Oral Care Products — The Newest Trend in Beauty Wellness

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 September 21, 2021

What’s New In Oral Care Trends?

The topic of dental hygiene has taken on new relevance in 2021, as men and women across the globe come to embrace the latest oral care trend. Ingredients once reserved for beauty products, like xylitol for moisturization and charcoal for detox, are increasingly being incorporated into oral care products. What does this mean for the beauty industry, and how are oral care brands adapting their products to meet rising demand?

The oral care market has been ripe for disruption for years. Although consumers have long understood the importance of routine oral care and dental checkups, brand name products were exclusively designed with cavity prevention and hygiene in mind. People have traditionally chosen a toothpaste because of how well it prevents cavities or fights plaque. As the pandemic hit in 2020, we began to see that change. 

Traditional thinking about oral care went out the window. Without access to traditional dental services during pandemic lockdowns, more consumers looked for oral care products with active ingredients that they could use at home. These consumers were willing to spend a bit more on high-quality toothpaste and mouthwash knowing that they may not be visiting a dentist in-person for some time.

Men and women began to spend more on at-home beauty treatments, just as the DIY wellness trend took off. With so much boredom from staying indoors, people didn’t want beauty products that were mundane. They wanted to try new, exciting products that had the possibility of generating incredible results. At the same time consumers were trying at-home facial peels and laser hair removal, they began looking for oral care products that could transform their smiles overnight. 

Oral care is just one of many beauty categories that changed dramatically in 2020 and 2021. While product functionality remains at the forefront of today’s dental hygiene products, cosmetics and beauty trends are playing a larger role in the market, as well.

Evolving Standards in Oral Beauty

With health and wellness on so many people’s minds, consumers today are intrigued by products that make their smiles look brighter, whiter, and more youthful. The typical oral care routine recommended by dentists for decades has now been elevated to an oral beauty experience. 

Rather than relying exclusively on abrasives like silica to scour surface stains, or ingredients like hydrogen peroxide to bleach teeth, newer product formulations are leaning on ingredients traditionally used in cosmetics to address sensitivity, bacteria, and brightness. This change is part of a broader shift toward merging oral care with self-care, wellness, and beauty. The younger generation sees the beauty industry as a way to fulfill self-care, and that is more evident now than anytime before.

Functionality will always be important, but a beauty product’s popularity in the oral care space hinges on more than just tooth fortification or the types of vitamins and minerals it features. Self-care and wellness feature prominently in the beauty industry in 2021, while brand name recognition is becoming slightly less important.

Social media has a role to play in this beauty trend. Cosmetic dentistry is more popular now than anytime in history, thanks in large part to younger audiences seeing images of perfect smiles splashed across Facebook, Instagram and even Zoom. Until recently, there had never been an oral care brand marketed exclusively at teens and twenty-somethings. However, beauty industry experts saw an uptick in sales of oral care products during the pandemic lockdowns in 2020, and as a result, they began to shift their focus to develop more of the products younger generations are craving. In an instant, the oral beauty market went mainstream.

Innovative Products Transform Smiles

Transformation within the oral care space means more cosmetics brands are developing dental products and more oral care brands are adding ingredients designed for aesthetics to their existing formulations. This new category of beauty-focused oral care products has been engineered to enhance smiles and bring out consumers’ natural beauty.

The result of this transformation is the oral beauty product category. The term “oral beauty” refers to dental hygiene products designed to enhance smiles through the use of innovative ingredients and product formulations. Traditional oral care brands like Colgate, social media influencers like Kendall Jenner, and even mainstream beauty retailers like Sephora and Ulta have all jumped onboard this beauty trend. Makeup brands are branching into oral care with teeth whitening pens, whitening rinses, and electric toothbrushes.

The beauty brands Lush and Bite are marketing mouthwash “tabs” as a more fun, exciting tooth brushing experience. These tabs, like the mouth rinses and gels sold by other cosmetics manufacturers, provide unique sensations that consumers aren’t used to feeling during their twice-daily oral care routines.

One aspect that remains the same in both traditional and beauty-focused oral care products is the flavor. Researchers have found that consumers prefer mint as a core flavor profile in dental products, regardless of the product’s overall goal or purpose. ​​Approximately 60% of U.S. prophylaxis paste sales contain the flavor mint. According to research from Mintel GNPD, out of more than 15,000 new toothpaste products, 87% list mint as a core flavor profile. Men and women want innovation in oral care product formulations, and they want to transform how their smiles look, but they want their flavor profiles to remain the same.

Mass Market vs. Specialty Products

The oral beauty space can largely be broken down into two groups — mass market and specialty. Mass market oral care products come from traditional brands like Crest and Colgate. These include toothpastes and mouthwashes that are found on supermarket shelves across the country, with prices that range anywhere from $1 to $5 per bottle.

On the other end of the spectrum are specialty brands. Specialty oral care brands have flourished as the influence of beauty and wellness on the oral care market has grown. Specialty toothpastes serve a purpose that goes beyond basic hygiene and cleaning. The most popular type of specialty toothpaste is a whitening toothpaste. Toothpastes developed to combat bad breath would fall into this category, as well. Another type of specialty toothpaste is one that exhibits unique characteristics. For example, a toothpaste with natural ingredients or a unique flavor profile. These toothpastes usually have a higher price point, ranging between $8 and $15 per bottle. 

