How to find future cosmetic trends

Belinda Carli

There are generally 3 things your company can be in the highly competitive cosmetic industry:

  • An innovative leader – searching out the new, innovative, and potentially NEXT BIG THING. These companies provide the ground-breaking ‘different’ products and materials out there, and have the opportunity to be the leaders and shakers of novel ingredients and ground breaking cosmetic products.
  • An inspiring trend follower – this is where most successful companies sit, generating effective and interesting products from generally new actives and/or sensory experiences. They’ll use new actives or aesthetic enhancers in expected ways and achieve notable success.
  • True followers, ‘me too’ companies – great for budget offerings, they’ll follow on from the above 2 leaders after products or ingredients have created a sensation.

cosmetic trend

As the NEXT BIG THING will always come from an innovative leader, this article will focus on the tips, tricks, and sources these companies go to in search of that elusive novel concept.

Watch our free YouTube videos on this topic: How to spot cosmetic trends.


The first thing you need to remember when we talk about the NEXT BIG THING is that it is always something so completely different to what is already out there. So, we’re not talking about, yet another plant extract sourced from the ocean or oil from the Amazon… we’re talking about something really different, and not thought of before for use in a cosmetic.

If you want to really have the NEXT BIG THING, then consider what has been used as past sources of inspiration to give you the secrets of where the next big discovery may be hiding. There is plenty more to be discovered out there… you just need to know where to look! Novel innovations can and have come from one or more of the following areas:


  • Cosmetic Chemists or Scientists:
    • The discovery of latest scientific research findings in related areas can be transferred to provide beneficial cosmetic use; for example, using a substance that has previously been used for healing skin and studying its benefits for collagen synthesis and cross transferring those benefits to discover new anti-ageing substances
    • Accidental discoveries – when a known substance is accidentally noticed to have a cosmetic benefit, and then this is developed further. The best example of this was the discovery of DHA, previously investigated for use as an oral drug for children in the 50’s, the spilled substance was noticed to ‘tan’ the skin and its development for cosmetic products became phenomenal.


  • Marketing inspirations:
    • A new take on an existing material: ingesting nutrient rich substances for cosmetic benefits! While this has been tried in some parts of the world with limited success and may be restricted in other parts of the world, the truth is, great skin does come from within. There are plenty of skin rich discoveries to be had but a strong word of caution for those wanting to expand in this area: make sure it is compliant with local definitions before ingestion, and make sure it REALLY WORKS as consumers are particularly wary of products touting visible benefits from an ingestible substance. They may already eat well, so make sure you have something that really delivers on its promises if you are going to enter this domain.
    • A new ‘spin’ on material uses: who would have thought that painting yourself dark with FD&C colourants would have proven so popular, yet they have become a crucial ingredient in ensuring rapid tans these days!


  • Paint or allied house industries:
    • Novel polymers to stabilise complex and heavily pigmented emulsions, as well as film forming agents to help ensure durability, have often been the inspiration for ‘refinements’ to existing paint or household chemical materials to better suit personal care applications.
    • Chemists that transform paint or allied materials to suit personal care applications have yielded multiple materials that make cosmetic formulations perform in a superior, more stable and more durable manner whilst being very compatible with the skin.


  • Animal antics:
    • Noticing some of the adaptations animals must survive their environment has led to some very interesting developments in our industry.
    • The toxins of some animals have also been studied to elicit certain effects within the body (as medical discoveries) or cosmetic applications (think Botox like materials and bee venom).
    • Not convinced this is an area for innovation? Who would ever have thought of putting snail slime on their skin before the protective and rich nutrient compositions of this substance was better studied?


  • Trade shows and suppliers:
    • Make sure you attend the trade shows, exhibitions, conferences and meet with your suppliers! Not only may they have the NEXT BIG THING under wraps and ready to launch, but you may also be able to speak with those in the know or with extensive research capabilities to turn a novel concept into reality!


As with any innovative material, if you think you’ve found the ‘NEXT BIG THING’ make sure you carefully check:

  • Local country regulations – if it is really novel and revolutionary, you’ll need to check the cosmetic regulations carefully!
  • Safety – any personal care product or cosmetic ingredient to be marketed to consumers’ needs to be safe when used as directed – so ensure you check the regulations of global countries carefully to see if previous studies have been conducted on safety, or ensure the necessary safety checks are conducted before you release the product into the marketplace
  • Stability – the more active an ingredient, the more it may impact product stability! If you are ready to launch the NEXT BIG THING, make sure it doesn’t flop with a bad shelf life.
  • Performance – be the NEXT BIG THING not the next bad fad – make sure your product really works the way you promise it will to make a lasting impact on the personal care industry.


Good luck in your search for the ‘next big thing’… the industry and consumers are always waiting for it!



Don’t need the qualification but still want to learn on a professional level? Get started faster and save 50% off full course fees with our Study Only option: 




  • Start our learning by covering the essentials of cosmetic brand management in our Cosmetic Brand Business workshops – Find out more and watch the first lecture free here.
  • Know your target market and how to get your message right with our Certificate in Market Research & Product PositioningFind out more here.
  • Master your social media strategy with Social Media for Cosmetic Brands workshopsFind out more here.
  • Want to learn all of it? Learn how to manage your brand for its best success with our Diploma of Cosmetic Brand ManagementFind out more here.  


Why study with us?

  • All distance (on-line) study
  • 1-on-1 tutorial support via skype or phone with our trainers
  • Flexible study options – study full time, part time or very part time.


Want help with your cosmetic brand or formulas? When you are a full course student and graduate, you get access to our exclusive group of professional formulators, graduates and students PLUS attend monthly live webinars with our Director, Belinda Carli, and she’ll answer your questions direct. 



Not sure which course is right for you? Visit our online selector or contact us: [email protected]


Just starting out and want to learn the fundamentals? Get started making your own natural and organic skincare products with our FREE Cosmetic Formulation Fundamentals Masterclass



With hundreds of videos on YouTube, we’re bound to have a solution for you. Type your topic in the search bar and see how our videos can help: