“Active ingredients have been clinically proven to change the skin in some way—whether that is brightening, reducing fine lines or wrinkles, diminishing acne or hyperpigmentation, noted Dr. Dennis Gross, board-certified dermatologist, New York City.
“Consumers are looking for products that are going to deliver real results. It makes sense that they want to spend their money on something that actually works and is going to give their skin long term benefits,” he told Happi. “With the data supporting active ingredients and their efficacy, it is a no brainer to look for skin care products with active ingredients.”
For the best results, consumers should look for active ingredients that target their specific concern, said Dr. Gross. His latest launch is an Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Intense Wrinkle Cream, a hydrating anti-aging treatment powered by Phyto-Retinol Blend to visibly transform skin and repair the moisture barrier for a visibly lifted, ageless look. Retinol, bakuchiol, rambutan and ferulic acid work synergistically to help support skin’s natural collagen production.
According to Yewande Masi, founder of Ornami Skincare, Chicago, shoppers are becoming more knowledgeable about what exactly is an active.
“I believe today’s consumers seek products with active ingredients to address skin care concerns and issues. They are very savvy and often do a lot of research on their own. Most of what we as consumers are looking for are products that will work and that have specific ingredients based on research and familiarity with certain active ingredients,” she told Happi.
“Time is precious and consumers want effective products that will produce the results they desire pretty quickly, while containing clean ingredients. Any active ingredient that is high performing and has multiple benefits for skin concerns are highly sought after right now.”
For example, in Ornami Skincare’s body care, the indie beauty company is receiving more feedback from consumers looking for products that address body acne, hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
“While they are looking to eliminate dark spots, this should be hyper focused on the specific area and not meant to lighten entire skin tones, especially for people of color, who have been targeted with skin lightening treatments containing toxic chemicals in the past,” said Masi. “We are also seeing a trend of customers that want products to help moisturize and lock in moisture that also have the ability to soothe eczema prone skin.”
Hemali Gunt, head of clinical and scientific affairs, Burt’s Bees, Durham, NC, agrees that the action of actives is imperative to move a skin care product from shelf to cart.
“Consumers are becoming more refined, seeking out products that actually work in addressing their skin concerns and conditions. They often think that only active ingredients in their products are what accomplish these goals.
While active ingredients do support efficacy, the ingredients that form that bulk of the formula matter, too,” she explained. “We methodically study skin care ingredients to ensure they are clinically shown to achieve the desired effect, whether that is cleansing, soothing, restoring the skin barrier, hydrating or fighting signs of photo-aging. Today, more than ever, consumers are asking for transparency when it comes to their products. They not only want to know where their ingredients come from and how it impacts the world but also want to see the science that backs them up.”
Gunt added that Burt’s Bees carefully evaluates every active—and inactive—ingredient in its formulations to ensure they are safe and effective in addressing a wide range of skin conditions.
“While SPF products have a very important role to play in skin protection, a brightening-booster and powerful antioxidant, vitamin C is my next pick for continuing to being a popular active ingredient used in a variety of skin care products,” she told Happi. “Hyaluronic acid is a must and hot ingredient well known to replenish moisture deeply and support the moisture barrier. Our Truly Glowing line contains naturally derived hyaluronic acid providing skin with long-lasting hydration and a radiant glow.”
From azelaic acid to zinc, today’s skin care active ingredients span the entire alphabet with some trending more than others with formulators.
According to Dana Kreutzer, project lead, consumer products for market research firm Kline, collagen, vitamins, hyaluronic acid and retinol are the most favored skin care ingredients right now. In Kline’s latest report, Professional Skin Care Consumer: Attitudes and Behaviors Survey, the market research firm found clean-ingredient products are not as sought after by professional skin care users.
“Marketers continue to introduce products centered around these ingredients with several elevating and updating existing formulas,” said Kreutzer. “For example, ZO Skin Health recently introduced a remastered Retinol Skin Brightener with a reformulated ZO Brightening Technology containing high-potency retinol.”
In skin care, products in the prestige category for the body grew faster than those for the face, according to a recent report from The NPD Group. From body Cleansers and creams, to exfoliators and oils, body skin care sales increased in Q3 compared to 2020 and also saw significant revenue increases over 2019. More targeted facial skin care products such as lip and eye treatments as well as serums saw healthy revenue growth in Q3, according to NPD.
Total skin care sales rose 14% to $1.4 billion for the third quarter, July-September 2021.
Indeed, shoppers seek highly effective active based skin care products to target skin woes at home. And from mass to prestige, there is a variety of new skin care products entering the marketplace that utilize active ingredients to refresh skin texture and turn back the clock.
For example, the new CeraVe Skin Renewing Nightly Exfoliating Treatment provides a gentle alternative to physical scrubs. It features 5% AHA glycolic and lactic acids to increase cellular turnover on skin’s surface for visibly smoother, radiant skin. The gentle formula promotes natural exfoliation and reduces visible signs of aging without causing flaking. At the same time, its patented MVE Technology provides a steady release of all-day hydration.
