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The 2022 Beauty Inc Awards: Products of the Year

Honoring the year's standout makeup, skin care, hair care and fragrance launches.

In a year filled with myriad launches, these were the standouts  in terms of innovation, imagination — and, of course, sales.

Product of the Year 

Hair: K18 Biomimetic Hairscience

K18 Biomimetic Hairscience
K18 Biomimetic Hairscience George Chinsee/WWD

Combine beauty’s buzziest driver — biotech — with the industry’s social media sensation, TikTok, and the results are stratospheric. Such is the trajectory of K18 Biomimetic Hairscience, created by industry veterans Britta Cox and Suveen Sahib. To develop the product, the team mapped the keratin genome, “to figure out the sequence which can actually repair the polypeptide chains in the hair,” Sahib told Beauty Inc, explaining that unlike bond-building technology, K18 works on the keratin chains of hair’s structure to “actually reconnect polypeptide chains.” While the science is complex, consumers certainly understood the results when they used the product, snapping up bottles despite the lofty price of $29 for a .50-ounce bottle; sales for 2022 are projected to top $100 million. Numbers like that have prompted inevitable comparisons with Olaplex, another disruptive player in the hair space. And though they’re competitors, Sahib doesn’t mind. “They’re the ones who built the bond-building category, it didn’t exist before that,” he said. “To us, it’s about creating synthetic biology as the next category — we see this impact in hair, skin care, cosmetics, everything.” 

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Makeup: Nars Light Reflecting Advanced Skincare Foundation 

Nars Light Reflecting Advanced Skincare Foundation
Nars Light Reflecting Advanced Skincare Foundation George Chinsee/WWD

The skinification of makeup was one of the top trends of 2022, and Nars Light Reflecting Advanced Skincare Foundation nailed it. The medium-coverage foundation, which launched in 36 shades, claims to even skin tone over time and defend against environmental aggressors and blue light. Introduced in February, the product also represents the larger ambitions of parent company Shiseido to be the leading skin beauty company in the world. Light Reflecting Foundation was born from insights the team gleaned globally and formulated as a collaboration between Shiseido’s Global Innovation Center in Yokohama, Japan, and the Americas Innovation Center in the U.S. The strategy was a winner: Nars Light Reflecting Foundation is the biggest launch in the history of the brand, with sales said to be double the initial forecast. 

Skin Care: Trinny London Skin Care 

Trinny London Skin Care
Trinny London Skin Care George Chinsee/WWD

Trinny Woodall’s claim to fame may be as the ultimate fashion whisperer, but when it comes to beauty, she’s proven herself to be a natural. Her eponymous brand, launched in 2017, has been a global sensation, with sales said to exceed 45 million pounds and the company achieving profitability in late 2020, thanks to a community-based, digital-first approach that appeals to everyone whether 18 or 80. In February, Woodall leveraged the acceleration of her brand by launching skin care, starting with cleansers and quickly expanding into a full range of ingredient-packed serums, moisturizers and exfoliants. Coupled with an expanded distribution strategy that included pop-ups in Australia, the U.K. and Canada, as well as a launch at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, the brands looks set to clean up this year, with sales expected to close to 100 million pounds. 

Fragrance: Dries Van Noten Eaux de Parfum

Dries Van Noten Eaux de Parfum
Dries Van Noten Eaux de Parfum George Chinsee/WWD

Dries Van Noten is known for his use of prints, colors, original fabrics and layering in his ready-to-wear, and when it came time to create his debut fragrance collection, the Belgian designer followed a similar path. The family of 10 fragrances, which Van Noten concepted with his parent company Puig, are a riot of colors, scents and textures. “For me, something perfectly beautiful is boring,” Van Noten said at launch. An avid gardener who said he loves to take risks in his plantings, Van Noten aspired to create unusual and unexpected olfactive combinations, as with Voodoo Chile, which has notes of rosemary and patchouli, or Soie Malaquais, with chestnut and vanilla notes. All of the scents contain at least 85 percent natural ingredients, and the apothecary-like bottles, each with a unique design, are made of responsibly sourced, recyclable materials. In a fantastic year for fragrance overall, Les Eaux stood out for bringing a new level of originality to the designer market.