Wellness continues to be the mega-trend in personal care, blending concerns about beauty, fitness, preventative healthcare, anti-aging and stress relief into one package. As part of wellness, interest in what might be called alternative medicine “lite” continues to run high, especially the areas of massage, yoga and pilates and aromatherapy.

Even biofeedback is becoming available to home users, along with treatments once available only at the spa, such as paraffin hand and foot baths, and exfoliation devices ranging from electronic gemstone scrubbers to Microplane foot files. And sunscreen is hot, added to everything from moisturizer to eye cream to lip balm — as well as on its own.

Meanwhile, the line between medicine, beauty and food continues to blur, with “neutraceuticals” being offered as beauty products based on their skin-enhancing functions. In fact, personal care is becoming increasingly medicalized, with a focus on solving particular problem areas such as foot calluses, scar reduction and age lines, as well as several doctors-as-brands entering the field. Increased focus on particular ingredients, such as antioxidants, is a similar trend.

Equally important is the absence of certain ingredients, such as parabens. Organic and natural products are becoming so common in the personal care market that if they’re not the majority already, it seems they soon will be — perhaps because independent retailers represent an alternative distribution channel from mainstream, often chemically based, drug store brands.

Scent, packaging standards and texture continue to be high priorities — particularly as drugstore brands become more sophisticated in these areas. Competition from these and specialty boutiques such as Lush and Sephora is forcing boutique bath and body lines to differentiate themselves even further. Within packaging, we see a lot of pale pink, a sophisticated yet girlish look; retro/nostalgia images that appeal to an older ideal of femininity (yet often with tongue-in-cheek humor); and, as in candles, more representational packaging featuring whimsical depictions of people or their homes. We also see clean, sleek packaging that evokes the spa, and a decline in the homespun look even among eco-friendly and natural products.

Finally, tying into the lifestyle trend, we are beginning to see personal care products targeted to a particular consumer such as kids or moms on the go.

By Meredith Schwartz
Publication: Gifts and Decorative Accessories
Date: Thursday, November 1 2007