The once steady cosmetics industry has been experiencing a downturn this past year — and, surprisingly, COVID is not the only one to blame.
Piper Sandler, which conducts a semi-annual survey of U.S. teens, found that Generation Z consumers have been spending far less money on cosmetics than their Millennial counterparts. Instead, the Spring 2021 survey found that this group has become increasingly invested in skincare — so much so, that its spending in the category has surpassed makeup spending.
Before the rise in skincare, tech didn’t have much of a place in the beauty world. In fact, it was probably one of the few categories that had very little of it. But skincare has opened up a world of opportunity for tech that lipsticks and mascara just couldn’t.
For starters, skincare seems to have significantly more product categories than makeup, and it has people curious as to whether or not the latest gadget will work for them. Driving that interest is social media and the influencers who openly share their skincare routines with their viewers.
The Piper Sandler survey found that TikTok influencers have significantly reshaped skincare brand preferences, with 86 percent of females using online influencers as a source of discovery for beauty brands and trends. While much of the category consists of topical creams, lotions, and serums, there are a growing number of tech products capable of achieving skincare benefits that were previously only available in a salon setting.
The skincare influencers holding the top spots in social media hierarchy don’t limit themselves to only reviewing beauty tech gadgets. However, reviews and tutorials on these products are well mixed into their content.
Hyram Yarbo, also known as @skincarebyhyram, often critiques his viewers’ skincare routines on TikTok to offer advice and opinions on which products they should keep and which ones they should consider removing. One of these videos showed a woman using a variety of beauty tech gadgets like a facial steamer, a pore vacuum, and a high-frequency acne wand. Yarbo touted the use of the high-frequency acne wand in particular, pointed out the minimal benefits of the facial steamer, and recommended a topical product in place of the pore vacuum to combat blackheads.
Other influencers such as Dr. Shah and Dr. Maxfield, both dermatologist and dermatology resident physicians and creators behind the Doctorly YouTube channel, will often dive deep into one specific beauty tech category. The pair’s video from December 2020 took a close look at microcurrent devices, which send microcurrents of electricity to the skin to subtly lift and firm the face. But, as Dr. Shah explained in the video, more research and development are needed in this field, even though the potential is there.
“We need double-blinded randomized controlled trials to evaluate these devices,” says Dr. Shah in the video. “Here’s how it’s done: Non-working devices are used on the control group and then real devices are used on the treatment group. Next, an independent reviewer that does not know which device was used evaluates the subjects. Unfortunately, when the person evaluating the results knows which subject was treated or which side of the face was treated, this leads to inherent bias and is a much weaker form of investigation.”
Another important factor to keep in mind is that everyone’s skin is different, and the products that work for one person may not work for another. But as long as the manufacturers of these skincare gadgets continue to make bold claims of anti-aging, acne-fighting, and skin rejuvenation, consumers will continue to come back for more.
Jessica is the Chief Digital Editor for CT Lab Global Media, the North American platform for IFA Berlin.