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Beauty search trends: ingredients in the spotlight

As online beauty consumers grow increasingly savvy about the components of their skincare products, brands need to make sure they are taking note about the changing behaviors and preferences of their target audiences and respond accordingly.

February 21, 2022

7 mins read

Celeste Rivas

With ecommerce expected to account for almost $450 billion in sales for the health and beauty sector by 2027 (Statista), it has become increasingly important for beauty brands and retailers to understand how their target audiences are exploring and purchasing products online. This means not only being aware of competitor offerings and keywords but, more importantly, being truly attuned to the target audience’s behaviors to detect changing trends and preferences. 

In recent years, the ‘science’ behind beauty products — skincare in particular — has progressively become a decisive aspect in the beauty purchase journey. The growing availability of information on beauty ingredients and their functions has helped to educate and empower an increasingly knowledgeable beauty consumer who knows exactly what they need to achieve a desired effect. 

These ‘skintellectuals’ are not searching for blanket solutions: they want to target their skincare concerns using the specific ingredients designed to treat them most effectively. In this way, they are also able to combine products and create highly personalized routines, tailored to their individual needs and objectives. 

As a result, the industry has seen a clear shift in the way consumers search for items online such as moisturizers and eye treatments, with many now prioritizing ingredients rather than specific brands or products. Rachel Horsefield, chief executive of THG Beauty, told Vogue magazine that her team had seen “searches for ingredients start to climb rapidly, particularly within the skincare category, growing over 229% year on year.”  

In this segment, salicylic acid and collagen acid were the top two most searched for ingredients in 2022, according to online beauty reseller LOOKFANTASTIC. retinol, hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin C, were tied for third place. Likewise, related queries such as ‘what is the correct order of doing skincare?’ and ‘what does vitamin C do for your skin?’ were among the most googled beauty questions in the UK.

Closer to nature: the rise of organic and natural beauty

Coupled with the growing attention paid to the composition of beauty products, the past few years have also seen an increasing consumer awareness of the impact of chemicals on both the body and the environment. This concern has not only redefined the role and responsibilities of beauty brands in contributing to keep the planet healthy but also sparked interest in natural and organic beauty products that are kinder to both the skin and the earth.  

Brands and consumers alike are now embracing this approach, with the market for organic and natural beauty expected to grow to $22 billion in 2024, up from $11 billion in 2018, according to Deloitte.  

These types of components are perceived by consumers as being of higher quality and more effective compared to non-natural ones. This perception has led to a rise in the popularity of a range of active ingredients in skincare such as bee venom, ground coffee and seaweed snail slime (Deloitte). Health concerns also play a role in driving sales of these articles, with 83% of consumers saying they had a better feeling regarding their health if using an organic product, according to a study by the Organic Soil Association.

Just like with non-natural ingredients, consumers want to know exactly what is inside the items they are purchasing, so they prioritize transparent labeling with straightforward and accurate claims and eco-friendly packaging.

Smiling woman applying skincare product to her face

What does this mean for beauty brands?

With the composition of products, rather than brand names, attracting consumers’ attention, beauty brands need to carefully assess their marketing strategies to engage effectively with a customer base that is increasingly well-informed and values an effective and clear ingredient list over a big name.

Focusing on highlighting the benefits of the ingredients— rather than of the brand itself — is essential to engage with this savvy beauty consumer who wants to be always in the know. This is why it is crucial to continually provide additional relevant information about ingredients, be it in relation to interactions, routine building or sourcing.  

Offering new learning opportunities across multiple channels and formats, such as through social media influencer videos or website blog posts, enables you to meet your target customer wherever they are on the web. More playful approaches such as quizzes or social media polls can not only keep ‘skintellectuals’ entertained and up to date but also give you insight on what they want to see more of or are not interested in.  

Likewise, ensuring your ecommerce site allows customers to make ingredient-based searches is a top priority when it comes to catering to this audience. Giving consumers the option to search or filter for type of ingredient (such as organic, vegan or cruelty-free) is also a good idea. 

Keeping track of and measuring the results of your efforts to reach and engage with your audience is just as important as designing your content strategy. Gathering and analyzing this data will help you understand your consumers more clearly and pick up on emerging or evolving needs and wants. This will ensure you react quickly and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to making business decisions and optimizing the strategies you implement to talk to your target audience.

At THG Ingenuity we’ve helped countless of beauty brands, such as ELEMIS and Neal’s Yard Remedies, understand and engage effectively with audiences across the globe. Get in touch to find out how we can support your brand’s growth journey. 

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