Following a dip in usage in 2018/19, facial cleansing is well and truly back in vogue among British women. According to Mintel, over the last 12 months [1], usage of these products rose from 50% in 2019 to 55% in 2020 in the United Kingdom. There’s also been an increased use of micellar water (from 25% to 29%) and usage of toner has risen from 25% to 31%.

And it’s not just cleansing which has witnessed a COVID boost, moisturising has proved popular too. According to the market research firm, usage of moisturisers saw a decline in 2019 as women cut back on their beauty repertoires, but 2020 has seen renewed popularity. Day cream/lotion is proving to be the cream of the crop, as the number of Brits dipping into these has shot up from 60% in 2019 to 67% in 2020. Night cream usage has also flourished, increasing from 44% to 47% over the same period.

Skin shines as makeup usage is down

Women surveyed by Mintel about their beauty routines during lockdown [2] confirmed the shift. Overall, 30% of facial skincare users said they had moisturised more since the outbreak of COVID-19, (rising to 41% of 16-24s), while one in five (18%) facial skincare users spent longer on their routine and one in seven (14%) had used more facial treatment products such as face masks. Overall, attention to hygiene including hand washing increased significantly at the beginning of April [3] when 81% of Brits said they had washed their hands more often.

In this COVID age, consumers are seeking physical and mental wellness, and facial skincare has benefited from the wellbeing benefits of following a beauty routine,” explains Roshida Khanom, Head of Beauty and Personal Care, Mintel.

According to Mintel, the British women’s facial skincare market has enjoyed value growth in recent years, increasing by 1.4% in value in 2019 to reach £1.18 billion. Star performers include the cleansing (including cleansers, toners and makeup removers) and skincare face mask segments - which both saw a 9% rise in value in the twelve-month period ending June 2020.

The mandatory use of face masks/coverings in a number of public places in 2020 could boost prospects for facial skincare, with new product development (NPD) in skincare products to soothe irritated skin. Skincare brands can also extend their ranges to release comfortable face coverings to reduce skin issues. 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, while including antibacterial claims could also appeal.

While facial skincare remains a focus for women, there has been a 5% decline in colour cosmetics sales - falling to £1.76 billion last year. According to Mintel, 55% of female facial skincare users have reduced how frequently they wear makeup.

While the trend was well established before the pandemic, in particular in the wake of the success of Korean beauty routines, the outbreak of COVID-19 may well have played a significant part too with frequency of makeup usage down.

Makeup usage will fall further throughout 2020, as social distancing measures remain and working from home becomes the next normal for many. Makeup/skincare hybrid products, such as BB/CC creams, could have more appeal as women cut back on using heavy foundation. The category has already seen NPD from makeup brands entering skincare in 2020 which will continue,” added Roshida Khanom.

Face masks glow in popularity

Finally, just as face coverings in public places have become the new norm, facial skincare masks in the home have seen a boost in popularity. Usage of peel-off or wash-off masks rose from 25% in 2019 to 32% in 2020, while sheet leave-on mask usage increased from 15% to 22%.

These masks have particularly captured the interest of young 16-24s - almost two thirds (62%) of whom enjoyed the luxury of a peel-off or wash-off mask in 2020.

The face mask segment has benefited, with the lockdown giving people more time to themselves. Sheet masks have also seen NPD in biodegradable formats, targeting sustainability concerns,” concluded Ms Khanom.