The beauty industry may thrive on newness, but this year a slower approach is on the horizon, with sustainability movements flourishing. The 2020 spirit of beauty is more inclusive than ever, too; from innovations in hyper-personalised products, to the boom of products servicing subjects previously considered taboo. From the ethical to the escapist, theses are the trends to get excited about now…
1. Ageless beauty will be (belatedly) celebrated
In the latter part of the last decade, brands and retailers made significant strides in catering to under-represented communities. “In 2019, Superdrug announced their decision to only stock foundations that come in a minimum of 20 different shades following research revealing that two-thirds of black and Asian women do not feel that high-street brands cater for their beauty needs,” consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk notes of the post-Fenty Beauty era, whereby brands stocking foundation in a small shade range will be called out as archaic. But while products, from make-up to hair and skincare, are more readily available to all ethnicities, body types, skin tones, gender expressions and identities, beauty industry marketing is still often guilty of assuming their customer is white – and young.
Indeed, age inclusion in particular has felt somewhat lacking from the diversity conversation in beauty; 40 per cent of women over the age of 50 ‘don’t feel seen’ according to L’Oreal Paris research (the brand itself has a rich history of speaking to women over 40, with ‘ageless’ messaging and mature beauty ambassadors). But that looks set to change across the board, with brands now speaking directly to the neglected Generation X woman (aged 45 and up). In a further move away from ‘anti-ageing’ towards those servicing specific concerns – often targeting hormonally-driven changes (menopausal women represent a large and lucrative category but have been significantly underserved until recently), brands are introducing more products for Gen Xers. Look out for new launches in 2020 from L’Oreal Paris, Clarins, Trinny London, Korres and Boots No7.
2. Conscious capitalism and consumption: from ‘slow beauty’ to ‘blue beauty’
The ever-increasing focus on conscious capitalism has seen beauty giants such as L’Oréal publicly commit to 100 per cent eco-friendly packaging (meaning compostable or reusable) by 2025, while British brand Lush (among other indie brands) has pioneered the movement for zero packaging (‘naked’, as they call it) by successfully making products in solid form. Waterless beauty has also become a focus: in 2019 L’Oréal achieved a 60 per cent reduction in water consumption per finished product, while Unilever halved the water associated with the consumer use of its products. This year, a new Procter & Gamble hair line called Waterless will launch in the US. As the industry’s most-used ingredient, there are concerns that demand for water could outstrip supply if these changes aren’t made.
When it comes to conscious consumption, a collective slow (or slower) beauty stance will be adopted, with respect to sustainability and environmental ethics. So coined ‘blue beauty’ will rise, too. The concept referring to products that aim to protect the oceans and water supplies (such as One Ocean Beauty, which partners with charity Oceana) is the “next generation clean beauty”, according to WWD. The new decade is essential to the wellbeing of our planet, and the beauty industry can play a big part in that.
3. Microbiome skincare will become increasingly sophisticated
Google searches for ‘microbiome’ (the microorganisms on and inside your body) increased by +110 per cent year-on-year in 2019, and – according to Mintel – it’s this that is driving the UK facial skincare market. “There are a trillion microorganisms on the surface of your skin and not one of us on the planet has the same microbiome,” says skincare authority Paula Begoun. Hence why it is a challenge for bacteria-balancing ingredients in products to suit all. But a move towards hyper-personalised skincare will factor in one’s microbiome, with beauty giants such as Johnson & Johnson having a dedicated microbiome platform working on it. Dendy Engelman M.D., consulting dermatologist at Elizabeth Arden (too focusing on this sector) confirms, “the microbiome will be on the forefront in 2020,” in a bid to tackle all – from ageing concerns to acne. Maintaining bacterial homeostasis on your skin means it “reflects the light better, keeps hydration in and lets products penetrate deeper,” she adds. Yes please.
