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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, former British Vogue beauty director and 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.”
“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 favour 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. In the UK alone, sales of anti-pollution prestige skincare products amounted to £3.1 million in the second half of the year.