Probiotics skincare – a small niche with massive potential

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Probiotics skincare – a small niche with massive potential

Related tags Probiotic Us

The probiotics trend is one of the fastest growing in the skin care category right now, mainly because it simultaneously hits on key consumer demands that include wellness and natural.

Although the market for skin care remains very small, market research company Mintel has been tracking its progress as digestive health product, and the growth is phenomenal.

Currently it estimates that US value sales of probiotics/prebiotics in natural supermarket, excluding Whole Foods, of digestive health products reached $142 million in 2016, an increase of 49.1% from 2014.

In Europe, the UK has seen a similar path of growth, with a number of probiotic brands helping to boost consumer recognition and help get the message out about the benefits of this kind of skin treatment.

Mintel data points to huge growth

Mintel’s data also shows that US value sales of probiotics/prebiotics in natural supermarket for refrigerated and shelf

David Tyrrell

-stable juice and juice drinks rose 34.1% from 2015-2017 to $6.7m.

The figures underline how small the market remains, but if these growth rates are sustained, it will not remain that way for longer, and the handful of probiotic skin care brands are likely to mushroom in tandem.

We put some key questions to Mintel’s global skin care analyst David Tyrrell to find out about how he sees the market 

evolving, why it is resonating with consumers and where he sees it going in the future. 

What’s the most eye-catching aspect about the evolution and growth of probiotics skin care category?

The Human Microbiome Project has helped change consumers’ perception of microbes that live in and on the human body. Consumers had believed all microbes were bad – no longer.

More consumers now recognize the need to keep the ‘good bacteria’ around. Brands such as Gallinée have targeted this growing consumer base describing use of a proprietary “triple Biotic complex” made up of deactivated probiotics, prebiotics and lactic acid to allow the ‘good bacteria’ to thrive, and promote healthier looking skin. Brands will become more aggressive in making evidence-based claims for skin gentleness by showing the products do not harm the good bacteria on skin.

Consumers growing appreciation of using probiotics to improve digestive wellbeing has transitioned into skincare. 86% of US consumers aged 18-34 have used or are interested in using probiotic facial skincare. Older consumers aged 55 and over are also curious with 49% interested in trying probiotic skin care products.

The wellness aspect of probiotics regardless of age is driving an interest to trial. Furthermore, consumers concerns are rising over ingredient safety along with a perception that natural products are healthier. Probiotics also can fit consumer’s description of a natural and safe ingredient.

Why is this category attracting consumers?

Consumers are pursuing personalised health & wellness solutions to improve mind and body.  Consumers’ fast pace, stressful lifestyles create an imbalance that impact how they feel and look.

A growing awareness of the potential health benefits of probiotics for digestive health issues helped propel the growth of US natural supermarket (excluding Whole Foods) probiotic/prebiotic value sales to 49% from 2014-2016. The use of probiotics appears most effective for young and old alike who suffer from digestive problems where the body is out of balance in contrast to healthy norms. Anecdotal results are encouraging for use of probiotics to improve sleep, and even increase mental alertness for Alzheimer’s patients.  

More consumers recognize the health benefits of probiotics to keep the body in balance and healthy, and that appreciation is transitioning to use of both probiotics and prebiotics (food for the good bacteria) to restore as well as maintain healthier looking skin.

How are probiotics skin care brands positioning themselves on the market?

Live probiotic brands such as Esse Skincare and Mother Dirt (consumer arm of AOBiome) emphasize natural and eco-ethical credentials along with a company commitment for sustainability.

Probiotics are natural and many consumers perceive them as safe and ‘good for you’. Brand narratives espouse the use of natural and safe ingredients that are gentle for the skin in the product line, and highlight the importance of formulae working to construct an environment for host cells and ‘good’ microbes to thrive.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for new probiotic brands entering the market?

If the AOBiome clinical trial now ongoing using a live probiotic strain shows a positive outcome to treat acne vulgaris, it will incentivise dermocosmetic brands, in particular, to create products with their own hero probiotic strain. It also opens up an opportunity for dermatologically-related brands to investigate use of live probiotic products to reduce the onset of acne. However, brands will need to overcome the many hurdles to keep the probiotic active and stable and have a ‘reasonable’ shelf life.

Additionally, brands will be more proactive to clinically assess use of probitoics to alleviate symptoms associated with atopic eczema or xerosis (very dry skin) as well as explore applications to reduce skin irritation for those struggling with sensitive skin.

Clinical success will also create greater consumer awareness through social media to maintain a healthy and vibrant skin microbiome. More cosmetic brands will enter the market claiming products similarly to JooMo and Mother Dirt that do not harm the ‘good bacteria’ on your skin, and will find a receptive audience.


Roundtable discussion on probiotics in skincare

Later this week Cosmetics Design is broadcasting a dedicated webinar who is already involved in this area, or thinking of taking the first tentative steps into this fast evolving, highly innovative area.

The webinar will be the final presentation as part of our Skincare Ingredients 2017 conference programme and the important time to note is that it will be taking place from 10:15am through to 11:15am New York time​.

This roundtable will be hosted by myself, Simon Pitman, and will include an esteemed panel of diverse expertise including Gay Timmons, founder of ingredients distribution company Oh Oh Organic, David Tyrrell, global skincare analyst at market research company Mintel and Allison Krebs-Bensch, founder of probiotic skin care line BeBe and Bella. 

For more information on the full programme for Skincare Ingredients 2017 and how to register, please click here.​ 

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