UK facial care surges – ‘skin health is the big driver’, says Mintel

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

In the last 12 months, British women have increased their use of face wash, micellar water, toner, day cream, night cream and face masks (Getty Images)
In the last 12 months, British women have increased their use of face wash, micellar water, toner, day cream, night cream and face masks (Getty Images)

Related tags Uk Mintel Facial care products Skin care COVID-19 Skin health

Use of facial skin care products has risen in the UK during COVID-19 as consumers turn to cleansers, masks and toners to improve their overall skin health and boost wellbeing, finds Mintel.

In 2019, British consumers spent €1.28bn (£1.18bn) on women’s facial skin care products, according to Mintel. Within this, 50% of women used face wash; 25% micellar water; and 25% toner. But over the last 12 months, usage rates in these facial care categories had risen, now at 55% for face wash; 29% for micellar water; and 31% for toner.

The rise, Mintel said, had been driven by “heightened hygiene and increased time at home”​ during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“And it’s not just cleansing which has witnessed a COVID boost, moisturising has proved popular too,” ​the market research firm said.

The numbers of women using moisturiser had gone from 60% in 2019 to 67% in 2020 and night cream had also flourished, increasing from 44% to 47% over the same period.

Face masks too had seen a “boost in popularity”,​ Mintel said, with use of peel-off or wash-off masks rising from 25% in 2019 to 32% in 2020 and use of leave-on masks up from 15% to 22%. These masks had proven particularly popular with younger consumers, aged 16-24.

COVID-19 skin care boost – ‘skin health is the big driver’

In a Mintel consumer survey conducted among British consumers between April 23 and May 7, this year, 30% of skin care users said they had moisturised more since the COVID-19 outbreak; one in five (18%) of facial skin care users spent longer on their routine; and one in seven (14%) had used more facial treatment products such as face masks.

“Skin health is the big driver at the moment, which is why we’ve seen usage of facial skin care products rise in 2020,”​ said Roshida Khanom, director of beauty and personal care at Mintel.

“As we focus more on our overall health and immunity, skin health and immunity has become more important, especially as the wearing of face masks has caused skin irritation for some,”​ Khanom told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

COVID-19 and the mandatory use of face coverings therefore boosted prospects for facial skin care, she said, particularly products that soothed irritated skin. There were opportunities, for example, for skin care brands to launch face coverings designed to reduce skin issues, she said.

“Increased hygiene also presents future NPD opportunities for gentle facial cleansers designed to be used multiple times a day, or cleansing formats that can be used on the go.” 

The Skin Microbiome in 2020


CosmeticsDesign recently ran a global expert webinar on opportunities, trends and challenges in the 2020 skin microbiome category, considering how COVID-19 had impacted the segment. 

If you missed it, you can still register for free​ and watch this 90-minute webinar on-demand.

You'll hear from L'Oréal, Gallinée, Cosmetics Europe, Lumina Intelligence and APC Microbiome on consumer and market trends, latest science, regulatory context and NPD opportunities.

So, with this rising interest in facial care, what product attributes would be most important to consumers?

Face care priorities amid COVID-19 – price, quality and wellbeing

Price remained the most important driver for consumers, Khanom said, with 76% of women who bought facial skin care products citing price a key purchase driver. This was followed by 71% who looked for quality, which was often gauged by the ingredients list, she said.

“Women are looking for the presence of natural ingredients but also the absence of those that are considered skin care ‘nasties’ such as preservatives​.”

Khanom said when trying to understand consumer priorities, it was also worth looking at why women had increased their use of facial care products in the first place. Mintel’s consumer survey conducted in April and May showed 41% of women were using beauty and personal care products more often to reduce stress and anxiety, for example.

“Many have used the time spent at home over the last six months to give their skin respite from makeup and instead focus on skin care. Skin care has also been a way to relax and de-stress, and so women will be looking for skin care to deliver wellbeing benefits,”​ she said.

“…In this COVID age, consumers are seeking physical and mental wellness, and facial skin care has benefited from the wellbeing benefits of following a beauty routine,”​ Khanom said.

Related topics Market Trends Skin Care COVID-19

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