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Body Care Is the Buzziest White Space in Beauty

While face-focused skincare continues to grow at an exponential rate, bath salts and body polishes are on the rise as consumers and brands make a connection between overall wellness and skin health.
Source: Courtesy
  • Rachel Jacoby Zoldan

NEW YORK, United States — When Goop's senior vice president of beauty Erin Cotter joined the celebrity wellness site in 2016, her boss, Gwyneth Paltrow, already had her first body-care product in mind (separate from the skincare range with Juice Beauty, on which she collaborates): bath salts. "Gwyneth really believes in the power of a hot bath," says Cotter. "We approached the project thinking of a bath as being this ideal remedy for the needs of our modern lifestyle: whether that's a racing mind, emotional overwhelm, sore muscles, a body that's overindulged, or when you're feeling under the weather," she adds of the traditional Chinese medicine ingredients-laced soaks.

But bath salts are just one of the body care subcategories rising on the tide of the prestige market, which grew 13 percent year-over-year in 2017 in the US to $286 million. “Expect to see a shift towards products that help achieve an overall state of wellness, a focus on ingredients, inventive formats and a shifting price point in prestige toward a more competitive edge with mass,” says Larisa Jensen, senior analyst at NPD.

However, the body care market still has plenty of whitespaces, says Cotter — and the numbers definitely reflect that. According to NPD, body care made up for just five percent of prestige skincare sales in 2017. What’s more, of the $1.2 billion global skincare market, per a 2017 Euromonitor report, only a small fraction was spent by consumers on the body category. And this is despite all categories seeing healthy year-over-year growth.

Specifically, Jensen is seeing a rise not only in bath salts, but also in “bath fizzies,” as Jensen says, as well as body scrubs. Take Pursoma, the indie bath line which launched six problem-solving soaks in 2014 and has since gained shelf space at beauty boutiques such as Onda Beauty and online e-tailers, including Revolve.

Scrubs are also seeing growth in both the mass, prestige and indie markets. In January, Dove rolled out three exfoliating body polishes; in 2017, Frank Body, a body-care and skincare brand whose core product is a coffee-grain exfoliant, launched a shimmer scrub that amassed a 20,000 person-wait list. What’s more, these scrubs — especially all natural ones, like Frank Body’s — claim to aid in skin health by eliminating excess dead skin cells for smoother, cleaner, and clearer skin that feels luxurious. (And in the case of the aforementioned Shimmer Scrub, make you look quite luminous, too.)

Although scrubs and bath additives are where forecasters are predicting the most growth, it’s still body creams that sell the best. “Cream remains the largest format for overall skincare and for body as well,” Jensen says. “But we are seeing a spin on the typical cream such as [ones with] whipped texture.” Take the TriXera Nutrition line from Avene: a wash, lotion and balm that works for both the face and body, helping consumers take care of their skin from head-to-toe, potentially giving shoppers an awareness about body skin they didn't have before.

Health is emerging as a new facet of social status, and consumers are investing more into products and services that help them [become] healthier.

”Consumers are becoming more and more aware that skin is our largest organ and treating your body helps you achieve that overall state of wellness that you’re seeking,” adds Jensen.

Paltrow, who has been taking daily baths for two decades now, swears by the power of a healing bath at the end of every single day for her overall well-being. Ingredients, including pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salt, which purportedly helps to alleviate inflammation and pain, along with vibe-enhancing, corresponding essential oils, may create a sacred space, but the physical health benefits — according to science at least, are minimal at best. It largely depends on the research you look at, says Nitin Kumar, MD. “There are a few small-scale studies that show that magnesium [found in Epsom salts] levels increase with topical application,” he says, citing a 2014 report from the journal Experimental Biology and Medicine. Anecdotally speaking, though, the act of merely taking the time for a bath is restorative in and of itself, notes Kumar.

Looking ahead, Lisa Hong, a research analyst for Euromonitor based in South Korea, also expects to see more products like the TriXera line as the market continues to blow up. Hong says we should anticipate “combined and/or hybrid products” to gain popularity. “Think in-shower lotions or bath additives or oils that don’t require any additional care after using it just once.”

Consumers are looking to improve what they think of as their overall state of wellness, and are using body care as a means to do so. “Health is emerging as a new facet of social status, and consumers are investing more into products and services that help them [become] healthier, better looking, more energised,“ says Kseniia Galenytska, senior analyst at Euromonitor. "Body care has a high chance to become as important as there is an increasingly holistic approach to beauty [that includes both one's] lifestyle and physical form."

Perhaps that’s why Goop’s soaks are selling so well already: of all the products on which Paltrow’s namesake logo is plastered, the Martini soak — made with Himalayan salt and chia seed oil in pursuit of an “emotional detox” — is their second-most popular seller. And along with two other soaks — the G.Tox spiked with activated charcoal and G.Nite featuring sleep-inducing valerian — it’s now being offered as a customisable experience at the Park Hyatt New York. For $100, you can have a butler draw you one of three soaks and prepare you a cup of tea.

“We see this opportunity in body care that's really therapeutic and performance-driven, and designed to address specific needs and lifestyle occasions,” says Cotter. “There’s not really anyone doing that yet.” And Cotter is ready to exploit the “current whitespace” in the body-care market. “This is a totally fresh, new, and different approach to body care and we’re going to build. Goop soaks are just the first of many body-care launches to come.”

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