WGSN | Forecast 2023: The Future of Hand, Nail & Foot Care
Hands have come into the spotlight during the pandemic. Brands must now combine harder-working multi-hybrids with active skincare ingredients to protect, hydrate and beautify hands and feet
Theresa Yee
07.22.20 · 7 minutes
Le Mini Macaron

The global pandemic has put hands in the spotlight, and this will continue into 2023 and beyond. New consumer priorities that have emerged during the Covid-19 crisis around self-care, health, hygiene and wellbeing will fuel new product innovations in the hand, nail and foot care categories.

Hand sanitisers and liquid soaps have been elevated to essential items as a result of the pandemic. This intense focus on hands will continue to dominate in 2023. Even if or when a vaccine is discovered, consumers will maintain rigorous hand washing habits to prevent the spread of future viruses and illnesses. Before the outbreak, the global hand sanitiser market was projected to be worth $17.2bn by 2026, according to Polaris Market Research, while the global hand care market size was expected to reach $16.9bn by 2025 (Millions Insights). And now both these figures will increase significantly as sanitisers and hand cream become the new handbag must-haves.

In 2023, consumers will be seeking hand care products that deliver protective and moisturising benefits in one. Antibacterial formulas paired with skin-caring active ingredients to combat dry skin and maintain healthy and youthful hands will be key. Leave-on treatments and overnight masks for the hands and feet will become popular. 

Financial constraints and FOGO (fear of going out) will drive an uptick in high-performance, salon-quality at-home treatments for the hand, nails, and feet. Higher costs for manicures and pedicures and concerns around hygiene and safety in salons will see a bigger demand for subscription nail kits that are delivered to the front door.

In this report, we explore seven product trends and innovations to action now to remain successful in 2023 and beyond.

Olive and June

Hand health and wellness: the new self-care ritual

Consumers will be looking for products and experiences that tap into their emotional and physical needs as well as delivering enhanced skincare benefits for the hands and feet. This will inspire products with multi-sensorial and functional wellness-inspired formulas to help consumers look and feel good.

Self-care rituals will shift focus to include more specific areas of the body such as the hands and feet, as consumers take a 360-degree approach to their health and wellbeing. Night-focused hand and foot treatments with calming aromatic scents to aid sleep and calm the mind will have increased appeal, such as Neom’s Perfect Night’s Sleep Hand Balm, which contains lavender and chamomile essential oils. Adaptogens, such as mushroom and ginseng, which have been popular in the wellness sector, will extend into hand and nail care by 2023.

What’s next? Products that provide immersive and therapeutic effects via multi-sensorial textures, transportive fragrances, and even use sound or music to balance the mind and body will have mainstream appeal in 2023 as consumers look for products that deliver pleasure with purpose. Scented hand creams will get a boost post-pandemic. As outlined in our Coronavirus: Fragrances That Transport report, consumers are increasingly seeking scents that reassure or boost mood. Infuse hand and foot creams with aromatic herbal ingredients and mood-enhancing essential oils. Push this one step further and develop custom ‘boosters’ personalised to the individual’s needs and added to creams to increase wellness function.

Create soothing music playlists that consumers can listen to when painting their nails. Develop virtual hand massage tutorials online to encourage pampering and self-care.


Treat, heal and hydrate: barrier-boosting formulas

In 2023, hand products that boost hydration for dry hands will remain important as hand washing habits become embedded into people’s lives. This will drive a high demand for intensive at-home treatments that deliver maximum moisture and soothing benefits in more exciting formats.

Hand care treatments, such as masks, overnight oils and barrier-boosting creams, will be elevated to mainstream essentials by 2023. Constant hand washing and the increased use of sanitisers will fuel increased interest in products to combat dry hands.

What’s next? Multitasking and multi-sensorial glove hand masks will become more popular by 2023. Dermovia’s Dry Mask Waterless Hand Mask, which has over 80% active ingredients, and Lush’s Golden Handshake Hot Hand Mask, which changes from a solid to cream when mixed with water, will have increased appeal.

