From the beginning, France has been the leading country in the cosmetics industry. L’Oréal is the world leader in an industry that also includes Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Shiseido and Estée Lauder. Today, very dynamic competition comes from Japan, Korea and China. New types of players are emerging with indie brands. And new technologies are helping to transform this industry.


Natural cosmetics

Natural cosmetics are distinguished by their natural and organic ingredients, with a certain vagueness about what these notions mean, and consequently a great development of tests, certifications, and traceability (with in particular a unique code per product, rather than per batch of products): see our article on current trends in natural cosmetics.


Personalization & instrumental cosmetics

Personalization includes two complementary aspects: diagnosis and product.

On the diagnostic side, the aim is to industrialize personalization through algorithms and sensor miniaturization, to offer real-time skin or hair diagnostics. As part of the diagnosis, the use of augmented reality should also be integrated.

On the product side, personalization can be achieved through do it yourself, and possibly through the use of robots and instruments. The technological challenges of product customization are many, with many obstacles to overcome. In these cases, manufacturers do not hesitate to call on the most advanced scientific and technological expertise.


The big data

The other major trend is big data in order to get to know the consumer better: for example, to know everything that creates a person’s “likes” in terms of images, in order to design and offer products that are as close as possible to what consumers want. The use of artificial intelligence is also destined to become widespread in this field, as soon as researchers are able to identify the data that determine beauty judgments.

The analysis of the effect of cosmetic products such as make-up in terms of beauty is done, for example, by comparing how people perceive a face before and after. The emotion felt is very important, what matters is for example to look “happier”.


Eco-responsibility in packaging

The packaging and presentation of cosmetic products contributes significantly to their competitiveness. To reconcile this aesthetic imperative with the new ecological requirements of consumers, manufacturers are tackling packaging. The use of ecological materials, the consideration of recycling and the elimination of plastics are at the heart of the strategies here.


Science between mistrust and return in force

In fields such as microbiome, intelligent materials, or artificial intelligence, scientific advances contribute strongly to innovations in the cosmetics industry. This trend is accompanied by an explosion in the number of patents issued by a wide variety of players: the market can be disrupted at any time.

In particular, the knowledge of tactile sensations remains to be perfected. These sensations form a system that encompasses aspects as varied as the perception of pressure, temperature, magnetism, and friction. This field is fundamental research in physiology.

At the same time, a certain rejection of scientific knowledge is manifested in marketing, in favour of an enhancement of proximity. People have more confidence in what influencers can say than in conventional marketing. So we need to identify the influencers.



The global cosmetics market has been growing at between 3% and 5% per year for the past ten years. The explosion of selfies is helping to support this trend. In the same vein, the development of the male beauty products market is opening up new opportunities in this industry. Faced with this market potential, it is industrial ecosystems that will make the difference. In particular by launching the right synergies.


This article was supported by Marc Danzart, Fellow Presans, a specialist in the cosmetics industry.