Over the past five years, beauty has em­braced in­clu­siv­ity, trans­parency and in­stant re­sults. But where to next?

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Sali Hughes

We’ve seen more change in the beauty in­dus­try in the past five years than we have in the past 20. But where to next?

My love af­fair with beauty began 38 years ago as I sat on my grand­mother’s bed and watched her put on makeup. As she dusted Max Fac­tor Creme Puff pow­der across her nose and slicked on waxy ma­genta lipstick, I looked on in awe, lost in­stantly to the cause. It gives me huge sat­is­fac­tion and com­fort to know that now, at the age of 42, I can still go out and buy the same pow­der and then cre­ate sim­i­lar magic on my own face—espe­cially since so much else in beauty has changed be­yond all recog­ni­tion.

We no longer glance briefly at our faces as we get ready to go out or take mem­ory snaps only on va­ca­tion. We now see our­selves con­stantly on In­sta­gram, Face­book, Snapchat and What­sApp, hop­ing to sur­vive the un­end­ing foren­sic com­men­tary from oth­ers. Once con­cerned pri­mar­ily with ev­ery­day looks on ev­ery­day women, the beauty in­dus­try is now cater­ing to mil­lions of am­a­teur mod­els and makeup artists, each of us want­ing to ap­pear flaw­less for our so­cial me­dia au­di­ence.

Base prod­ucts must in­stantly per­fect with no flash­back; eye­shad­ows should blend as seam­lessly as those of a YouTube vlog­ger; and lipstick no longer merely colours the mouth but, ide­ally, en­larges it, mim­ick­ing the ef­fects of the in­jectable lip fillers our on­line stars so im­plau­si­bly deny get­ting. As we ap­proach the next decade, cos­metic pro­ce­dures will be­come ever more so­phis­ti­cated, ac­ces­si­ble, af­ford­able and im­per­cep­ti­ble and brands will be un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure to com­pete with their re­sults. We have reached the end of the “see ef­fects in eight to 12 weeks” era and dis­pelled brand loy­alty. The future of skin­care is in high con­cen­tra­tions of ac­tives, fast, proven re­sults and in­ter­val train­ing, where con­sumers will hot­house a prod­uct and then move on to an­other at plateau.

The Korean beauty in­dus­try, with its in­no­va­tion, vi­sion and re­search tech, has ar­guably made as big an im­pact as the In­ter­net that gave it its global au­di­ence of con­sumers. Thanks to South Korea, Ja­pan and China, we in the West are able to de­mand more than ever from our prod­ucts, from the finest-tex­tured SPFs to per­fect­ing colour cor­rec­tors to pig­ment-sat­u­rated liq­uids to silken photo-fin­ish pow­ders. The Asian in­flu­ence on West­ern brands has been dis­rup­tive, en­er­giz­ing and im­por­tant, but now it’s time for the Eastern big hit­ters to ac­knowl­edge the uni­ver­sal ap­peal of their com­peti­tors’ prod­ucts and be­gin to cater prop­erly to women of colour. In 2017, there is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for any ma­jor brand to of­fer 16 shades of foun­da­tion and con­sider them­selves close to done. I adore beauty but only on the con­di­tion that it is ap­pre­ci­ated and val­ued in all its forms. Women de­serve re­spect for their dol­lar. Women also de­serve the facts. Beauty fans now have an un­prece­dented level of knowl­edge, thanks to blog­gers, on­line com­mu­ni­ties and ac­ces­si­ble brands with a clear man­date. The revo­lu­tion be­gun by The Or­di­nary, Beauty Pie and Paula’s Choice is only just gath­er­ing pace. I hope and be­lieve we’ll see brands fol­low­ing their ex­am­ples in la­belling, claims, pack­ag­ing and ethics. Fur­ther­more, I be­lieve that in the next two years we’ll fi­nally see China change its un­eth­i­cal laws on manda­tory an­i­mal test­ing in cos­met­ics. The global beauty in­dus­try wants this change, and its con­sumers ex­pect it. There is no longer any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for an­i­mal cru­elty in the name of beauty or for mi­crobeads that bring noth­ing to the party but sea pol­lu­tion. And as for my own dreams? Chem­i­cal sun­screens and primers that never peel or ball dur­ing blending; lip plumpers that nei­ther st­ing nor fizz; high-dose vi­ta­min C serums mi­nus the grit; a mas­cara that lasts like a tub­ing for­mula but length­ens and flut­ters like a tra­di­tional one; the end of use­less cel­lulite creams, bust gels and jar pack­ag­ing; the re­turn of ex­treme con­tour­ing to its birth­place in his­tory; per­ma­nent grey-cov­er­ing hair colourant with­out PPD; and a de­fin­i­tive cure for melasma. That’s not too much to ask for, right? I no longer be­lieve any­thing is far from reach.

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