I might not be the best person to ask about future beauty trends. Yes I have worked in the industry for 15 years, and currently work in product development for Neals’ Yard Remedies, meaning I get insider intel on upcoming trends and influence the type of products the brand creates in the lab and launches on the market for the next 2 to 3 years. But I also wrote in my bar soap blogpost at the beginning of 2020, in the very first sentence no less: ‘I’m making a safe bet that this is the year sustainability becomes a top priority for beauty businesses’. Ha. The COVID-19 pandemic had other plans, with many brands fighting for survival. Our changing habits throughout this year will have a direct impact on the beauty market in the coming months, here are a handful of trend predictions on what beauty will look like in 2021.

The rise of safe beauty

Forget about indie beauty brands making natural beauty products at the kitchen table, it’s all about the sterile environment and the lab coat now. Not that the two are mutually exclusive by any means, I don’t doubt that homemade candles are created in a clean and controlled environment, but fear of germs will have many customers moving away from artisanal products in favour of tightly monitored production lines, stringent hygiene rules and hospital levels of PPE – think masks, gloves, hair nets and anti-bacterial gel everywhere. (source: Beauty Independent) Will this be the era of the white lab coat? 

Bye bye testers

Well not quite, but at least not as you know them. Along the same veins as safe beauty, the previous notion of in-store testers will become a thing of the past. What, you want me to *shock horror* dip my finger in the same pot of cream as another customer? Then smear it all over my freshly sanitized hands? I would think nothing of popping into Boots or Sephora in Paris and dip a finger in a clearly well used moisturiser tester to trial it. And yes I am very much still alive. This double dipping activity will be replaced with testers featuring sensors, ensuring touch-free access to beauty products. We may see a rise in sampling too, particularly with online purchases to encourage trial of new formulas.

Ingredient-led skincare

Don’t we love a good ingredient-led skincare product? From hydrating hyaluronic acid to brightening vitamin C – the most searched skincare ingredient of 2020 (source: Cult Beauty) and my favourite ingredient along with rosehip oil – and niacinamide, we want to know what’s in our skincare. We become our own beauty advisor, researching ingredient skin benefits and creating our own tailored beauty routine. What will be the next vitamin C? Is bakuchiol the new retinol? With increased sanitisation our hands may become the new stars of the skincare show. Brands are developing products that include benefits beyond sanitation, bringing added hydration or natural fragrance to traditionally functional products.

Waterless beauty

This prediction is more of a wishful hope – a finger in the air. Waterless beauty is a rising trend but only time will tell if it has lasting power. Originating in South Korea, waterless beauty proposes products that are formulated without water for more sustainable alternatives like soap, balms, powders, oils and butters. These formats tend to be sustainable as they are often more compact than their water-filled counterparts and can be packaged in biodegradable materials. Since re-discovering waterless products, particularly solid bars and powders, I find myself regularly singing their praises and hope that this trend continues to grow and build momentum.

Customised beauty

Buying an off-the-shelf serum is so 2020 – actually it’s so 2019, seeing as we did most of our 2020 purchasing online. You’ll be hard pushed to find a skincare enthusiast boasting of owning just one serum. Or one cleanser. Bathroom shelfies showcase cabinets groaning under the weight of dozens of bottles and jars of creams and masks. As we increasingly tailor our skincare routine depending on our skin’s needs that day, our beauty arsenal grows. But we still put a lot of guess work into it. So what if there were home devices that could analyse your skin every morning and tell you exactly what your skin needed that day? Dehydrated: use this. Congested: apply that. And what if your serum formula could adapt to your skin as it evolves? Brands are increasingly offering customised beauty, from building your moisturiser with a base and active, to creating your very own lipstick shade. Will this trend become more mainstream?

Which beauty trends will you hedge your bets on? Please leave a comment below to let me know.

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