Like all CeraVe products, this creamy, hydrating treatment is formulated with three essential ceramides to restore and maintain the skin barrier. It also contains hyaluronic acid to boost hydration and licorice root extract to brighten and even skin tone.
“Exfoliation can be a beneficial step in a skin care routine, but what many don’t realize is that chemical exfoliators, like the new CeraVe Skin Renewing Nightly Exfoliating Treatment, can actually provide a deeper and gentler exfoliation as compared to physical ones,” said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hope Mitchell, who worked with the brand on this product promotion.
“Glycolic acid, found in the new product, is a favorite skin care ingredient of mine, as its benefits are endless—from resurfacing dull skin to exfoliating for a brighter complexion. Paired with the essential ceramides found in CeraVe products, this new serum is perfect for everyone with any skin type looking to brighten and renew their complexion,” she added.
As skin ages, the natural renewal process and cellular turnover can begin to slow, making it more challenging for healthy-looking cells to stay on the skin’s surface. Ingredients such as glycolic acid can help promote skin’s natural exfoliation to counteract this, while lactic acid exfoliates the top layers of skin to reduce fine lines and improve discoloration.
“At CeraVe, we are committed to offering innovative, effective and affordable dermatologist-developed products for all skin types, tones and ages,” said Jaclyn Marrone, vice president of marketing at CeraVe. “We know that every smile line, wrinkle and mark tell a unique story and as we seek to embrace these stories, we strive to provide products that enable our consumers to achieve the healthiest version of their own skin, especially as preferences and needs evolve with time. This long-term care starts with a healthy skin barrier, especially as ceramides in skin deplete with age, so the three essential ceramides in all our products, including the Skin Renewing line, are critical.”
In fact, active ingredients are fueling formulas for all ages right now. In recent consumer testing, skin care brand Bliss uncovered that Millennials are thinking about aging earlier than previous generations. Yet, 80% of their regimens are focused on maintaining youthful skin rather than repairing damage. Two-thirds of Millennials use a retinol product and nearly 50% use one daily. Still, many are worried about finding the appropriate level of ingredients for where their skin currently stands. Armed with these insights, Bliss chemists developed Youth Got This. The formula contains a patented Prevent-4 complex, which includes amino acids to support the skin barrier, peptides to help smooth, squalene to moisturize and antioxidants to fight against free radicals. The vegan Youth Got This Collection visibly diminishes fine lines and counteracts environmental damage and boasts a more even and refined look in just four weeks with zero irritation, according to the brand.
And, for those who are recovering from baking in the sun all summer into the fall, it’s officially retinol season! Murad’s Retinol Trio is here to provide the ultimate regimen to help even skin tone and boost radiance after a summer baking in the sun. This “power trio” includes the Retinol Youth Renewal Serum, Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum and Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream and uses Retinol Tri-Active Technology to target the most frustrating signs of aging including wrinkles, crow’s feet, loss of firmness and rough texture. These products are the perfect fall skin routine to get glowing skin prior to the holiday season.
After using Retinol Youth Renewal Serum for two weeks, 93% reported a reduction in lines and wrinkles and 98% noticed smoother skin, said the company.
In today’s skin care sector, consumers have ample choices when it comes anti-aging products. Ahava’s Apple of Sodom Collection is billed as an innovative skin care technology offering consumers a Botox-like alternative for advanced wrinkle smoothing and skin replumping. Inspired by the Apple of Sodom plant (calotropis procera), native to the Dead Sea desert flora, Ahava scientists created an exclusive wrinkle smoothing biotechnology that combined with a patented Osmoter to help skin control the constant chronic inflammation challenges and diminish the signs of aging. The collection spans from a lip line wrinkle treatment to an overnight gel mask.
Neutrogena is expanding into the acne care sector with Neutrogena Daily Stubborn Texture Cleanser. This oil-free face wash helps clear acne while also visibly smoothing uneven skin texture with a dermatologist-grade acid complex including 1% salicylic acid (BHA), 2% glycolic acid (AHA), and 2% polyhydroxy acid (PHA). According to the company, these ingredients work together to gently exfoliate the skin to clear stubborn acne and shed rough, surface skin cells—leaving skin smooth and soft with visible results in just one week.
The biggest news at Olay this season is new Olay Regenerist Vitamin C + Peptide 24 collection. Formulated to brighten dull skin, visibly even tone and correct discoloration, Olay’s latest innovation is uniquely crafted around the power combination of vitamin C, niacinamide (vitamin B3), peptide and AHA lactic acid, according to the brand.
Featuring proprietary technology, Vitamin C + Peptide 24 took Olay’s scientists more than 100 formulations and 10 rounds of consumer testing to find just the right balance between potency, formula stability and in-use delight. The line includes a brightening cleanser, serum, eye cream and hydrating moisturizer.
