The huge shift in behaviour driven by the pandemic has reshaped consumers’ demands in just a few months. Beauty has discovered a new role beyond aesthetic, as a protector and soother. For a society embroiled in a pandemic, fighting systematic racial injustice, and fledgling under widespread unemployment, beauty now means something vastly different than it did just a few months ago.
Many things come to mind if we think about the chances in the cosmetics industry in the last year. People were wearing less make-up in lockdown, MUA’s (at make-up counters in stores) couldn’t do their job, events shifted to online events and wearing a mask resulted in people focusing on eye-makeup. And there is so much more.
To make it clearer and more structured, I created three clusters. The first one called ‘The Picture of Self-Care’, about the new term ‘Mascné’ that is popping up and new beauty essentials. The second cluster is called ‘The Picture of Change’. This cluster is all about how lockdown and wearing masks changed the beauty game. The last cluster is ‘The Picture of Health’, about how the beauty industry is responding to Coronavirus’.
The Picture of Self-Care
About the new term ‘Mascné’ and new beauty essentials; The Protectors
Maybe you heard/read about it already, the new term that is popping up, ‘Mascné’. Mascné is also known as ‘Mask related acné’, an unfortunate side effect of the daily mask-wearing we’re all doing to slow the transmission of Covid-19. “These masks create a seal that prevents moisture from escaping, resulting in a humid environment where acne-causing bacteria is able to thrive,” says Dylan Mustapich, an aesthetician at Face Haus in New York City. Board-certified dermatologist Meghan Feely likens it to acne that athletes often struggle with. “Athletes who wear a helmet may develop acneiform breakouts as dirt, oil, and sweat are trapped in their pores, affording an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria,” she says.
Next to this new term and the new accessoire (facemasks) we have to have with us at all times, there is another change; beauty products that people need to carry with them. These have transformed in just a few months. Sanitiser is now as much a handbag essential as lipstick and fragrance once was. Consumers’ new priorities are on-the-go cleanliness, protection from coronavirus and remedies to counteract increased online lifestyles. These demands are reshaping their perceptions of must-have beauty items.
Too Faced Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer Jerrod Blandino also sees this change. “Right now it’s about products that allow you to be the best version of yourself,” he notes. “We want to look healthy with beautiful, natural skin. It isn’t about covering up ‘imperfections’ but embracing self-love and self-acceptance.”
For a society embroiled in a pandemic, fighting systematic racial injustice, and fledgling under widespread unemployment, beauty now means something vastly different than it did just a few months ago. When even little things — like going to the grocery store while maintaining six feet of distance — can induce stress, we become desperate for something, anything that’s easy and makes us feel good. For many, that’s a natural, pared-down approach to beauty.
While Blandino sidelined his bold makeup range in response to the zeitgeist, the truth is, a more low-key aesthetic was already taking shape even before coronavirus spread throughout the globe. “About a year ago, I started feeling a shift from a really overly dramatic, overly sculpted, layered makeup look to translucency and femininity that I saw in Asia and different parts of the world, with a more skin-centric approach and diffused lips and cheeks,” he says.
In a time when beauty, sleep, exercise, and nutrition have formed an all-encompassing wellness movement, Sir John, the makeup artist who counts Beyoncé as a longtime client, sees the projection of overall physical and mental well-being as the new priority in makeup. “We’ve all been in the house for more than three months and our skin is getting used to not wearing foundation every day,” he says. “We’re doing more selfcare, we’re working on gut health and wellness. All of these things impact your overall complexion as a whole, so to go and cover yourself with foundation from forehead to chin just doesn’t seem modern right now.”
This fresh sensibility is also changing the way people look at cosmetic treatments and procedures. “We’re getting back to believing in skin care and bringing a focus to restoring skin to the more natural healthy, youthful state instead of going for procedure, procedure, procedure,” says Miami-based dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, MD, founder of Dr. Loretta Skin Care.
