The natural beauty industry is looking fine, with natural products outperforming their conventional counterparts and driving 21% of the growth in the $54 billion beauty industry, as SPINS reports. We asked industry experts to share the ingredients and innovations that are attracting consumers and driving sales.

Botanicals & Breakthrough Ingredients

“The surge in demand in the Hair, Skin and Nails market is fueled by a shifting consumer mindset towards cleaner and healthier solutions,” says Sébastien Bornet, Vice President Global Sales and Marketing, Horphag Research (exclusive worldwide supplier of Pycnogenol). “Consumers are more aware of the potential side effects associated with conventional cosmetic products—that’s an online and word-of-mouth conversation. The use of botanical and natural ingredients adds to their appeal, as they are perceived as cleaner alternatives to traditional cosmetics. Products with evidence-based ingredients that support the basic building blocks of healthy skin, hair, and nails are in a good position in a market where more educated consumers are driving growth. Our flagship ingredient, Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract, provides a unique offering for consumers as it not only supports skin and hair goals, but also offers extensive natural health benefits for the entire body.”

There is a growing interest in scientifically backed formulations that utilize natural and holistic botanicals, say Figaro Apothecary’s Co-founders, Jennifer de Klaver, CEO, and Scott Formby, Chief Creative Officer. “Figaro Apothecary’s Regenerative Botanical Eye Lift, which combines Organic Bakuchiol, a natural retinol, and Hyaluronic Acid for firming and hydration, represents this evolving consumer interest. Furthermore, ingredients like organic pure CBD and Agave Stem Cells are gaining prominence for their holistic, yet efficacious benefits. Figaro’s Cannacomplex Nourishing Serum and Agave Stem Cell Moisturizer, utilize these key ingredients to respond to consumers’ desire for both visible results and comprehensive natural yet simplistic skincare.”

Adding to the trending ingredients list, Mark Hackwell, Managing Director of 7th Heaven, shares: “As leading manufacturers of a wide range of skincare products, we keep a close eye on market data and trends. Across the board, we are seeing ongoing popularity for topical skincare which contains active ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, Retinol, Niacinamide, and Vitamin C, and the emergence of ingredients like Rosemary, Azelic Acid, and Polyglutamic Acid in the market. Collagen-boosting ingredients are also top of the list when it comes to skincare, particularly for mature skin.”

Nancy Duitch, Founder of Sera Labs and CEO of Avenir Wellness Solutions, agrees that the next big trend for skin care will involve integrating science with natural and plant-based ingredients. “Seratopical Revolution’s DNA Complex is the perfect example of using 100% natural ingredients with a technologically advanced delivery system that actually delivers the ingredients from deep inside the skin. This product is so special that after one application you can see your lines and wrinkles temporarily disappear right before your eyes in under two minutes. We also recommend trying out Seratopical Revolution’s Adoring Eye Serum to use once the DNA Complex dries to give your under eye area an extra boost.”

Cosmetic Chemist and Celebrity Esthetician Elina Fedotova, Founder of Elina Organics & Holistic Clinical Spas, points to talc as an example of an ingredient that has consumers thinking twice about what they buy. “Lately, we have learned a lot of unpleasant news about talc, which organic formulators have never used. An alternative to talc can come from the ocean or rivers. Powdered pearls have been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine and protect and nourish the skin with essential amino acids and a blend of minerals. It is a beautiful alternative to talc or other minerals, which could make the skin heavy and accentuate the pores. Water-soluble pearls could be a fabulous ingredient for rejuvenating the skin and healing. Studies have been done to show the anti-inflammatory and healing properties of water-soluble pearls. I am not sure it is trending, but people must learn about healthy alternatives to common ingredients.”  

A deeper “clean”

“Consumers are more curious and more educated, engaged, and sophisticated than ever when it comes to what they are putting into and onto their bodies,” says Jonatan Funtowicz, CEO Skin Actives. “In particular, we have seen an increased demand for validation and additional information on claims that include ‘natural,’ or ‘clean’ in the packaging.”

