Skincare science or emotion? This is a debate which will be discussed at the In-Cosmetics 2019 Exhibition in Paris, which I am going to this week.

Overall, the event should reveal the new ingredients and trends we’ll be hearing more about in the coming months and years. I attend so that I can meet with old friends and colleagues, and to visit the Innovation Zone.

But one interesting issue for debate is the suggestion by Dr Karl Lintner, in this workshop at the exhibition, that cosmetic science has reached a ceiling – I cannot help but agree.  The science of molecular biology and genetics or epigenetics has advanced our understanding of cellular mechanisms but consumers do not buy products only on the scientific evidence which emerges from such research.

New concepts – blue light, anti-pollution protection, microbiome and new ingredients – cannot supersede the ‘human’ take on buying skincare, which is driven by pleasure and emotional choice. Some time ago, a study carried out by a large cosmetics company which looked at the “skincare science or emotion?” question concluded that approximately 95% of the purchase criteria for a cosmetic product is based on the texture.

In my personalisation-based projects, I also consider skincare science or emotion and believe that achieving a great skin-feel is essential to a successful brand. Skincare is expected to deliver a visible as well as sensory outcome. Our facial skin defines how we are perceived by our peers: personalised skincare and first targeting the signs of ageing that matter most enables the consumer to capitalise on “the eyes of others” when buying their anti-ageing skincare.

In my opinion, the increasingly hyper-scientific approach to skincare research and development is short-sighted. It is based on scientific claims that are beyond the capacity of consumers to understand and integrate into their decision making, expectations and satisfaction with the product.

Studying emotional interaction is just as important. Dr Greg Hillebrand from US Amway argues that the well-being benefits of cosmetics are equally or even more important to consumers than conventional measures of efficacy, such as skin hydration.

Opening a luxurious box of skincare, smelling the scent and looking at yourself after the application activates fast and unconscious brain processes from which emerges the final sensory and emotional experience. Whilst the effectiveness of products in practical terms and the scientific foundations of this are of crucial importance, I believe this more ‘human’ side of skincare will become more and more prominent in the coming years.

Further reading: Dr Arnaud Aubert is the go-to French authority on studying these potent emotional triggers. Some of his research is here but, if you want something less scientific, this is an interesting article.

You could also read my blog How Touch Enhances Well-being.

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