Anti-ageing skincare sales have started to lift again as the oldest cohort of Millennials approaches 40, reports Euromonitor International. Unveiling its latest data at the in-cosmetics Global exhibition held in Amsterdam in mid-April, the trend tracker revealed that healthy ageing rather than trying to turn back the clock has become the major motivator propelling skincare sales worldwide. The number one benefit most in demand is hydration and moisturising, ahead of sun protection and wrinkle prevention and reduction.

It’s long been known that women with well-hydrated complexions develop wrinkles more slowly than those with dry skin. During the first few months of the year, the number of launches hanging their hats on intense hydration has developed into a flood. L’Occitane’s Aqua Reotier range, Clinique Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, Rodan + Fields Active Hydration Serum, Sisley Hydra-Global Serum Anti-Aging Hydration Booster and Lancôme Advanced Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask to name just a few recent entrants. But hydration is back with a vengeance for other reasons.

Asia Effect

The Asianification of the global beauty business has played a strong role in the re-emphasis on hydration. Asian skincare has long featured hydrating essences, toners and gel/cream formulas. But the latest beauty ideal from Korea has super-charged the focus. The concept of “cloudless skin” – as in it should look as clear as a blue sky on a sunny day – hinges as much on skin health as beauty. Maximum hydration is mandatory to producing fresh, glowing skin and there are four major steps to creating the longed-for look – a cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin of natural oils, a hydrating toner, a brightening/soothing product and a very hydrating moisturiser.

Japanese beauty companies are also re-formulating products to emphasise hydration, says global researcher Mintel. The new Shiseido Essential Energy range, for example, relies on advanced neuroscience with its ReNeura Technology which leaves the skin moist and radiant. The trend also appeals to many Western beauty brands who are now focused on skin concerns rather than specific age groups to broaden a product’s appeal. Women of all ages and all skin types need added hydration.

Another trend from South Korea which has moved from being a fad to something more lasting is jelly textures. Hydrating and cooling on the skin, they are more versatile than gels and excel at keeping active ingredients stable for longer periods. Jellies are being used in a wide range of products from lipsticks through blushers, face masks and moisturisers. Major releases from leading Western brands include Estée Lauder Vitality8 Radiant Eye Jelly, Givenchy Pop Up Jelly Blush, Dior Hydra Life Glow Better Fresh Jelly Mask and LUSH Just to Clarify Face Mask Jelly.

Anti-Pollution Powerhouse

Late last year Mintel identified water as the new luxury and one of the key trends set to impact the global beauty and personal care industry over the next decade. Another important driver behind the hydration trend is that boosting moisturisation helps to counteract the effects of pollution and “urban stress” on the skin. Over half the world’s population currently lives in cities and by 2055 this figure is expected to rise to 66 per cent. High pollution levels, air conditioning, increased traffic and more dehydrate and dull the skin. So much so that the “urban skin” phenomenon has become one of the major skincare concerns for consumers all over the world.

The stats speak for themselves. More than 75 per cent of Chinese women surveyed are concerned about dry skin and 53 per cent of American women identify their skin as dry. According to recent research, 56 per cent of British women also believe they need to protect their skin against dryness and pollution. Treating dry skin properly is not just about slapping on moisturiser, it requires directing hydration to where it is needed most and strengthening the skin’s natural defence mechanisms to hold on to it, especially in the upper layers of the epidermis.

Fruit & Plant Waters on The Rise

Water-based skincare products often have unique textures and the Asian preference for light gels and gel/creams has gone global as water is being billed as the ultimate moisturiser. According to Mintel, there has been a 78 per cent increase in the number of launches specifying their reliance on water. Not all waters are the same, though. Marketing claims encompass a number of water sources – from lagoons through the ocean, glaciers, springs, spas, fruits and plants. Coconut water has been trending strongly for about five years, featured by brands as diverse as First Aid, Too Faced, Urban Decay, Jergens and Sephora’s own brand range. Watermelon water has moved into the beauty spotlight for its vitamin-infused and moisturising benefits in mainstream releases such as Estée Lauder Double Wear Water Fresh Makeup and Origins Make A Difference Plus Rejuvenating Moisturizer. LG Household and Healthcare, one of South Korea’s Big Two beauty giants, is using banana extract to deepen the moisturising benefits of its prestige Su:m 37 range.

Spring Loaded

The speciality waters most consumers are familiar with are spring waters, the hero ingredient of leading dermo-cosmetic brands. Not only is the proprietary mineral and microbial diversity of La Roche-Posay’s thermal spring water, the heart of the L’Oréal-owned brand’s skincare products, invaluable for treating sensitive skin, it also has a prebiotic action on the skin’s microbiome to help repair even the most sensitive of skin. The Toleriane range contains the highest concentration of La Roche-Posay’s spring water and helps to restore the skin’s barrier function.

The spring water in L’Occitane’s Aqua Reotier range comes from the commune of the same name in the Haute-Alpes region of Provence. It is 10 times richer in calcium than other French spring waters and is exclusive to L’Occitane. Calcium is just as important to the skin as it is to the bones and is essential to the skin’s defensive barrier, stimulating cell turnover and helping the skin to retain moisture.

Avène, also one of the most globally successful French dermo-cosmetic brands, has become a multi-million dollar global hit through the efficacy of its signature thermal spring water. Its best-selling product is the facial spray of pure water.

Micellar Waters – Clean Sweep

There’s nothing new about micellar waters except their growing popularity and consumer acceptance. French women have been using these all-in-one makeup removing and cleansing products for decades. Basically, waters which contain micelles – molecules which remove dirt and impurities in one swipe – micellar waters are available at all price levels from luxury to budget.

Garnier, the pioneer of micellar waters in the mass market, now has a range to deal with different skin types from acne-prone to dry. While the RAWW superfood-infused brand from Total Beauty Network appeals to natural beauty fans with Remove-ME Micellar Cleansing Water containing coconut water, kakadu plum and witchhazel.

Lack of hydration accentuates wrinkles and makes the complexion look dull. More and more beauty and cosmetic brands are working on advanced technologies to produce new generation masks, moisturisers, serums and cleansers that not only offer visible results in minutes, they keep the skin moisturised and hydrated for a full day.

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