4. A hyper-personalised approach awaits
Taking skin swabs to test bacterial analysis and DNA – and therefore receive products customised to your microbiome and genetic make-up – are just two ways in which we will be taking a more targeted approach to beauty in the new decade. Home tech can also help tell us about our beauty needs. HiMirror analyses your skin’s conditions through a photo, storing data to track progress over time and reveal whether your products actually work for you. Like an at-home skincare consultant, it can assess your skin for lines and wrinkles, dark circles, dark spots, blemishes, roughness and pore size. When it comes to make-up, Procter & Gamble will launch its Opte Precision Wand in 2020, which identifies skin imperfections and applies make-up to those exact area without wasting product on places that don’t require coverage. No, it’s not wizardry. For your hair, Sisley has developed its Hair Rituel Analyser, a tool providing an accurate and customised diagnosis of the scalp and hair fibre, allowing you to better bespoke your routine and track progress.
5. Beauty and mental health conversations will further converge
The microbiome is one example of just how much the health and beauty worlds have merged, as are both the boom of vegan beauty and the CBD market being bigger than ever, which all speaks to a holistic approach to beauty becoming the norm. When it comes to wellness, with Google searches for ‘self-care’ having risen by 100 per cent in the last five years, the normalisation of conversations around mental health has been one of the biggest cultural phenomena of the last decade. In 2020, we predict that mental health will become a bigger focus for beauty brands, especially directed towards millennials (dubbed ‘the anxious generation’) and Gen Zers (who are “more likely to report mental health concerns“). Fashionistadetails that according to a 2019 report on Gen Z’s beauty shopping habits compiled by WGSN, “Gen Z prizes brands that offer moments of calm, sensorial experiences and products that support their physical, mental and emotional well-being”. Think Revlon’s recent collaboration with model and activist Adwoa Aboah’s mental health organisation Gurls Talk. It’s also likely as to why the ‘Mindful Mani’–the idea of plugging into music/a podcast while you have your nails transformed – launched by the UK’s leading beauty bookings service Treatwell – was such a success during 2019’s Mental Health Awareness Month: the platform reached over 20 million people across eight countries in a bid to make salon time specifically ‘me-time’. Alongside manicures (inhibiting your ability to swipe, scroll and tap), Treatwell also reports a 40 per cent increase in massage bookings year-on-year, suggesting we’re spending more on our self-care and making moments of disconnect a priority.
6. Anti-pollution skincare will become as commonplace as sun protection
Latest figures show that 91 per cent of the world’s population live in places where air quality exceeds the World Health Organisation’s guideline limits and 4.2 million deaths every year occur as a result of exposure to ambient (outdoor) air pollution. “This is double previous estimates and places air pollution as the world’s largest single environmental health risk,” notes Dr Kluk. “Our skin is the main interface between our bodies and pollutants from road traffic, power generation, agricultural/waste incineration and industry,” the dermatologist adds. The result? “Features of skin ageing, such as wrinkles and dark spot formation, are accelerated in heavily polluted environments and the number of those suffering with skin conditions, such as acne, is increased.” So, if sun exposure is our skin’s number one enemy, pollution is the number two. Anti-pollution skincare is no longer thought of as marketing, but a must. In 2019 Liberty London saw an increase of 57 per cent in purchases of pollution-battling products, and skincare launches will focus on it in 2020 (for example, Clé de Peau Beauté will be relaunching its global best-seller – the Correcting Cream Veil –with pollution defence, SPF and super light reflecting technology). “I predict that the demand for skincare products with an anti-pollution claim will soar in the coming year and they will become as commonplace in our daily routines as sun protection creams,” says Dr Kluk.
