Classic Beauty: Understanding the Shift Towards Minimalist Cosmetics

Driven by consumer desire for novelty and the wave of K-beauty influence, the last couple of years have seen a surge in new cosmetic textures. But while crazy, new textures often steal the limelight, it is important to remember that the majority of best-sellers on the market, and the majority of your consumers’ beauty routine are still composed of classic textures. In addition, the market is seeing a move back towards classic, minimalist products – driven by millennial concern about what she puts on her skin and her impact on the environment.    

The importance of texture

K-beauty has brought product texture to the forefront of consumers’ minds. The wave of new textures recently available has made today’s consumer think more, not just about innovative textures, but about the texture of her classic products as well. According to a recent Datamonitor report, 37% of women and 28% of men rated sensory benefits as having a high degree of influence when choosing personal care benefits.1 And with the growing importance of texture as both a packaging claim and as a key component of skin care formulations, luxury feel is no longer the privilege of prestige products. Today’s consumer expects an elegant feel from all of her skin care whether prestige or mass-market. Embracing the minimal trend is one way for both prestige and mass-market brands to create products that deliver on texture and claim to meet the expectations of discerning beauty consumers.  

What is minimalist skin care?

Minimalist skin care embraces fewer ingredients, minimal packaging, basic claims, and simpler routines to deliver products that consumers can use easily and confidently.

These products reduce their impact on the environment and give consumers peace of mind that they are putting fewer chemicals onto their bodies and are simplifying their lives to use only those products that are essential.  Minimalist skin care also embraces gender-neutral products, designed for use by everyone. To quote the website Refinery29, “Formulated with organic, innovative ingredients and poured into packaging that’ll look perfect displayed on your dresser just so, they belong to the new guard of beauty products: based in nature and appealing to the part of you that worries about parabens and propylene glycol, with ingredients that are as clean as the sans serif font on the bottle.”2  

What’s driving this trend?

One of the key drivers behind the minimalist movement is a consumer desire for simplification. The market right now is experiencing a schism between expanding beauty routines and more simplified routines.  While on one hand, we are learning about and embracing the more elaborate Asian routines, on the other hand the idea of “simplifying your beauty routine” is always popular, especially for summer.

Millennial woman

Millennials, in particular, are driven by a desire to simplify.  Extremely concerned about and aware of what they are putting on their skin, they want fewer products and fewer ingredients. They are looking for products that get the job done in way that is efficient, and good for them and the world around them.

Another driver of this movement is simply the sheer volume of products and claims available on the market today. As claims have become more and more granular and product types have expanded, consumers are unsure which products are right for them. Formulas that go back to basics, focusing on well-known ingredients, and broad, simplified claims are appealing to those consumers looking to establish a consistent, easy to use routine. Routine is the last important piece of this trend.  While many consumers are willing to embrace the innovation and fun, Asian-inspired textures as an occasional addition to their regimen, most women’s daily routines still consist of standard, “classical” formulations such as eye creams, serums, and moisturizers. And women today want these products to be enjoyable to use and to offer them a sense of comfort and relaxation when they apply them.  

The new twist on classic: natural & sustainable

Products falling in the new classic or minimalist category aren’t necessarily natural, but many of them are. The use of natural ingredients is driven by the link between minimalist and “safe” in consumers’ minds. Women are drawn to these minimalist products, in part, because they are concerned about the chemicals they are applying to their skin, so incorporating natural ingredients with strong origin stories is a way to provide comfort and authenticity for these consumers. Another twist on minimalism is its link with sustainability. Millennial consumers are far more concerned than previous generations about their impact on the world and the environment. Using fewer ingredients and less packaging means less environmental impact and this is a statement that is extremely compelling for many young people today.  

Minimalist Formulating

The key to minimalist formulations is that they still must have textures and benefits that appeal to consumers. To formulate these types of products with fewer ingredients, it is important to focus on what’s really important to the product and to include ingredients that bring multiple benefits. With over 20 years of sensory expertise, Gattefossé has created a range of emulsifiers that bring strong and distinct sensory benefits and activity to cosmetic formulations and a therefore a perfect fit with the emerging trend towards minimalism.

Emulium® Delta MB

Creates rich, luxurious textures with velvet softness during and after application.

Emulium® 22 MB

With excellent pickup and long playtime, Emulium® 22 MB leaves a light and matte film on the skin.

Emulium® Kappa MB

Natural emulsifier with a soft, cushion touch designed to replicate the feel of silicone elastomers in natural formulations. Emulium® Kappa MB also brings moisturizing properties to skin care formulations.

Emulium® Mellifera MB

A natural emulsifier with a second-skin feel, Emulium® Mellifera MB leaves a light protective film on the skin – providing moisturization, adapting to climate, and soothing & protecting sensitive skin.

Emulfree® CBG MB

With its unique bi-gel technology, Emulfree® CBG MB brings a quick-break sensation and cooling effect.  It also brings water resistance to sun care and active-wear formulations. Due to its unique structure, Emulfree® CBG MB is ideal for minimalist products as it allows for free-from claims such as PEG-free and surfactant-free.