When we sat down to put together our annual package of predictions for the upcoming year in beauty, we were faced with a unique challenge—many experts were hesitant to even talk about trends. After two years of having the words "unprecedented" and "uncertainty" thrown about at every corner, you can’t blame them for being cautious about attempting to decode what will be big in the year ahead, considering many of us are still trying to sort out what the heck even happened with 2021.
Fortunately for us all—despite not knowing how the actual year is going to shape up when it comes to those little things like travel, work, and basic human interactions—we do have some exciting news to look forward to in 2022. From clean beauty’s evolution to next-level accessorizing for your hair, here are the most anticipated innovations you can expect to see in the new year.
If you thought curbside pick-up was convenient, then you’re in for a treat as same-day delivery is rapidly becoming the next big thing in beauty retail. Startups like FastAF and GoPuff specialize in delivering everyday essentials to consumers, including those go-to beauty products, on demand. "As a premium essentials app, we provide a curated selection of coveted products from the most on-trend brands, delivered to your doorstep," says Hannah Woodard, the head of marketing and partnerships at FastAF. Currently available in New York, L.A., and San Francisco, Woodard notes beauty and personal care is one of the fastest growing categories on the app.
After introducing curbside pick-up and working with Instacart to offer limited delivery services, Sephora recently announced the debut of its very own same-day delivery service. “We know that now more than ever, our clients are increasingly seeking ease and convenience options, and we aim to deliver just that," says Carolyn Bojanowski, senior vice president and general manager of e-commerce at Sephora. “Same-day delivery allows clients to go about their daily routines, while purchasing their desired products, uninterrupted."
Not to be outdone, Ulta announced a partnership with DoorDash in October for same day delivery in select cities across the country, and it’s not hard to imagine an in-house version could follow in 2022. Expect to see more stores and companies partnering with existing platforms or debuting their own services in the year to come—as consumers become more accustomed to same-day delivery for beauty, it’s only a matter of time before more and more retailers begin to offer it, if past adoption of services like online shopping and curbside pick-up are any indication.
Maximalist Color With Minimalist Skin
If you’re feeling a bit of makeup whiplash, you're not alone. 2020 and 2021 found us caught between two extremes—we went from staring forlornly at our favorite lipsticks to joyously layering high-impact colors with glitter, neons, and metallics. Next year will find us somewhere in the middle; our love of color still reigning supreme, but with a more laissez-faire approach to complexion.
"The break in the need for daily makeup allowed people to see themselves with fresh eyes, edit their makeup routine, and try new things in the quiet times," notes makeup artist William Scott, whose clients include Karlie Kloss and Barbie Ferreira. "A lot of makeup lovers are hitting their stride in their ability and willingness to take their looks further. Nostalgia is high so there are a lot of referential looks, as well as futuristic looks made casual. I love seeing the makeup looks from the nineties and aughts refined with better makeup products and more color."
Overall Scott envisions people moving away from super neutral, obviously contoured and highlighted looks. Instead, they predict people will gravitate more towards what they call contiguous foundation application with subtle contouring and an emphasis on blush. "This makes for a more plump and rounded look," they say, "and allows for more colorful and abstract eye looks, which I see paired with more transparent yet perfected brows (as opposed to the fully opaque and carved brows of our pomade and gelled past)."
"I already see more natural skin foundations and concealers slowly taking the world by storm," agrees makeup artist Grace Ahn. "A lot of the new formulas are very innovative to where it really mimics real skin. And while I have and always will love the brown lipstick trend, I still see masks as a thing for a good part of 2022, so I think we might crave a super fun bright lip." Nick Stenson, senior vice president of store and services operations at Ulta Beauty notes the demand for long-wear, transfer-resistant liquid lipstick and glosses is something the retailer sees carrying over into 2022, alongside a growing interest in more involved eye looks. "We’re seeing more experimentation with false eyelashes, as well as playful application of graphic eyeliner, and eyeshadow in bold, expressive colors."
Botox That Lasts + New Ways to Tighten Skin
Good news for everyone sick of scrutinizing their exhausted appearances on Zoom—one of the biggest releases of the year, DAXI, is a neuromodulator that boasts a longer lifespan (six-to-eight months) than those currently on the market. "With DAXI you’ll only have to come in twice a year rather than three or four times a year,” says Dr. Bruce Katz, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Juva Skin and Laser Center in New York. DAXI’s arrival to your derm’s office is imminent—it’s currently awaiting final FDA approval, which is expected to come at the end of 2021 or early 2022.
