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Innovative Strategies that are reshaping Skincare Clinical Trials

The skincare industry, traditionally reliant on site-based skincare clinical trials, is experiencing a transformative shift in trial methodologies. These conventional trials, which involve in-person visits and sophisticated instrumentation, are known for producing thorough data but at a high cost. However, as consumer preferences evolve, the emphasis is increasingly on the mere fact that products have been tested rather than the specifics of how. This change in consumer attitudes is leading to the rise of decentralized clinical trials (DCTs), a strategy that is redefining the landscape of skincare clinical trials by balancing scientific rigor with cost-efficiency and consumer trust.

Skincare products on gray background

The Traditional Approach: Expensive Yet Thorough

Traditionally, skincare clinical trials have been site-based, requiring participants to visit specific locations at specific times. Product efficacy is measured at the site using advanced instrumentation and potential in-person dermatologist evaluations. While this approach offers detailed, rigorous, and robust data, the associated costs are substantial, often making these trials a significant investment for many brands or even entirely unattainable for others.

Consumer Perspectives: Valuing Simplicity

For many consumers, the intricate details of skincare clinical trials are less significant than the assurance that the product has been clinically evaluated. This shift towards valuing certification over detailed methodology encourages skincare brands to consider more streamlined and economical testing strategies. Plus, this also empowers brands to conduct clinical trials that could not do this before due to budget concerns.

The Rise of Decentralized Clinical Trials in Skincare

Decentralized clinical trials are quickly gaining popularity in the skincare sector. These trials allow participants to engage from their homes, using products and documenting results through before-and-after photos taken with their own smartphones, as well as questionnaires. The questionnaires can be validated (i.e., questionnaires that have been studied -- pro tip: this actually counts as objective data!) or study-specific (i.e., these questionnaires were developed specifically for a particular study and have not been previously studied). And, in terms of before and afters, even though these images lack the polish of professional studio photos, they are often seen by consumers as more authentic. This perception enhances trust, as the natural, unedited results appear more relatable and believable.

Maintaining Scientific Rigor

Despite the shift to a more user-friendly approach, the integrity of skincare clinical trials remains a priority in decentralized formats. These studies typically involve expert skin grading by licensed dermatologists who assess the photos submitted by participants. This ensures that professional evaluations continue to uphold the trial’s scientific standards, blending traditional rigor with modern convenience.

Benefits for Skincare Brands

Adopting decentralized skincare clinical trials offers numerous advantages for brands:

  • Cost Efficiency: Reducing logistical and operational expenses allows brands to allocate resources more effectively, either by conducting more trials or extending research budgets.

  • Increased Consumer Trust: Authentic, unedited participant photos can enhance credibility and trust among potential customers, showing real results without the perfection of photo-studio quality.

  • Wider Participation: The convenience of participating from home invites a broader range of trial participants, enhancing the diversity and applicability of the data.

The shift towards decentralized skincare clinical trials is a strategic response to the dual pressures of escalating costs and evolving consumer expectations. This innovative approach not only makes conducting scientifically robust trials more cost-effective for brands but also aligns with the authenticity valued by today's skincare consumers. As this trend continues to grow, it's likely that more companies will move away from traditional, expensive in-person studies in favor of more accessible, credible, and financially sustainable research methods.

Ready to conduct your own research on your skincare brand? Get in touch today.


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