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands have been especially quick to adapt to the oral beauty trend. A number of specialty dental hygiene products are available through brand websites and specialty beauty retail stores, like Sephora and Ulta. As the oral care beauty trend grows, the most specialized oral beauty products will be available to consumers through cosmetics retailers.

Oral Care Products Target Gen-Z Customers

Gen-Z didn’t invent the category of dental cosmetics, but this generation has certainly pushed it to new heights. Members of the millennial generation and Gen-Z aren’t just taking care of their smile because they have to — they’re taking care of their smiles because they want to. Oral care has been elevated, and in the process, consumers are more willing to spend big on specialty products designed to provide exceptional benefits.

Tooth whitening gels, pastes, and rinses have been marketed at consumers for decades, despite whitening having no medical benefit. However, Gen-Z is different from previous generations in their willingness to lump beauty, wellness, and self-care into a single category. Gen-Z consumers want oral care products that enhance their beauty naturally, without relying on harsh ingredients.

Thankfully, today’s top cosmetics manufacturers are up for the task. 

Through surveys, cosmetics manufacturers have found that oral beauty products are most frequently used when people are getting ready for social events and dates. That information has led to the development of products like whitening wands, which offer an immediate benefit and are small enough to fit inside a small purse or backpack.

Although multinational brands make up the largest share of the oral care market, startups are increasingly entering the space. In fact, the oral beauty category appears to be one of the fastest growing areas for smaller brands to grow in 2021.

K-Beauty’s Influence on Oral Care

Korean beauty revolutionized skincare, and now the same can be said for oral health. When the K-beauty trend first impacted skincare in the United States, it meant all-in-one products were replaced by lengthy nighttime skincare routines that involved many individual steps. K-beauty is known for that multi-layered approach, where each product is designed for a highly specialized purpose.

Now, we’re seeing K-beauty having a similar impact on oral care. Consumers who fell hard for Korean skincare products are eager to try new oral beauty products designed to deliver targeted results. A half dozen or more steps are involved in a nightly Korean oral care routine, and each of those steps requires its own ingredient-focused product. In Korean culture, it’s not uncommon for people to brush their teeth after a single snack or cup of coffee. That type of consistency is a part of everyday life in Korea and other Asian countries. Strong dedication to oral hygiene is something that is influencing the oral beauty market in the United States, as well.

Oral care products influenced by K-beauty contain more active ingredients than traditional products. K-beauty products are known for containing innovative ingredients like ginseng, horse oil, and herbal extracts. Every ingredient has a purpose, and ingredients without a purpose are excluded from the formulation. As the Korean wellness culture expands in the United States and elsewhere, we are seeing more toothpastes designed for specific purposes or goals.

Stylish Packaging and Non-Toxic Formulations

Consumers have never cared much about the packaging when it comes to toothpaste or mouthwash — until now. In the oral beauty space, every detail matters. Brands are seeking inspiration from the latest beauty trends. As a result, more brands are rethinking the packaging on their newest oral care formulations. Oral beauty packaging is more elevated than what we’re used to seeing from traditional hygiene brands, with more pastel colors and sleeker designs.

In an interview, Colgate-Palmolive vice president Dana Medema said her company’s newest oral beauty line, Co. by Colgate, was designed based on how the target demographic is living and the types of beauty products those consumers already have on their shelves.

With increasing competition in the oral beauty space, we can expect to see more eye-catching product designs in the coming years. Consumers want oral care products they can proudly display on their shelves and in the backgrounds of their Instagram selfies. “Counter-worthy” is a term that comes up frequently. This is something traditional oral care brands are trying to adapt to, and it’s an area where specialty beauty brands already have a leg up.

Beyond colors and logos, this could mean bottle styles that reflect the brand’s target demographic. Cosmetics companies that are looking to reach Gen-Z customers might be inclined to offer smaller package sizes or specialty lids that won’t accidentally open in a purse.

Regional Differences in Oral Care Preferences

The most obvious regional difference in oral care preferences has to do with flavor. In the United States and Europe, mint is by far the most popular flavor among adult toothpastes and mouthwashes. Consumers in these regions tend to be more conservative in their flavor preferences. However, other parts of the world are a different story. In Asia, for example, more creative flavors like floral are incorporated into oral beauty product formulations. 

Consumer research has found that consumers who purchase oral products want to achieve a clean, refreshing feeling. Taste is such an important sense, that product formulations must be developed with these preferences in mind.

Beauty brands are paying close attention to flavor and evaluating how the scent and flavor profiles in their newest oral care product impact consumers’ perception of effectiveness and purpose. 

Omya Kinetik’s Oral Beauty Breakthroughs

Omya Kinetik is on the cutting-edge of oral care offering the highest quality materials, including bamboo charcoal powder, solvents, thickening agents, and more… Omya Kinetik is a leading global supplier of calcium carbonate and other natural materials for oral care and beauty. 

Discover the best oral beauty products for your brand with the right consultative support. Contact us at (732) 335-5775 for more information.