More practical leave-on treatments that allow consumers to continue with their daily activities at home or work on their laptops will gain traction such as Beauty Pro’s Hand Therapy Collagen Infused Glove, which comes with removable fingertips to allow consumers to multitask. Le Mini Macaron’s Rose Nail Masks treat the fingers and cuticle with individual nail masks. Develop below-the-keyboard foot masks that consumers can use to treat their feet while working at home, which will appeal to busy, time-poor parents juggling work and childcare. Google searches saw interest in ‘foot mask’ overtaking ‘foot cream’ in April. Brands can also partner with hosiery companies to develop slipper-inspired socks infused with healing and hydrating ingredients that users can wear at home to treat the feet.

Le Mini Macaron


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Skincare-focused formulas

Skincare formulas and active ingredients will migrate into all hand and foot care products, hitting the mass market by 2023. Products with high-performance and science-backed ingredients that treat the hands like skincare will be in high demand.

Consumers will look for products that combine rich formulas with popular active ingredients such as vitamin C, antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and even probiotics such as Gallinee’s Hand Cream, which contains prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics. Overnight hand lotions containing retinol will have mainstream appeal by 2023. According to Google Trends, searches for 'retinol hand cream' peaked in March 2019 in the UK and have become more frequent since the end of 2019.

Luxury brands are putting functional ingredients into hand formulas to appeal to affluent skinvestors. La Mer’s £85/$90 features the brand’s Miracle Broth, designed to improve the look and feel of healthier hands.

What’s next? Ingredient-led skincare formulas will edge towards the mainstream as consumers will be looking for products that mimic their daily facial ritual. Design a skincare-inspired collection of products for the hands and feet with a cleanser, serum, exfoliator, overnight mask and hand lotion or night balm. Single-ingredient skincare has become popular in the last few years and this trend will extend into hand care by 2023. Brands should focus on single ingredient boosters or oils that consumers can add into creams to enhance their skincare function and benefit. Derma-backed brands will have increased appeal as shoppers seek trusted, science-backed and clinically proven formulas. Partner with a dermatologist or skin specialist to formulate targeted medical-backed solutions, as industry experts become trusted voices.

The Stripe

Hand and nail hygiene 2.0

The need for cleanliness and hygiene will drive an increased demand for more innovative hand soaps, sanitisers and nail care products that combine hydration and protection in one.

The pandemic has accelerated concerns around hygiene and health, and this will continue into 2023 as consumers put a greater priority on staying well. This will inspire new products that fuse super-moisturising formulas with antibacterial and antiviral properties to boost immunity. Google searches for ‘antibacterial hand cream’ were infrequent until March and interest remains up globally. Brands such as Lanolips and EcoHydra offer two-in-one hand cream/sanitiser that can kill up to 99.9% of germs within 30 seconds of application. Highlighting scientific claims on packaging will be key.

In 2023, there will be a greater focus on shorter, manicured nails, as longer nails can harbour germs and bacteria underneath the fingertips. This will result in a decline in nail extensions or longer shapes. As nail health and hygiene becomes more important, cleaning tools to keep fingertips clean will be products to invest in.

What’s next? Providing safe and hygienic products will inspire shoppers to buy. Products designed with touch-free solutions for home use will hit the mainstream by 2023. Fearful of cross-contamination, consumers will seek hands-free bathroom products that can dispense hand gels, liquid soap and hand creams via motion or sound. Make these refillable to attract eco-conscious consumers. Brands should develop sterilising sprays for cleaning nail and cuticle tools, and invest in bacteria-resistant coatings or antibacterial materials.

I Want Zone

Spa at home: new tools

Financial constraints and concerns around hygiene in professional spas and nail salons will see consumers turning to at-home solutions. Products and tools that offer salon-quality results will be key.

Consumers have become more accustomed to DIY treatments since lockdown forced people to undertake their own maintenance treatments at home. This behaviour will continue into 2023 as higher costs for professional services, fears of close physical contact and hygiene concerns will see people forgo salons in favour of at-home products. 

What’s next? Consumers will be seeking pampering products that mimic the spa experience and deliver salon-grade performance. 'Foot spa' has been a popular search query in the last year, and the interest continued during Covid-19, highlighting opportunities for brands to invest in this area.

Home foot spas with massage rollers, vibrations and heat therapy will become more popular, and compact and collapsible versions will have strong appeal for easy storage. Tools such as foot files, pumice stones and callus treatments will also become more popular to keep feet in top-tip condition. 

For hands, home treatments that can rejuvenate the skin and replicate fillers will be more sought after. Brands should also invest in curated subscription boxes filled with an assortment of hand and foot products.

Pedi Reviews


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