That’s a shift MariLynne Cosmillo, Founder, hOURS haircare, sees as well. “While clean beauty had its time, more consumers are understanding there is nuance in what ‘clean’ means from one company or retailer to the next. I see this pivoting where educated consumers are starting to look for what specifically is (or isn’t) in their hair care—not just the label ‘clean’—to shop for products that meet their personal needs.”

Plant-based beauty

“We see more interest in plant-based hair, skin, and nail products with an additional focus on sustainability and transparency initiatives,” reports Maggie McNamara, Marketing Director, Gencor. “I believe these factors will continue to be top of mind for consumers when shopping for beauty products and eventually will move from a ‘trend’ to becoming the norm.”

A growing segment of consumers also want confirmation that there are no animal materials, by-products, or processing aids during science testing, adds Shirley Powell, Founder of the vegan skincare and cosmetic line LaJeanell Skincare & Makeup System. “The formulation and raw materials are animal free from development to microbiological testing. Consumers want to be assured there is no cross contamination between vegan and non-vegan. There is added value of being able to state a brand’s products have been tested and are vegan, have the vegan trademark seal, are 100% vegan-friendly and cruelty-free.” Terminology is important, Powell adds. “In our LaJeanell makeup products, we have the cruelty-free Leaping Bunny seal, paraben-free, dermatology tested and recommended, and the epigenetic technology seals.”

Multi-functional benefits

Consumers want less processed, efficacious products that offer multifunctional benefits, says Dr. Liki von Oppen-Bezalel, Business Development Director, TriNutra, who anticipates topicals offering multi-functional benefits from a small number of components that are safe, sustainable, and potent to be the next big trend. “For example, materials that improve mitochondrial functions at any level will become and are already increasingly sought after. This is because mitochondria are at the core of healthy cell ‘machinery.’ Being the powerhouse of the cells and can help with cell respiration, metabolism, and energy production, which results in more vital cells as well as water molecules within the cells, i.e., increased hydration. TriNutra offers a standardized, full-spectrum black seed oil branded B’utyQuin, that provides optimal ratios of 3% thymoquinone (BSO’s active compound) and very low free fatty acids (<2%). These precise ratios contribute to the potent beauty benefits and synergistic effects. Being an oil with specific fatty acids composition of linoleic, oleic, and palmitic acids contributes to skin lubrication and better barrier functions that keep the moisture within the skin, providing hydration, luminosity, firmness, and elasticity.”

Building on the multi-tasking trend, Amy L. Goddard, Marketing Communications Manager, AnteAGE, says, “Consumers are craving multi-functional products, with natural ingredients and personalized treatment plans that offer outstanding results…Consumers are tired of buying multiple products for their anti-aging regime. They prefer to have as few products as possible that offer impactful results.”

Skin microbiome support

“A new era in clean, natural skincare is here surrounding the skin microbiome,” Katherine Thomlinson, Head Of Marketing & Digital, Trilogy, reports. “Just like your gut microbiome, your skin has one too. It’s an ecosystem that sits on top of your skin barrier. It’s made up of over a billion microbes (bacteria, fungi and viruses) and the trick is to keep these microbes balanced. Our lightweight Microbiome Complexion Renew Serum packs a potent punch with innovative postbiotic ingredients that deliver support to the natural microbiome system that lives on our skin and helps strengthen the skin’s natural barrier for a smoother, more youthful complexion and reduced skin redness and irritation.”

Everyday stressors like pollution, extensive sun exposure, and extreme heat or cold may lead to the breakdown of structural components in the skin, impacting the extracellular matrix and inflammatory responses, disrupting the skin barrier, and leading to extensive ‘drying’ and ‘breaking’ of the skin and hair, says Dr. Oppen-Bezalel. “Systemic factors such as hormonal changes, weakened immune systems, and microbial imbalances can also affect the skin structure and barrier functions to reduce hydration. When manufacturing ingredients or finished products, one must consider all these factors to provide solutions and produce an effective outcome.”

