Is this the future of beauty?

Posted 24 January 2018 in Blog

“The growth of indie brands; a renewed vigour in self-expression; a fascination with fitspo; and the end of anti-ageing… If there’s one woman who knows beauty, it’s Eugenie Kelly, Deputy Editor/Beauty & Features Director at Harper’s BAZAAR Australia. In the lead-up to Harper’s BAZAAR’s 20th Anniversary, Kelly shares the trends she’s keeping an eagle eye on when it comes to the beauty industry.”



After years of rigidity, the beauty industry has undergone a massive shift over the past 24 months. So what’s driving these changes? Number one is technology. And number two: changes in consumers’ tastes and habits. Millennials are a different beast to Gen X and baby boomers, hence they have a different list of demands, along with a different approach to self-expression. The barriers to launching a beauty brand have also been lowered thanks to the digital age, so now industry “institutions” are facing serious competition from the indies. The established players still wield influence, but are they still in charge? It’s still playing out, but one thing is for certain: the beauty consumer has never been more passionate. And she’s got a lot to be excited about. Here are the key changes we’re seeing in the beauty-scape:


  1. The worlds of beauty, health and wellness are converging.

Beauty is now being equated with health and wellness. There’s now greater awareness of how what goes into the body affects the outside. Visit your local boutique fitness studio and chances are you can pick up a range of supplements, your favourite natural skincare range and a new activewear wardrobe.

The areas that are really booming? The ‘basics’ categories. What are women considering ‘essentials’? High-SPF products, cleansers and masks. Women are craving authenticity, so even though injectibles and lasers are more popular than ever, the customer knows investing in the basics makes good sense.

And women want acceleration. Hence we’re now seeing more makeup products that are focused on people’s desire to “look” healthier quicker. The no-makeup makeup trend is refusing to die and continues to be one of the prevalent looks on runways. Plus new technology is now allowing makeup artists and customers to achieve amazing skin effects better than ever before.


  1. Ingestibles are everything.

Beauty used to be one-dimensional: it was about what you put on your skin. But now everyone firmly gets that what you eat affects how you look. This is more than a boom in vitamins. People see ingestibles as an extension of skincare. Take for example the latest collagen craze. If you’re really serious about your skincare, you’ll be investing in one of the latest collagen powders and tonics. According to Business of Fashion (via NPD) it’s millennials who are very much focused on this way of thinking. Of those who take supplements specifically for beauty benefits, 26 per cent are between the ages 18 and 34.

Ingestibles are going to continue to grow because they’re having an effect. When people take them they’re seeing a difference in their skin, their hair, their sleep patterns, their weight and their energy levels … With ingestibles, its very much the luxury end of the beauty market that’s booming. Bear vitamins start at $90 at Mecca Cosmetica; WelleCo powders start at $100; and The Beauty Chef powders are $40+. And even beauty emporium Sephora has opened a dedicated section in their stores devoted to all things health and wellness.



  1. Get ready for skintertainment.

Sheet masks, snail slime … those ingredients we once considered super exotic are now soooo 2015 and just don’t cut it anymore in terms of “ooh” factor. The makeup category has seen massive growth over the past 24 months, and now skincare companies have realised they need to pull those makeup-obsessed millennials back into the skincare aisle. It’s all about surprising and delighting … so expect to see novelty AND efficacy. We’re talking novel ingredients, fun packaging and unusual application methods. Bubble masks that make you look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man; faces bedazzled in gold; goopy jelly-textured cleansers and eye creams good enough to eat …

The “skintertainment’ factor was a term coined by Christine Chang, the powerhouse behind the US-based site Glow Recipe, who has been instrumental in introducing many of South Korea’s successful indie beauty brands to the rest of the world. Because South Korea is where all the innovation is coming from. It’s a super-saturated market, so to survive there you need to be nimble. Five years ago, there were about 1200 beauty brands in South Korea. Today there are more than 10,000.

Masks may be what are drawing the makeup-mad millennials to the skincare counter. But cleansing and toning has also become just as innovation-driven. Now it’s all about sensorial pleasure and crazy, never-seen-before textures. Apply a balm; rub it, it becomes an oil; add water and it turns into a foam cleanser. The visual appeal of skincare is also now more important than ever before, especially for emerging brands trying to market themselves in this digital age.


  1. The end of anti-ageing is here.

Just as companies such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig no longer talk about dieting (it’s about health now — not size — didn’t you know?), the beauty industry and beauty media are making a pledge to no longer talk about “anti-ageing”. In the September 2017 issue of Allure, editor-in-chief Michelle Lee devoted her editor’s letter to the cause, announcing the magazine would stop using the term ‘anti-ageing’ and treating age as something that needs “curing”. She writes: “Whether we know it or not, we’re subtly reinforcing the message that ageing is a condition we need to battle — think anti-anxiety meds, antivirus software or antifungal spray.”

It’s an honourable pledge, but maybe the real reason the beauty industry is no longer using the term is it has realised that millennials don’t trust anything that claims it will turn back the clock. That slogan no longer has sway. Besides, isn’t that what photo-editing apps on their phones are for?

  1. Beauty brands build themselves differently today.

Remember the days when we used to say the customer was always right? That still applies — but today she’s also involved. If you’re building a beauty brand in the digital space today, your customer gets a say in product development. Packaging, the name, choice of shades … paying attention to her feedback (communicated via social media, of course) is crucial. Glossier, BareChic Skin, Go-To Skincare, Pat McGrath Labs, et cetera … they’re all little indie brands amassing a devoted customer base — and they’re all sold and marketed online. The consumer no longer waits to be told by the beauty brand what she needs. She is part of the conversation, and these beauty brands take her feedback seriously.

To the consumer, these upstart brands are all about authenticity. A lot of these indies build successful brands off the launch of just a handful of key products — sometimes even just one product. They know what they’re good at and they stick to it. In other words, they don’t dilute their DNA.


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