Trending in Beauty: What is ‘Multifunctional Skincare’?

Bill Levins - The Upside Blog

by | Updated: April 10th, 2023 | Read time: 7 minutes

In the recent past, skincare routines have been influenced by K-Beauty’s morning and evening six- to 12-step regimens. However, these routines can be elaborate, time consuming and expensive, making it difficult for most people to maintain them. On the other hand, millennial and Gen Z skincare enthusiasts prefer to experiment with different products. This has been encouraged by competitively priced beauty brands that offer single- or dual-ingredient products, often at high concentrations, that cater to and promote continuous experimentation.

Woman Considering Beauty Products at Drugstore to Try Multifunctional Skincare Trend

As a result, both the K-beauty routine and the “buy and try” approach have been driven by trends and marketing strategies that create a desire for the latest skincare products – in a quest to find the next Holy Grail product. Unfortunately, the result is typically an excess of partially used or unused skincare products cluttering up vanities and bathrooms – and the cycle continues.

The rise of multifunctional skincare products

In a yearning for simplicity, value, and to save time, people have been turning to solutions that offer multiple benefits in a single product. This way, instead of using two, three or four products, you simply apply one that combines all of the same key ingredients. In one survey, “consumers globally perceived the top three benefits of multifunctional beauty products to be the simplicity of using a single product (41%), being better value for money (22%) and saving time (17%).”

The challenge for brands is to demonstrate that a multifunctional product is as efficacious as multiple individual products that often promote high ingredient percentages. The same survey showed “14% of consumers believing efficacy to be their greatest benefit,” which leaves 86% thinking multifunctional products are not as effective.

The good news is, the mindset that “higher is better” is eroding as skincare consumers become more educated on optimum ingredient levels. But brands must still work to convince consumers a multifunctional product offers equal or superior results.

Multifunctional skincare and ‘skinimalism’ is a better path forward

The mantra “keep it simple” works for skin care. By limiting your daily routine to three to five products, divided into morning and evening use, you will save time, money and effort. This trend toward simplicity is known as ‘skinimalism’ and focuses on crafting a skincare routine to provide healthy skin by utilizing the fewest number of products that are beneficial and necessary. Additional motivation behind this simplification is to avoid overloading the skin with actives and key ingredients that can lead to skin reactions and damage.

When it comes to skin care, innovation is continuous, and so are setbacks. Often, a main challenge for consumers is determining which products are beneficial, and which are detrimental to their skin. This analysis is made infinitely more challenging by a complex skincare routine or by frequently introducing new products. It becomes difficult to pinpoint the cause of any issues that arise, such as blemishes or irritation, leading to the need to break down and reevaluate your entire regimen.

Proving this point, new research from Mintel reveals that 42% of consumers seek products with multiple benefits, 37% say they only purchase products from brands they trust and nearly a quarter (24%) are looking for facial skincare products that are “free-from” certain ingredients.

Selecting products that are multifunctional allows for a multi-pronged skincare approach while minimizing potential pitfalls. For example, a basic routine could consist of a cleanser, serum, moisturizer and sunscreen in the morning, and a similar routine at night, substituting the sunscreen with a targeted treatment. This can provide numerous benefits in a short amount of time, typically 5-10 minutes, especially if your multifunctional products include surfactants, humectants, emollients, antioxidants and peptides all in optimally balanced proportions.

What is a multifunctional skincare product?

When you look closely at the ingredient lists of most skincare products, you’ll find that they typically contain only one or two key ingredients, along with several supporting additives. For example, products like The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid and B5 or Skinceuticals’ Vitamin C and E and Ferulic Acid contain just a few essential components. To get the most out of your skincare routine, you may need to use multiple products, each with its own key ingredients. Unfortunately, this can become expensive if you use multiple products each with only two or three key ingredients. You’ll end up investing more time and money when one multifunctional product could suffice.

Additionally, each product contains other ingredients like solubilizers, pH modifiers and preservatives – which are all necessary but can “add up” and become overwhelming if your routine requires a lot of products.

Alternately, multifunctional skincare products offer multiple benefits in a single application. They are formulated with a combination of key ingredients that are carefully balanced to provide a range of advantages like skin nourishment, hydration, anti-aging and protection. These products contain a blend of optimized ingredients, including peptides, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid, among others. They’re an excellent option for those who want to save time and money, as they do the work of multiple products, while also minimizing the exposure to unnecessary ingredients such as preservatives.

The benefits of multifunctional skincare products

They save time: Instead of using multiple products, you use one multifunctional product, simplifying your skincare routine and making application faster.

They save money: Containing multiple ingredients, multifunctional skincare products are often cheaper than buying several products individually.

They are easy to use: Multifunctional skincare products are convenient, as you don’t need to worry about finding the right combination of products for your skin type.

They provide multiple key ingredients: Multifunctional skincare products contain multiple key ingredients, such as antioxidants, peptides and hyaluronic acid, which can help you achieve healthier skin while avoiding excessive amounts of fillers, preservatives and other necessary additives in each individual product.

More importantly, by minimizing the number of products you use, you can make smart selections to layer serums and creams to amplify overall results. For example, you can use a vitamin C serum and then layer on top a moisturizer that has a different form of vitamin C offering additional benefits for your skin. In today’s trending skincare vernacular, you might hear layering referred to as ‘skin flooding.’

What are the best multifunction skincare products?

When choosing a multifunctional skincare product, it can be challenging to decide on the right one. To start, find a product that suits your skincare goals, and then seek out products with multiple crucial ingredients that are compatible with your skin type.

For example, if you have dry skin, opt for products with moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. If you have oily skin, look for products with oil-controlling components like salicylic acid and witch hazel. To brighten your skin, seek products with niacinamide, vitamin C, and arbutin. For firmer skin, consider products with elastin, collagen and DMAE. Lastly, if you want younger-looking skin, search for ingredients like retinol or backuchiol and various peptides that have anti-aging properties.

Start simplifying your skincare and go multifunctional.

Multifunctional skincare products are an excellent option for anyone looking to streamline their skincare routine – achieving ‘skinimalism.’ These multi-purpose products are designed to provide numerous benefits in a single product by infusing multiple key ingredients with each application. Each multifunctional product can help you achieve healthier skin while simultaneously avoiding six- to twelve- step regimens. Additionally, skincare layering (a.k.a. skin flooding) can help you customize your skincare routine to maximize the benefits of each multifunctional product.

By minimizing the products used in your skincare regimen you can save time and money while avoiding the overstimulation of your skin that often leads to problems. It’s important to research different multi-purpose products to find the one that is best suited for your skin type and concerns.

Most importantly, when you follow a simplified routine, you’re more likely to stick with it. You can still experiment by adding in a “new” product from time to time. After all, if it’s one extra step in your typical three-step routine and things suddenly go haywire with your skin, it’ll be easy to identify which product caused the problem – and to correct it.

So, begin streamlining your skincare – go multifunctional – and you’ll enjoy saving time, money and effort without sacrificing results!

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