Masks, oils, and more

“In terms of skincare formats, sheet, peel, clay, and mud masks remain popular, and lip and décolletage masks are emerging as the next big trend; Hydrogel continues to lead the marketplace in eye masks,” says Hackwell. “The sustainability message remains key. Biodegradable sheet masks (typically made from bamboo) are popular, as are multi-packs and multi-use spout pouches and tubes which reduce the need for single-use plastic packaging. In addition, all-in-one hero balms which can be used in a variety of ways are gaining popularity. They can typically be used on skin, hair, lips, and even nails and cuticles and are often found in a small tub format which fits easily in the pocket or handbag to be used on the go.”

Ultimately, Hackwell says, “today’s consumers are looking for fun, accessible, easy-to-use, budget-friendly products which are certified vegan/vegetarian and cruelty-free, with an additional focus on sustainability. Products that meet these criteria while offering visible results will continue to be successful in the beauty and wellbeing markets, particularly when designed to form part of a regular skincare regime.” 

Oils are trending, too. The global beauty oils market is valued at $5.74 billion in 2023 and is forecast to reach $10.28 billion by the end of 2033, according to Fact.MR. Imogen Van Haagen nutrition expert and Founder of MUD Organics says, “As of September 2021, sea buckthorn has been gaining popularity in the beauty and wellness industry due to its potential benefits for hair, skin and nails. Sea buckthorn is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and essential fatty acids, making it a popular ingredient in skincare products. It has been used in facial oils, serums, and moisturizers to promote skin hydration, reduce inflammation, and protect against environmental damage. Sea buckthorn oil has been incorporated into haircare products such as shampoo, conditioners and hair masks. It is believed to nourish the scalp, strengthen hair follicles and add shine to the hair.”

Skin cycling

“Every now and then a skincare trend takes over our feeds and lately, it’s been skin cycling,” says Thomlinson. “This is the practice of rotating the active ingredients you use in your nighttime skincare routine. The idea behind it is that by using actives like retinol or acid less frequently, our skin has a chance to rest, and we can dedicate part of our weekly routine to protecting our skin barrier. This follows a three-day cycle of alternating your active ingredient products with rest days. Ideal Trilogy products to use in a skin cycling routine are our Vitamin C Microdermabrasion to exfoliate on day one, Rosapene Bakuchiol Oil or Bakuchiol+ Booster Treatment as your retinol alternative on day two, and finally, our Ultra Hydrating Moisturising Cream on the rest day.”

Thomlinson adds that Bakuchiol is a natural alternative to retinol that can be found in several of the company’s skincare products. “Bakuchiol is sort of like retinol’s kinder, less dramatic sister. Often called ‘nature’s answer to retinol,’ it’s a gentle, plant-derived alternative offering all the same anti-aging benefits with none of the fuss or irritation.”

Beauty-from-within and inside-out

“We’ve noted a surge in demand for the Hair, Skin, and Nails market, driven by consumers’ increasing focus on personal grooming and self-care,” says Bornet. “Consciousness about overall well-being is merging with the traditional desire for a more youthful appearance. Add emerging economies, inflation, and a paradigm shift of beauty and personal spending patterns and that results in more consumers now inclining towards health and beauty solutions that address hair, skin, and nails and overall health holistically. In this emerging trend, a topical that can tell a story of nutrition for our skin, our hair, and our nails has a competitive advantage. A topical that works in tandem with supplements for a beauty-from-within and an inside-out approach will grow in appeal.”

“Interestingly,” Bornet adds, “mechanisms involved in maintaining healthy skin and hair, such as antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, microcirculation, and natural promotion of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid, are also involved in maintaining healthy circulatory health, muscle function and recovery, joint care and cognitive functions. Pycnogenol does all this by addressing the same fundamental mechanisms. Thus, we continue to invest in research and development to showcase Pycnogenol’s benefits.” 

De Klaver and Formby note, “The skincare market is undergoing a significant transformation as consumers shift their focus from exclusive facial care to a more holistic approach that extends to the entire body. This transition reflects a deeper understanding that skin health is interconnected, and Figaro Apothecary is a brand that wholeheartedly embraces this shift.” 

