In the 2020s, the beauty industry is set to shift and evolve once more. We took a look back at how the world of beauty had changed since 2010, and now we're looking forward to the next 10 years. We called on trend predictors, beauty buyers and brand founders to share with us their beauty trend predictions for 2020 and beyond.
From upcycling set to be the hottest new sustainable measure, to the rise of the "trichologista," beauty is set to become more tech-savvy, more transparent, and more bespoke than ever before. Whether you like to slather on your beauty products or inhale them, there is a beauty trend below that will speak to each and every one of us. Think of the below as your very own look into a beauty crystal ball...
Keep scrolling for the biggest beauty trend predictions for 2020 and beyond.
Vegan beauty has become more and more popular in recent years as the wellness arena has expanded, and since then, has pretty much crossed over to the mainstream. Mintel notes in its latest beauty trends that lifestyle choices such as veganism and clean eating were initially considered part of the counterculture movement—"for hippies and eco-warriors." These lifestyle choices have since been joined by mental wellbeing practices, like crystal healing and spiritual balance, and together have been premiumized into the trend of "Wellness," adopted by celebrities and super-rich looking for self-fulfilment and enlightenment.
Alexia Inge, founder of beauty e-commerce site Cult Beauty, reveals in the brand's 2020 trends that more and more people are choosing plant-based lifestyles. "We are seeing the 'seeds' of new sub-categories gaining traction," she says. "At Cult Beauty, we treat 'vegan' as an umbrella term for brands or products which adopt a plants-first approach."
Inge has noted a few subcategories are that are ones to watch for 2020:
- Shortcut Cruelty-Free: "In the absence of an international standard on animal testing, vegan is the consumer's 'at-a-glance' assurance."
- Halal Beauty: Brands like Farsali, which must not contain animal products, alcohol and must be cruelty-free.
- Nature-Identical: Involves creating synthetic ingredients with the same makeup as natural products in a bid to respect and protect the environment. The Inkey List is a good go-to brand for this, according to Inge.
As our retail experiences become more and more digital, expect to see a rise in "phygital beauty." Mintel suggests that "beauty consumers want to explore an immersive, personalized mixed-media experience that merges the physical with the digital and helps them learn about their skin/hair in new ways. In beauty, people still like to try before they buy. This has given rise to the showroom or the ‘beauty playground’, which gives consumers the opportunity to see the product and try it in real life, as well as offering an enhanced experience with services like personal shopping and customization."
This is something digital brands like Byrdie, with its pop-up Byrdie Beauty Labs, and Glossier, with its pop-up showrooms, have been doing for some time, but you can expect to see more and more of these sorts of immersive beauty experiences popping up in 2020.
In the U.K., Harrods is devoted to experiences in its newly renovated beauty hall in 2020. "We’ll be bringing our customers and followers unparalleled access, not only to exclusive brands and products but also to events, treatments and experiences that simply aren’t available anywhere else," notes Mia Collins, Head of Beauty at Harrods. So, if you're in the U.K. anytime soon be sure to make Harrods one of your pit stops.
"Upcycling will replace recycling [in 2020]," celebrity skincare guru Angela Caglia tells Byrdie. "It’s no longer enough to say we recycle in 2020. It’s time to take recycling to the next level—that’s where upcycling takes over. In short, upcycling is about repurposing items to extend their life so we can avoid adding things to our already overflowing landfills."
Caglia's skincare products, for example, are housed in UV-protected glass bottles or jars. "When the product is finished, I love to upcycle them by using them to plant succulents, hold jewelry, or use as a vase. 2020 will make upcycling part of the zeitgeist."
Cult Beauty founder Alexia Inge agrees that creating less waste will be key in 2020 and notes that by-product beauty is a burgeoning trend. It is all about repurposing the waste from other processes to create new products. "Coffee grains as scrubs, as seen in Frank Body, and unsellable fruit and vegetables for extracted actives used in Vintner's Daughter products," she notes.