Wrinkle smoothers are all well and good, but the biggest news is 2022 has to do with skin tightening. "Ellacor is a new device category—fractional micro-coring," says Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, celebrity cosmetic dermatologist and founder of PFRANKMD. "Rapidly automated fine needles are literally extracting little cores of skin away from the area of treatment. These tiny holes close up very quickly and can help improve wrinkles and skin tightening without having to do actual face lifting." While Ellacor technically only FDA indicated to treat moderate and severe wrinkles (not as a face tightening treatment), Dr. Katz notes that micro-coring can be more effective than the laser and radiofrequency tightening devices currently on the market because "as the skin heals, it tightens because there is less tissue there." While radiofrequency stimulates collagen to in turn tighten the skin over time over multiple treatments, micro-coring is done with just one treatment and it’s long lasting.
Dr. Frank believes tightening treatments are the wave of the future, partly due to people going overboard with their injections. "With some of the advances we have with other skin-tightening procedures—threads, energy based devices, the new Ellacor—we can actually make cosmetic improvements without having to overfill and over freeze the face."
Saturated Hair Color + Peek-a-Boo Placements
Salon closures, months-long waits for appointments, and at-home hair dye disasters left people either feeling like they wanted the most low-maintenance color options, or in the mood to go wild and massively switch things up with their hair—meaning color trends in 2022 are a bit all over the place. For those who want to keep it natural, reverse balayage (aka shadow roots or root blending) will be the best way to cut down on visits to the salon while still keeping color looking fresh. The technique, which involves painting darker roots to blend gradually into lighter mid-lengths and ends, is perfect for blondes looking to transition to brunette or just add more depth to their style, something Beverly Hills celebrity colorist Matt Rez, whose clients include Hailey Bieber, Kaia Gerber, Adele, and Angelina Jolie, says will build upon 2021's trend of extremely dimensional hair color.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, colorist and R+Co Collective member Richy Kandasamy says clients "are wanting more vibrant, richer tones that boost their mood. I feel like it’s more about an individual, unique look." That means peek-a-boo placement of bold color and more saturated tones. Some of his standouts include dark leather brown blending into warm chestnut, strawberry brown balayage, brunette with caramel melt face-framing, seamless nylon sun-kissed highlights, and champagne with buttery milk global blonding. Rez expects to see overall warmer tones like golden and natural blondes to replace ashy and cool-toned blondes. “Bringing warmth back into all hair colors is so important for the longevity of the hair and the time in between salon visits," he says. "I'm most excited to see a lot of red and copper tones in 2022. I love seeing these rich tones in hair color and I definitely see this hair color coming back."
Nostalgic Hairstyles + Authentic Beauty
As one would expect, our stylists are just as excited to see us back in the salon as we are to be there—and they’ve had lots of time to come up with fun ideas. "People have been out of the hairdressers for so long they are not happy with it being just so— they want more detail, shape, and form," says Johnnie Sapong, an editorial stylist and brand ambassador for Leonor Greyl.
But amid all that newness are some throwbacks to the not-so-distant past. "With the 70s making a comeback, French bobs and Birkin bangs are starting to become more popular," explains Franck Izquierdo, co-founder of IGK Hair Care. "For 2022 we can expect extra-long hair, sleek 'dos like the chignon, headscarves, and braids to frame the face, over-accessorized hair and lots of 90s-inspired hairstyles."
Ah yes, accessories. That was a word we heard over and over again—you’ve seen them growing in popularity over the last couple years, but they are about to feature even more prominently in styles for people of all ages, hair textures, and lengths. "I worked so hard back before it got big to get accessories on the red carpet, especially in the front of the hair," says celebrity stylist and Unilever global haircare brand ambassador Ursula Stephen. "So I’m happy to see it. I don’t think they are going to be going anywhere [in 2022]."
Stylists have been stocking up on everything from retro clips to hair scarves and finding ways to weave them into their clients' everyday 'dos. "I have been using a lot of vintage large metal hair pins and hair sticks lately—I went on an Etsy binge and bought so many," says Mischa G., an editorial stylist and owner of Treehouse Social Club in NYC. "It’s my more sustainable, plastic-free answer to the claw clip revival. I’m also stoked for hair bandanas," she says. "Think Aaliyah style, when it's low slung on the forehead and tied in the back. Or Lizzie McGuire style, tied back off the face and under the hair, with little bits of hair peeking out on the forehead."
