Special Edition: Emotions and Wellbeing

Probiotic cosmetics ‘immature’ but bubbling with niche promise, says Lumina Intelligence

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Targeting the acne category with scientifically-proven probiotic beauty products is one area of opportunity, says Lumina Intelligence (Getty Images)
Targeting the acne category with scientifically-proven probiotic beauty products is one area of opportunity, says Lumina Intelligence (Getty Images)

Related tags: Probiotic, skin microbiome, wellbeing, Lumina Intelligence, Acne

Consumer interest in topical probiotic cosmetics is rising, presenting opportunity to target niche skin conditions and push hard science before establishing relevance in the wider wellness market, an expert says.

Data published by Lumina Intelligence​ – owned by CosmeticsDesign-Europe’s parent company William Reed – has identified more than 350 cosmetics products on the market containing probiotics and targeting the skin microbiome. And customer reviews on these products are fast-growing, with online reviews up 467% in the last three years and up higher in the UK, Germany, Spain and France.

Online searches made relating to the skin and probiotics had also risen, particularly in the last couple of months, Lumina Intelligence found.

News-driven interest in nascent probiotic beauty market

“There’s this spike mid-February and increased interest with the skin microbiome and its relationship to probiotics,”​ said Ewa Hudson, director of insights at Lumina Intelligence.

Key searches like ‘dermal’ and ‘skin barrier’ peaked particularly high most recently, Hudson told CosmeticsDesign-Europe. And she said deeper analysis showed this was largely fuelled by online news.

“It’s not a steady flow of interest, it’s news-driven”,​ likely associated with the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, she said.

But despite this rising interest, Hudson said the actual market for probiotic cosmetics remained nascent, with a very limited number of big players present and many start-ups in the category.

“There are quite a few products, but it’s still very immature from a consumer point of view.”

Probiotic beauty needs hard science and niche focus

Whilst consumers were “becoming quite warm”​ to the idea of the skin microbiome being important to overall wellbeing, Hudson said they wanted products that worked, particularly if there were premiums attached – likely the case with probiotic cosmetics.

For probiotic beauty to truly take off, therefore, she said manufacturers had to “lead on the hard data and science”​. And such efforts, she said, would be best channelled into niche categories like acne, eczema or wound healing – segments consumers could quickly judge the benefits for themselves.

Research and investment in these areas would also help build out the science for manufacturers to talk about and once consumers familiarity with probiotic cosmetics for specific conditions increased, wider opportunities could then be tapped, she said.

“It’s investing in these chronic or more severe conditions that may actually open a bigger wellness market – pull it in, if you will.”

Acne and hand care smart target segments

Acne would be a smart segment to target with probiotic cosmetics, Hudson said, because it largely concerned younger consumers; the teenagers of the world. Getting them onboard with probiotic cosmetics early on, she said, would open doors for other product development relevant to them further down the line.

“It’s a very sustainable business model if you start with educating consumers early,”​ she said.

Hand care was another niche space of interest, particularly with the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Hudson said. Products designed to hydrate or manage ‘good bacteria’, for example, could do well, she said.

Hudson previously spotlighted areas of opportunity for beauty and probiotics in an earlier video interview at Probiota 2020 in Dublin​, noting anti-ageing, Gen Z and women were target areas that presented plenty of promise.

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