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Best Practices for Skincare Clinical Trials and Perception Studies

In the competitive world of skincare, substantiating product claims through scientific research and consumer feedback is essential. Clinical trials and perception studies are two methodologies widely used in the skincare industry to validate the effectiveness and user satisfaction of products. Understanding the differences between these approaches and employing best practices ensures that skincare brands can deliver products that are not only effective but also meet consumer expectations.


Skincare products

Understanding Clinical Trials and Perception Studies


Clinical Trials are scientifically controlled studies involving human participants. These studies are designed to evaluate the efficacy of skincare products. These trials are typically conducted under strict conditions and use objective measures to determine how well a product performs in terms of its intended use.


Perception Studies, on the other hand, assess consumer opinions and experiences using subjective measures. These studies often involve surveys or interviews where participants provide feedback on various aspects of the product such as texture, scent, and perceived benefits after use.


Best Practices for Skincare Clinical Trials

The list of best practices is long, including different methodologies, study design, inclusion/exclusion criteria and locations. Here are a couple of very obvious choices to consider when you're planning a clinical trial for your skincare product:

  1. Clear Objectives and Hypothesis: Define what the trial is intended to measure. For example, if the product is supposed to reduce wrinkles, specific metrics such as wrinkle depth and skin texture improvement should be established.

  2. Appropriate Sample Size: Ensure the sample size is large enough to statistically validate the results. This involves statistical power calculations during the trial design phase.

  3. Demographic Diversity: Include a diverse group of participants to ensure the results are applicable to a broad consumer base. This includes varying ages, skin types, and ethnic backgrounds.

  4. Controlled Testing Environment: Maintain a controlled environment to minimize external factors that could affect the results. This includes standardized application procedures and controlled lighting for before and after photos.

  5. Use of Placebos or Comparators: When applicable, use a placebo or a comparator product to benchmark the product’s performance and provide context to its efficacy.

  6. Objective Measurements: Employ scientific methods such as dermatological assessments (also called expert grading), instrumental analysis (e.g., corneometry for hydration assessment), and before-and-after imaging for quantifiable data.


Best Practices for Perception Studies

Similar to clinical trials, there are also many things to consider when conducting a consumer perception study for your skincare brand. Here are just a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Detailed Questionnaire Design: Develop questionnaires that are clear and address specific aspects of the product experience. Avoid leading questions to ensure that the responses are unbiased.

  2. Longitudinal Feedback: Collect feedback at multiple time points to understand changes in perception over time and after repeated use of the product.

  3. Qualitative Insights: Incorporate open-ended questions to capture detailed comments and personal experiences, providing richer data beyond structured responses.

  4. Consistent Follow-Up: Maintain a consistent schedule for obtaining feedback to ensure that data reflects a comprehensive view of user experience.


Both clinical trials and perception studies are fantastic ways for the development and marketing of skincare products. Which one you choose is often also based on your budget, as clinical trials are significantly more expensive compared to consumer perception studies. Clinical trials provide the scientific basis for product claims, while perception studies offer insights into consumer satisfaction and product appeal. By adhering to best practices in both methodologies, skincare brands can not only enhance product development but also build trust with consumers, ultimately leading to successful product launches and sustained market growth. Effective integration of findings from both types of studies can result in products that are both clinically validated and consumer-approved, setting the stage for market success.


Want to conduct a clinical trial or consumer perception study for your skincare product? Contact us HERE.

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