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Leïla Rochet-Podvin

Towards a reconciliation of opposites? Part 1

Today, the merging of opposites contributes to redefining beauty practices and standards. Rémy Oudghiri (Sociovision) and Leila Rochet-Podvin (Cosmetics Inspiration & Creation) examine four contemporary paradoxes and their implications in the beauty industry.

Photo : © graphicsdunia4you

Photo : © graphicsdunia4you

The age of paradoxes

Are the major oppositions that used to structure our vision of the world disappearing? The same people can now defend and claim values or ideas that used to be considered opposite.

In the beauty world, femininity representations are getting more and more extreme. The beauty models that were popular 20 years ago have been replaced by singular icons who adopt increasingly extreme looks, as can be seen with the silver model campaign: Charlotte Rampling, 68, with Nars, Joan Didion, 80, with Céline, a transgender model with Makeup Forever, Winnie Harlow, who suffers from vitiligo, with Desigual. Difference and acceptance have become the new standards of a more asserted beauty, and the self-acceptance territory is no longer exclusively claimed by Dove.

In addition, hyperconnection has made beauty one of the most frequent subjects of conversation on social networks [1], while new, booming brands are breaking codes, reinventing standards, and adopting seemingly contradictory approaches as strategies. The case of Birchbox, the creator of beauty boxes in the United States, perfectly exemplifies this trend.

Four trends, four paradoxes, and their impact on beauty

We shared our expertise (monitoring of society trends on the one hand, knowledge of the beauty industry on the other), and we examined four examples to study how they materialize in the field of appearance and cosmetics.

Paradox 1 – Fascinating Science, Beneficial Nature

The fact that Science and Nature are no longer conflicting is a first sign of the reconciliation of opposites. The same people who now want more “science” would also like more “nature”. The public opinion shows a renewed fascination for Science, while the virtues of Nature are praised. In 2008, only 46% of French people admitted that “scientific and technological progress will create a better world”. They are 56% today, and this proportion considerably increased between 2013 and 2014 (+5 points).

Indeed, the general public has felt a fast evolution in the technological field over the past few years. What used to be science-fiction is now real and visible in our daily lives. And cosmetics are no exception. What is new is the way individuals view these changes.

In beauty, science is fascinating, and technology has also invaded our bathrooms.
Some new beauty places now resemble future laboratories. In Paris, the Skin Genomic Center offers a new type of consultation involving genetic testing (on saliva) and lifestyle analyses, as well as the creation of a calibrated formula based on twenty-one actives that play a role on the key signs of aging, for 400 euros per test and 375 euros per treatment. And the strong growth of the beauty device market provides further evidence of this acceptance of technology, as it showed a 14% growth in 2014, according to Kline. [2]

If Science fascinates, the need for Nature has never been so dominant: 73% of French people declare they “particularly enjoy” the moments when they feel “in harmony with Nature”. For the younger ones, Nature offers an alternative to stress when they take their first steps in the world of work. On the other hand, the elders view Nature as a precious help to preserve their health. In both cases, Nature is considered as a source of benefits and personal balance.

The natural beauty market should keep up its development pace, with a 10% annual growth on average until 2019, according to Kline, and the tendency of formulas to go natural is becoming more and more widespread among brands, almost inescapable. The praise for beneficial Nature is ubiquitous, but Nature is also glorified, as it is able to trigger emotions and pleasure, two values closely related to the beauty world. Nature’s Way, the organic cosmetics concept store in Tokyo, is a hybrid place, both a restaurant and a cosmetics store, which drew inspiration from libraries to showcase its goods.

The complementarity of Science and Nature has never been expressed as much as it is today in the beauty industry. Today, Science unites with Nature to better understand it, imitate it, or reinvent it, as can be seen with the trend of plant cells, which are either laboratory reproductions of cells taken from Nature, or which, cultivated in a favourable environment, naturally produce active molecules. Several brands have placed these actives at the core of their story, like Rodial, with Skin Food Stem Cells.

