Essential Self-Care

From Indulgence to Essential

The Increasing Importance of Self-care

Over the course of 2020, there was a distinct shift in self-care behaviors, particularly in relation to skincare.

Sales of cosmetics in 2020 plunged vs. 2019 across the US (-19%), Australia (-12%) and the UK (-23%).

Regular use of makeup is in decline, particularly among its most frequent users (women in their 30s). At a global level, the proportion of women saying they use makeup at least daily dropped over 10 percentage points between 2019 and 2021, from 48% to 36%.

A skincare-first approach emerged globally with 29% of consumers saying that they held a skincare-first approach to beauty (up from 21% in 2016) vs. 18% who held a makeup-first approach (down from 24% in 2016).

The events of 2020-21 intensified the trend of a holistic definition of self-care. Lockdowns and a shift to working from home created a skincare experiment as people stopped using cosmetics as frequently and instead turned their efforts to increased use of skincare products–masks, serums, and treatments–and saw the results. People became more aware of the impact of stress on the skin and the notion of skin and hair fitness became more of a priority.

By 2025

the global skincare market is estimated to reach USD $189.3 billion

In our Patchology Self-Care Survey, we found that some people were spending more time on self-care across a range of actions and an even higher percentage of respondents were intending to put more effort into self-care in the future, signaling a more holistic approach to self-care.

Women were more likely to invest more time in skin care, mental health and sleep when compared to men and, overall, were more optimistic about future self-care efforts.

Younger women 18-34 (41%) currently spend more time on skincare than they did prior to 2020. The reported drivers of the increased effort were aging (45%), wanting to be one’s best self (45%), being more invested in one’s self (39%) and stress (36%).

Stress also had the opposite effect on some women over the pandemic. It was the number one driver of a reduction in effort for the 26% of women 18-54 who were putting less effort into skincare post-pandemic.

Women putting more effort into skincare largely felt positive about it (63%), while only 15% had negative emotions associated with the increase and 11% had mixed emotions. Of women who had cut back on their skincare effort, only 33% felt positive with 34% having negative emotions associated with the reduced effort and 12% had mixed emotions.


of women are more likely to foster negative emotions like guilt and stress when thinking about their self-care routine

compared to 13% for men

From indulgence to essential

Women 18-34

spend an average of

15.9 minutes per day

Women 35-54

spend an average of

16.2 minutes per day

Women 55+

spend an average of

16.7 minutes per day

Our report found that

people who were increasing their efforts in any aspect of self-care were more likely to have positive emotions about it

When considering their future skincare, 47% of women 18-54 believed they would put even more effort in. This belief was also shared by 35% of women 55+. Women who reported that they are spending more time on skincare now than prior to the pandemic are dedicating 22.6 minutes a day to skincare versus those who are spending less time at an average of 12 minutes a day. Overall, 25% of women surveyed said they had increased their spend on skincare compared to pre-pandemic. This was higher for Women 18-24 at 30%.

On average, women spend about a quarter of an hour on skincare, out of the 24 hours in the day. This number is higher than it was during pre-pandemic levels (12 minutes per day) but is on track to continue growing (47% of women 18-54 state they would like to put even more effort into skincare).

The increased focus on relaxation was driven by aging (though not for the 18-34 age cohort), followed by a way to pass time and stress. Again, this was observed to be much higher for women than men. Getting older and stress were also the most nominated reasons why people were spending more time sleeping post-pandemic. For those paying more attention to nutrition, getting older and health issues were the top two reasons. These two reasons were also what was driving more attention to exercise, along with a desire to be one’s best self.

The reasons contributing to an increased focus on mental health were varied. The number one reason was stress, followed by being more self-involved, aging, health issues and a desire to be one’s best self. Stress was also the number one reason for people not putting more time into their mental health, this being significantly more so amongst women.

We also studied the way people felt about their self-care routine. Just over half of respondents had positive feelings, 16% of people associated negative feelings like guilt and stress with self-care, while another 8% of respondents experienced mixed emotions.

Return to our Self-Care Report