business)

New K-beauty brands are breaking into UK and US stores all the time, which suggests that they’re here to stay. As many as 8 out of 10 American cosmetic stores want to import Korean skincare. Not all the fads, like fizzy water and 12-steps, are here to stay, but the top Korean skincare brands are definitely strong competitors in the West.

Clean Beauty

One of the biggest trends in skincare at the moment is ‘clean’ or natural beauty. As consumers become more aware of what goes in their bodies, they’re also considering what goes on their bodies. Ingredients are no longer mystery magic that go into products. Customers now scrutinise and discuss each one.

‘Paraben-free’, ‘vegan’ and ‘organic’ are the most popular Google searches around cosmetics and skincare from the last year. The vegan skincare category alone grew by 83% from 2016 to 2017. People are ditching the animal products in favour of plant-based super serums.

Vegan skincare products                (Image: EDITed)

So, as people ask for less chemicals, brands are forced to innovate. Vegan and natural products need new ingredients, but they still need to moisturise, have anti-ageing properties and anything else that consumers want.

Skincare has grown to be the largest market in natural personal care and is still growing. More and more people are converting to veganism and cruelty-free is now basically an industry standard. People want natural products (even if they’re not quite sure what ‘natural’ means), so clean skincare is only going to grow like the flowers it’s made from.


Personalisation is the buzzword in numerous sectors at the moment, and beauty and skincare have recently picked up on it in a serious way.

People are asking questions as to what each of their products are doing and why. Skincare no longer comes as one all-purpose moisturiser. Instead, individual needs and skin types are all addressed.

Younger consumers with the bigger skincare budgets are especially interested in personalised products. 43% of 16-24 year olds and 46% of 25-30 year olds are more attracted to personalised products than standard ones.

A good example of a brand capitalising on this is Bioré. We’ve been working with them to develop a skin diagnostic tool that used a series of questions to determine what skin type a person has along with other lifestyle factors that affect their skin. It  then instantly recommends which Bioré products suit them best.

This is an example of moving the classic in-store dialogue online and allows way more people to be reached and educated.

Bioré Your Clean Skin Plan Questions

More people are asking for skincare tailored to them because they can, and this calls for innovation. As such, skincare brands need a range of different creams, serums and toners that match various skin types.

Back to the lab they go to create products that can tackle all these different needs.

Technology is the main driving force behind personalisation, and as it’s getting better every day, innovation isn’t about to slow down. People have welcomed bespoke skincare with open arms and it’s unlikely they’ll want to go back. Personalised products continue to dominate.

So do people want more innovation in skincare?

It looks like innovation is at the forefront of every skincare brand’s mind for good reason. It drives sales and creates sectors that have huge backing from consumers.

Clearly there is demand for cutting-edge developments in this market. Not every new development will stick around. But the three we’ve analysed – Korean skincare, natural and vegan brands and personalisation – look like they have staying power, and will continue to expand within the coming years.

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