Beauty news: your exclusive to the top 10 ingredients for 2024

top 10 beauty ingredients 2024

We dive into the top 10 natural beauty ingredients predicted to trend in 2024. This is a list every natural formulator should know about.

From vitamin B3 to caffeine, explore the hottest upcoming ingredients in the beauty market, and learn how to incorporate them into your natural formulations.

Why is it important to know the latest when you want to chart your own formulation path?

As natural, organic formulators and indie beauty brand founders you operate in the wider cosmetics market and not in a vacuum. Even if you are keeping things local, and drawing inspiration from ingredients around you, it is still important to keep updated on the beauty and cosmetic trends, new and often more sustainable ingredients, industry thought leaders’ views, and general beauty news.

We’ve a list of ideal beauty industry resources to help you keep updated.

With your audiences and potential customers becoming very informed about cosmetic ingredients thanks to social media, you don’t want to be caught unaware of the latest formulation trends in beauty. We covered the rise of consumer power in our podcast:

Episode 172: Skintellectuals and the rise of informed beauty shoppers

Our podcast Green Beauty Conversations is a go-to place to hear the latest from our industry insider guests and our Formula Botanica opinions. Hop over to listen to the episode archives and subscribe so you don’t miss out.

Without further ado, let’s explore the game-changing cosmetic ingredients to use in your formulations in 2024.

The big 2024 trending ingredient reveal.

1. Niacinamide – a vital vitamin

vitamin B micellar water
The top cosmetic ingredient for 2024 is vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide or nicotinamide. An active form of vitamin B3, this ingredient is a popular choice suited to cosmetics targeting both mature as well as acne-prone skin.

It helps regulate sebum production, improves the appearance of hyperpigmentation and age spots, reduces wrinkles and fine lines, and evens the skin tone due to its brightening and anti-inflammatory action (ii, iii). This multi-functional, high-performance ingredient also helps the skin barrier, hydrates the skin, and reduces water loss.

Niacinamide powder can be used in emulsions and gels by incorporating it into the cool-down phase of your formulations. We have several formulations on the blog that feature niacinamide and also explain the science behind some formulator myths about using. See this posts for more on niacinamide:

How to formulate a micellar water with vitamin B
How to make a brightening body serum
Vitamin C skincare myths – see myth #3: You can’t use niacinamide and vitamin C together.

2. Retinol alternatives – the natural ones

top 5 natural retinol alternatives

Retinol alternatives are another strong trend for 2024. Retinol, a popular ingredient targeting mature skin, is notoriously unstable and can cause skin reactions. This is why natural retinol alternatives that are also stable and gentler on the skin are increasingly in the spotlight.

Bakuchiol is the most well-known, natural retinol alternative and is easy to source. While it has a different chemical profile from retinol, it works similarly on the skin by helping to stimulate cell turnover, boost collagen production and reduce the visible signs of skin ageing and hyperpigmentation (iv).

Add isolated bakuchiol extract to your cool-down phase, or experiment with other alternatives. You can find out more about these in our training module, or Mini-Lab, on our membership site The Lab at Formula Botanica. We also have two blog posts on the topic:

Top 5 natural retinol alternatives and why you should use them
How to formulate a bakuchiol beauty concentrate

3. Macro- and microalgae – sustainably ocean sourced

Algae sustainable cosmeticsAlong with plant-based vitamins, algae are predicted to be one of the hottest ingredient trends of 2024. With the recent rise of the blue beauty movement, algae are especially interesting to natural formulators as they contain great benefits for both the skin and the environment (v).

Algae are generally divided into two main categories: macroalgae and microalgae. Let’s start with the macro variety.

The antioxidant protectors in macroalgae
There are three major types of macroalgae, also known as seaweed: brown, red, and green. Macroalgae contain various pigments that protect them from oxidative damage and allow them to survive harsh environmental conditions, which in turn can help protect our skin from oxidative stress, helping to prevent early signs of skin ageing (vi).

Brown algae are the most used macroalgae in skincare, but all types of macroalgae are highly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and can be purchased as extracts to incorporate in the cool-down phase of your gels or emulsions.

The colourful power of microalgae
As for microalgae, or cyanobacteria, they are great algae to incorporate into your natural formulations, as they are a rich source of active compounds and nutrients (vii). The dried form of cyanobacteria, spirulina (or blue-green algae), grows in high pH environments and its main active component, C-phycocyanin, contains a blue pigment with antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. It helps regulate sebum production and reduce hyperpigmentation, reinforcing the skin’s protective barrier and improving skin hydration.

You can purchase it as a glycerite or powder, and disperse it in the cool-down of your masks, scrubs, or shampoo bars.