The Picture of Change
About how lockdown and wearing masks changed the beauty game
For years, it’s felt like the business of beauty has been unstoppable, but the landscape is starting to change. In 2020 when the coronavirus came, hitting fast-forward on the emerging trends, and changing the way we do beauty dramatically, possibly forever and — potentially — for the better. ‘As lockdown continued, our mindset evolved. Habits shifted.’
At first, there was the panic. ‘The first wave of Covid-19 brought a focus on basics,’ says Alexia Inge, Co-Founder of digital beauty retailer Cult Beauty. Because as lockdown continued, our mindset evolved. Habits shifted. We rabidly started buying things we never knew we needed: hair dye, face masks and vitamin C supplements. People also starting to do more Do It Yourself project, like making their own hair mask and skin products.
After the first wave, when wearing a face mask in public became the new normal, people also started to do their make-up differently because half their faces were covered with fabric.
Eye-makeup became more and more popular and people started experimenting more. There are even step-by-step tutorials on how to do make-up with a face mask on YouTube or website like ArtDeco (https://www.artdeco.com/en/makeup-tips/makeup-looks/face-mask-makeup) and L’Oréal Paris (https://www.lorealparisusa.com/beauty-magazine/makeup/makeup-looks/face-mask-makeup-tips.aspx). It is amazing to see how people’s mindsets are staying positive in a time like this and are willing to help each other to continue making make up look fabulous all while wearing a face mask.
The Picture of Health
About how the beauty industry is responding to Coronavirus
Buoyed by health experts’ recommendations that clean hands are the best line of defence against coronavirus, sales and searches for sanitisers have soared worldwide. Google Trends data shows all search terms related to “hand sanitiser” rocketed at the end of February.
Although searches have now dropped to slightly higher than pre-Covid 19 levels as consumers have found their go-to brand, consumption habits have not and Google searches have risen again as lockdowns have eased. Edge by Ascential data reveals that within all health and beauty sub-categories, hand wipes had the second (after cough liquids) and soap the seventh highest ppts increase in out-of-stock rates (+28 ppts, +23 ppts) in the first two months of lockdown in the UK compared to the same term last year. This pattern will be long term. Fior Markets’ Global Hand Sanitizer Market Growth 2019–2024 reports the global market will grow from $1,080m in 2019 to $1.510m by 2024, a 5.8% CAGR.
The industry has responded positively to the crisis, with brands switching their manufacturing to produce hand sanitizers and cleaning agents and offering free beauty services for frontline response workers. At the same time, the industry’s leaders have a responsibility to do their best to ensure that their companies survive. The global beauty industry generates $500 billion in sales a year and accounts for millions of jobs, directly and indirectly. Lives come first, but livelihoods also matter.
In general beauty brands should consolidate their status as a protector, but make sanitisers more pleasurable to use than a utilitarian staple. Sanitisers will offer additional beauty benefits, such as stimulating collagen production, brightening and hydration. Having embraced the defensive benefits of hand sanitisers and soaps, consumers will now expect other beauty products to safeguard them against viruses and bacteria. They will seek on-the-go solutions to keep themselves and their products contamination-free.
People will prioritize their health to protect themselves against future outbreaks with cleansing products that boost immunity. Google searches for “immune boosting foods”, “vitamins” and “immune booster” grew 120%, 50% and 50% respectively in the last three months worldwide (as of June 17). Edge by Ascential data suggests that in the first two months of UK lockdown, health and vitamins are the second category after pharmacy with the highest percentage point increase (16.9 ppts) in out-of-stock rates compared to the same period last year.
Beauty brands have repositioned themselves as essential for safer everyday living by providing sanitisers during the outbreak. This ability to combine alcohol to kill off 99.9% of viruses and bacteria with actives offering beauty benefits will become highly sought-after across multiple categories, elevating everyday staples such as shower gels and shampoos.
The connection between looking good and being healthy will be reinforced by the pandemic, as the ‘staying well’ trend necessitates choosing products that boost immunity while delivering beauty benefits.
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