Rodan + Fields rolled out Total RF Serum, a comprehensive skin care serum packed with powerhouse, high-potency ingredients that fuel tired skin and slow the effects of aging, said the company. The serum is said to improve cell energy, elasticity, firmness, radiance and reduce the appearance of pores. Key ingredients include RF TriEnergy Complex, a mix of proprietary ingredients inspired by Ayurvedic medicine combining sandalwood, Indian kino extract and omega 6 acids to minimize fine lines, energize skin and provide building blocks for supple skin. Other ingredients include patented RF3 Antioxidant Complex, which fortifies skin and protects against environmental aggressors; ceramides, to help strengthen the skin’s barrier and maintain moisture; and calcium, which works to firm and tighten skin.
Estée Lauder’s Origins is upgrading its best-selling Ginzing Eye Cream to double as a multi-faceted dark circle minimizer that offers instant brightening benefits while also helping to reduce the look of dark circles over time. Now available in two tones, the modified formula targets tired-looking eyes by helping to reduce the appearance of puffiness while boosting lasting hydration around the eyes with 13 moisture-enhancing ingredients.
Ginzing Refreshing Eye Cream To Brighten & De-Puff’s secret lies in its active, naturally-derived energizing ingredients. The powerful formula features panax ginseng and caffeine from coffee beans to help boost natural skin cell energy in synergy with newly-added vitamin C and niacinamide for a healthier and more radiant-looking complexion, according to the company.
For the eye area, indie beauty brand Naturium is launching a “new and improved” Multi-peptide Eye Cream. Now packaged in a tube, the cream brightens and improves the look of dark circles. Loaded with peptides including Matrixyl 3000 and Argireline Amplified (one of Naturium Founder Susan Yara’s favorite skin care ingredients), it smooths fine lines and wrinkles, according to the company. The ultra-hydrating eye cream is formulated with vegan squalane and hyaluronic acid as well.
On average, there are 4.4K searches every month in the US for Green Tea Face Mask, according to market research firm Spate. It has experienced a 25.8% growth in searches since last year with zero brand searches and no competition—so this is a trend to watch in acne-fighting skin care, said Spate.
According to Dr. Gross, vitamin C is an active ingredient that will never go out of style. He told Happi, “This powerful antioxidant protects against free radicals while also stimulating collagen production.”
Gross added that retinol is another top active ingredient with staying power in the skin care sector.
“It is great for reducing fine lines and wrinkles and also clearing acne,” he said.
Bakuchiol, alpha and beta hydroxy acids and niacinamide are also popular active ingredients, according to Dr. Gross.
“We are going to continue to see state-of-the-art formulations that use a cocktail of active ingredients. The combination of these ingredients give consumers superior results compared to using a single active ingredient,” said Gross. “When product formulators are able to pack a product full of actives—all while never throwing the skin off balance—the consumer will begin to pare down her skin care routines. Just the essentials will be necessary.”
Masi of Ornami predicts the increase of active ingredients in body care formulations will be popular in 2022.
“I am starting to see more focus on body care right now. Some trends I am noticing are popular active ingredients like niacinamide being added into body creams. Previously, it was more facial skin care that received the most attention,” she told Happi. “Since more people are becoming aware of how much our skin can absorb toxins, I am seeing the same energy that was once reserved for our face being directed toward our body, especially since we have more skin on our body than our face.”
In 2022, Masi anticipates an uptick in marine-sourced ingredients—specifically, marine actives such as algae and sea kelp.
“Both are gaining a lot of popularity for their ability to meet customers’ desires for natural and sustainable products while effectively treating customers’ skin concerns,” she told Happi. “Customers want innovation and variety right now. Other industries have been innovating and implementing technology in fun and creative ways, and skin care is on the cusp of that as well.”
Gunt of Burt’s Bees agrees that the potency of actives are essential to certain skin care products, and even combining a few, may make formulations even more successful in 2022.
“With masking and working from home, once-complex skin care routines have shifted to more minimalist regimens that work with the skin,” she said. “With this, people are increasingly seeking multifunctional ingredients or actives, and complex ingredients from nature are difficult to surpass in multifunctionality!”
The morning product routine begins with La Sève des Glaciers, which delivers moisturizing agents for instant radiance before applying a protective day cream. It introduces new Chrono-Light cocktail, which acts like dermal light therapy, boosting the skin’s metabolism and repairing UV damage, said the brand.
In the evening, La Source des Glaciers is a prodigious skin renewal night treatment. During sleep, a new generation triple resurfacing system acts on the surface and the deeper layers of the skin. The formulations include PHAs.
Next up is Le Nectar des Glaciers, which is a source of moisture, repair and regeneration. For the first time, Valmont’s signature DNA and RNA ingredients as well as glacial spring Water and a royal jelly peptide are encapsulated in liposomes for precise delivery of ingredients. Working in harmony with Essence of Bees Complex, they replenish, vitalize and renew the skin.
Limited to 500 pieces each year, La Quintessence is nestled inside a box individually numbered and signed by the founders of Valmont. The set is available now at select Valmont retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue. Retail price is $3,888.
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