Expect to see more consumers looking to topical solutions as pill fatigue continues, says McNamara. “Consumers want products that are easily incorporated into their everyday healthcare routines, and topicals offer both ease and convenience to aid in these areas of beauty. We also anticipate that the natural hair health category will rise in popularity as more people learn about the evidence of plant-based care products. It’s reported that the global hair growth supplement market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.7% from 2023 to 2030, reaching $1.92 billion (Grand View Research). Getting in front of this segment with clinically evidenced plant-based products is critical for success.”

Proactive, health aging

“Healthy skin is in,” Fedotova says. “People want to prevent wrinkles versus waiting to fight and reverse them. Consumers also are seeking fresh, glowing skin instead of heavy makeup. More and more people are aging gracefully and feel much younger than previous generations. Now ‘the 70s are the new 50s, and the 50s are the new 30s.’ Elina Organics works with makeup artists from large TV productions, which are much more focused on the skincare regimens of the actresses than ever before. This is happening because of the era of HD cameras, which makes it very difficult to cover up wrinkles and blemishes. So now, the real goal and the most significant trend is to have healthy and well-nourished skin.”

Hair & scalp health

“The hair care and scalp care market continues to drive growth with consumers paying attention to ingredient labels looking for high quality products,” says Bornet.

A plant-based ingredient that has demonstrated its ability to aid in optimal hair health: HairAGE, Gencor’s billygoat weed ingredient. McNamara reports that it is backed by two in vitro studies, an open-label study and a randomized, double-blind, placebo and active comparator-controlled study as a topical supplement. “These studies included both men and women, and the results showed HairAGE’s ability to improve hair growth, promote new follicle development and hairline, as well as improve hair-related quality of life.”

Cosmillo describes another trend: “Low maintenance hair will be big going into the fall. We’re seeing lots of fringes that make any low-maintenance look feel elevated. Post-summer, we start focusing on adding shine as the humidity leaves. The hOURS Well Traveled Tousle And Shine Spray features red algae rich in magnesium for soft texture and dimension. The feel and appearance of healthy hair is both a seasonal goal and a long-term goal. While styles come and go, the most common foundation we come back to is healthy hair, and if we can achieve legitimate results in as little time as possible, that’s a bonus. That’s why I created hOURS In Minutes Silkening Mask, which contains biotin, avocado oil, coconut oil and vitamin E to name a few. The formula works to transform any hair type to soft and shiny within minutes and won’t weigh down your style.”

Combating thinning is another area of significant interest to consumers. “Research shows that alopecia is on the rise and hair loss is at the forefront of medical aesthetics,” Goddard says. “Consumers are looking for a natural way to treat hair loss through products and treatment solutions without taking oral medication. It is well-known that there are many psychological effects for both men and women who experience hair loss. Having a nontoxic topical treatment plan can be life altering for some. There are many reasons for hair loss, such as genetics, hormones, autoimmune disorders, stress, illness, trauma, and lack of vitamin deficiencies to name a few.”

As Dr. Oppen-Bezalel notes, black seed oil is an up-and-coming product for skin and scalp health. B’utyQuin, shows potential in the topical category: “One published human clinical trial demonstrated significant improvements for irritated, itchy, and scaly skin and scalp. Study participants with mild to moderate seborrhea of the scalp used a 5% B’utyQuin Scalp Serum application. After 28 days, there was a statistically significant decrease in erythema scores (58.8%) and a substantial reduction in scaling scores (30%) compared to baseline.”

Enhanced nail care

“With the latest trend in longer nails and the more common use of gels, consumers are seeking efficacious products that will enhance the length of their manicures, strengthen, and repair their nails, and keep their hands looking youthful and glowing with all this attention on them,” says Amy Welsman, Founder and CEO, PAUME. “Your basic nail oil is a thing of the past, and it’s all about creams packed with active ingredients that do more than just hydrate such as PAUME All-in-One Cuticle & Nail Cream. Biotin and plant keratin help to enhance nail strength and length and are great to look for in your next nail cream.”

