COVID-19 altered many facets of our lives, including our definition of wellness. Prior to the pandemic, the pursuit of wellness was more focused on physical fitness, along with self-care rituals where skincare plays a large role. But as the pandemic variants surged and continued to place stress on our lives, our collective notions about wellness began to shift — and so did the skincare industry landscape. 

In the years leading up to the pandemic, wellness in skincare was closely linked to the rise of natural brands. In fact, at one point, natural brands captured the largest share of the skincare category. However, COVID-19 changed the consumer’s approach to wellness, as greater appreciation for the medical community and interest in proven anti-bacterial chemicals became top-of-mind. Clinical brands founded by doctors, chemists, apothecaries, or aestheticians have always gone head-to-head with natural brands for market share, but the pandemic helped shift consumer attention to clinical brands, which pushed these brands higher. Clinical brands now account for 34% of skincare category sales in the U.S., while natural brands have stalled at 28%. 

Lockdowns and social distancing added another layer to the wellness evolution. At first, creating a spa-like environment at home meant putting on a face mask and lighting a candle. It was more than enough to give us a moment of “om.” But two years of COVID-19 (and counting) has reinforced our need to address mental wellness. Consumers are grappling with COVID fatigue and searching for products, rituals, and activities that not only bring them a moment of peace, but can also bring them joy. 

The additonal self-care habits that incorporated more steps in our skincare routines during the pandemic, might need to be slimmed down, as social activities return and fuller schedules are established. That’s part of the reason the concept of “skinimalism” has been trending, garnering more than two million hashtags on TikTok. The main idea here is to use fewer products that have the biggest impact on our skin. Consumers are looking for products that have vitamin C, retinol, and other potent ingredients that provide a multipurpose effect. In fact, nearly 60% of  women in the U.S. report that the inclusion of vitamin C is important, when making skincare purchase decisions. Nearly half (47%) say the same about retinol, according to the 2021 Facial Consumer Report from NPD. 

Wellness continues to be a state of being that consumers strive for, but wellness priorities are evolving and, in turn, are fueling skincare trends in a different manner today, than they did before the pandemic. Brands that stay with their followers on this journey and engage with them accordingly will earn their business.