10 Gorgeous Insights into the Beauty Industry's Future Trends

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10 Gorgeous Insights into the Beauty Industry's Future Trends

The way people buy and wear makeup is changing rapidly, and the beauty industry is doing its best to keep up. 

This isn't your mom's cosmetics counter. The heavily-scented moisturizers, chemical-laden lipsticks, and slightly-off-tone foundations of yesteryear are making room on the shelves for the lighter, more personalized, and authentically natural beauty products of today.

Small trends in consumer preference are going quickly mainstream now, impacting the beauty industry hard as they mirror reflections of the larger societal systemic shifts occurring. But what's driving this transformation? We've examined the latest trends and uncovered some of the top reasons behind the shifts—and what we can expect in the industry going forward.

Today's cosmetic consumer wants:

Chemical-free products

One of the most noticeable shifts we've seen is the chemical-free ingredient list. But pay attention—it isn't enough to mark packaging as "ALL-NATURAL" in big bold font anymore. Today's truth-savvy shoppers aren't buying it—literally.

This means manufacturers can't just "green-wash" their products for today's market. They now need to prove the ingredients are what they say they are. And they'd better be free of artificial ingredients.

Paraben-free products, meaning free of such synthetic ingredients as butylparaben and propylparaben, are gaining popularity as suspicion has grown about their potential for harm. Other chemicals like phthalates, BHA, ethanolamines, resorcinal, anything that releases formaldehyde, anything ending in -eth (i.e. sodium laureth sulfate), and lead acetate are among a growing list of items to pass on as well.

Consumers won't be fooled for long if manufacturers change the name of the chemicals they're searching out on labels. Today's digitally-connected consumers have apps like Think Dirty and the Good Guide to assist them in finding chemical-free brands, with updated information at their fingertips while they browse the aisles. And if they don't find what they want in the stores? Don't be surprised if they start making their own at home instead!

Fragrance-free products

Fragrance-free products are high on the list of must-haves going forward as well, since recent sources have revealed the harmful chemicals hidden under the word 'fragrance' on our personal care products.

The secretive chemical industry isn't required to disclose anything more detailed than the word "fragrance" on labels currently, regardless of the chemicals' potential for harm. But no matter if it's "fragrance," "natural fragrance," or "synthetic fragrance" listed on the label, wise shoppers won't put it in their carts—or on their bodies.

This stuff is so good you could eat it—almost. Taking a cue from the ongoing superfood, organic, and food-as-medicine movements, beauty products are beginning to boast about food-related ingredients to catch the eye of health-conscious consumers.

From sweet almond oil body scrubs to kale and spinach facial masks, numerous companies are using primarily food-based ingredients in their items—and they're selling like gluten-free hotcakes!

Personalized products

There aren't only 5 concealer colors anymore, and they certainly aren't all shades of beige. Young, cosmopolitan, ethnically diverse shoppers are leading modern beauty trends, making such limitations on product choices vastly outdated. 

Today's consumers want individualized selections more than ever before, and companies are responding by meeting that demand—with 2017 industry studies showing that 679 unique foundation hues had been sold, compared to 542 shades in 2013.

"I feel that they value me by demonstrating that they were thinking about my needs when they created their products," says one shopper in the study. "Makeup artists know exactly the right color for my skin and the look I'm trying to achieve. I see women I identify with both in the stores and in their ads."

Keep an eye on custom-made, bespoke beauty trends evolving in the future, including such personalized methods as a cosmetic-oriented DNA analysis, individualized mascara service, and gender-neutral product lines. 

All-in-one products

Blending categories for an "all-in-one" product is highly valued in today's beauty industry, and it's bringing new brands onto the beauty scene left and right.

What does this look like? Busy consumers might grab a product containing both conditioner and curl enhancers to skip a few steps in their morning regimen. Instead of just buying sunscreen, more shoppers are opting for a moisturizer with a sunscreen already in it.

Simple, time-saving strategies like this are driving trends today, as well as bringing new indie brands into stores. And these brands are holding their own surprisingly well amidst the more recognizable L'Oreal and Lancome.

Digital shopping options

Currently, at least $1 in every $3 spent on cosmetics is being done via online purchases. So, it comes as no surprise that the future is digital for the beauty industry.

Consumers today want to discover, browse, and buy as easily as possible, which is taking place not only with the increasing ease of online shopping, but also with devices and social media storing shopping preferences to present us with more ideal products in the future.

Voice command searches for personal care products on devices show an upsurge as well, signaling that the world is ready for click-free, swipe-free cosmetic shopping.

More eco-friendly manufacturing 

Companies seeking the praise and purchases of environmentally-concerned shoppers are likely to continue the trend of using less water in their makeup-making processes (the industry's top used ingredient), and replacing it with other ingredients. Plant-based plastics and glass may soon become preferred packaging as well. 

Products for active users

With hiking, biking, and hot yoga on the daily schedules of many modern consumers, it makes sense for their beauty routine to fall in line with their workout goals. Sweat-resistant products that won't clog pores are among the wants of modern consumers, with brands like Clinique creating items to meet those needs.

Fair trade and cruelty-free

That shea butter may feel like silk on your skin, but do you know the process of how that product got harvested, made, and transported to you? It's as easy to find out as a quick Google search. So for brands in today's inclusive climate, there's money to be made if you prioritize fair trade.

Modern consumers aren't only concerned about what they put onto and into their own bodies; they also want to know how their products are sourced and made as well. Take some time to peruse reputable guide sites to make sure your beauty products are fair trade, cruelty-free, and vegan, and discover other products/brands who are adopting this same style of production.

More affordable beauty

Experts are also predicting that some of the products and procedures once reserved for use by the uber-wealthy might become less pricey and widely available to the middle class in the coming years.

Physician-prescribed products may become over-the-counter and more accessible to the masses than ever before in future decades. And cosmetic surgery over all, thankfully, might fall into a downward trend as people start to favor natural beauty over the nip-and-tuck once again.

It's a beautiful future

It's no surprise that these future beauty trends focusing on a more wholistic and natural approach to cosmetics. Millennial and Gen Z consumers have been slowly trending toward products and brands that have a social conscience and awareness of how they're affecting the world around them. With the beauty industry following suit, it'll be an interesting, albeit pretty, road to the future. 

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This guide was published on March 5, 2018, and last modified on March 5, 2018.

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