‘Medicinal’ skincare

‘Medicinal’ skincare

By Rachel L. Grabenhofer, Managing Scientific Editor, Cosmetics & Toiletries

Compromised skin and related care ingredients topped Cosmetics & Toiletries’ trending key search terms in 2021. This underscores a major area of interest for product developers—who, in turn, are responding to consumer needs. Example searches ranged from ingredients for milder cleansers, e.g., laureth-4, cocamidopropyl betaine and lauric acid, to hydrating materials such as pentylene glycol and glycerin.

Searches relevant to skin defence also climbed, e.g., skin detox, pollution and the microbiome, alongside those for skin repair and restoration: butters and oils, avocado, sunflower, moringa, cannabis, collagen, shea, humectant, hyaluronic acid, retinol, peptide, arnica, ceramides…

This validates the shift our industry has felt in recent years. Fortune Business Insights projects the larger skin care market will climb from $100.13 billion in 2021 to $145.82 billion in 2028 (a CAGR of 5.52%),1 attributing this rise to a market return to pre-pandemic levels as well as demand for creams, lotions and powders that nourish and improve the quality and health of the skin. [1]

Dermocosmetics, in particular, Prescient and Strategic Intelligence reports, were valued at $57.0 billion in 2020 and are projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.3% during 2020-2030. The source points to surging purchasing power of consumers as one driver, as well as an increased inclination toward spending on appearance, the increasing prevalence of skin diseases, and even the rising number of dermocosmetic conferences. [2]

In relation, iHealthcare Analyst, Inc.,3 reports the global market for dermatology products, both diagnostic and therapeutic, is expected to attain $27.8 billion by 2027, growing at a steady CAGR of 3.1% from 2021. This rise will be driven by the increasing incidence of acute and chronic skin disorders and higher skin and subcutaneous diseases worldwide. More specifically, according to the firm, chronic and acute skin diseases such as acne, rosacea, psoriasis, squamous cell carcinoma, eczema, dermatitis and pruritus are reported as major health concerns worldwide and account for a large portion of health care associated financial burden. These conditions affect between 30% and 70% of individuals globally, with even higher rates in at-risk subpopulations. [3]

In early January 2021, Larissa Jensen of NPD noted that 2020 sales of natural skin care were, for the first time, eclipsed by clinical skin care, which has “now become the largest brand type in skin care.”4 In the same article, Lisa Holmes of Euromonitor stated that “just as demand for clean and safe skin care formulations has risen, so have preferences for medically backed and clinically proven brands, which are deeply rooted in efficacy and science-backed results.”[4]

These market indicators point a new beauty consumer who is using skin care for medicinal purposes. Indeed, a story on Medline [5] observed that consumer skin care trends could impact clinical skin care treatments—the U.S. pharmacy retailer CVS reported a few years ago that 70% of its pharmacists are asked about skin care every day. Clearly, there are limitations on what a “cosmetic” product can claim (or do) but consumers are taking us into Terra nullius (unclaimed territory). We’ll need to watch our step.


  1. https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/skin-care-market-102544
  2. https://www.psmarketresearch.com/market-analysis/dermacosmetics-market
  3. https://www.ihealthcareanalyst.com/dermatology-diagnostics-therapeutics-market-2020-rising-acute-chronic-skin-disorders/
  4. https://www.gcimagazine.com/business/rd/ingredients/Skin-Care-2021-573877411.html
  5. https://www.medline.com/strategies/skin-health/consumer-skin-care-trends-influence-patients-skin-care/

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