How climate change is impacting skin care NPD

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

A recent study found that the effects of climate change could trigger eczema or worsen flare-ups of the skin condition (Image: Getty)
A recent study found that the effects of climate change could trigger eczema or worsen flare-ups of the skin condition (Image: Getty)

Related tags Skin Symrise Cosmetics Sun protection Climate change

As air temperatures continue to rise and more of the world experiences extreme weather conditions, this is likely to negatively impact more people’s skin and create a need for new cosmetics solutions…

The world reached record-beating temperatures in July 2023, prompting the chief of the United Nations Antonio Guterres to state that “the era of global warming has ended, the era of global boiling has arrived.”

From environmental irritants to the effects of heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires, the combination of soaring temperatures and poorer air quality is driving consumer demand for both climate-adaptive and protective skin care to help shield delicate skin from extreme conditions.

As the growing need for these products becomes more apparent, more cosmetics businesses are innovating in the climate-adaptive skin care space – often using natural ingredients made from hardy plants or herbs that are built to withstand the toughest circumstances.

Does climate change affect skin?

A recent study​ published in the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology​ analysed the connection between climate change and eczema and found that many of the effects of climate change could trigger the condition or worsen flare-ups.

As more evidence emerges that the effects of climate change impacts skin, new skin care brands are emerging with products designed to tackle issues that are caused by these environmental changes.

Although anti-pollution skin care has been around for a while, beauty brands are responding to the changing environmental conditions and taking things a step further with products that are climate-adaptive.

According to Pascale Brousse, the founder of innovation and trends platform Trend Sourcing​, climate-adaptive skin care is a definite topic of focus for the future of the beauty and personal care industry.  

Brousse has conducted an in-depth study entitled: Climate Care, pioneering the future of beauty and health 2025-2030’, ​which is ​backed by qualitative and quantative data, and expert interviews.  

As a result of the research, she has identified many key learnings for beauty businesses in this area. Among this, she has identified the rise of new climate-induced skin conditions such as hyper-ageing, ultra-acne, and frozen skin; as well as the birth of ‘climate dermatology’.

According to Brousse the future holds a plethora of potential changes/solutions for the industry. She shared that climate-smart sourcing is now becoming ‘a thing’ (for example the use of biotech and resilient plants), and that there will be a future rise of adaptogenic-powered cosmetics.

Early adopter brands 

Pioneering US-based beauty brand, Pour Moi was an extremely early adopter of the climate-adaptive skin care concept and has taken this beyond just skin care that responds to hot temperatures and urban pollution.

In April 2022, the brand launched its Smoke Alarm Drops serum after the brand's founder and CEO Ulli Haslacher noticed that her skin suffered from smoke inflammation after a flurry of wildfires in her home State of California.  

While Prada’s Augmented Skin​ range, which was launched in August 2023, was developed using Smart Technology, which the brand described as “a multipotent complex that helps the skin adapt to its environment in real time.” The precision technology was said to be based on adaptogens: 15 rare plants that have been around for over 400 million years and have withstood extreme conditions.

Climate adaptive skin care: untapped potential

However, it appears there is a lot more that could be done within this sector. According to Marielle Le Maire, SVP of actives & botanicals at cosmetics ingredients supplier Symrise, climate-adaptive skin care is “a fascinating space that has untapped potential.”

“Skin care is facing mutations of unprecedented scope and fast urbanisation and pivotal cultural shifts are radically changing consumer needs,” she shared.

“The population that is going to be exposed to heat waves is increasing and will continue to increase in future, which will impact their health and the condition of their skin,” she continued.

“As the skin is an ecosystem in constant interaction with its inner and outer environment, we believe it is key to help the skin to adapt to its environment and to support the biological mechanisms involved in this adaptive process.”

Le Maire shared that Symrise is now anticipating that more consumers will look for specific products adapted to climate events like heatwaves to address concerns that stem from the impact of extreme temperature on their skin and scalp.

She also highlighted that the effects of heatwaves are likely to be even worse for those people living in cities, as buildings and roads absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes like forests and bodies of water, and that the effects felt will reach beyond the realm of skin care.

“These heatwaves, especially in an urban environment, will impact consumers’ health; their skin – causing eczema and oily skin issues; their wellbeing – from sleep disorders to mental health issues; and cause hyper-pigmentation on darker skin types and increase wrinkles on lighter skin types,” she explained.

She added that recent data generated by Professor Jean Krutmann, who is chair of the Symrise Scientific Advisory Board, suggested that heatwaves will have a different impact depending on skin type.

NPD to help skin adapt to climate change

Going forward, Symrise is focused on creating sustainable solutions within the climate-adaptive skin care space by minimising consumption across all levels, optimising processes with the use of upcycling, applying green chemistry, and suppling raw materials from sustainable and renewable sources.

“We are working on a holistic approach to address the multiple impacts of heat on the skin and scalp biology and physiology but also the psychological aspect of the issue and how heat waves could affect the wellbeing of consumers and their mental health,” shared Le Maire.

“We started one year ago with a collaboration with Professor Jean Krutmann who developed an ex-vivo model to assess efficacy of active ingredients on heat-induced damages,” she continued.  

“In the future, consumers should have access to products and technologies that will help the skin to adapt to climate changes, and especially to heatwaves,” she concluded.  

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