LONDON — An edible beauty regime?
While no one may be spreading face cream on a cracker anytime soon — or smearing salsa on their cheeks — there is no doubt the food and beverage industry is having a big impact on the ingredients going into new beauty products.
The Future Laboratory, the London-based consultancy and trend forecaster, has published the top 10 beauty ingredients to watch in its annual Beauty Futures Report 2016 list, which includes yams, gac and black seed oil from cumin.
“The beauty industry is very much informed by what’s going on in the food and drink industry,” said Victoria Buchanan, trends analyst at The Future Laboratory. She compiled this year’s list, which also includes cannabis, tallow, mongongo oil, neurophroline, ultramarine, jellyfish venom and noxious weeds.
“We’re seeing a lot of ancient ways of eating being adopted in the food and drink industry, and then transferring into beauty,” added Buchanan, pointing to tallow, which she said belongs “very much to the paleo [diet] trend that we’ve seen.”
A mix of natural and lab-concocted, the raw ingredients are — and will be — critical in helping brands tell their stories, differentiate and sell themselves. “Consumers are becoming much more aware of ingredients and they’re becoming more part of the core message — the things that get people interested in a product,” she said.
Some of the raw materials on The Future Lab’s list have already being pressed into action — cannabis, in the case of Bob Marley’s family’s brand Marley Natural and the luxury brand Ananda — while others have yet to manifest their potential.
Case in point is ultramarine, a pigment that could serve as key ingredient for makeup meant for darker skin tones. It was identified by L’Oréal’s Women of Color Lab earlier this year.
Many of the trends are coming straight from innovative chefs, health-conscious eaters and overall trends in the food industry, Buchanan said.
In an interview, Buchanan talked in particular about tallow, a form of cow and buffalo fat, and noxious weeds, edible plants that are found in abundance — and often costly to eradicate.
The former, rich in vitamins and omega nutrients, is used by Fatco in its skin-care products. The latter is the foundation of New Zealand brand Wilding & Co.’s products, which have antiviral and anti-inflammatory oils derived from invasive, wilding pine trees.
The pine trees are considered weeds in New Zealand, and the country spends a fortune each year trying to eradicate them, although they have become popular among sustainability-minded chefs.
Buchanan said the rise of black seed oil, an Indian and Middle Eastern product made from black cumin seeds, comes from energy and immune-booster food trends, while Vietnamese gac is an edible super-fruit with oils that contain very high levels of the antioxidant lycopene (found in tomatoes) and more beta carotene than carrots.
The unprepossessing yam has also become hot property among South Korean skin-care brands, and with Orjena in particular.
According to the Future Lab, yams are being promoted as an alternative to snail mucus in skin-tightening and moisturizing brands, while their hormone-balancing, bone density-enriching properties have long been touted by women going through menopause.
While cannabis isn’t exactly the stuff of a gourmet — or even rustic — menu, it’s still a part of the natural, nourishing foodie trend. “It has antioxidizing properties and a sense of naturalness, and also plays to the oil trend we’ve seen,” Buchanan said.
Being part of a food and beverage trend doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, and Buchanan is quick to admit that only a few of the ingredients listed each year actually endure.
She said the oils and the foods such as yam and gac will have their moment of being on trend, but something else will probably take their place. “There are hundreds of different ingredients that come out every year, with one or two hailed as the new thing that’s going to change everyone’s lives and stop us from never aging again,” Buchanan said.
“It’s just like in the food and drink industry where kale is ‘in’ one minute, and then it’s all about broccoli. I think there is much more you can do with ingredients like neurophroline, ultramarine — and even cannabis — in the long-term.”
She said the research into ultramarine in particular nods to a growing trend. “This is an area that will see a lot more research and development in terms of the types of ingredients that cater to darker skin tones. Brands are realizing they have to know more about darker skin tones, as they are always focused on white skin.”
She added that beauty ingredient trends move very quickly nowadays, particularly in South Korea. “One day something is the key ingredient, and the next day it’s something else. But in South Korea they are open to experimenting, and we’re seeing that filter into Western markets, too.”
The Future Laboratory, which tracks trends across 14 lifestyle sectors, has been compiling its beauty ingredients list for the past three years, and one of the breakout stars from last year has been donkey milk, which Buchanan said went “really big,” with magazines touting it — particularly in South Korea — and numerous brands working it into their formulas.
Other ingredients on the list have nothing to do with food trends, but are more in tune with the move toward stress management and mindfulness.
Neurophroline, developed by Givaudan, the Swiss manufacturer of flavors, fragrances and cosmetics, is an example. Recently created, it is said to be a stress-buster — blocking cortisol production — an endorphin-booster and skin toner. A new ingredient, it has yet to work its way into consumer products.
“We’ve been looking at stress, pollution and environmental issues becoming a much bigger problem within the beauty industry for the last couple of years now, and I can really see this taking off,” Buchanan said.
While The Future Lab focuses on the ingredients rather than products, Buchanan said there are brands that regularly embrace cutting-edge ingredients.
Sunday Riley, which is known for fusing synthetic ingredients with botanicals, has appeared on The Future Lab’s list twice.
“They’re very forward thinking in terms of the ingredients they’re using and they are always a brand we look to in terms of inventiveness,” Buchanan said, adding that Drunk Elephant — the U.S. company that has stripped toxins, irritants, and anything with a potential safety risk out of its products — is another innovative brand.
Future trends — she said — lie in bio-mimicry, which is already popular with the fragrance industry. Scientists are today able to re-create molecules from endangered species of plants and botanicals that traditionally have low oil yields.
“I think there are some researchers looking to extract the DNA of flowers that were alive during the Ice Age, so we’ll see a lot more rare and endangered ingredients — next generation naturals,” said Buchanan, adding there will also be a shift to ingredients that help to enhance performance, “whether it’s ingredients helping you to work harder at the gym or get more done in the day. That’s a really interesting area to monitor over the next couple of years.”
Buchanan said the latter trend has already taken hold in the food and drink industry, with people taking pills to enhance their mental well-being and help them work harder during the day. “There are some oils that you use at the gym to help enhance your workout because of the scent. That area will be really interesting to see how it influences beauty,” she said.