We’re familiar now with the way Covid-19 has upended consumer relationships with beauty products, with millions of us switching away from lipstick to products for Maskne and Zoom Face. So we thought we’d review reports from across the industry to identify the mega trends that we think will last beyond the pandemic, and have an impact on the testing community.

“2020 will be one of the worst years the beauty industry has endured”

According to this McKinsey report, global beauty industry revenues are estimated to fall by up to 30% this year. Though sales at bricks-and-mortar drugstores have been hit hard, all hope is not lost as e-commerce revenues have grown by 20-30%. Despite these jawdropping numbers, McKinsey believe that the industry is resilient and, driven by strong consumer loyalty, will bounce back in 2021.

Even with the arrival of the vaccines, most analysts believe that our renewed focus on cleanliness and hygiene is here to stay. A new category of anti-bacterial beauty is forming, where anti-bacterial properties are being added to products whose primary function is not cleansing – for instance, perfumes.

For those of us involved in safety assessment and new product development, this means taking into consideration the impact of higher frequency of use and increased exposure to cleansing products, particularly those used on the hands.

  1. Demand for ultra-mild products will skyrocket

As we wash our hands more, incidences of skin reactions have increased. Dermatologists report a rise in hand eczema due to Covid preventative hand-washing. Soaps, hand-sanitisers and hand creams being rushed onto the market will need to demonstrate not just their efficacy in killing germs, but how they can protect the delicate balance of the skin.

Luckily, thanks to sensitive new tests like XtraMild, formulations are able to be benchmarked against each other to accurately determine which is the mildest. This allows companies to develop ultra-mild products using scientific data generated without the need for human patch tests.

  1. Brands will have to demonstrate how they avoid exploiting the natural world

Investors and forecasters have noted that whilst the trend for clean beauty has continued through lockdown, the increased focus on safety may pave the way for a re-evaluation of synthetic ingredients. This combines with a more nuanced view of sustainability and avoiding the exploitation of the animal world, which is viewed by some as the root cause of the pandemic. For natural and organic ingredient manufacturers, transparency around sourcing as well as robust efficacy claims will become the norm.

An MBS group report showed a surge in support for beauty brands who employ sustainable and ethical methods to produce items. This matches our own experience of a rising interest in vegan beauty. The next inevitable step from promoting plant-based ranges is to ensure that animals were not harmed in the methods used to test those products too. You can read more on this topic here.

  1. An even faster pace of innovation

The McKinsey report shows quick shifts in demand in an ever-changing world where innovation has never been so necessary. The fast pace of innovation is putting pressure on manufacturers with ‘concept to cupboard’ products being developed in less than a month.

This pressure threw into sharp relief the disadvantages of not knowing your supply chain, or where you have the agility to pivot. From international networks that became hamstrung by different restrictions in different countries, to manufacturing processes that were disrupted by the requirement to socially distance, those who didn’t understand the art of the possible fell behind.

The increased pace that clients now need to work at lends itself to in vitro testing methods, which can be used to determine the best candidates in the new product development process. Putting the questionable scientific data to one side, animal experiments (where allowed) can take months if not years. Lab based studies can also bypass the need for some pre-clinical human trials, by using human cell culture models and even the exciting new organ-on-a-chip technologies.

A sustainable, ethical approach is the future

Looking to 2021 and beyond, beauty brands can take comfort in being guided by consumers who know what they want and how they want it. When faced with such unpredictability, only one thing can be certain – a sustainable, ethical approach to beauty is the future and will become an everlasting trend long-after the end of this pandemic.