"What began with the simple idea of incorporating coffee grounds into facial scrubs is evolving into a new era of brands that are redefining the word ‘by-product’ and demonstrating how shortening the supply chain can create more desirable goods," says Victoria Buchanan, Futures Analyst, The Future Laboratory.
She notes that Naïf has joined forces with the Dutch companies Waternet and AquaMinerals to transform calcite residue from Amsterdam’s drinking water into a beauty product, replacing microbeads in its facial scrub with granular calcite. "Closing the loop further, Japanese bioethanol producer Fermenstation, which normally produces bioethanol for other beauty brands, has launched its own beauty line, including a soap made with the rice mash produced during the fermentation of its bioethanol," she says. Another brand we love for reducing waste? LOLI Beauty, which offers a line of food-grade, ethically-sourced products that encourages customers to DIY. Their star product, the Plum Elixir, won a Byrdie Eco Award and is made with the pit of the French Ente plum—a part that's usually discarded but just happens to be chock full of antioxidant, brightening abilities.
Skincare obsessives know that feeding and boosting our skin's good bacteria is beneficial. In fact, some beauty companies have built their brands around this strand of science—think Brit brand Aurelia Probiotic Skincare and Gallinée, hailing from France. But skincare expert Renée Rouleau notes that it's set to go mainstream this year. "On the surface of the skin, there is what is known as the microbiome, which is made up of bacteria, fungi and viruses," she explains. "They make certain chemicals that keep the skin healthy and help your skin’s barrier stay intact. There is a lot of technology coming out about the microbiome and we now understand there are three ways to work with the microbiome in skincare."
The first is prebiotics. "These are what the microbes eat in order to thrive," she explains. "Ingredients like seaweed and some of the gelling agents of the polysaccharide nature are used for prebiotics. The second is probiotics. This is where actual bacteria is put into products. This can be challenging to formulate as many preservative systems will eliminate this. The third is postbiotics. This is what you get after the microbes die and their chemistry is released. The study of the microbiome not slowing down the use of biotics will be incorporated more and more into skincare products in 2020."
Rouleau's new Rapid Response Detox Toner ($42) is designed to stop breakouts in the early stages, so if you're spot-prone, it's well worth having on your vanity. It contains prebiotic Bioecolia that feeds the skin's good bacteria to ward off the bad, such as the P.Acnes bacteria that is responsible for breakouts. It also contains postbiotic lactic acid for gentle exfoliation and hydration, as well as a salicylic acid complex called betaine salicylate to prevent clogged pores.
French-born supplement brand Aime has launched a capsule skincare range including a cleanser, serum and lotion that all contain pre- and probiotics.
Another brand built on probiotics is Tula, which uses them to balance healthy skin alongside superfoods (think turmeric) and proven active ingredients like Vitamin C and AHAs. Packed with rosehip oil, caffeine and rosewater, as well as hydrating probiotic lactococcus ferment lysate, the new Rose Glow & Get It Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm ($30) makes light work of puffiness and dark circles.
Sweat is odorless, but when it comes into contact with our skin's bacteria, it creates that unwanted scent of B.O. New deodorant brand Kinkō is tackling the problem with a blend of prebiotics like chicory root that feeds the good bacteria and postbiotics such as lactic acid to hydrate and balances the pH of the underarm preventing irritation.
We know there's a connection between our mind and our skin; in fact, there's a whole offshoot of dermatology known as psychodermatology devoted to it. "Ingredients that have fast-track access to our nervous system have the twin capacity of working on our skin and our minds simultaneously," notes Cult Beauty.
Joanne DeLuca of Sputnik Futures notes, “the future of fragrance will be using scent to ‘biohack’ our brains and bodies to perform better." This is something wellness brands like The Nue Co. is already doing with their Functional Fragrance, a perfume that smells good and works to chill out during times of high stress.
