written by
Victoria Annich
Victoria Annich
Market Insights

From Pharma To Beauty: The Rise Of Dermacosmetics

From Pharma To Beauty: The Rise Of Dermacosmetics

The skincare industry is currently seeing a boom in products with pharmaceutical expertise. Known as dermacosmetics, these products benefit from expert scientific research provided by the pharmaceutical industry and are characterised by the high efficacy potential of the ingredients used. Where does this trend come from and why is the market growing? Here are some explanations.

Dermacosmetics: what is driving the trend?

These days there are many environmental factors which can have an adverse effect on our skin. More pollution in cities, greater exposure to harmful UV rays and bad sleep are all taking their toll on our skin, meaning that our demand for effective skincare is stronger than ever before.

The drive towards greater sustainability and purer lifestyles in all aspects is also forcing us to question the ingredients in the products we consume. But skincare is different – the ingredients have a very noticeable and immediate impact on our outward appearance. This means the skincare consumer is particularly discerning, more so perhaps even than with what they eat and drink.

Sociological trends also point out that people are living longer and want to look better. And this means our skincare regime is becoming more extensive – and now resembles those skincare regimes in countries like Spain where the sun is stronger. Here it is not unusual for skincare regimes to feature up to 13 steps.  

As a result of these factors, the global dermacosmetics market is expanding with some commentators predicting growth at a CAGR of 4.5% during the period 2020-2027.

Dermacosmetics: what are the benefits?

Moritz Monschau, Marketing Manager at ISDIN, a leading Spanish skincare company focused on sun protection, explains: “For most beauty brands it is often a trade off between effectiveness and usability. Our scientific research aims to bridge that gap, with the result that our products bring real results and they are also pleasant for people to use.”  

Most suncare brands for example use UV filters contained in oil which is the standard solution and can often make eyes itch. Our scientific research has meant that we have found a way to produce UV filters surrounded by water molecules so our sun screen is both effective and sensitive to the eye area

Dermacosmetic products are also providing unexpected and additional benefits for the consumer. The ISDIN nail strengthening pen, for example, was developed to protect and improve the condition of nails, but doctors recognised that the pen was also providing effective treatment for nail fungus. First studies are now being conducted to evidence this.

Pharmacies and dermatologists: trusted sources

In Germany dermacosmetics are mainly sold through the widespread network of pharmacies which enjoy a high level of trust among consumers. Here products also benefit from specially trained sales advisors and expert consultation, absent from a standard retailer. Due to the scientific proof of their efficacy, these products are also often recommended by dermatologists who in Germany prescribe dermacosmetics using the red self-payment prescriptions. In some cases they are even refunded by organisations such as the trade associations (Berufsgenossenschaften) which have many members who work outside and are thus at greater risk of skin disease.

Monschau added “Our business model relies heavily on recommendations from doctors and consultation with trained pharmacists. These experts are able to really understand the scientific knowledge and research that has gone into developing our products and can explain this and the benefits effectively to the customer”.

Dermacosmetics also benefit from the relatively high pharmacy density in Germany. With more than 20,000 pharmacies and a population of more than 80 million, Germany boasts 25 pharmacies per 100,000 inhabitants – more than many European countries. Products sold in pharmacies can also access the extensive pharmaceutical distribution network across Germany which, according to Monschau, is “better than Amazon Prime”  

Furthermore the pharmacy environment of trust and expertise tends to generate higher shopping cart value, and this commercial benefit is not lost on many dermacosmetic brands. Monschau said: “You generally go to the pharmacy if you have tried everything else. No-one goes to the pharmacy to save money”.

Dermacosmetics: crisis proof?

There is also evidence that the dermacosmetics market has come through the Corona crisis relatively unscathed.  

While Beiersdorf In October 2020 reported an overall sales drop for Q3 2020, with sales down 8.5% on the previous year, Beiersdorf CEO Stefan De Loecker said on a company’s earnings call that “the dermacosmetics market has proven particularly resilient in this crisis and we achieved strong double-digit sales growth across all regions with our Eucerin and Aquaphor brands thanks to successful innovations.” The CEO explained that this was largely due to pharmacies being less affected by COVID-19 lockdowns. Beiersdorf was therefore able to continue catering to consumers and their need for skin solutions.


The future is bright for dermacosmetics. In an age when trust matters, the effectiveness and usability of these products is evidenced by scientific research and they meet consumer needs.  Furthermore, by selling in pharmacies, dermacosmetics enjoy a trustworthy and reliable sales and distribution channel with expert consultation and they also benefit from an environment where customers are willing to spend a little more.