4. Blurred Lines – The end of traditional references

Boundaries are getting blurred in many fields of society. Numerous phenomena are there to prove it. Sex no longer predicts the gender, as a third one is now recognized in some countries (Germany, India, etc.). Masculine and feminine codes are no longer as distinct from one another. Boundaries between ages are also increasingly blurred. Adults behave like teenagers and teenagers display an insolent maturity… Work is also stepping out of its traditional sphere: people have fun at work and work when they are on holidays… And these are only a few examples. Everywhere can be felt a “blurring” effect. Within this context, the possibilities of self-expression are increasing. We can now see women invest the sphere of masculine fashion. Likewise, men comply less and less with traditional codes at work. Casual chic blurs all the lines and allows the male sex to access the pleasures of diversity in their wardrobe, which used to be reserved for women. Everything is now possible. Self-exploration through the diversity of codes is greatly valued. Styles are no longer opposed, they complement one another: serious and humorous, light and deep, coloured and anonymous, etc. Traditional references are gradually fading and freeing people from their last prejudices. That is good news for creativity!

Today, technology is moving the range of possibilities, and urban lifestyle, now connected and optimized, is revolutionizing beauty. It is the emergence of a hybrid beauty where the virtual and real worlds get mixed, an urban beauty which embraces the codes of futuristic technologies. The boundaries between skincare and makeup have already burst to pieces with the emergence of BB creams, skincare primers, and tinted lip balms . As smartphones have become luxury objects, our cosmetic products are taking on a smart, more ergonomic appearance, and borrowing the codes of other sectors for the pleasure of optimized makeup applications or exclusive styles.

Haku Mask -Shiseido Japan (www.shiseido.co.jp)

Eyeliner ergonomics are changing, mascara brushes are highly-engineered, brushes are more sophisticated, and “beauty devices” are booming. These electric objects, which promote consumers to the rank of professionals, are streaming onto all markets. They optimize cleansing (e.g. Clarisonic), maximize our skincare products efficacy (e.g.: the Haku Mask is connected to an Iphone to increase the serum’s penetration), or homogenise the foundation application (e.g. Color Me and its pulsating sponge by Ulta USA). The boundaries between accessories and textures are mingling and will soon require textures to be adapted to these new beauty tools.

5. Go Bare – Extreme Purity, and not by a whisker

Even if bearded men of all sorts have made a great comeback among us, depilation remains a strong trend today. Women are expected to remove all hairs from particular parts of their bodies. This is what a majority of people declare in recent surveys. Among the categories where hairs are to be absolutely banned for women can be found the underarms, half-legs, or standard bikini. And men are particularly demanding: thighs, face, and full bikini. The young generation, in particular, swears by the zero hair trend, which does not neglect them. What studies show is that hair removal is more and more widely accepted for men. Although we are far from making them effeminate dropouts, removing hair on certain parts of the body now gives a man a positive image: torso, back… Behind these changes lie the search for hygiene, a desire for purity, and new aesthetic models that glorify the “bare” trend.

We can observe a transition from “bare” nude, to “vital” nude, to an “ethereal beauty”, a virginal and pure beauty praising a perfect skin from which light arises and purity gushes forth.
This visibly natural beauty is gradually obtained through cleansing, skincare, and makeup. This is the art of “layering” inspired from Asia, which makes it possible to get the utmost of a perfect complexion behind the scenes.

This quest for purity also leads to formulations being laid bare, with the search for naturalness in texturing agents like actives to respect the skin ecology. Comforting textures are praised, and so are oils and balms. The skin is intended to become transparent, and so are labels. It is now the turn of “clean”, natural, traced formulations free from chemical substances, yes, but also from allergens.

What do these expressions reveal?

These five new self-expressions reveal contemporary desires that match the trends of our time:
1/ A desire for singularity: people search for and shape their style, they want to express what they feel deep down inside.
2/ A request for well-being: people long for feeling good in their minds and in their bodies.
3/ A new definition of social ties: our society’s new language involves self-staging. Social ties are conditioned by this self-expression of identity. Narcissism is the new code.
4/ The quest for youth: in fact, behind staging and other self-expressions, there is also the desire to remain young as long as possible and to develop one’s ability to fully participate in this now fast-evolving world.

Implications for brands

The increasing search for new self-expressions is part of a key trend, especially for younger ones. These new approaches redefine feminine archetypes, which are becoming plural and are placed at the centre of the expression of a singularity. This can be seen with new icons of all complexions and ages (e.g.: Charlotte Rampling, new Nars icon, aged 68).

Photo Credit - Nars Audacious Lipstick

It is now up to brands to integrate these changes, arouse new emotions, and guide consumers towards highlighting their singularity in order to better connect to these new self and beauty expressions. These avenues represent new opportunities for Beauty brands, which should explore them to develop relevant innovations, whether in the form of new products or in marketing campaigns and communication.

This crossed analysis was presented for the first time at the Beyond Beauty show last September 10, 2014 at a conference entitled “New self-expression models”. The complete file by IPSOS and Cosmetics Inspiration & Creation is available from any of the companies:

IPSOS: Rémy Oudghiri, Director of the Trends & Insights Department at Ipsos Public Affairs. Tel: +33 1 41 98 95 73 (Email: remy.oudghiri@ipsos.com)

Cosmetics Inspiration & Creation: Leila Rochet-Podvin, Founder. Tel: +33 1 82 28 32 82 (Email: leila@inspiration-creation.com)