Find out more about macro- and microalgae and how you can use them in our membership site’s Mini-Lab on marine ingredients, and also check out our podcast below about the environmental benefits of choosing algae-based ingredients in formulation:

Podcast 168: Algae, the future of sustainable beauty

4. Astaxanthin – the potent pink active

astaxanthin top 10 beauty ingredient 2024Astaxanthin is yet another trending marine-born ingredient for 2024. This reddish-orange active comes from the xanthophyll group of carotenoids and is naturally present in some marine organisms, giving them their pink appearance.

With a higher antioxidant activity than vitamin C, astaxanthin helps slow the skin’s ageing process (viii) and reduce hyperpigmentation, wrinkle formation, and collagen breakdown (ix). Incorporate astaxanthin powder or as a liquid extract in the cool-down phase of your creams and serums. A little goes a long way as it is a strong colourant. As you can see from our post on astaxanthin below, we predicted earlier this year that it would be a hot ingredient to watch out for in cosmetic formulations so we were ahead of the curve.

Is astaxanthin the cosmetic ingredient for 2023?

5. Black cumin seed oil – ancient seed for modern beauty

Beauty news: your exclusive to the top 10 ingredients for 2024Black cumin seed oil takes us in another direction – botanical oils and fixed or carrier oils. It is one of our top-pick ingredients for 2024 that shows you don’t need to use expensive actives to create high-performance products that are on trend.

Plant oils are always great to formulate with as they’re very easy to use in almost all types of cosmetics and by selecting just the right ones, you can infuse your skincare and haircare formulations with specific benefits. Black cumin seed oil is an especially interesting one, so let’s delve into it.

Also known as caraway oil, kalonji oil, nigella sativa oil, or black seed oil, cold-pressed black cumin seed oil is obtained from the crushed seeds of the Nigella sativa plant. It has a long history of use in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia on account of its therapeutic and cosmetic benefits. Recently, it has been in the spotlight featuring in both mainstream and indie beauty products.

It has proven antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties (x), which is especially beneficial for acne-prone or irritated skin (xi). It also has interesting moisturising properties, which can help restore skin health. Furthermore, black cumin seed oil presents high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and interesting antioxidant compounds such as thymoquinone, nigellone, and beta-sitosterol, which can help nourish the skin, restore its elasticity, and reduce free radical damage, helping prevent premature skin ageing (xii).

Add black cumin seed oil in the cool-down phase of your formulations, such as your emulsions or anhydrous products. Be careful not to heat this oil above 40 degrees Celsius, as it has a high iodine value. Learn more about working with heat-sensitive oils in our post:

The chemist’s guide to checking oils for heat sensitivity

6. Natural peptides – mature skin’s best friends

egg protein peptidesNatural peptides are the latest rage in the beauty industry, especially in formulations targeting mature skin.

Peptides are short chains of amino acids that are essential components of living organisms. In cosmetics, they can reduce moisture loss and wrinkles by forming a protective film over the skin (xiii). Peptides can also temporarily improve the strength, elasticity and shine of damaged hair. Most natural peptides are hydrolysed proteins which derive from plants like soy, rice and peas.

Add your peptides to the cool-down phase of your facial serums or creams. Research peptides further in our natural peptides Mini Lab over in The Lab at Formula Botanica, or in the guide and peptide formulation posts below:

The formulator’s guide to natural peptides
How to make a night cream with peptides

7. Ectoine – the mighty microorganism extract

Ectoine cosmetic ingredientEctoine, an amino acid extracted from microorganisms, is a fascinating and lesser known ingredient, but one set to trend as a high-performance additive in skincare formulations. This natural compound is produced by single-cell bacteria that protect microorganisms living in harsh environments – such as high salinity lakes – and its properties make it an interesting cosmetic ingredient (xiv) to explore.

This extract has moisturising, calming, anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties. It also strengthens the skin barrier, reduces trans-epidermal water loss, and smooths the skin tone. Add ectoine as a white powder to your microbiome-friendly creams and serums. You can learn more about ectoine in this blog post:

Ectoine: the powerhouse ingredient every formulator needs

8. Mushroom extracts – magical fungi

Beauty news: your exclusive to the top 10 ingredients for 2024Mushrooms have been talked about for a few years now, but their amazing benefits keep on giving and are still taking the beauty industry by storm. They have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can improve fine lines, wrinkles, and even skin tone.

Due to their high polysaccharide content, mushrooms are also highly moisturising. In fact, the polysaccharides in snow mushrooms (INCI: Tremella fuciformis) are often compared to hyaluronic acid. Other mushrooms also have antioxidant, brightening and antimicrobial actions (xiv).