7. Calls for ‘clean beauty’ to be defined with full transparency
In 2019 ‘clean beauty’ gathered momentum to become a mega-category, but no one could actually agree on what defined it. Was it what was in the formulas? Or what wasn’t? Is ‘clean’ the same as ‘green’ and ‘natural’ (also open to interpretation)? What about organic? Many brands saw a new marketing opportunity and jumped on the bandwagon, causing a tide of greenwashing in the wake. Inaccuracies became commonplace online, whereby ‘chemical’ products were labelled ‘bad’ – despite every ingredient (both synthetic and from nature) being a chemical. An EU regulation change came into place the summer of 2019 applying to ‘free-from’ claims such as ‘free-from parabens/silicones’, because, in many cases, there has been no justification for their use. As the CTPA (Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Perfumery Association) explains: “Ultimately, consumers could be led to think that a cosmetic product featuring certain ‘free from’ claims is safer than another product that doesn’t have those claims, which cannot be true.”
In 2020 expect to see a fight against misleading information in beauty with demand for full transparency from brands, leading to clearer definitions of what can be considered ‘clean’. In addition to ingredients, companies’ ethical standards at all stages of a product’s process will be scrutinised. This year, look out for brands such as HIGHR, a new cosmetics company launching with high-impact lipsticks, which hopes to create “the cleanest supply chain in beauty”.
8. We’ll adopt a ‘skinimalist’ approach
This time last year ‘skip-care’ entered our lexicon, a Korean trend surpassing the laborious 10-step routine and encouraging a more minimalist approach, often utilising multi-use products. It took off here: in August statistics from Mintel showed that 28 per cent of UK women have reduced the number of products in their skincare routine, with millennials aged 20 to 29 being most likely to have simplified their routines, with 54 per cent confirming so. Before long we were ‘skin fasting’ (popularised by Japanese skincare brand Mirai Clinical), which played into many a modern movement. For some it was about the aforementioned slow beauty – the counter trend to excessive consumption of products born out of respect for our sustainability crisis (naturally, this is not restricted to skincare, but beauty buys in general). For others it was more wellness-related – like an intermittent fasting diet, it’s thought to help the skin ‘detox’. Of course, skincare companies are identifying new topical ways to encourage a ‘reset’, with autophagy in skincare being a new trend predicted by Elizabeth Arden’s Dr Engelman. She explains: “Autophagy simply means self-eating, a process that every cell in your body goes through. Processed foods and environmental toxins can slow autophagy down so, to combat that, you can activate the process through certain foods (think antioxidant-rich teas) and different eating habits, like intermittent fasting.” And, she adds, there will new ingredients formulated in products which will act as autophagy activators.
Whether you strip back your skincare, or look for clever innovations to make the skin behave more efficiently, it’s clear that with a ‘skinimalist’ approach, simple needn’t mean ineffective. If a more minimalist lifestyle applies to your product habit, but you don’t want to sacrifice on results, look to brands such as Tandem Skincare. The collection of hardworking hybrid products are designed to simplify your routine while reducing your consumption.
9. Gen Zers will practice prejuvination
While taking a conscious approach (as above), Dr Kluk feels that Gen Zers will also be increasingly skincare savvy, adopting serious routines earlier. “If you care about your skin, it’s never too early to take an active interest in skin health,” she says. “Skincare has evolved past rejuvenation and ‘fixing’ to prevention and prejuvenation.” She explains that, while there is no right age to establish a routine appropriate for your skin type, the importance of healthy bodies is stressed to younger people through conversations about diet and exercise, so habits that keep your skin healthy should not be an exception. “Gen Z – the youngest and soon the largest, consumer population – understand this very well. Learning to cleanse, moisturise and protect your skin at an early age can improve self-esteem, relationships and professional development, reduce suffering and help us feel good about our skin for as long as possible.” Subsequently, she predicts “that the skincare offering directed at this knowledge thirsty, digitally savvy, eco-conscious population will explode in 2020 and beyond”. Actress Millie Bobby Brown’s beauty brand Florence by Mills (pictured above) is a prime example of this; having recently wonSpecialty Launch of the Year at the WWD Beauty Inc Awards it balances prejuvination with playful perfectly.
