2017 was a transformative year for beauty. Kylie Jenner, Glossier, and Pat McGrath Labs showed us the power of social media for brand-building in the digital age. Savvy collaborations – Gigi Hadid x Maybelline, Balmain x L’Oreal and Nars x Man Ray – proved that, when it comes to beauty, two heads – or teams – work better than one. Meanwhile, the popularity of non-invasive skin procedures skyrocketed, and a smattering of fantastic new technologies – many hailing from South Korea – earned legions of fans. And then, of course, there was the launch of Rihanna’s LVMH-backed beauty brand, Fenty, which single-handedly changed the conversation around inclusivity in beauty. 2018 has a lot to live up to. Below, we outline the five key global movements set to transform your beauty regime in the new year.
K-beauty will make room for J-beauty
In 2017, demand for Korea’s innovative skincare and make-up products – think sheet masks infused with snail mucin and cactus, creamy compact cushions, and powerful hybrid essences – continued to climb, with sales increasing 66 per cent worldwide, according to Larissa Jensen, global executive director and beauty industry analyst at NPD. Demand for K-beauty shows no signs of slowing down, thanks to the increasing traction of the “glass skin” trend – think skin that looks eerily translucent.
However, K-beauty is poised to face some stiff competition from J-beauty next year. “So much of what is exciting in K-beauty originally stemmed from Japan,” explains Anna-Marie Solowij, co-founder of niche retailer Beauty Mart. “With a struggling economy and South Korea investing in beauty R&D, K-beauty stole the limelight. Now, with Japan’s economy recovering, it will reassert itself.”
Victoria Buchanan, strategic researcher at The Future Laboratory, also predicts that the “classic aesthetic Japanese principles of kanso, shibui and seijaku – simplicity, understated beauty, and energised calm, respectively – will come to the fore in beauty offerings that come out of the country.” Related Read: Snail skincare lands in the Middle East
“Natural” will give way to “clean”
The wellness movement has transformed our approach to physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Now, it’s set to revolutionise our approach to beauty. Mounting evidence that certain ingredients – be they topical or ingested – have negative health implications has put skincare products under the microscope. Brands such as Tata Harper, Goldfaden MD, and Goop are leading the charge.
The term “clean” is not to be confused with “natural”, a term widely criticised for its ambiguity. “Products and brands ‘free of’ harmful ingredients are considered ‘clean’,” Jensen explains. That includes silicones, parabens and sulfates (especially SLS). “Many natural brands inherently do this, but a brand can be ‘clean’ without being ‘natural’”. Margaret Mitchell, buying director of Space NK, adds that the desire for “clean” is not limited to the “natural” beauty consumer: “It’s irrelevant. Everyone wants clean.”
Your beauty regime will be simplified
While the Korean influence may still be fuelling the birth of new beauty categories – essences, ampoules, overnighters – 2018 will conversely see a beauty movement that is all about simplification. Expect to see convoluted multi-step skincare processes eschewed in favor of multi-purpose products.
The difference between the new-school multitaskers and their predecessors? Formulations. The new tide of technologically advanced beauty polymaths are rolling out the 3-in-1s in a way that has not been done before. Sarah Coonan, head of beauty at Liberty, says this has been driven by brands such as Lixir: “Their Universal Emulsion, [which is] a day cream, night cream and primer, was a big hit this year.” Lisa Payne, beauty editor at Stylus, agrees: “The launch of Lixir and its snowballing influence have sounded the death knell for complex and lengthy multi-step routines. In 2018, consumers will be most excited by brands that sell a compacted range of products that advocate simplicity and ease.”
Products will fight pollution
The next wave of skin aggressors on everyone’s radar are thanks to pollution, so expect to see anti-pollution skincare ranges multiply. Brands are also working on products that combat other environmental “skin stressors” including air conditioning and heating, captive bacteria (found in closed buildings and on public transport) and the blue light from our computer screens. According to Mitchell, “These are all having a negative impact on the quality of our skin and people are finally waking up to it.”
Brands will be more inclusive
Issues across the political, economic and religious spectrum have caused us to take a closer look at diversity and inclusivity, making them major focal points of 2017. The launch of Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s all-shades-included brand, boldly led the beauty conversation. While the formidable reach of the LVMH-backed superstar cannot be denied – according to a Tribe Dynamics Cosmetics report, the brand generated US $72 million worth of earned media in its first month – it also silenced industry naysayers who for years have insinuated that “black doesn’t sell”. Industry analysts such as Payne agree that it has set the tone for all other beauty brands: “Fenty brought the need for inclusivity into the spotlight in a way no other brand has.” June Jensen, director of NPD Beauty UK, is also unequivocal about the Fenty influence: “Expect to see many more brands following this strategy in 2018”.
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