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Consumers find skincare industry saturated with misinformation, reveals new Simple report

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British highstreet skincare brand Simple has conducted a report* to gauge consumer opinions about the £3.1bn (US$4bn, €3.6bn) UK skincare industry.

Results from The Simple Truth Report showed that the people polled seem to not only be frustrated with misinformation; they’re also confused by overly complex and long-winded skincare routines.

Magali Giupponi, global brand lead, House of Naturals and Simple, says: “The skincare industry is a beautifully diverse and innovative place. But, it’s impossible to ignore the misinformation, the contradictions and the prevalence of ‘facts’ being broadcast from all corners.

“We commissioned this report because we wanted to understand how people feel about the skincare facts they're exposed to. We also wanted to know what changes they wished for.”

Main takeaways

Among the top concerns mentioned, confusion emerged as a key issue, with 62 per cent of participants expressing a desire for skincare formulations and benefits to be more accessible and comprehensible.

Another significant problem is sustainability as nearly half of the participants (49 per cent) requested less overall packaging and waste.

Today’s skincare shoppers are also prioritising expertise. Simple found that 42 per cent of participants stated their preference for more science and research-backed skincare innovations.

In addition, respondents are also searching for more diversity in the industry, as 39 per cent of people polled want to see campaigns and products that are more inclusive and representative of the diverse society we live in.

Confusion with terminologyEighty-seven per cent of participants want to see positive changes within the beauty industry, namely, a shift to more straightforward claims.

Meanwhile, 79 per cent feel overwhelmed by the skincare industry, while 80 per cent of them – especially women – think it is rife with misinformation. Those with sensitive skin also appear to be particularly affected as 84 per cent of this group reported feeling confused by skincare.

Respondents also revealed that being bombarded with too much information can make them less receptive and likely to miss insights that could help shape beneficial skin habits.

The report illustrates this issue with the example of the skin barrier.

“As one of the beauty industry’s biggest buzzwords of the last couple of years, it may come as a surprise to hear that 71 per cent of people polled are either completely confused by the skin barrier or have never heard of it.

“A further 52 per cent find the topic a bit of a minefield and report seeing conflicting information about the skin barrier, while 19 per cent have no understanding of its purpose or why they should even care about it.”

Only 29 per cent of participants felt they had a reasonable understanding of the skin barrier and the importance of caring for it.

Clean beauty

Clean beauty has been a hot topic in spa and beauty sectors for the past few years. However, respondents indicated that there is still confusion around the subject and that this trend may be cooling down.

The Simple Truth Report discovered that 46 per cent of participants feel confused by the topic of ‘clean beauty’ and that only 23 per cent actively seek out ‘clean’ formulations.

Furthermore, just 20 per cent of respondents seek out products with sustainable packaging while 17 per cent desire sustainable or biodegradable formulas.

Sourcing informationSixty-two per cent of 18–24-year-old participants revealed that they primarily rely on social media for skincare advice and inspiration.

In contrast, those over the age of 45 reported being more likely to rely on recommendations from friends and family, newspaper or magazine articles, or brands they trust.

Ingredient spotlight

Vitamin C (51 per cent), hyaluronic acid (38 per cent) and niacinamide (28 per cent) were voted the top three most in-demand skincare ingredients.

*About the paperThe Simple Truth Report was undertaken by Simple – a 63-year-old perfume- and colour-free skincare brand founded by a British chemist to soothe his children’s sensitive skin.

The paper’s research and analysis were designed by Beauty SEEN on Simple’s behalf, while fieldwork was conducted by Savanta Group among 2,003 UK skincare consumers (both men and women, aged 18+) in February 2023.

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British highstreet skincare brand Simple has conducted a report* to gauge consumer opinions about the £3.1bn (US$4bn, €3.6bn) UK skincare industry.