Along with our collective nostalgia for the early 21st century, stylists are also seeing a move towards what they’re calling a more authentic, personalized approach to hair. "More and more individuals are getting to know and accept their hair's true texture, be it kinky, coily, curly, or wavy. And the beauty in the spectrum of natural whites, silvers, and grays is being embraced more readily. Authentic beauty is making huge strides," says Vernon François, celebrity hairdresser; founder of Vernon François Haircare; global inclusivity and education advisor for Kérastase; and global consultant, educator and celebrity hairdresser for Redken. That's also translating to the products that brands are formulating. Says François, "I'm seeing the move towards lightweight formulas continue, [ones] that allow the hair to be, breathe, and express its true beauty—versus products that weigh hair down, restrict the pattern or kinks and curls, and flatten any personality out of strands."
Cleaning Up "Clean" Beauty
This year was a bit of a rough one for clean beauty—the category suffered backlash after questions arose as to what the term even meant (spoiler alert: It doesn’t actually have any real guidelines) and consumers rightfully started to question who was legit and who was just climbing on the marketing bandwagon. For those of us who lived through the natural beauty kerfuffle of the early aughts, the déjà vu is palpable. “There are a lot of people who wonder if clean beauty is meaningful and if it’s helpful if it has these problems with it,” says Mia Davis, vice president of sustainability and impact at Credo. “But what we believe is the bigger story is that this is a seriously under-regulated industry with a complicated supply chain, and any consumer products that market themselves as clean should have a way to define that and move toward it."
Up until recently, there hasn’t been much movement on that front, but in October of this year, the Safer Beauty Bill was introduced in Congress with the goal of banning 11 of the most toxic chemicals still used in cosmetics today (including “forever chemicals” like PFAs), requiring the disclosure of all fragrances and flavor ingredients, and ensuring supply chain transparency. Unfortunately, until a bill like that is passed, it’s up to brands and retailers to police themselves and clearly define what it means to them when they say they are clean.
For Credo, that means the Credo Clean Standard, which clearly lays out the pillars of clean according to the company and requires brands to adhere by them in order to be stocked. "We're not just putting a stake in the ground to say, 'this is clean, you’re in or you’re out,'" says Davis. "We're saying there's room for conversation because there's a lot of different important facets of clean. And we're welcoming others, even competitors, to this definition because we think it will not only make the industry stronger, it will lift all boats. Because when we can get ingredient suppliers and packaging makers and contract manufacturers and brands, thinking in at least similar lexicon around clean, it's going to help the customer better understand, so that they're more informed and they can see who's really walking the walk and who isn't."
Ulta has a similar approach with its newly established Conscious Beauty at Ulta Beauty, which helps consumers identify the clean initiatives that are important to them and highlights the brands that fit that category. Meanwhile, Sephora recently expanded its Clean at Sephora initiative to include the new Clean + Planet Positive seal, which highlights brands that not only meet Sephora’s clean standards, but also focus on climate commitments.
Overall, Davis says to expect clean brands to drill down and be more specific about what clean means to them and how exactly they are accomplishing it. She points to categories like refillables, “blue beauty” (products that are made to be safe for waterways), and biodegradable as becoming more mainstream. And, according to Livvy Houghton, senior creative researcher at strategic foresight consultancy, The Future Laboratory, upcycled ingredients will become more common in beauty. “We’ll continue to see the rise of by-product beauty where brands convert waste ingredients into desirable items," she says.
"While we’ve previously seen this with coffee grounds and whey, we’ll start to see more unusual industry collaborations emerge such as beauty products made from the wine-making process.” Rounding out the clean beauty microtrends is regenerative farming, something skincare brand True Botanicals is investing heavily in for the future. “Regenerative farming and its power to help draw down global warming is something we have a significant long-term interest in,” says founder Hillary Peterson. “If every farm today was a regenerative farm, we’d be carbon neutral, so by working with these farmers, we are helping to create change in one of the biggest ways a brand can. We’re genuinely working to try to protect the health of people and the planet by offering a better alternative."
Supercharged Results with Condensed Beauty
Reducing product waste doesn’t have to come at the expense of product performance—that at least is the thought process around the new movement towards what The Future Laboratory’s Houghton is calling "condensed beauty." She notes, "brands are discovering new ways to amplify the results and efficiency of beauty formulas while reducing product waste.” In the salon, L’Oréal has pioneered a technology it calls Water Saver, a system used by stylists at the sinks in the salon backbar that attaches shampoo, conditioner, and treatment and distributes them directly into the water stream.
