2020 Cosmetic Ingredient Innovation, The 5 Major Trends

In which direction will cosmetic ingredients sail in 2020?

In an age where people look for high-quality beauty care experiences, what make your products more competitive? Product ingredients top the list without a doubt, and it’s even more important than brand reputation.

When it comes to cosmetics, innovation is largely dependent on its ingredient, and product efficacy is realized through ingredients. Consumers’ attachment to product safety, efficacy, high-end and environmentally friendly cosmetics are pushing ingredient suppliers to innovate in order to meet the more “rigorous” consumer demands. 

With new ingredients emerging one afteranother, ingredient innovation and improvement opens up a new frontier for the beauty sector.  The potential value derive from companies that highlights their product ingredients should not be under estimated. In 2020, the cosmetics industry is expected to see a fiercer ingredient competition.  What are the major trends that deserve special attention?

  • Functional ingredients are born as people look for highly effective skincare

People’s pursuit of good cosmetics includes ingredients, functionality and efficacy. This has become a new aspect cosmetics consumer look for.  Consumers show an unprecedented passion for skin care products with specific functions such as anti-aging, anti-irritation, dark spot correcting, whitening and repair. Good functionality and efficacy have become the ultimate skin care goal for consumers.

With the coming of highly effective skincare era, products with specific functions such as whitening, anti-aging, anti-acne, dark spot removal, and ingredients with solid effects possess greatpotential. For example, anti-oxidation and cell repairing ingredients have been capturing considerable consumer attention, and repairing elements have become “dark horses” in the market at a surprising rate, such as all-trans retinol that is widely fanfared, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant resveratrol, astaxanthin that can effectively remove the “free radicals” contributing to human aging, oligopeptides that help repair acne-prone skin, arbutin that inhibits the generation of melanin, and Pro-Xylane that promotes synthesis of collagensand delays aging.

In the past two years, the rise of the concepts of anti-oxidation, anti-sugar, anti-blue light, and some anti-senilecomponents such as oligopeptides, peptides, and yeast have become popular in skin care products, which also shows the popularity of anti-aging and anti-wrinkle products. Peptides are sought after by the general public and arethe main hot ingredients with the highest proportion and growth rate in the anti-aging market today.

According to the 2020 White Paper on Trends in the Skincare Industry released by the Weibo Institute of Socialized Marketing, ingredient concepts developed inrecent years have been mainly intended for whitening and anti-aging. All-trans retinol and nicotinamide are the major highlights that brands emphasize in advertising their products, which are closely followed by yeast essence and carnosine. Ceramide, as a component with compound functions that can ensure moisturizing and anti-aging, is also one of the most widely discussed ingredients.

  • Skincare-type concepts are now applied to hair and body care

Consumers’ obsession with ingredients extents from skincare to many other categories of personal care. Chemical ingredients, initially used in facial masks, are now seen in serums, facial cleansers and other categories.  Toiletries have always been a focus of attention for cosmetics companies, while ingredient suppliers are also working on innovations for this specific category.

Now that premium toiletries have become a new niche market following color cosmetics and skincare products, many brands have acted quickly to grab this opportunity. Consumers are showing growing preference for toiletries that are mild to the hair and the body. After amino acid facial cleansers with the claim to clean skin in a gentle way become highly recommended by consumers, amino acid based surfactants start to take the toiletries sector by storm.

Recent years have witnessed a revolution in the field of shampoos, with the advent of amino acid concepts. Mild-to-skin and environmental-friendly amino acid based surfactants, with their PH value close to that of the scalp, can provide mild, non-irritating and safe care forthe hair without affecting the acid-base balance of the scalp.

Consumers’ purchases of mild, clean and additive-free bath products have skyrocketed over the years, especially shower gels featuring natural ingredients or plant extracts. The range of products containing nicotinamide has extended from serums, creams, and facial masks to other personal care products such as shower gels. Consumers’ enthusiasm for chemical ingredients is driving the development of other personal care categories, which signals a new future for the high-end toiletries market.

