Today's influencers are shaking up the skincare industry, and brands ought to pay attention.
Beauty and skincare influencers have been around for almost as long as social media. According to Fortune Business Insights, not only is the global skincare market value set to increase from US$133.9 billion in 2018 to US$200.25 billion in 2026, consumers are demanding for more environmentally sustainable products.
This is in tandem with the rise of a new generation of content creators who are not merely satisfied with uploading videos of products being unboxed, but are prepared to investigate and reveal what goes into the making of a skincare product — potentially making or breaking brands in the process.
Case study: A skincare industry disrupter
Enter Hyram Yarbro, a 24-year old skinfluencer (portmanteau of skincare and influencer) based in Hawaii. His YouTube channel, which is dedicated to educating his followers on skincare, has amassed 4.5 million subscribers and counting.
In an article, Vogue USA declared him “at the helm of a disruptive skin-care subculture revolutionizing the beauty industry”. On his channel, Hyram assesses whether or not the ingredients in skincare products are bad or good for your skin; he approves of salicylic acid face wash but abhors added fragrances, which can potentially irritate skin.
He also comments on price points, often promoting clean-formula, affordable brands. He even critiques the impact skincare brands are making on the environment; from the recyclability of their packaging, to the effects of sunscreen formulae on marine life.
To date, Hyram’s TikTok page has almost 7 million followers. This is where he makes fun, short videos with quick skincare tips, and playfully interacts with his followers who often ask him to review their skincare routine.
With such a massive following and very strong opinions on whether a skincare ingredient is good or bad for you, it is not surprising that marketers would expect an increase in mindshare if Hyram approves of their brand, and a dip if he regards their formula as ‘trash’.
How brands can court consumers via the good opinion of skinfluencers
So what are influencers like Hyram doing right, and what can we learn from such a success story about how beauty and skincare content is evolving?
Skincare brands should think less about what has worked, and more about what will work.
If brands want to remain in business for the long-term, they ought to think about how to appeal to the Millennial and Gen Z today. The younger consumer is more discerning, financially aware, environmentally conscious, and hungry for information, compared to the previous generations of consumers who might be swayed into buying a perfume after seeing it with a glamorous actress in an ad.
With ever decreasing attention spans, today’s consumers looking to spend on skincare would much prefer to watch or listen to a video than read a long article.
Hyram compartmentalises his information to suit social media formats; by not reviewing too many products from a skincare line at once, and by categorising his information into fun lists such as year-end ‘Best-ofs’. In addition to being transparent, brands need to target consumer concerns and communicate solutions succinctly.
Tech-savviness and keeping up with online trends is key. Brands must be able to imagine their influencer engagements and how content will be presented on different platforms to appeal to different audiences. For example, it would make sense for brands to learn to generate and position their content on TikTok rather than Instagram when reaching out to teenagers.
Skinfluencing in Asia
TikTok is gaining popularity in Asia, and some content creators are ahead of the game, gaining a massive following.
A quick search on hashtags such as #skincareMalaysia, can turn up skinfluencers such as user @cirasso, a Malaysian hijabi TikToker with over 177,000 followers. Her profile description simply states #pendidikankulit (#skineducation), and her feed is filled with all things skincare-related such as product reviews and recommendations. She also addresses concerns about the halal status of skincare ingredients.
In Indonesia, skincare content creator who goes by @dr.ziee, has a blue-tick verified account with a whopping 1.4 million followers. The account is helmed by Dr Yessica Tania, a doctor, and aesthetic and skincare consultant based in Bali who was nominated in the Best in Learning & Education category in the TikTok Awards Indonesia 2020.
Dr Yessica is not the only skinfluencer doctor on the platform. User @dr_ingky is a Kuala Lumpur-based skin doctor with over 230,000 followers on TikTok, whose content focuses on localised skincare advice and tips. The man behind the username is Dr Lim Ing Kien, and like Hyram, believes that skincare should be accessible to everyone. He also co-founded SkynFyx, Malaysia’s First Digital Skin Doctor. Today’s influencers are perceived to be providing a public service that empowers the average consumer in making informed decisions. The extent to which they are revolutionising how everyday people choose their skincare is a testament to the power of digital revolution.