Sustainability, new formulations and inclusiveness: how the beauty industry has changed in 10 years

The popularity of small local brands, the triumph of skin care products, the impact of social media: SPLETNIK.RU examines how the beauty industry has changed over the past 10 years.

More small independent brands

Many people used to buy all their cosmetics and skin care products from one major brand. But with the emergence of multi-brand retailers such as Golden Apple and Sephora, a huge selection of international brands appeared (before they had to be brought from abroad or ordered with expensive delivery) and access to small brands opened up.

The beauty industry is not just a space for big players now. The founder of the brand of the same name, Kat Von Dee, told Forbes how barriers to market are crumbling:

It’s like music: anyone can make cosmetics now, but to be successful you have to be cool as hell.

Means that emphasize beauty, and do not mask “flaws”

We don’t want to put 16 layers of war paint on our face every day. We need natural, shiny skin, and brands are ready to provide us with such beauty products. There is a demand for cosmetic products that emphasize our beauty, rather than hide it.

Taking care of the environment

Increasingly, consumers have begun to pay attention to formulations: they are looking for non-toxic products that have not been tested on animals and do not contain animal products. We consciously approach what we put on the skin. There has even emerged a new group of people calling themselves skin intellectuals: they delve into the essence of the processes occurring in the skin, try to figure out the composition of the ingredients, are fond of chemistry, do not miss a single beauty podcast and enthusiastically read blogs about cosmetic chemistry. To keep pace with this trend, cosmetics companies are increasingly investing in sustainable initiatives and technologies.

For example, Unilever has pledged to cut its use of plastic and, in particular, to halve its use of “virgin plastic” by 2025. Last year, L’Oreal invested in biotech startup Carbios, which develops plastic recycling methods, and also said it will move to paper cosmetic packaging in 2020.

Environmental responsibility has become the main focus in which brands prefer to develop in order not only to please consumers, but also to make the world a better place. Many brands have abandoned complex packaging, jars are now made from recycled glass, instructions are no longer printed on a folded A4 sheet of paper (you can download them using the QR code on the packaging). The packaging itself is made of recyclable cardboard.

Many brands make their packaging from recycled plastic and release refills. Guerlain, for example, has been cooperating with UNESCO for several years now: they jointly develop beekeeping in biosphere reserves and increase the population of bees, the number of which is declining annually on a catastrophic scale.

Smart beauty devices get smarter

Analytics from CB Insights show that the global cosmetic device market is valued at $ 74 billion. This is due to the growing need for the treatment of skin conditions, greater awareness of the effects of hormonal imbalances on the skin, and the increased popularity of skin care products.

But it’s not just individual apps and devices – brands are building entire systems with personalized treatments. In recent years, L’Oreal has developed special sensors to track sun damage and skin pH. Clarisonic was replaced by another high-tech brand – FOREO. Other big companies such as P&G, Johnson & Johnson and Shiseido have also introduced their own technology systems.

For example, Shiseido Optune is a skin care system and mobile app. It uses artificial intelligence to determine the condition of the skin, and then generates a personalized care program for each day. Optune can provide 80,000 possible combinations.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson has developed a variety of personalized skin care systems, from skin scanning devices such as the Neutrogena Skin360 to 3D printed face masks using Neutrogena MaskiD technology.

In 2018, the company launched its first AI-enabled device, Foreo’s LUNA Fofo. The device has sensors for monitoring the level of skin hydration, according to which the gadget recommends the settings for cleansing the face.

Makeup VS Care

If in the first half of the tenths everyone was fond of decorative cosmetics, then the second half passed under the sign of skin care. In 2019, sales of cosmetics slowed for the first time compared to sales of skin care products.

Some are sure that the trend originated at the 2012 New York shows, when models with clean faces appeared on the catwalk, and it was not “makeup without makeup”, but a “naked” face without a gram of foundation or powder.

The disappearance of the concept of “anti-aging”

The editor-in-chief of American Allure made a statement in 2013 that the magazine is no longer using the term anti-age, because there is no point in fighting age, we must accept ourselves as we are. The statement, which was initially perceived as shocking, actually presented a new trend. Other terms are used today, such as “natural aging”. And instead of the term “anti-aging” or “anti-wrinkle”, the expression “gives radiance and freshness” is now used.

New lineups

With the development of small brands, beauty giants had to respond to the challenges of the new era. Big brands have stopped relying on exotic and rare ingredients harvested from the “eastern slope of a dormant full moon volcano.” Now the main thing is ingredients with proven effectiveness. Care product formulas are becoming more concise, natural, but technologically more complex.

Home care

Home remedies are rapidly gaining popularity as a substitute for going to the salon. Today, all kinds of beauty gadgets are on sale (and are in demand), from photoepilators to LED face masks, ultrasonic toothbrushes, oral irrigators, high-tech massagers with sound vibrations, microcurrent massagers – all these devices have settled in many bathrooms.

