US women are most likely to associate cleansing (44%) and exfoliating (55%) benefits with skincare devices, as opposed to topical skincare products. However, while innovation around lower-priced items continues, many devices remain out of reach for the average female consumer, according to Mintel latest report on beauty devices in the USA [1].

Face of the skincare device consumer

Current users of skincare devices skew young, particularly for cleansing brushes which are most popular among US women age 18-24 due to several factors including skin needs (i.e. oily, more acne prone) and a general tendency to be more engaged in the beauty category.

As may be expected, household income is a significant category driver, with those in the US$75K+ groups reporting above average usage of skincare devices. Across the board women agree that price remains a significant barrier when it comes to purchasing a skincare device. While innovation continues around lower-priced devices, many are still priced higher than the optimal price range for women (around US$50), according to Mintel data.

More encouraging for the industry is that skincare devices have a broader audience among women who are interested in trying out new products, suggesting that the device market has room to grow.

Usage is low, but interest is strong

Incidence of skincare devices is low, with only a small percentage of women reporting usage across devices. For example, 6% of women have used a laser device and only four per cent have used an airbrush makeup applicator in the last year. Cleansing brushes generate the highest usage rates with 13% of US women stating they have used a sonic cleansing brush in the last year.

While trial is low, interest in skincare devices is strong. Consistent with higher usage and awareness, both sonic (34%) and rotating (33%) cleansing brushes generate some of the highest levels of interest. Interestingly, despite very low usage, skin massagers produce the strongest interest among women with 36%.

Motivated by results, recommendations and reviews

Outside of replacement (49%), cleansing brush users are motivated to purchase new devices by a variety of factors including special offers (28%), reviews (28%) and family/friend recommendations (26%). When asked what the top reasons for purchasing a beauty care device, 36% of US women referenced trying a product out and liking the results, while 30% were impressed with product results on someone they know.

While women are seeking information, the in-store experience also remains important. Regardless of product type, skincare device shoppers are most likely to cite mass merchandisers as their top destination for beauty devices (55%). Online retailers are also a popular choice for 35% of beauty product shoppers, while 13% prefer to browse beauty products online and buy in-store, according to Mintel data.

Innovation in the form of wearables

The next evolutions in skincare devices are coming in the form of technology and products that promise new benefits. According to Mintel Trend Second Skin, wearable technology is going beyond allowing consumers to be hands-free, it’s helping people to monitor their health, and even maintain their appearance.

We’re seeing innovation in the category in two specific areas: tech and benefits claims. The latest innovations in skincare devices include mobile apps, smart devices and wearable technology, including cleansing brushes with a microchip that adjusts speed and cleansing time based on the user’s skin needs and an iPhone-connected device that uses transdermal skin imaging to develop a customized skincare routine,” explains Shannon Romanowski, Senior Beauty & Personal Care Analyst at Mintel. “For consumers looking to target specific skincare needs, innovation comes in the form of benefit claims like wrinkle reduction or hair removal,” she adds.