Add mushroom extracts to the cool-down phase of your skincare and haircare formulations. Find out more about them in our Mini Lab on mushroom extracts for cosmetics.

9. Ceramides – familiar, but still on trend

ceramide face cream formulation

Ceramides are also perfect for hydrating your skin since these naturally-occurring lipid substances can prevent water loss and dehydration. Adding ceramides to your formulations helps increase skin hydration and maintain the skin barrier function (xv).

Ceramides can also be useful in your haircare formulations, as they can protect and restore shine to damaged hair.

You can purchase ceramides as water-soluble powders or glycerites, and add them in the cool-down phase of emulsions. Find out more about the skin barrier and ceramides below, or in our deep dive Mini-Lab in our membership site as well as the posts below:

Skin barrier 101: essential guide for natural cosmetic formulators
How to formulate a ceramide face cream

10. Caffeine – from bean and leaf to beauty

cosmetic benefits caffeine in green tea

Last but not least, we have caffeine, an easy-to-use active ingredient that’s highly beneficial for skincare and haircare.

Caffeine is able to penetrate the skin and scalp through the follicular pathway. Considering it is a water-soluble ingredient, it has a good penetration ability. Caffeine extracts are used in cosmetics to improve the skin’s micro-circulation, providing a temporary firming effect which can reduce cellulite and promote hair growth.

Its anti-inflammatory activity also reduces under-eye bags and dark circles, while its antioxidant properties can protect cells against UV radiation and slow down the photo-ageing process (xvi).

Add it as a white powder to emulsions to act on issues such as the visible signs of cellulite, as well as puffiness and dark circles under the eyes. Learn how to formulate with caffeine in our formulation and guide below:

How to make a caffeine and pea under eye serum
Leaf to lotion: the benefits of green tea in cosmetic formulations

Why formulate with trending cosmetic ingredients?

Formulating with the latest cosmetic ingredients keeps you on track with cosmetic innovations, improves your formulation skills, and boosts your products. Whether you want to formulate just for yourself or to launch your own indie beauty brand, it’s always wise to stay informed about the latest ingredient trends and test them out yourself.

By incorporating new ingredients, especially those also with sustainability credentials, you can elevate your formulations.

You may wish to use some of our list of trending, active ingredients in formulations that speak to your ethos and your customers. Experiment to see how they work in conjunction, for example, with ingredients local to you so you can harness their power in your own personal and unique formulations and beauty brand story.

Our membership site, The Lab at Formula Botanica is the place to keep up to date with not just ingredients, but also formulation techniques and industry trends. Find out more below:

The Lab at Formula Botanica
Why the Lab’s CPD is a game-changer for natural formulators

References and further reading

(i) “2024 ingredients trends decoded,” Cosmetic and Toiletries, 2023.
(ii) Bisset et al, 2005. Niacinamide: a B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance.
(iii) Boo YC, 2021. Mechanistic Basis and Clinical Evidence for the Applications of Nicotinamide (Niacinamide) to Control Skin Aging and Pigmentation.
(iv) Wang et al, 2019. Bakuchiol as a Trendy Ingredient in Skincare: Recent Evidence.
(v) Fonseca et al, 2023. Marine natural products as innovative cosmetic ingredients.
(vi) Pangestuti et al, 2021. Anti photo-ageing and potential skin health benefits of seaweed.
(vii) Ashaolu et al, 2021. Phycocyanin, a super functional ingredient from algae; properties, purification, characterization, and applications.
(viii) Davinelli et al, 2018. Astaxanthin in skin health, repair, and disease: a comprehensive review.
(ix) Kumar et al, 2021. Astaxanthin: a super antioxidant from microalgae and its therapeutic potential.
(x) Anthony Dweck, 2017. Fourth Edition of Handbook of Natural Ingredients
(xi) Ahmad et al, 2017. A review on the cosmeceutical and external applications of Nigella Sativa.
(xii) Michalak et al, 2021. Bioactive compounds for skin health: a review.
(xiii) Errante et al, 2020. Cosmeceutical peptides in the framework of sustainable wellness economy.
(xiv) Graf et al, 2018. The multifunctional role of ectoine as a natural cell protectant.
(xv) Wu, et al, 2016. Mushroom Cosmetics : The Present and Future.
(xvi) Kahraman et al, 2019. Recent advances on topical application of ceramides to restore barrier function of skin.
(xvii) Herman et al, 2012. Caffeine’s mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use.

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Beauty news: your exclusive to the top 10 ingredients for 2024

Ariane is a published journalist, blog writer, and content creator for Formula Botanica. Her areas of focus include beauty, human interest, and arts and culture. Ariane has been a member of the Formula Botanica community since 2021.

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