5 ways to modernise skin cleansing and skincare applications

The huge boom in eco bar soaps, solid facial cleansers, and shampoos are perfectly repositioned for the growing need for less plastic and water use. Solid format skincare presents great opportunities for innovation for brands and manufacturers globally, whether it is addressing sensitive skin, using actives, personalisation and more...

Climate change drives eco and waterless skincare products

Climate change is a topic on everyone’s lips and impacts so many different parts of our busy lives. Whether it’s reducing the amount of water, CO2 emission, plastic packaging or others, it remains a hot topic. And as the spotlight on climate change intensifies soap, bath and shampoo (SBS) brands must more boldly highlight their products’ minimal environmental impact in order to stand out to increasingly eco-conscious consumers.

Many brands which are performing well in this space are the ones already successfully tapping into an increased focus on transparency and carbon footprinting, repositioning bar soap as on-trend plastic-free ‘solids’ and actively promoting the refillability movement. These are all growing current trends that get responsible consumers excited and represent qualities that heavily influence buying behaviours.

While these are drivers, consumers are not ready to sacrifice on product performance and safety.

"In the UK 36-52% of body, hand and footcare product users look for or show interest in products with natural ingredients (36%) or eco packs (52%)."

- Mintel Report 2021

Exciting Opportunities for Solid Skincare Innovations are Emerging

The success of solid shampoo launches since 2016 and soap cleansing ad on to solid format spotlight.

Eco and natural-minded body, hand and footcare brands can benefit from solid beauty and personal care trends. With Consumers seeking for more ingredient transparency, sustainability, brands are looking to offer that with new product launches.

Here are 5 ways brands can innovate eco solid skincare applications:

1. Grow with Eco solid showering formats

Once regarded as unhygienic and inconvenient, the personal care bar segment is emerging as on-trend solid shower gel alternatives, facial cleansing bars and more. Consumers are opting for plastic-free, more economical ‘shower bars’ that are fresh and offer great cleansing and skincare benefits. Here are a few examples of how some brands have positioned themselves as solid format alternates to traditional shower gel based products.

Lavera Naturkosmetik Solid Care Shower range is positioned as plastic-free, more sustainable and 3X more economical than liquids. Variants include Happy Freshness and High Vitality.

Skoon’s plant-based Solid Shower range is soap- and plastic-free, and promises “a new way of showering.” A 90g bar is equivalent to 3x250mlshower gel bottles. Variants include Soft Sensitive, Fresh to the Max, Flower Power.

Favourable comparison with shower gel. Unbottled specialises in zero plastic, solid BPC products which are also biodegradable. Includes a shower gel range ‘without the plastic’ that cleanses skin as delicately as a liquid shower gel, without drying it out.

Solid shower gel examples

Solid shower gel innovations

2. Address sensitive skin with solid formats

Brands thinking of launching solid skincare products need to address sensitive skin concerns, there is a great deal of scope for more product development and innovation as consumer demand is there and new product development is limited. According to Mintel’s report “A year of innovation in soap, bath & shower 2020”, just 13% of SBS launches in Europe in 2019 were suitable for sensitive skin, and less than 1% use probiotics.

Sensitive skin products affect all markets globally. Claims are among the fastest growing in APAC countries and present growth given consumer interest and frustrations in this area. In China, sensitivity is a facial skincare frustration for 31% of adults, while in Japan, sensitive skin affects almost half of all adults. It is also prominent in baby care with 20 % of babies and under 7-s affected by eczema globally, according to Mintel’s report.

Products addressing sensitive skin often offer mild cleansing and are positioned for specific applications like face, body, tattoos and intimate care. Whether it is a facial cleansing bar, V-zone bar - they align well with ph neutral, mild, soap-free and “clean beauty” claims.

Neutral ph bars for body, face and V-zone by Cetaphil and Knours

Neutral ph bars for body, face and V-zone by Cetaphil and Knours

3. Allign skincare bars for wellness, sustainability and veganism

Mintel’s Total Wellbeing Trend, shows that consumers are looking for more solutions and products to improve their general wellbeing, promoting joy, healthier lifestyles and even decreasing stress levels. All soap, bath and shower segments can tap into this trend.

The media spotlight on health/wellness can spur soap, bath and shower products to more boldly emphasise sensory colours/textures, feel-good messaging and co-branding to help people holistically feel better.

There is also an opportunity for innovating with scents, as aromatherapy claims are limited. Aromatherapy plays an important role around consumer wellness in Brazil especially, where 73% of Brazilian buyers of soap, bath and shower products prioritise a pleasant scent.

Similarly, vegan and sustainability claims in solid skincare align well with the eco trends mentioned above and can make consumers feel good about their purchases.

Peach by Grove Collaborative is a great example of this offering a joyful in-shower or face cleansing experience with its range of skincare bars. According to Peach, the products improve skin healthare, are 100% plastic-free and plant-based with each hand and body bar being equivalent to three 22-oz body wash bottles, while the facial bars are equivalent to one 4-oz cleanser bottle.

Solid skincare meets wellness, sustainability and vegan claims

Solid skincare meets wellness, sustainability and vegan claims

4. Think of a solid bar shape

Shaping can advance skincare bars for a better product experience -making them easy to use or simply stand out for consumers. Some bars can be quite slippy and difficult to manage under running water, but shaping it to fit a palm nicely or offering a good grip can be beneficial.

The Peach example above is shaped differently from a traditional rectangular or circular bar. Offering a better grip for consumers.

Similarly, the playful and customisable bar soap shape from FarmSkin is bringing playfulness and personalisation to bar soap. Its Missing Puzzle Soap, in an array of scents, is shaped like a jigsaw puzzle piece and people can connect four different variants together to create a bespoke option.

Lov’ Frog eco solid BPC products, including Organic Solid Facial Make-Up Remover, are organic, vegan, and eco-responsible, as well as durable (lasts for two months) and portable (ie “can be carried anywhere with ease”).

Solid skincare shape concepts

Solid skincare shape concepts

5. Enhance skincare or face cleasing bars with actives, vitamins etc.

Gentle formulas and hero nourishing ingredients (eg vitamins, probiotics) are in the spotlight, especially for skincare applications. Microbiome protection concepts can expand in cleansing applications for skin given interest, but it’s important to be transparent about the genuine merits of ingredients such as probiotics on both the skin and even on the immune system.

Emollients can also offer better product after-feel and a nicer product experience.

A gap exists for more skincare and health claims in the soap, shower and bath category. The image below presents opportunities for sensitive skin, ph neutrality, vitamin enhancement and more.

Skincare solid claims and opportunities for cleansing applications

Image Credit: Mintel Reports – SSB 2021

In summary

There are many opportunities for brands and manufacturers to innovate with cleansing skincare applications.

The growth of the solid bar market has been rapidly increasing in recent years and is expected to continue as consumers look to limit their plastic use and conserve water in a bid to be as environmentally responsible as possible. Consumers really are calling the shots in terms of what ingredients they want to see in their skincare products along with how they are presented and what they are contained in.

Syndet bases, like Syndopal 300-MB from Stephenson, offers eco packaging opportunities and aligns with consumer trends for ultra mild suitability for sensitive skin cleansing, face and body cleansing applications. Its sustainably sourced, low water and biodegradable formulation also benefits from 100% soap-free, ph neutrality, high foaming, and non-irritant claims. Syndopal base is also safe to use around the eyes, on children and lasts 2x longer than liquid alternatives.

Learn more about how you can innovate skincare, haircare and baby care products by downloading our solid trends guide below.

Solid trends guide by Stephenson

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