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    Put their best face forward

    To expand private brands’ share of facial beauty-care sales, retailers need to home in on clean labels, emerging skincare segments and cosmetics with skincare benefits

    By Kathie Canning

    When it comes to their beauty-care routines, Americans, primarily women, are hyper-focused on the face.

    Facial skincare products, for example, account for 62 percent of U.S. skincare market sales, according to “Skincare Ingredient and Format Trends — US,” a December 2016 report from global market research firm Mintel. Facial skincare’s higher share is attributed to the wide availability of premium-priced options, as well as the regimented approach of facial skincare routines that call for the purchase of multiple products.

    Sales of facial BB (blemish or beauty balm) and CC (color control or color correcting) creams rose dramatically from their introduction in 2011 through 2015, for example, to reach $220 million, notes London-based Euromonitor International in its April 2016 “Colour Cosmetics in the US” report.

    Focus on clean labels

    To expand private brands’ share of facial beauty-care sales, retailers must be willing to invest in current and emerging trends. On the facial skincare side, that means cleansing products that “clean smarter, not harsher,” says Minh Nguyen, associate category manager for HBC with Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based Topco Associates LLC.

    “Also, portability and easy dispensing are important benefits,” he says. “Consumers continue to be increasingly interested in natural formulations with easily recognizable ingredients — vitamin C, fruit-based ingredients, oatmeal and honey — due to concerns about chemicals, pollution and unfamiliar ingredients.”

    Jessica Koontz, business manager with Stamford, Conn.-based Daymon, agrees with the trend toward recognizable ingredients, pointing to “clean label” as the No. 1 facial skincare trend. One booming brand — Beautycounter — actually outlines for consumers the 1,500-plus questionable or harmful ingredients that are not going into its products, she notes.

    And when it comes specific types of facial skincare products, masks are a booming segment, Nguyen suggests.

    “Masks using clay, volcanic, tea, charcoal and caffeine are hot right now, along with dry sheet masks, splash masks and second-skin masks,” he says.

    Koontz also sees masks as a huge trend, noting that they are expanding in usage to lips, eyes, hands and décolletages. And retailers that want to be a true beauty destination, with cost-effective store brand items at the forefront, will want to consider adding dry masks to the mix, she suggests. They infuse a dry woven cloth with active anti-aging ingredients, which are absorbed by the skin.

    “These masks fit into an active lifestyle by securing behind the ears, allowing one to walk and move around without having to lie flat with a moist sheet mask,” she explains.

    Products containing hyaluronic acid or retinoids represent another growing segment within facial skincare, Nguyen says. These products help fight wrinkles, scars, acne and sun damage.

    “We are also seeing popularity with Korean beauty products, especially products that feature interesting textures or textures that change during use,” he says.

    Probiotics-infused formulations are of growing appeal, too, within facial skincare, Koontz points out. There’s growing evidence that the benefits of these “good” bacteria go beyond the digestive system.

    “Skin prone to acne or rosacea has shown improvement with daily probiotic use, giving dermatologists reason to consider supplementing traditional acne therapy with a dose of this beneficial bacteria,” the American Academy of Dermatology notes.

    Store brands account for only a minute share of retail facial cosmetic sales (1.5 percent, 1.7 percent and 2.1 percent of the eye, facial and lip cosmetic segments, respectively, according to data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI for the 52 weeks ending Feb. 19, 2017). But a consumer-centric approach to product development could go a long way toward boosting own brands’ share.

    Today’s consumers want facial cosmetic formulations that not only make them look good, but also promote healthy skin, says Juan Luis Miranda Padilla, production director for Nanat, Mexico City.

    Retailers also should keep in mind that consumers want natural, eco-friendly, sustainable, safe and effective formulations, Padilla says. And they should be careful to select the right package or container to maintain the cosmetic’s stability.

    And when it comes to removing those cosmetics, facial wipes remain popular.

    “Some of the key benefits consumers are looking for in the facial wipe makeup remover market include the ability to clean and remove makeup effectively, to soothe and condition skin, and to leave the face and skin feeling moisturized,” says Greg Fries, vice president of marketing for Guy & O’Neill Inc., Fredonia, Wis. “Additionally, consumers are looking for facial wipe products that are soft and strong and that do not cause skin or eye irritation.”

    Canning is a freelancer writer from Libertyville, Ill.

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