Funtowicz adds, “We expect nail products to follow the path that lash products have taken, with advanced premium products using similar ingredients recently available in the marketplace to be launched with success as consumers are made aware that there are solutions for concerns such as nail thinning and fragility. Skin Actives is focused on developing rejuvenating, nutritional, anti-inflammatory products which we use in products for skin, hair, lashes, and nails.”

Sea buckthorn extracts are trending for nails, too, says Van Haagen. “Some nail care brands have started including sea buckthorn extracts in their formulations. The vitamins and minerals in sea buckthorn are thought to help strengthen nails and promote healthier cuticles.”

Personalized approaches 

From acne to aging, consumers want the most targeted approaches. “Life stages and chronic health conditions factor into how consumers approach this market,” says Bornet. “For example, menopause is a major factor. A new study revealed a safe and effective path for women who face hair thinning, a condition commonly experienced in menopause. The study found Pycnogenol significantly increased hair density by 30% in menopausal women after two months. Results also show Pycnogenol decreased transepidermal water loss in scalp skin and improved scalp microcirculation.”

Fedotova points out: “We have noticed that people are choosing nonsurgical and less invasive skincare treatments in combination with an effective skincare routine at home. Safety is important to consumers because they are consciously choosing healthier foods and most likely care about healthier skin care as well. Nowadays, we can formulate products correctly and clean at the same time. This is why people are looking increasingly for sophisticated formulas with deep delivery that can hydrate, may contain peptides and vitamins, and be extracted from natural sources while still delivering clinical results without artificial and synthetic actives.”

On the acne front: “Most recently, TriNutra conducted a study investigating B’utyQuin’s ability to impact the mechanisms that cause acne,” says Dr. Oppen-Bezalel. “It found that B’utyQuin was able to target five key modulators, including its ability to inhibit the growth of pathogens that are at the core of acne-causing and skin damage (antimicrobial), inhibited NO production for modulations inflammation (anti-inflammatory), enhanced ATP production, reduce susceptibility to infection, and decreased salivary cortisol levels for the reduction of stress.”

Minimalist makeup

“I see makeup in 2024 becoming more natural, gently glowing, or dewy-looking skin,” says Fedotova. “I see the dry and matte phases lasting only a bit longer. The dewy look is achieved by creams with nourishing ingredients mixed with sun-blocking minerals like zinc oxide and natural pigments, which include botanical pigments which come from turmeric, cranberry, etc. Of course, this is my holistic formulator view. I don’t know how many people pay attention to the ingredient list while shopping for makeup, but I know all my clients do. Formulators must pay attention to that and ensure that all conventional chemical ingredients that natural ingredients can substitute are substituted. Despite the trends and specific colors that come and go, each woman has their routine and way of making herself look the best based on her preferences. This is why predicting trends is hard, and I do not fixate on that. I pay attention to how to help each person look the best they can by highlighting certain areas and naturally hiding other imperfections. In 2024, many more healthy and corrective makeup products will be available.”

Sensory experiences

“The skincare industry is constantly evolving, and one of the next big trends in the realm of topicals is a shift towards a holistic approach that encompasses both physical and sensory well-being,” De Klaver and Formby tout. “Consumers are seeking more than just functional skincare products; they desire immersive sensorial experiences that engage multiple senses, making their routines not only effective but also enjoyable and therapeutic. Figaro Apothecary is a brand that fully embraces this trend, celebrating the healing properties of nature, art, and music. The products, such as the Agave Ferment + Fruit Extract Cleanser with its gentle exfoliation and refreshing scent, exemplify this harmonious fusion of science and sensory delight. This trend signifies a deeper connection between skincare and overall wellness, and Figaro Apothecary is at the forefront of providing products that cater to this evolving consumer demand.”

Luxe appeal

The spa experience is already associated with skin care, and that is expanding.  “When it comes to hair products, there has been a noticeable shift towards developing prestige price hair products, in both the professional and consumer accessible side of the buying cycle, that mirror the ways skin care products have been sold historically,” says Funtowicz. “Premium ingredients such as peptides and antioxidants used in skin care are now being utilized.” WF