The weird and wonderful beauty ingredients you need to try
They sound like the contents of a witch’s cauldron. But ingredients such as bee venom, snail slime and microalgae have become some of the hottest beauty ingredients around. And with good reason – they work.
For too long, we’ve relied on the same time-tested beauty formulae – detergent-based cleansers or moisturisers made from vegetable oils. Now we’re starting to embrace ingredients from more varied natural sources, rather than long lists of dubious-sounding man-made chemicals.
Open your mind
According to a recent Mintel report, consumers are welcoming more unusual ingredients like seaweed or ginseng into their beauty bags. ‘Exotic ingredients have the power to boost skincare sales,’ says Margie Nanninga, beauty analyst at Mintel.
Companies such as Dr. Organic have already witnessed growing interest in niche ingredients, after their Snail Gel range became a bestseller. ‘We first brought out Organic Snail Gel as a stand-alone product but due to popular consumer demand, we launched a whole range,’ says Dr. Organic marketing co-ordinator Leah Eynon.
Other brands have jumped on the ‘curious’ bandwagon, with ingredients including charcoal, coffee, probiotics and matcha popping up in myriad products.
So, what’s behind our new receptivity to strange or different ingredients? Put simply, they’re effective – and, thanks to the rising influence of social media on beauty purchases, we’re much more likely to hear about their benefits – if say an influential facialist Tweets a recommendation.
This is particularly true among Millennials: a third use apps for product recommendations, and 59 per cent research products on their phones in-store, says Mintel.
The newest products also tap into a rising demand for natural, plant-based formulations. Ekia’s Dragon’s Blood Sap products, for example, use a blood-red resin collected from the bark of the eponymous Amazonian tree, considered one of the world’s most powerful antioxidants. Far from a novelty product, it’s bolstered by clinical efficacy trials, giving it an edge against lag-generated synthetic ingredients.
Next-gen ingredients are also emerging to fill a gap in the market for ethical, sustainably sourced beauty products, to support changing consumer concerns. For example, ethical brand Beauty Kitchen’s Seahorse Plankton range is created from a sustainably sourced microalgae. The company donates a percentage their sales profits to the Seahorse Trust, to reinforce its values.
Read more: Try a natural DIY facial
Of course, not every consumer wants to sample the unfamiliar. Three-quarters of over-65s aren’t interested in next-gen skincare ingredients. Some new products feature animal-based ingredients, a turn off for some consumers. However, the brands behind many of these are committed to ethical sourcing: Manuka Doctor says they use a 100 per cent bee-friendly method to create their Purified Bee Venom (PBV™) Facial Moisturiser, and Dr. Organic humanely farm snail mucus from free-roaming snails using glass panels.
Curiouser and curiouser
So are next-gen beauty ingredients a passing fad, or will they be on our bathroom shelves for years to come?
While some will doubtless go the way of fish pedicures, others hold staying power. Certain algaes, for instance, create a powerful anti-pollution shield in beauty products – tapping into an increasingly relevant skincare concern. ‘The skincare market is highly saturated and brands continue to look for unique sources of inspiration to capture the attention of consumers,’ says Nanninga .
As demand rises for hardworking skin products, it looks like weird and wonderful ingredients might just have the edge!