2021 State of Skincare

2021 State of Skincare

7 minute read

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We’re excited to publish our 2021 State of Skincare. This publication builds upon our 2020 report, covering the newest advancements in skincare research, products, policy, and diagnostics, as 2021 continued to be an exciting year across all of these categories.

In 2021, a new leading study for estimated cancer rates explained that by 2040, Melanoma may be the most common cancer among men. In parallel, mass media took action in publishing reports on ways men can take action to help prevent cancer, and check their skin to identify new cancers early on. 

We also witnessed national recalls of popular sunscreens due to exposure to the carcinogen, Benzene in parallel with the FDA tightening sunscreen regulations to protect consumers.  

Alongside policy changes, we saw advancements in up-and-coming and established brands. The Honest Company, backed by Jessica Alba with the focus on selling baby products with claims to be healthier with less synthetic chemicals, released its IPO in 2021 reaching a valuation of 1.44 billion. Hims and Hers acquired Honest Health and Apostrophe, and Function of Beauty acquired Atolla. IPOs and M&As such as these show activity in the field and demonstrate continued growth in the broader skincare market*. 

  1. Emerging technology (Artificial Intelligence)

    1.  Bottom Line:  New and enhanced detection capabilities are paving the way for digital apps and telehealth capabilities. These technologies aim to make screenings more accessible and aid clinicians in diagnostics. From Google’s new skin AI app Derm Assist to fresh research out of Hawaii, the use of AI in dermatology practices will be the industry standard moving forward when assisting in triaging skin health conditions, including skin cancer, rashes and more. 

    2. Body: As early as 2010, companies such as Deepmind and Skinvision began working on AI applications in dermatology. However, in this past year alone, we saw the impacts of new models from Google, MIT and research trials from Hawaii highlighting the newest potential for AI; specifically, diagnosing and screening for skin cancer. Malignant melanoma is one of the most fatal forms of skin cancer; accounting for 70% of skin cancer-related deaths worldwide. Today, senior dermatologists may still not catch subtle melanoma, as it can appear similar to a benign or ‘harmless’ mole. New research from MIT highlights a nearly 90% sensitivity success rate with their models towards identifying which suspicious pigmented lesions are dangerous.

    3. A Hawaiian research study suggested that the best method in the near future is to combine AI with dermatologist’s review. When working in tandem, they found that the dermatologists were able to identify melanoma vs. non-melanoma skin cancer 100% of the time within clinical trials. 

    4. While most dermatologists might not rely on AI detection today, digital apps such as Derm Assist, SkinVision, MiiSkin and Skintelligent have begun to leverage AI for skin health detection via smartphone apps in the hopes of better triaging skin concerns and ultimately lowering the overwhelming demand placed on dermatologists today.

    5. Quotes to include:

      1. Luis Sounskin

        1. “Current and future healthcare systems are not generally prepared to cope with the demand for dermatological services (if based on human-driven examinations alone).”

        2. “The actual limitation now is access to high-quality / high-quantity datasets rather than the other components (which were much more of an issue not too long ago).” 

    6. Links to Learn More

      1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34744150/ 

      2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959804919303491

      3. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-96707-8

      4. https://news.mit.edu/2021/artificial-intelligence-tool-can-help-detect-melanoma-0402

      5. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.abb3652

      6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34744150/

      7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6793782/#R7

  1. Benzene Recall 

    1. Bottom Line:  In 2021, the carcinogen Benzene made headlines, after traces were found in big-name-brand products leading to voluntary recalls. 

    2. Body:  Aveeno, Neutrogena (Johnson and Johnson) and Coppertone (Beiersdorf) products were recalled after Valisure discovered certain sunscreens had been contaminated with benzene, a compound that has been shown to have carcinogenic long-term effects. While this recall may cause initial distrust in the safety of many commonly used sunscreen products, it should not, when reviewing the case study. The batch tested contained over 200 samples of products, and the vast majority of these products did not contain benzene. As the lot tested was overwhelmingly benzene-free, it’s clear this issue lies within the manufacturing process. While benzene may be used at minimal levels to help with ease of spreadability (in aerosols, hand sanitizer), benzene is not an ingredient that is not an inherently required ingredient in the making of any sun protectant products. 

    3. Links to Learn More:

      1. https://www.consumerreports.org/recalls/aveeno-and-neutrogena-spray-sunscreens-recalled-due-to-low-l-a1023552958/

      2. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/news-events-human-drugs/update-sunscreen-requirements-deemed-final-order-and-proposed-order 

      3. https://getmr.com/a/blog/benzene 

  2. Men's perception of skin cancer risk

    1.  Bottom Line:  A growing body of literature across consumer and medical journals is investigating the rising rates of skin cancer among men. Research from 2018 suggests that by 2040, Melanoma will be the most common cancer among men, and peer-reviewed studies show that the best chance of limiting this condition is to focus on changing behaviors.

    2. Body:  In 2021, a research study investigated the relationship between men’s perceptions of their risk of contracting skin cancer, how often they were exposed to the sun, and how compliant they were with sun protection. The study found that men with an elevated risk of skin cancer rarely used sun avoidance behaviors, such as wearing protective hats/clothing, and sunscreen.  Ultimately, men in the study were not aware of their personal risks as it related to sun exposure, including whether they had a family history of skin cancer, the impact of their skin type and sun protective behaviors. Non-melanoma Skin cancers are the most common form of cancer in the world and disproportionately affect men at higher rates. Given that by 2040 melanoma may be the most common form of cancer in men, this research is part of a growing body of literature investigating how we can best curb this epidemic by increasing men’s awareness of their risk and by educating our population about sun-protective behaviors.

    3. One consumer-oriented publication, Men’sHealth, highlighted the growing concern of skin cancer in men and urged its readers to increase sun protection, be informed about family history and perform self-skin exams. Even with these features, more research using robust clinical trials to determine the most effective interventions are needed.. 

    4. Contributors:

      1. Dr. Orit Markowitz 

        1.  "Many people believe skin cancer is a disease seen primarily in older people. However, melanoma skin cancer cases are increasing in men ages 15-39. Young men also make up nearly two-thirds of all melanoma-related deaths. This may be because young men are less likely to get their skin checked by dermatologists allowing these lesions to go unnoticed until they are bothersome or noticed by someone else. By this point, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body and it may be too late. It is important that we change how we think about skin cancer as a disease primarily in older people and encourage young men to get their skin checked. Fortunately, there are newer less invasive treatments that avoid making drastic cuts in people to remove skin cancer."

      2. Gabrielle Adams

        1. What additional research is needed in this space?

          1. “We definitely need more research regarding targeted strategies for men that aim to increase their willingness to engage in sun-protective behaviors and improve their education on what their risk factors are for developing skin cancer.  Many men aren't engaging in the protective behaviors that we know work, and so it's important to investigate how we can rectify this in the future. “

        2. Why is this specific research question important?  

          1. “Our paper specifically explored how men feel about the sun and the behaviors they can implement to prevent skin cancer.  We currently have researched regarding what we can do to prevent skin cancer, but not research on how men understand this research and how they feel about it.  Our study aims to bridge this divide.”

    5. Links to Learn more

      1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8508125/#B9-ijerph-18-09989

      2. https://www.menshealth.com/health/a35927240/melanoma-skin-cancer-rise-millennials/

      3. https://wwd.com/beauty-industry-news/skin-care/how-grooming-is-introducing-men-to-self-care-and-redefining-masculinity-1203373643/

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