Paradox 2 – Connecting and disconnecting

Our attitude towards technology is also changing. The match between “connected” and “disconnected” people is now over. Today, those that are constantly connected also dream of escaping.

It is hard for someone who is not connected to find their own place in today’s society. Indeed, 34% of French people identify with the statement “when I have no access to the Internet, I feel cut off from the world” – it comes as no surprise that this figure has increased over the past few years, and it should keep doing so in the future. However, just as many French people would like to reduce the use of new technologies, because they consider they have gained too much importance in their lives. The ultimate dream is to temporarily escape: 49% of the French would love to be “unreachable” for some time, a proportion that has risen by 10 points since 1998.

Besides, connection has also revolutionized the beauty world, as beauty is now shared through self-staging on social networks. As a sign of our times, there is an Uberization of beauty services (e.g.: Pop My Day app in France), and “instaglam” beauty – self-portraits – are systematically shared via hashtags… People connect, control their looks, and they benefit from augmented experiences in store. Brands have been cashing in on these new ways and do not hesitate to create products adapted to this urban lifestyle. As an example, in early 2015, Too Faced created the Selfie palette to mimic the Instagram filter effects for a better controlled beauty finish, ready to be shared on the web with the hashtag #TFNOFILTER.

Meanwhile, there is a “slow” trend that is developing, a real beauty-enhancing treatment that consists in taking and enjoying time: “slow food”, “slow travel”, “slow beauty”. We escape from the urban world and reconnect with our own selves and the others. Detox has never been that present in our plates, herbal tea, and creams. The Westin Hotel in Paris has introduced a “digital detox” offer, which includes a safe service to secure one’s phone, and rejuvenating, “cocooning” treatments: plantar reflexology or a treatment at the Six Senses spa. In Los Angeles, the Detox Market store downtown is presented as a small oasis dedicated to Nature and detoxifying, natural cosmetics.

Paradoxically, in the era of hyperconnection, which enhances beauty and helps us stage ourselves, things have never been more conducive to escapism. And – yet another paradox! – people mechanically connect to exchange about these moments of escape with the #CHILL #YOGA #DETOX #DECONNECTED hashtags. Everywhere on Instagram, today’s new icons like Karlie Kloss or Kendall Jenner display their moments of escape like precious instants they like to share.

To be followed …

Sociovision : Rémy Oudghiri, Directeur Général Adjoint Sociovision (E-mail :
Cosmetics Inspiration & Creation : Leila Rochet-Podvin, Fondatrice, (E-mail :


[1See article: Digital is all the Rage

[2Kline: Beauty devices: Global Market Analysis Opportunitie

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© 2015 - Premium Beauty News -
about Leïla Rochet-Podvin

Leïla is the founder and CEO of trends and consultancy agency Cosmetics Inspiration & Creation.

With over 20 years of experience working in the beauty industry, Leila Rochet-Podvin founded Cosmetics Inspiration & Creation in 2007, a Trends and Consulting Firm specializing in Beauty Innovations. Based in Paris with a network of international partners, her firm works with the top international beauty companies. She earned her MBA from Cornell University (USA) before heading various international positions in International Marketing and Development at Procter & Gamble and LVMH.

Leïla is a “beauty trotter” with a passion for world cultural influences, changes in consumers’ lifestyle, innovations and their influence on beauty. She contributes expert insight for Premium Beauty News and CosmetiqueMag and has been featured in various other magazines such as BW Confidential and CosmeticDesign.

Leila frequently speaks at beauty industry events and has held various conferences all around the world including CEW Beauty Day Paris, Beyond Beauty Conferences in Paris, MakeUp in New York, Natural Beauty Summit NYC, MakeUp in Seoul, MakeUp in LA, and MakeUp in Sao Paulo. Leila also works as a consultant for the MakeUp organization as curator and moderator of the Trends/Prospective sessions of the conference program for the MakeUp in LA and New York.

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