As technology and science become integral facets of our always-evolving lifestyles, a growing demand exists for elevated and indulgent experiences. Consumers are newly energized by radical innovations that deliver extraordinary sensations and take performance to new heights. This thrill-seeking culture will impact our vision of beauty, awakening a more pluriversal mindset and establishing next-level expectations, propelling beauty in a Protopian trajectory.
“In an era marked by uncertainties and polycrisis, there is a growing demand for emotionally compelling and exhilarating physical experiences, especially with our ever-evolving lifestyles. Consumers are now invigorated by groundbreaking innovations that offer extra-ordinary sensations while elevating performance to unprecedented levels. This trend of seeking thrills is set to influence our perception of beauty, giving rise to a more individual mindset, and establishing elevated expectations, propelling beauty into an Elysian  trajectory,” explains Leila Rochet, Chief Inspiration Officer of Cosmetics Inspiration & Creation.
HIGHER FUTURES: The transformative impact of science-centric approaches
In the future, all experiences will be hybrid and product innovation will be committed to maximizing performance. New technologies and scientific discoveries, fore fronted by Artificial Intelligence, will transform consumers’ expectations, taking results-focused beauty to even higher levels.
In the summer of 2023, Ulta Beauty partnered with Haut AI to bring personalized skincare diagnostics to the in-store experience. Following the launch, Haut AI developed SkinGPT - a skincare platform that uses generative AI to visually simulate the effects of products over time, based on a combination of a personalized quiz, uploaded images and clinical data. AI-powered bots will become a familiar feature outside of the professional salon space, meeting the demand for faster and budget-friendly options. Clockwork’s $10 mani-bot is rapidly spreading across the US, targeting residential complexes and airports strategically.
In beauty, a mindset rooted in science and focused on solutions is making waves and is being embraced by consumers driven by tangible outcomes. Amorepacific’s latest innovation, the Lipcure Beam (CES Innovation Award 2024 – Korea) employs precision sensor and diagnostic technology to deliver next-level care.
In the Future, Beauty will go far beyond beautification to meet the needs of consumers driven by tangible outcomes and by the need to optimize their daily performance.
TRANSIENT LIVING: Revisiting the codes of lifestyle
Beauty adapts to always-on-the-move lifestyles, as the thirst for leisure and the rising nomad economy drive innovation. The travel surge (and of “bleisure” – business & leisure) calls for refreshed routines, adaptive textures, and re-engineering of packaging, modifying the practical nature of beauty products.
At PFW SS24, (September 2023 - France) Miu Miu presented a collection inspired by the future omni-traveler. Workwear was mixed with beachwear, sportswear was paired with eveningwear, as the brand played with the concept of “prototypical fashion”, reflecting the growing eclecticism of people’s daily lives.
Climatic changes will also continue to impact choices and behaviors, calling for new climate-adaptive textures and packaging. Like the After Sun Gel from cult suncare brand Vacation (April 2023), which is primed to cool and soothe the skin after sun exposure. Demand for intelligent SPF hybrids will also rise as daily defense becomes central to the preparation for a better future. Combining a cooling sensation with SPF 50+, the TIRTIR Off The Sun Air Mousse SPF 50+ (April 2023 - Korea) features 2% Zero-Cooling Complex which is proven to reduce skin temperature by -4.8 degrees Celsius.
In the future, beauty will need to take an adaptive approach and prime innovations for both the physical and emotional demands of on-the-go lifestyles. Utu is a skincare brand that has been specifically developed to adapt to outdoor lifestyles. Its philosophy is to protect, nourish and rejuvenate both the skin and the planet.
EXTRA-VAGANCE: Bringing the extraordinary into the everyday
Consumers are turning to lavish indulgences and grandiose gestures as a riposte to the daily grind of the recession. A new cohort of thrill-seekers are maxing out on experiences and eschewing convention to party through the permacrisis.
The monumental economic success of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour underscores the cultural craving for escapism and consumer readiness to indulge. Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour also sparked social media frenzy (#renaissancetour: 3.9B TikTok views), inspiring countless copycat looks.
In Korea, crystal nose-bridge embellishments have become a new way to wear face gems, thanks to fans spotting them on K-pop idols Jennie and Rosé from Blackpink during their Coachella performance.
The new era of decadence is being shaped by the rediscovery of nightlife, which catapults lavish looks to center stage. This extravagant energy is encapsulated by Lisa from Blackpink’s showgirl-esque performance at Paris’ Crazy Horse cabaret, where she took up residency in September 2023.
Unseen Beauty (UK) is one brand that is driven to deliver extra-ordinary experiences, bringing unexpectedly luxe finishes to makeup. The SPECTRA Eye Colour contains glass microspheres, half-coated with aluminum to transform the product into a bright, reflective silver under a phone camera’s flash. Making it the ideal accompaniment to a night out.
For beauty, the desire for extra-vagance will call for an abundance of celebratory styles and the innovation of spectacular finishes, and the reclaiming of evening beautification.
SYMBIOTIC EDEN: Adapting for a better future
Value is being rapidly redefined by consumers who are demanding greater environmental responsibility, driving brands to consider the future implications of products. As the climate crisis continues to unfold, innovation will come to the foreground of beauty as consumers look for solutions to increasingly prominent issues caused by environmental deterioration.
Waste solutions will continue to rise, and will be encircled into new retail concepts, such as Greez (February 2023 - France) - a resale platform for unsold cosmetics. And as secondhand continues to thrive in fashion, some beauty retailers are also finding there is value in “perfectly imperfect” products like This is Beauty (June 2023 – US).
A better future calls for a symbiotic approach, blending science, technology, and nature to deliver bold and ambitious products that benefit both people and the planet. The acceleration of vertical farming (employed to great success by Ulé and Caudalie), opens up new territories of tech-driven sustainable sourcing. German brand Gezeiten worked with marine biologists and biotechnologists to study over a hundred compounds to develop Earth Marine CellTech Complex® - a combination of patented marine extracts and a mineral-rich submarine water concentrate.
Plastic free solutions will continue to rise with packaging companies like Verity (US) proposing metal as a solution for beauty, or Notpla (UK) which is exploring the potential of regenerative packaging(UK).
In beauty, a more holistic approach to innovation must emerge, privileging a more global life cycle approach and scrutiny in sourcing.
EXPANDED CARE: Emotional-bonding beauty
As stress levels continue to rise in this period of permacrisis (61% of Americans say their stress is at an all-time high, while 89% of Chinese adults are actively seeking ways to reduce stress), emotional-bonding becomes essential in daily behavior.
In beauty, this manifests in the rise of comfort-boosting textures and new psychodermatological narratives, which are propelled by TikTok. The issue of skin sensitivity and barrier protection presents a new opportunity for brands to innovate from a perspective of emotional care. The success of Rare Beauty (expected to exceed $300 million in sales in 2023 according to Fast Company), opens the path to more emotion-infused beauty products.
In this next phase, brands must consider the emotional implications of products, as consumers look to integrate new levels of care into their daily beauty routine - from the first touch to the finished look - while addressing the biological processes that take place under the surface.
In this context, circadian beauty will continue to flourish. Complimentary skincare and supplement brand You’re Looking Well (UK) has developed the Night Pill & Night Cream (August 2023) to help users optimize their sleep.
In beauty, brands will double down on emotionally-bonding facets - texture, color, scent, packaging - to provide consumers with uniquely sensorial moments. New territories of emotional satisfaction proven by science will also emerge as 70% of US consumers express interest in beauty and personal care products with mood-boosting qualities (Mintel 2024 Global Beauty and Personal Care Trends).
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