In the West, jade massagers for the face, gouache scrapers, mesoscoolers and dry massage brushes are literally being bought. The industry is growing at such a pace that full-service home spas can soon be expected.


The most popular product over the past few years has been patches (thanks to millennials). Analysts say there are several reasons for this: first, the passion for leaving; second, the quick result that the new generation is striving for; thirdly, the photogenicity of patches – they often resemble filters from Instagram; Fourth, real effectiveness: the tight-fitting mask will allow the components to penetrate deeper and better act.

At some point, people started using the patches on airplanes, while driving, at work, and on the street. But in the wake of environmental responsibility, a new question has arisen: how ethical is it to use patches in individual packages? The answer is: you should choose those made from biodegradable biocellulose.


Over the past ten years, eyebrows have gone through several revolutions. It all started with Natalia Vodianova and Cara Delevingne, who actually set the trend for voluminous thick eyebrows combed up. Since the beginning of the tenth years, eyebrows have served as a key element of the entire beauty image: they were lightened and whitened, as in Givenchy shows; they were given the hyper-volume like on the Marc Jacobs show.

They were combed and straightened, did microblading and tattooing, and hundreds of salons specializing in eyebrow care were opened all over the world. Eyebrow products have broken sales records, their range is impressive: shadows, powders, permanent dyes, henna, combs, gels, waxes and lipsticks. Finally, the latest sensational trend is “soap eyebrows”, which are broad eyebrows styled with simple soap. Today it became clear: the madness has receded, the eyebrows have become more natural.


The main invention of the last decade is gel varnishes, resistant coatings that dry under a lamp. Everyone quickly got used to the fact that immediately after a manicure, keys and credit cards can be taken out of jeans pockets – the coating does not suffer from this at all: no prints and chips, as before. Manicurists have become the new trendsetters on Instagram, and countless nail salons have also sprung up. However, now there is a new wave: the abandonment of persistent color coatings in favor of organic varnishes in nude shades.


Beauty canons are changing. On the catwalks and in advertising campaigns, there are more and more people of completely different types, the main thing is individuality. Model and activist Adwoa Aboah has gained incredible popularity; transgender models appear on magazine covers; models with acne, vitiligo, plus-size models, age models and models with disabilities have become, if not widespread, then quite familiar.

New beauty products

Over the past decade, many new beauty products have emerged. The most popular are contour sticks, highlighters, multifunctional products, sponges.

But if we are asked to choose just one product of the decade, then it will definitely be a highlighter. Today, radiance is the main term for beautiful skin, and almost every cosmetic bag contains a highlighter.


Six shades of foundation and three colors of concealer – this sounds very modest in 2020. In addition, the world is dominated by diversion – beauty for all, means for people of any gender and skin color. The wild success of Fenty Beauty is a pretty compelling example. Rihanna is one of the first to release 40 shades of foundation and two universal lip balms that men adore (since its launch in September 2018, Gloss Bomb has become one of the ten best-selling products in Sephora). The American brand Milk Makeup is another great example. Its gender-neutral advertising campaigns have been so well received by the millennial audience that virtually every brand has become a bestseller.

Companies such as Asos, Calvin Klein, Yves Saint Laurent, Clinique and others offer makeup for men, while MAC, Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs have launched gender-neutral makeup lines, and Maybelline New York and Covergirl were the first to make men their ambassadors.

Cosmetic brands are also increasingly launching products for babies and children. While this category is much smaller than adult skincare, it grew by almost 9% last year, according to Euromonitor. According to Mintel, 3 out of 4 parents say they will spend more on personal care products for their children than on themselves. In 2018, luxury skincare brands such as Pai Skincare, Dr. Barbara Sturm and others have added baby and child care products to their range.

Virtual fitting makeup

This is one of the best augmented reality use cases. AR gained wider acceptance in the beauty industry in 2017, when Perfect Corp and Modiface established themselves as leading providers of augmented reality for beauty brands. Virtual fitting allows customers to test different shades of lipstick and mascara, and brand representatives collect various data: facial features, skin tone, the presence of wrinkles, and so on. This helps determine what types of products people with certain facial features are more likely to buy.

Since L’Oreal’s acquisition of Modiface, the conglomerate has launched a variety of augmented reality beauty services. In 2018, L’Oreal began a long-term partnership with Facebook to create augmented reality beauty products for their portfolio brands on the social media platform. On Facebook, users can virtually try on beauty products using a smartphone camera, and then easily be redirected to the official websites of brands to make a purchase.

The Style My Hair app allows you to understand how your hair will look after dyeing. Benefit Cosmetics, owned by LVMH, has partnered with Modiface to launch an app that lets you try on different types of eyebrows. Even nail polish can be “tried on” by Wanna Nails (owned by Wannaby) and Metaverse Makeovers.

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