10. Make-believe make-up will go mainstream
Sales of make-up were in decline in 2019, with 31 per cent of us who wear it buying colour cosmetics less frequently compared to 2018, and while modest consumption may continue, 2020 looks set to be the year of a return to make-up experimentation. Popularised by HBO’s hit series Euphoria, and seen on the spring/summer 2019 catwalks including Anna Sui, Dries Van Noten, Off-White and House of Holland (above), make-believe make-up feels very now. “2020 is the year to experiment and play with your make-up and your style,” says influential make-up artist Lisa Potter-Dixon. But, she qualifies, “this doesn’t mean that you have to cover your face in gems and neon eyeshadow,” like a model tended to backstage by Pat McGrath. “Placing a touch of glitter in the centre of your eye, under your lower lash line, will give you a subtle twinkle of sparkle,” she advises. “Use a liquid glitter like Stila’s Magnificent Metals, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, Gypsy Shrine do some lovely self-adhesive gem stones.” For day, try a coloured liner instead of your usual black. “Jewel-toned shades work on all skin tones and can bring out your natural eye colour,” Potter-Dixon adds. The same goes for hair: pearls and crystals adorned ‘dos on the spring catwalks, while models at Moschino walked with their hair painted in pastel patterns. From the otherworldly to the wearable, playful beauty may just be the perfect antidote to our politically unsettled times.
11. Post-influencer beauty brands will shine
If MyBeautyBrand has anything to do with it, the ‘#spon’-heavy beauty industry will be disrupted in 2020. The digital platform whereby customers – not influencers – sell via peer-to-peer recommendation (like a digital Avon) just launched and has high hopes of encouraging companies to stop paying influencers to promote beauty products. Co-founder Robin Derrick tells Bazaar: “Big brands have jumped on influencer marketing as a way to reach people that are increasingly turning off traditional media – it’s cynical and lazy marketing.” MyBeautyBrand don’t have any problem with influencers as such, or someone endorsing something, but “it’s easy to corrupt that process with money,” Derrick adds. He feels that in 2020, transparency and honesty are more important. Of course, this comes while Instagram tests the removal of likes from its platform, leaving influencers to fight for attention, validate themselves – and make money. Whether brands will move on from sponsored content – or influencers will turn their back on Instagram to promote products in other ways – remains to be seen, but either way authenticity will reign.
12. A men’s beauty boom is coming
A visit to the Indie Beauty Expo London 2019 in October demonstrated that beauty brands specifically for men (not ‘gender neutral’) are on the up. The company helping indie brands connect to buyers, press, vendors and investors reports: “Brands are multiplying to cater to evolving notions of masculinity and capitalise on an accelerating men’s personal care business. Allied Market Research forecasts the global men’s personal care market will advance at a compound annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent to reach $166 billion by 2022.”
Ones to watch are BEYL Made for Men Skincare, Shakeup Cosmetics and Mr. Carter’s Essentials which will be joining the likes of Warpaint, whose goal is to break down male make-up misconceptions and provide functional products. With Tom Ford, YSL and Clinique successfully selling concealers, bronzers and brow definers for men, hopefully 2020 will be the year that men wearing make-up as they please will become the accepted norm.
13. The sexual wellness movement will continue to grow
As we all become more at ease discussing subjects previously thought of as taboo, the market for personal care grows bigger and bigger. While so-called ‘vaginal beauty products’ may miss the mark, brands now catering to our sexual health and wellness – whether in the context of pregnancy and menopause, or not – can only be a good thing. The Indie Beauty Expo London 2019 showcased many emerging brands focusing on this area, from Smile Makers (arguably the first sex-tech brand created by and for women) to Organicup (organic menstrual cups and cleansers) and Baubo (intimate skincare balms). With the global sexual wellness market predicted to reach a value of $39 billion by 2024, this inclusive sector is seeing many brands approach it from a more sophisticated standpoint, too. Recently, Marylebone’s The Drug Store (“the home of CBD curated wellness”) launched its Tackling Taboos seminar series, with the first instalment spotlighting the subject of sexual wellness. Expect more conversations – and innovations – around the subject in 2020.