Fast forward to now. The Internet is no longer shiny and new, and the glamor of chat rooms has faded into digital nostalgia. But the marketing mechanisms that push the next new thing, whether we’re talking about “it girls” in New York or “it ingredients” in beauty products, persist, pushing certain ingredients to the fore. Just like the socialites of yesteryear, these “it ingredients” are celebrated for their innovation and promise, becoming the center of attention in an ever-evolving landscape of consumer trends and desires. Simply put, it’s no coincidence that everyone is adding retinol to their routine in 2019, or that niacinamide is suddenly everywhere.
“People are more interested in ingredients, clinical results and cleaner formulas. They shop at places that sell—and make—vet products for harmful ingredients,” he says Megan O’Neill, senior beauty editor at Goop. “Major conventional beauty brands are changing their approach as a result, creating products that appeal to an audience that craves efficacy and pure formulas.”
The chain from a product’s conception to creation involves dozens of hands, including ingredient sources, formulators, marketers and beauty press, who all play their part in promoting a product to the must-try category. So how does a component get to the “it” state? Let’s dive in.
What does an “ingredient of” do?
To understand the launch pad for “it” ingredients, you need to go to the source where many of them come from – cosmetic trade shows. “Ingredient suppliers have a lot more influence on the ingredients that become trendy in beauty products than most people think,” she says. Jennifer Goldstein Sullivan, a longtime beauty editor and host of the popular beauty podcast Grease Mascara. “Indie founders, corporate product developers, independent chemists, consultants—they all go to the same trade shows and meet with the same suppliers, and those suppliers spend a lot of money on development and non-independent clinical research on their ingredients. can describe compelling stories to convince brands and manufacturers to use them in their products.”
This trickles down and inevitably results in a range of products with the same ingredients hitting the shelves at the same time. For example, in the 2019 Well+Good Trends report, the editors wrote that bakuchiol—a herbal alternative to retinol—has been introduced into products, making it an ingredient to watch. Since then, Google has been searching for retin-alt have a steady rise year after year. The same goes for beauty ingredient searches niacinamide, which helps reduce inflammation and strengthens the skin barrier, and azelaic acid, which helps lighten hyperpigmentation and even out skin texture.
When shoppers start asking for a specific active they’ve seen on the market, brands are pushed to create an offering that meets the demand. “I have [brand] Clients give me their must-have lists and it’s nothing less than hyaluronic acid, peptide, niacinamide and vitamin C. But if every brand has these ingredients, what differentiates your products from others?” questions Ginger King, a cosmetic chemist based in New Jersey. To help the clients it works with stand out, it works with different technologies that get right to the core of the brand’s DNA. “For example, if it’s a sensitive skin brand, I’ll put together ingredients that are proven for sensitive skin and work synergistically to boost hydration and radiance,” she says.
With all of this in mind, the “newness” of an ingredient isn’t as important as it once was—especially since most of the heavy hitters we know to be effective (retinol, vitamin C, AHAs, etc.) have been around for decades . Today, one person’s experience with the gap-filling active ingredient can serve as a starting point for its rebirth (especially if it has a huge following)—and drive brands to follow the trend as quickly as possible. “In general, brands don’t wait for breakthrough research to come out and then develop new products around that research,” says Sullivan. “They are needed [new launches in their product lines] first and foremost—she’s become almost like the model of fast fashion.” This is fueled, in large part, by social media, which simultaneously drives curiosity around ingredients, educates consumers and, in some cases, seduces them.
The Tik-Tok-ification of Skin Care
Nowadays, many brands are using social media platforms for product composition research. King, for one, says clients often approach her with what’s trending on TikTok — leaving her in a position to tell them that the fad of the moment probably won’t apply in the 9 to 12 months it takes to create a product. . “Trends are trends, and by the time the product launches, the trends are gone, so basing consumer research on social is risky,” he says. According to a report by Business of Fashionfor example, trends in TikTok has a lifespan of about 90 daysalthough some trends can last up to six months, which can often leave brands behind the eight ball.
Before the advent of Instagram and TikTok, the beauty press largely controlled the narratives around which ingredients were hot and who should try them, providing a level of control that is absent in today’s landscape. While it’s great that everyone can now have a mouthpiece to share experiences and learn about ingredients, it presents new challenges. “I have noticed an increased awareness of ingredients. People write and DM me all the time with this similar form of question: “Heard about X ingredient. operates?’ So they’re definitely hearing about new ingredients.” says Sullivan.
What’s potentially missing from the discovery equation—minus fact-checking with an expert like Sullivan—is that people are misled by a product’s capabilities and limitations. “First and foremost, an ingredient has to do what it says it does,” says Jennifer Ruff, its founder Ruff Communications, a press agency that represents brands and experts in the field of beauty. While most beauty experts are trained to present the benefits and limitations of a product, this is not always the case on social platforms. Algorithms are created to sell products, it doesn’t address your skin’s specific needs, so anything that promises life-changing skin benefits will likely rise to the top of your feed, regardless of whether it works or not. Conversely, with something more balanced – and less welcoming – this may not be the case. Horror stories of ingredients gone wrong abound on the internet, and without the technical knowledge of the right ingredient for which skin type, you may find yourself reaching for something that isn’t right for your skin.
How does all of this affect your own approach to skin care?
While the latest ingredients always sound promising in theory, it’s important to find out what they do and not be swayed by the hype. “When you talk to most medical professionals, regardless of their field of study, less is more and quality is better than quantity,” says Ruff. This message, which most beauty professionals subscribe to, runs counter to what you might otherwise hear on social media, where products are regularly marketed in a more-is-better fashion.
This means that when you hear about an ingredient or product, it is very important to first ask yourself whether or not it is suitable for your skin care conditions and then stick with it for at least a month, the minimum time it takes for our skin . cells to flip and show if a product works. This approach, experts explain, will be more cost-effective and produce better results than constantly chasing the new or the next.