Why personal care is stepping up for our minds and not just our skin

Beauty and Personal care is a category on a mission. Over the last few decades there’s been wave after wave of research into our bodies, each one undermining the exclusive hegemony of branded products as glow-unlockers and problem-solvers. From the traditional heavyweights of diet, exercise and sleep to more recent entrants like stress, gut health, hormones, circadian rhythms and even the menstrual cycle – it’s never just one thing to blame for that spot, and never just one product to fix it.

But the thing is, most consumers still want a quick fix to that spot and meditation just won’t cut it. In the wake of Covid-19 consumers are facing unprecedented emotional, physical and mental challenges – all of which have played out centre stage on our Zoom-famous faces (maskne anyone?), our over-sanitized-irritated hands and our home-made haircuts.

The implications of Covid-19 on our mental health are never far from the headlines and we’ve had several conversations with brands about how best to intervene. It’s become increasingly clear that people need help understanding the relationships between mental health, stress & anxiety and personal care. Why and how does cortisol affect the scalp? What is psychodermatology and how can it change skincare brands in the future?

If those are the questions then brands are stepping up and speaking out with the answers: simplifying complex research into powerful, personalized, proactive products and services and educating consumers on how to use them. The future of personal care is not just in our washbags, on our plates and on our faces, but in our minds. Here’s three brands we’ve seen leading the charge with a more holistic and educational approach:

Pai beauty – Sensitive skin has multiple triggers

Pai beauty, a UK-based ethical, natural and sustainable skincare brand is taking on sensitivity. They champion their free 30-minute online consultations to diagnosis individual skin needs – and therefore find the right products and a personalised routine. Crucially this service is ‘looking at the bigger picture. We’ll discuss the factors that could affect your skin, including your current products, stress, hormonal changes, diet, gut health and sleep.’

Aveda take on the scalp – “Skinification” of hair care

Inspired by the changes in skincare, Aveda are another brand offering a diagnosis service: a 20- minute hair and scalp check. Framed as an educational health check it’s perfect for those consumers wanting to know more about their hair type, the condition of the scalp and what products they should be using. Breaking the head down into scalp, roots, hair shafts and ends looks like the next big shift in haircare as consumers want increasingly specific and tailored solutions.

Murad’s Wellbeing Board – where science and wellness meet skincare

Back in April 2021 (Stress Awareness month – who knew?) Murad announced the creation of a Wellness board with three experts covering nutrition, exercise and mindset. Murad places skincare within the broader wellness context, a strong move for a brand who traditionally are very science and evidence-based, named after their founder Dr Murad.

But what’s next?

Deeper than skin deep

If the gut microbiome and the world of pre, pro and post-biotics is anything to go by, the skin microbiome can expect a whole range of new supplement and ingestible products. Not only that but we can see hormones and cortisol becoming something consumers are increasingly in tune with and capable of manipulating. No longer will our hormones just control us.


You’re not alone if this is a new term to you, but we expect it to be big news over the next few years. Recognizing the impact of stress, anxiety and mental health on our skin and vice versa is encouraging many to reach out for more scientific interventions. Move over dermatologist approved – psychodermatologist is the label we want.

All 5 Senses

The sensory experience and stress-reducing impacts of self-care rituals have long been known. But it’s time for a reboot. We’re expecting the next generation of products to have mood-boosting, body-adapting fragrances and ingredients activated by touch or temperature. And what about sound? There’s an Audio-Beauty collaboration waiting to happen.

The future of personal care looks set to be holistic and increasingly personalised – but as everyone rushes into the space it risks becoming bland and generic. Personal care brands need to find their voice and show their personality by cutting through the noise: delivering relevant & educational services backed by products that truly change the game.

By: John Barnes

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