Next year could see the “death of acids” as consumers turn to milder products, according to British skincare biochemist and owner of NQ Innovations Nausheen Qureshi.
Speaking at SCS Formulate in Coventry, UK on 2023 cosmetic trends, Qureshi said customers are moving away from products containing retinol and 10-15% heavy AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and looking at alternatives more gentle to the skin barrier.
“The Covid pandemic has spurred people to look at internal and external health, and then we came off ten years of using very intense acids and consumers started seeing problems with pigmentation and long-term skin issues,” she added.
“There may be a place for these, but not an everyday place as I do think the customer is looking away from using high amounts of acids in their everyday skincare products.”
Qureshi believes retinol will still be popular among "diehard fans" but other consumers may prefer products containing B vitamins in particular, as well as new, improved ceramides.
“These are coming in formats from sprays and toners to water-based serums and creams.”
The British biochemist found consumers are also seeking more gentle exfoliants, which could see the revival of the usage of enzymes.
“We are going to see more interesting enzymes, not just the generic papaya and pineapple enzymes we’ve seen in the past.”
Everything in Qureshi’s findings from data modelling and consumer focus groups on a variety of products - ranging from premium to low-cost brands - is pointing in the same direction towards mildness.
“We have already seen brands trending towards gentle acids such as PHAs (polyhydroxy acids) and salicylic acid. This will continue as we look towards ‘weaker’ acids that don’t disrupt the barrier membrane.”
Other predicted trends for 2023 are high-tech body care and the ‘skinification’ of scalp care as people seek a more all-in-one product experience.
“People are not going to just want, for example, pigmentation serums for the face, they will also want to start seeing the development of specific serums for the body.
“People want body blur products that are also hydrating and have hi-tech actives. We’re seeing the same with toners for scalp care.”
Qureshi meanwhile believes microbiome-friendly active ingredients are not a trend but a permanent shift in the market.
“Microbiome-friendly ingredients will become a universal must-have across all cosmetic products. It plays into the theme of milder, non-acid products that don’t disrupt the skin barrier: milder cleansers, non-acid serums and milder exfoliants.”
Qureshi also sees mineral ingredients featuring prominently in personal care products in 2023.
“We’re going to start seeing zinc, copper and magnesium play a major part in marketing within brands and we need to find out how we can expand our skincare ingredient offering to support what the consumer is looking for,” she said.
“We know minerals play a vital role in cell communication and how we communicate that with customers, based on what ingredient we’re putting into products, is key,” she added.
The rise of minerals could include a return to prominence of copper peptides.
“Copper peptides are old school but I think they’ll be coming back into play in a more high-tech form.”
Other consumer trends expected by Qureshi in 2023 include higher demand for alternatives to Vaseline for occlusive skin barrier care, such as those containing wax, as people are “increasingly averse to petroleum-based products for preventing transepidermal water loss”.
Lastly, Qureshi sees a bigger role for fermented ingredients next year as consumers become more aware of their sustainability and efficacy benefits.
“The consumer is ready to embrace fermentation and the great ingredients it brings,” she said.