Expect to see aromatherapy 2.0 in 2020, with a host of new launches from functional fragrances, inhalable supplements, scented mood enhancers and next-generation essential oils. Take the water bottle company Szent. They're a bottld company that uses the scents of different aromatherapy oils in the ring around the screw cap to evoke different moods and to impart the idea of flavor without any sugar or calories, all while helping you get your daily dose of H2O. For example, mint is said to improve mental clarity, while tangerine can boost mood.
Japanese brand, Scentee has created a nex-gen diffuser that can be programmed from an app on your phone to release one of four different scents depending on your mood (with 14 different scents to choose from, including coffee, vanilla and sandalwood). It can also be programmed to automatically release scents at certain times of the day, such as an energizing aroma to greet you when you wake up.
Scalp-Care as Skincare
Move over skinfluencers—trichologistas are the new beauty gurus to watch. For a while now, hair has taken a backseat to makeup and skincare, but 2020 is its year to shine. In fact, I wrote about the rise of the "skin-ification" of hair back in August and it seems that was only the beginning.
Cult Beauty predicts that we are going to see a huge shift towards haircare, starting with the launch of Drunk Elephant Hair in 2020. Jennifer Aniston's long-time hairstylist Chris McMillan let the cat out of the bag when he used a Drunk Elephant detangling spray on the star.
Pre- and probiotics have long been big news when it comes to gut and skin health, as well as general wellbeing, but expect to see pre- and probiotic haircare popping up in 2020. Ouai's scalp scrub contains a probiotic blend, if you want to get a head start on the trend (pun, intended).
As consumers become savvier, personalized skincare is becoming smarter, too. DIY skincare used to have a homemade, natural, slant to it but in 2020 bespoke beauty is tech-led.
"Atolla is an MIT-born skincare brand that formulates customized serums using data science and machine learning," explains Buchanan. "The company offers products on a month-to-month subscription basis, allowing you to tweak your formula each month based on your skin's changes and progress."
Mxt is another brand that enables consumers to build skincare products from the bottom up by selecting the product format and ingredients they want to suit their skin type and address their concerns. "Customers can select from 60-plus ingredients, and Mxt’s technology rules out ingredients that don’t work together to address specific skin concerns," says Buchanan.
Suncare is getting a much-needed update in 2020. "2020 will be an exciting year for suncare, as more brands launch new technology in this category, addressing some of the sustainability issues that have challenged SPF products—Chantecaille is one of my particular favourites," notes Collins.
Cult Beauty has also noted that suncare is set to get a tech makeover but it will take time for brands to get things right. There are two issues at play with suncare. First, the problematic nanotechnology that has been used to make sunblock invisible on darker skin tones. Second, the issues surrounding "reef safe" ingredients.
Add to that the fact that consumers are expecting more from their sunscreen than ever before—clean formulas, anti-pollution, anti-blue light, pigmentation reduction, as well as anti-blemish benefits—have made this an even trickier area of beauty to succeed in.
Inge notes that in the next few years, "We will start to see more 'intuitive' skincare, including formulations that permit the frequencies of light that allow the body to synthesise vitamin D, while still protecting from the harmful rays, as well as new application techniques—such as IONIQ—who've pioneered an application method inspired by automobile paint shops for full, even SPF coverage."
After-sun will also get a makeover too, according to Inge. "It's a whitespace ripe for innovation—from incorporating the latest DNA-repair technology to eschewing the concept of 'after sun' altogether in favor of more pertinent language surrounding repair and rejuvenation," she explains. In the meantime, we'll have our swimsuits and straw hats at the ready.
Cleveland Clinic. Sweating and body odor. Updated October 9, 2018.
Roberts JE, Smith AM, Wilkerson AH, et al. "Psychodermatology" knowledge, attitudes, and practice among health care professionals. Arch Dermatol Res. 2020. doi:10.1007/s00403-020-02050-9
Environmental Working Group. Nanoparticles in sunscreens. In EWG's guide to sunscreens. 2020