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The Age of Fluidity: Five Beauty Predictions for 2022 and Beyond

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Despite the rolling uncertainty of living in a with-Covid world, McKinsey predicts that beauty sales in 2022 will overtake the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. “Beauty brands must adapt to the new normal, in order to benefit from the announced resilience of the beauty market,” explains Leila Rochet, Chief Inspiration Officer of Cosmetics Inspiration and Creation. Consumer sentiment is optimistic, and the urge to create moments of escapism and entertainment in the midst of all the unpredictability - is very real. In the future, consumers will learn the value of approaching life with a fluid mindset. If 2020-21 forced consumers to become rapidly adaptable, then 2022 and beyond will see them apply this flexible approach to deal with the dynamic motion of living in an uncertain world. Taking this newfound adaptability into consideration, Cosmetics Inspiration and Creation proposes a snapshot of the five key trends that will impact the industry in 2022 and beyond.

1. From sustainability to beauty uncompromised

In 2022, purposeful beauty merges with sustainability to create a new beauty eco-system - one that is built upon uncompromising standards and principles. Consumers are pushing beyond ‘clean’ to a place of uncompromised wellbeing - where pleasure and personal beauty are achieved without detriment to people or the planet. The expectation is for nothing less than net-zero.

The rising climate anxiety is propelling consumers into taking affirmative action - over half (51%) now factor in whether a product was produced with a traceable and transparent origin. And, attuned to the tropes of greenwashing rhetoric and marketing messages, consumers will drive brands to adopt proactive climate-positive strategies.

When it comes to production, radical transparency is key. 61% of consumers say they struggle to tell whether a beauty product is ethically produced by looking at its packaging, while half of would like brands to make it easier for them to spot how a product was produced [1]. Going forward, consumers will ask to be told to The Who, The Where and The How behind each product.

With this clear shift from sustainability to beauty uncompromised, brands will need to reinforce their transparency credentials. Beauty brands can deliver assurances by putting transparency at the center of the product experience, freeing the consumer to enjoy and experiment without guilt or compromise.

2. From color to joyspotting

Joyspotting reveals a new facet of beauty, one where makeup is cumulatively self-care, a tool of transformation and a manifestation of self-fluidity.

This is a trend borne from the Tiktokization of the Beauty industry - where creators and influencers encourage followers to escape from the rules and embrace the fluidity of experimentation. On TikTok, there’s no room for perfection or judgement, just joy - a third of users (31%) report turning to the app in order to lift their spirits.

Fuelled by these influences, beauty in 2022 will be rich with aesthetic rebellion and fluid creativity. The face and body will become canvases for celebratory makeup looks. And consumer sentiment is firmly behind experimentation - Pinterest reports a spike in searches for mullet hairstyles (+190%); tooth gems (+85%); bejewelled eye looks (+110%) and rhinestone pedicures (+150%).

In the US, rising brand Danessa Myrick is connecting with next-gen Joyspotters through a strategy built on inclusion and artistry. The brand’s ethos that, ”everyone should be able to have the freedom to enjoy makeup,” speaks to the new fluidity. The color-changing pigments of the brand’s signature Chrome Flakes are representative of the new wave of ephemeral and transformative products that are only just beginning to emerge.

Creative ephemerality also comes to the fore, with new products and devices allowing users to easily switch up their beauty looks. In South Korea, nails become a vehicle for self-expression as the pandemic continues to stifle opportunities to showcase creative flair beyond the home. In response, nails are getting bigger and bolder, popping with 3D accents of glitter, crystals and jewelry. In the future, brands will approach the art of beauty as an act of pleasure, and those that can deliver an instant shot of happiness will connect with consumers, who are looking for products to lift them out of the pandemic slump.

3. From inclusivity to radical adaptive beauty

As we move towards a post-inclusive society the beauty industry will seek to further individualise its approach. The industry will need to push beyond skin-tone matching to encircle all aspects of inclusivity, including the Gen Z vs Mature skin silos. As we move forward, fluidity will be treated with the same value and respect as accessibility and adaptability.

And as we evolve our understanding of what true inclusivity means, today’s diverse and multifaceted consumers will expect to be met with products that fit their exacting needs. Beauty products that radically adapt to individuality, moving from social specificities seen at the surface (skin tone, hair type, etc.) to a profound understanding of the "underskin" mechanism, will continue to emerge. And we are only just beginning to see what is possible, as brands start to come through with tailored products that more insightfully address biological or physical nuances.

In the Future, the Beauty industry will take action to ensure that no consumer is left out of the conversation - regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, size or ability. Currently, 15% of the world’s population are living with some form of disability, and as the population ages, this number will only increase. Designing products, tools and packaging with this demographic in mind should be imperative for the industry.

4. From skinification to augmented underskin

The pandemic has stirred the ultra-fetishization of wellness and the healthification of the beauty industry. With a preventive mindset becoming the new normality, consumers are focused on care and safety, and they crave potent, power-dosing ingredients across all of their beauty products. In response, brands are engineering products using the latest technological advances, while at the same time introducing new, biological semantics into the beauty narrative.

Stories around skin barrier empowerment, microbiome and psychobiological enhancers, hormonal regulators and circadian champions will continue to break through, as brands add another level of science-proofing to the consumer experience. And in the years ahead, consumers will be alerted to a new discourse around the underskin. More and more brands come with sophisticated formula with “skin health” related ingredients. Be Radiance now infuse their makeup powders with probiotics, which activate with water to positively “colonize the microbiota” explains the brand. A global beauty approach of the skin, where makeup goes beyond color as it rebalances the skin while protecting it against external aggressions.

In the future, products that adapt to the rise of skin sensitivity will become critical for consumers who want to preserve their skin health, without sacrificing performance. In this context, the boundaries between makeup and skincare, food and beauty will blur. A new generation of hybrid products will explode the frontiers between traditional segments to levitate beauty to new horizons.

5. From home spa to temporal beauty tech

Tech is tapping the mood for fluidity, as innovation keeps pace with consumer demand for products that allow them to seamlessly switch-up their beauty looks, from home. And science-backed products, temporary treatments and formulations engineered to cheat surgical procedures, appeal to those looking for sophisticated out-of-the-jar beauty solutions.

Since the pandemic ushered in new ways of working and living, consumers quickly learned how to adapt and realized that joy can be found in impermanence. Now, the desire to eschew long-term commitments for temporary thrills is taking hold in beauty. Innovations at CES 2022 captured this creative ephemerality - from L’Oréal’s AI-integrated hair coloring device, the Colorsonic, to the handheld temporary tattoo-printing machine from start-up, Prinker.

In the future, scientific legitimacy coupled with technological precision will allow consumers to achieve - and measure - next-level results, without the commitment of permanent procedures.


[1] Source: Poll of 2,000 adults. Study by Wella’s weDo/ Professional.

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