The hit Netflix series “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” has millions of people around the world asking themselves if the items in their homes and lives are “sparking joy,” or if the possessions simply become clutter that’s weighing them down and detracting from one’s happiness.
The same could certainly be asked of one’s skin care products. Are bathroom counters overflowing with bottles and jars in a several-step regimen giving consumers joy anymore? Moreover, are individual products chock full of dozens of ingredients as appealing as they once were?
Some brands are banking on the answer to both questions being no—and recognizing the value in offering fewer products, which feature harder-working, multi-tasking ingredients.
“Clean, simple skin care is what the industry is crying out for, and we wanted to create a line that met with that consumer need,” explains Jemima Ham, brand manager of Skin To You.
The less-is-more approach has its detractors, particularly on questions of efficacy and safety, but one scientist makes the case for editing down formulas.
“With a huge list of botanical ingredients on the label, you don’t always know which ones are actually present in meaningful amounts to have any impact,” says Brien Quirk, director of R&D, Draco Natural Products. “Some just have pretty names or exotic appeal, but they may be so diluted to not have much benefit. By reducing the overall number of botanical ingredients and using real bioactive concentrations that will have a positive benefit, the consumer will be more assured of getting some type of benefit from the product.”
Quirk adds, “Moreover, as the number of ingredients increases, so does the statistical probability of a possible allergic reaction to one of them. It is also more difficult to confirm composition and purity because analytical tests are more difficult to perform when too many interfering compounds are present.”
3 Brand Strategies for Simplicity
How do brands put these principles into practice? Three brands offer distinct pathways toward decluttering.
1. “Not all skin care is a necessity”
Krave Beauty was founded by wildly popular YouTube influencer, Liah Yoo, who was formerly an e-strategist at Korea’s largest beauty company, Amorepacific. Yoo developed the brand in an effort to bring stripped-down skin care to the public.
Yoo explains, “Our skin is incredibly smart and knows how to take care of itself. And it will, if you just let it. I believe that skin care products should work with your skin to help it function at its best and support its natural functionality, not disrupt it.”
- Superstar product: Kale-Lalu-yAHA, a skin resurfacing exfoliator containing 5.25% glycolic acid.
- Standout ingredient: Tamanu oil (found in the Great Barrier Relief serum), which features skin-regenerative properties and has been traditionally used to heal wounds. Research has also shown the oil can help restore weakened skin barriers, as well as diminish acne scars, sun spots and hyperpigmentation.
- Brand wisdom: “You may have noticed we categorize our products a little differently [Core Series and Supplemental Series],” says Yoo. “This divide is intentional and made to highlight that not all skin care is a necessity. There are your core basics—cleansing, moisturizing and protecting with SPF—and then everything else is supplementary, a step to add when your skin is lacking something. Krave Beauty was created to #PressReset on the ineffective yet conventional skin care routine that has trained consumers to rely on ‘the next best thing’ instead of simply focusing on what our skin needs.”
2. Throwback skin care
Affordable and accessible, Skin to You is available exclusively at Walmart stores and online. Launched as a “throwback to simpler times,” and exuding a 1970s style in its branding, Skin To You is a straightforward line that provides skin care designed to cleanse, treat and moisturize.
- Superstar product: Vitamin C Ya Serum uses antioxidant vitamin C to brighten and increase radiance of the skin, while evening out skin tone, decreasing photodamage and boosting collagen production.
- Impressive ingredients: Rose water and witch hazel, which can calm inflamed and irritated skin without causing dryness, and balance the natural acid mantle of the skin. The ingredients are found in both the I Mist You toner and Ready For This Jelly cleanser. “We only include ingredients we know really work for the skin care issues they have been designed to combat,” says Ham. “We are a transparent brand, and we want our products to reflect that.”
- Words of wisdom: “It is important to our audience that they know what is going on their skin, and we developed it with that in mind,” says Ham of her consumers. “Skin-loving, effective and easily recognizable ingredients that take care of skin, straightforward messaging and a pared-down product line that fits into daily routine and doesn’t seem like a chore. We want our audience to take care of their skin, not be turned off by a multi-step process that can end up overloading and irritating skin.”
3. Naturally effective
Angie Irish is a certified aesthetician and owner/co-founder of OZNaturals. She notes, “Early in my career it became apparent to me that most skin care products fell into either one of two categories: effective yet mixed with toxic ingredients, or more natural products with very low efficacy. It’s my belief that we deserve highly effective and safer skin care products. This is why OZNaturals was founded, and it will always be my mission!”
- Superstar products: Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum, containing hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, rose hips and green tea.
- Impressive ingredients: Marine extracts, such as giant sea kelp, astaxanthin and algae extract. Irish explains, “Our ingredients set us apart because we use the appropriate amounts of the actual key ingredients in each formula, at higher percentages than most other skin care lines.”
- Words of wisdom: “OZNaturals only uses cold processing,” says Irish. “This means we make our products at room temperature. Other skin care brands use high heat, and since heat degrades many vitamins and minerals, producing at room temperature means our formulations stay highly potent and effective as they should—naturally.”
Lisa Doyle was formerly the associate editor of Global Cosmetic Industry and is a freelance writer in the Chicago area. Her work has also appeared in Skin Inc., Salon Today, Modern Salon, Master Barber and Writer’s Digest.