Skincare Trends Today: An Evening with Skincare Experts in London (Part 2)

Skincare Trends Today: An Evening with Skincare Experts in London (Part 2)

This article is the second part of a two-part series highlighting the takeaways from our roundtable discussion hosted at the Mandrake Hotel. 

In the first part of this series, our experts looked back at skincare in the nineties and noughties. But what about more recently? What did skincare look like in the twenty-tens and what does the skincare scene look like in 2021? The last decade has been more about the actives, education, and science. Consumers have officially joined the skincare conversation, and brands have changed their conversation with consumers in a way we’ve never seen before. Does an abundance of skincare knowledge equal power? Read on to find out!

The Medicalization of Skincare

Effective, science-backed formulations are more available than ever before - no prescription is needed to see a real difference in the skin and this is a huge shift from earlier decades. With consumers more educated and demanding transparency from brands, evidence-based skincare has become more sought after and popular than ever before.

Dr. Ejikeme explained:

In 2009, that was the time a lot of doctors were thinking - and saying - you can’t find active ingredients on the high street...unless it’s a prescription ingredient it wouldn’t work. In 2010, there was a real shift that saw a lot of brands creating products where you could actually see the change in the skin, in one month, in six weeks; non-prescription products helping with blemishes, redness, etc. 

As a physician I started to say, something is happening! That was an a-ha moment for me. It’s not a prescription; we’re seeing real change in the skin.

Dr. Psomadakis concurred:

You started to see a medicalization of skincare and a drip-down of medical ingredients.

The Emergence of the 'Skintellectual'

Around 2019, with more and more consumers looking for science-based skincare and swotting up on active skincare ingredients, from hyaluronic acid to retinol, a new breed of consumer emerged: the “skintellectual.” 

Dr. Psomadakis pointed out that skin-savvy patients started using their newfound knowledge. 

“People would come in and say “I’m using a tyrosinase inhibitor, and some of the doctors would be like – what are they talking about?”  

Dr. Psomadakis explained that not all dermatologists have an interest in cosmetic skincare.

Abigail James and Dr. Ejikeme said that they both have had clients come in and tell them the ingredients and percentages they are using, but complain they are not getting the results they want.

Dr. Ejikeme said: “Usually they are using great ingredients or brands, and they know what it’s supposed to do, but the formulation is not right for them.”

Responding to the skintellectuals' quest for knowledge, but also to clarify some misperceptions, Swissline recently produced our Perfect Formula Pyramid, offering a clear and deep understanding of what makes sense in skincare, including when and how to approach ingredients.

Skincare Identity Camps  

The emergence of the “skintellectual” has given rise to various ‘camps’ of skincare philosophies. Natural, clean, green, science-driven, there’s no shortage of camps to fall into. One of our experts finds it especially challenging.

Emma Guns explained:

I find there’s a lot of one-upping, one of the developments in 2010, was less about ingredients, it’s actually about what your skincare says about your identity, you almost choose a skincare identity. There are different camps within the active ingredient side of things, I find it really challenging to navigate because they’re desperate to prove the other one is wrong.

Misinterpretation of Clean Beauty 

In the last 10 years, clean beauty has received so much attention, but at what cost? The marketing of ‘clean’ skincare might’ve started with good intentions but has resulted in muddled messaging and fear marketing leaving the conversation around it very charged.

When this whole clean beauty thing started, I don't think they thought it would end up here. I think it was supposed to be an idea of naturally derived ingredients, something more akin to organic. Then it became this monster. Not organic, not naturally derived, not less processing, it just became this is bad, this is bad for your skin, this will harm your skin. - Dr. Ejikeme

For me it became really sinister when there was an implication that topical application could lead to things like cancer. - Emma Guns

The Power of the Influencer for Better or Worse 

Thanks to social media, the influencer trend in the skincare sphere has officially gone mainstream. Dermatologists and skincare vloggers have legions of fans, including “ skintellectuals,” on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. These personalities can and do influence skincare trends and consumer ideals. 

"Sometimes a patient comes to me and I know immediately who they're following and listening to," explained Dr. Ejikeme. 

"People have come to me as part of their skincare routine that ties into Instagram,” noted Abigail James. “It has suddenly changed how people view their skin."

More About the Skin and Less About Brand Philosophy

In skincare today, Swissline Brand Director Custodio D’Avo believes getting back to the basics is the key to staying out of the murky waters of brand philosophy, which when put first and foremost, can leave the importance of skin biology behind.

I think it's a cultural and personal development shift, which is this idea that we are humans and there is a biological reality to skin, and if we think that way it's rather simple. If you step back from politics and different identities, and if we think the skin is a biological entity more than anything else, it's not hard to understand, it's simple.

I feel personally after 30 years in the industry it becomes easier and easier to think more skin and less brand philosophies. The basics like antioxidants, retinoids, vitamin c, a good sunscreen, and the right texture help everything fall into place. - Swissline Brand Director, Custodio D'Avo

Post-Meal Ponderings 

In the spirit of experts coming together to discuss trends and the leaps and bounds the skincare industry has made, towards the end of the conversation, Abigail reflected:

“How different is skincare today from the 90s?!”

Dr. Ejikeme replied: 

"You wouldn’t have us all sat together!"

The Hosts of Swissline's Dinner: Custodio d'Avo (Brand Director), Dahlia Dean (PR) and Christophe Lesueur (CEO)

About our Dinner Guests:


Emma Guns is an experienced beauty, health, and lifestyle writer, podcaster and brand consultant. 

Dr. Ejikeme is the founder of Adonia Medical Clinic and was recently awarded Best Cosmetic Doctor 2021 by Marie Claire UK.

Dr. Psomadakis is a full-time dermatologist who provides her followers with educational and accessible information on skincare's hottest topics.

Abigail James is one of the most well-respected skincare and wellbeing experts within the UK. Abigail's second book The Glow Plan is due to be published in April 2022. (IG @abigailjames / YouTube: abigailjames)

Photos Courtesy of Ryan Curtis 


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