  • “All-natural”, extracts from natural plants with regional characteristics

Natural plant extracts with regional characteristics have become the focus of attention, such as alpine (edelweiss), manuka honey and birch sap.  Exclusive natural refined to the origin and ingredients has become the new favorite in the market. 

While simple claims of all-natural elements are no longer as strong of an appeal as before, natural ingredients exclusively extracted from specific origins still attracts interest. As specific origins are typically associated with special effects, they can target more personalized needs.

Asiatic pennywort herb extracts have become one of the innovative ingredients for skincare in the beauty world. Different from the common asiatic pennywort herb extracts, the CICA blend developed by beauty brands consist of other Centella Asiatica ingredients, such as madecassoside and asiatic acid. Mugwort, widely known as a medicinal herbwith beneficial effects, is expected to contribute to the expansion of the cosmetics segment. Consumers’ strong interest in safe and natural ingredients has been fueling the evolution of all-natural concept and the innovation ofingredients extracted from plants.

  • Supported by an increasing awareness that applying and eating are equally as important, food ingredients are making a comeback

Products with natural ingredients are becoming a major trend. Spotting a widespread belief that applying and eating are equally as important, beauty brands have started to use food and fruit ingredients in their beauty products. Fruits such as avocado, watermelon, coconut and lime are widely employed in beauty and personal care offerings across the globe, and grapefruit is likely to become the next important beauty ingredient.

The era of skin care using microorganisms has come, and probiotics, prebiotics and other microorganism-based cosmetic ingredientsare frequently seen in the market. Normally, lactic acid bacteria are ingestedas a nutrient, but recently application of probiotics to the face are getting popular.

Beauty products using vinegar are another new trend. These vinegar-based beauty products are either launched by established professional personal care brands or by startups specialized innatural DIY personal care, all of which emphasize the naturalness, safety and beauty effects of vinegar. Fruit-vinegar-based products such as hair care offerings are rolling out onto the market, claiming that the vinegar acid can help maintain the health, water and oil balance of the scalp.

Using food extracts as natural beauty ingredients is an apparent trend, providing new opportunities to develop new beauty formulas.

  • Sustainability motivates ingredient innovation

Sustainability is not only a trend but also an action that motivates the industry to explore new possibilities. While different sectors around the world are promoting sustainable development, the cosmetics industry is also blazing new trails. According to Mintel, a well-known market research firm, given consumers’ growing concerns about the environment, it’s imperative for cosmetics brands to take sustainable ingredients and products to a new level. From production to consumption, an unprecedented revolution for environment protection and sustainable development is going on in every aspect of the cosmetics sector.

As the first step in the quality chain, the advancement of ingredient is the key to products and even brand innovation. In response to rising market demands and new challenges facing cosmetic ingredient manufacturers in the sweeping wave of consumption upgrade, China Beauty Expo (CBE) is constantly committed to creating a reliable platform that can bring together top ingredient companies to exchange ideas and help revitalize the industry from the very source.

From the sustainability of upstream ingredient to energy conservation and environmental protection efforts in production, China Beauty Expo 2020 (CBE) highlights the concept of eco-friendliness throughout the entire beauty supply chain, interpreting sustainability in innovative ways and showcasing the power of science and technology through diverse dimensions. It will feature multiple professional forums about science and technology, bringing together outstanding beauty experts, ingredient specialists and key opinion leaders to spark new passions of research and development in the industry.

What can be done to build a sustainable skincare industry chain? To answer the question, CBE will work with Yanantang, a local professional media platform focusing on ingredients, to discuss sustainable development of skincare ingredients and sustainable operation of skincare brands on the basis of extensive data to provide the most realistic insights. What’s more, CBE will host the Cosmetics Safety Technology Regulation Forum together with Shanghai Daily Chemistry Trade Association to point out new directions for the cosmetics industry.


The Meiyi Award 2020, which celebrates admirable R&D efforts and results, will be enhanced. Featuring four award categories, including the Best Formula Award to recognize the most powerful ingredient suppliers and the most innovative formula technologies to rejuvenate the industry from the very source.


(Source: Mintel; Weibo Institute of Socialized Marketing; Ipsos Beauty Trends Report; Beautynury; etc.)