What to Watch: Bacteria, Biotech and More Beauty Trends Shaping 2018

Looking ahead to the second half of 2018, the trends shaping beauty should be of no surprise to anyone in the industry. Themes we’ve heard about since the beginning of the year are only deepening, from the microbiome’s effect on the skin to men’s grooming to sustainable products and packaging. Here, WWD speaks to trend forecasting agency WGSN’s head of beauty, Jenni Middleton, on six key trends shaping the second half of the year.

Zero-waste packaging: Though for the now the consensus in the beauty industry seems to be that consumers remain generally ambivalent toward sustainable packaging, Middleton upholds that waste-free is the way to go in 2018. There are early signs of an uptick in consumer interest. On Instagram, a movement against plastic straws took hold, with influencers such as Eva Chen swearing them off, along with other plastic food containers. Celebrity hairstylist, Ouai Hair Care founder and influencer in her own right, Jen Atkin spoke out early this year against “wasteful packaging and mailers,” issuing a call on Instagram to brands to send gifted items with minimal wrapping and packaging. In early 2018, brands such as Unilever’s Love Beauty and Planet, L’Oréal’s Seed Beauty, Lubrizol-funded One Ocean Beauty and L’Oréal vet Nicolas Gerlier’s LVMH-backed La Bouche Rouge each launched products with sustainable packaging and formulations. “I’m convinced that my generation today cannot continue to think, produce and consume like the previous generation. I can’t just create a new luxury makeup brand [without] a strong commitment to sustainability,” Gerlier told WWD in February.

WGSN predicts brands will further waste-free initiatives in 2019 by creating products consisting of reusable components, like La Bouche Rouge’s luxury refillable lipstick capsule made of tanned calfskin leather, or more affordable vegan brand Aether’s biodegradable eye shadow palette. “You can’t have an eye color palette with a plastic case and mirror — all these things in essence are reusable, but you can’t reuse them and have to throw out the whole thing.”

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Social shopping: As brands continue to pour resources into amping up a presence in both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce channels, another platform is quickly emerging: social media. Digitally native brands such as Pat McGrath Labs, Kylie Cosmetics and ColourPop have always used social media as a marketing vehicle, but shopping directly through Instagram, Facebook and even Spotify is becoming increasingly common amongst beauty brands. This year, Pat McGrath launched a 10-stockkeeping unit collection on Spotify. L’Oréal recently announced its “long-term” partnership with Facebook. The world’s biggest beauty company has plans to release shoppable videos for each of its makeup brands, beginning with NYX, on the platform through the rest of the year and into 2019.

Getting emotional: Practices like meditation, aromatherapy and crystal healing are becoming increasingly mainstream and intertwined with beauty as the consumer movement toward wellness hits fever pitch, and Sephora and Ulta are stocking up on rose quartz combs and facial tools for fall. Mindfulness and self care are now beauty buzzwords. Middleton predicts this trend will begin to amplify with products designed to address specific moods and feelings. Marram, a luxury men’s grooming brand newly launched in the U.K., is doing this already. Marram’s range of essential-oil-based shaving creams are designed to align with #mood — for instance, “You’ve Got This,” “Night Out” and “Morning After.”

Men’s grooming 2.0: It’s no secret that men’s grooming is having a moment. There are new brands on the scene, and retailers such as Target are doubling down on efforts to appeal to their male customers. Chanel recently announced the launch of its line of makeup for men. What’s next? According to Middleton, an evolution of the way retailers will target men in-store. “We need to evolve how men buy. Retailers — and to some extent brands — have not quite gotten it right. You can’t sell to a man the same way you sell to a woman. Men tend to be much more brand agnostic — stores need to be laid out by need, like an Internet search. Men buy for specific issues, instead of having brand loyalty.”

Beauty biotech: With consumer demand for naturally derived ingredients in beauty products at a crescendo, WGSN predicts that more brands will search for sustainable ways to harvest those ingredients — mainly by using biotechnology to grow synthetic ingredients. Brands such as Phlur and Biossance are already doing it, and Chinese brand Maysu is using “space ginseng regeneration” to grow a more powerful ginseng ingredient. Lubrizol’s One Ocean Beauty uses bio-fermentation technology to create lab-based ingredients, ensuring no harm to marine life. “There’s a huge amount of growth in the natural market, and a very vocal consumer articulating the power of natural,” Middleton said. “At the same time, we can’t continue to grow products in the way it’s always been done.”

Gut instinct: Beauty’s bacteria obsession isn’t going anywhere. The theory that good skin starts in the gut is proving to me more than just a trend, and is becoming its own branch of the wellness movement. From ingestible probiotics to fermented ingredients in skin care to books — Dr. Whitney Bowe’s “The Beauty of Dirty Skin” — the microbiome is beauty’s latest obsession. Sustainable probiotic brand Seed — backed by a roster of celebrity investors, including Cameron Diaz and Jessica Biel — launched in June, and Middleton expects more beauty brands to jump on the bacteria bandwagon with products that specifically target the skin. Australia-based Grown Alchemist, for instance, is set to launch its Probiotic Nutrient Support, designed to “increase absorption of dermal nutrients” and maintain “healthy skin,” at Barney’s New York in September.

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