"L’Oréal Water Saver generates water droplets which collide according to a defined direction and uniform distribution. This reduces the water droplets size by 10 times and accelerates their speed, ensuring every drop of water is used in the hair washing and rinsing process while making shampoos, conditioners, and other treatments easier to rinse," explains Guive Balooch, the head of L’Oréal’s technology incubator. "The system uses up to 80% less water overall, or two liters per minute compared to the standard eight liters per minute." The company is in talks to release an at-home version of this tech in 2023.
Not only are those water droplets optimized, the products themselves have been infused into the water in micronized formulas. So after your first burst of water to wet the hair, the next shot will contain the properly dosed product, which is then rinsed clean, using significantly less water than traditional methods. They’ve dubbed this method Cloud Cleansing, and it’s being used with the brand’s Kèrastase and L’Orèal Professionnel salon products. “L’Oréal’s century-long legacy of haircare formulation leads us to the salon as a primary focus in our sustainability journey,” says Balooch, head of L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator. “With an average of three to five backbar sinks, water usage in the salon environment is an ongoing concentration. L’Oréal is continuing to explore technologies and innovations to enhance the salon experience in a sustainable manner."
On the at-home side, there’s Réduit (that’s French for "reduced"—see what they did there), a device that condenses 50-200ml of traditional skin and hair products into a single concentrated 5ml “Smartpod.” Pop the pod into your handheld device and the brand’s proprietary magnetic misting tech disperses it as an ultra-fine mist with droplets that are 50 times smaller than traditional topicals, which the brand claims allows the products to better penetrate.
"We’ve managed to provide consumers with formulations that have a total number of only a third of ingredients found in traditional products and eliminated the need for non-actives—fillers, thickeners, and alike—greatly reducing the complexity of formulations,” says Paul Peros, Réduit’s founder. “At the same time, we have increased the presence of actives, reducing the product size dramatically, and with it, the environmental impact."
Removing Barriers for Black Entrepreneurs
One of the few good things to come out of 2020 was the acknowledgement that there needed to be better and more visible representation of Black voices in the beauty industry. And while initiatives like the 15 percent pledge helped ensure more retailers put Black-owned brands on their shelves, what many people don’t realize is that the problems for Black and POC entrepreneurs start long before the retail stage. That’s something that Erica Douglas, cosmetic chemist, beauty industry expert and founder and CEO of mSEED Group, knows all too well. She spent years in labs of major companies developing products, often taking the time to share her wisdom and contacts with Black women founders looking to scale their businesses, only to watch them be faced with impossible hurdles.
"Black women pushing forward new developments in the textured hair care space were getting a lot of traction, but they were having a hard time finding chemists and contract manufacturers—finding people who understood what they were trying to do—so they weren’t getting anywhere,” she says. “There are clearly some very high barriers of entry to scale, so where do these deserving passionate people who have great ideas go to help bring their ideas to market?"
Her answer was to create mSeed group, which helps minority founded companies to scale their business from small to larger brands over time through expert advice and support for everything from obtaining loans from creditors to product development to working with big box retailers. “If you’re going to have more diversity on the shelf, I can start one brand and that’s great,” she says, “but if I can create a pipeline for multiple brands, that moves the needle a lot further than one idea.” To date, she’s helped over 100 brands get to market, many of which are now leaders in the natural hair market—and she’s on track to grow that number with support from Unilever as a fellow in its Melanin Science Movement.
The program, which debuted in 2020, provides funding to “industry shaping individuals” to help progress their innovative work for communities of color. “While building out the fellowship program, we’ve learned that a big part of the reason there is a smaller pool of innovations for Black and Brown communities is that entrepreneurs of color behind the scenes, working hard to formulate and innovate for a diverse community, are running into roadblocks in the supply chain and distribution part of the industry," says Jason Harcup, global vice president for skin care research & development at Unilever. "As we continue to onboard our remaining fellows, we look forward to partnering with them to open the industry for entrepreneurs of color to succeed and diversify our industry in a way that hasn’t been done before."
Hormones And Your Skin
The skincare conversation has long been dominated by talk of wrinkles, but 2022 will see another topic start taking center stage: hormones. Or, more specifically, the effects that estrogen has on the skin. Many brands are beginning to look more closely at how estrogen loss during menopause can manifest as skin aging. Explains Bryan Barron, director of skincare research, at Paula’s Choice, “[Estrogen loss] impacts skin’s firmness, thickness, hydration, and ability to repair damage from environmental stressors."
To combat this, says Barron, many brands are exploring the use of phytoestrogens—plant-derived compounds that come from sources like soy, flax, and grapes that have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. “Phytoestrogens are a brilliant way to prevent or slow the signs of aging that occur due to estrogen loss,” says Barron.
Stress Care Is the New Self-Care
For the amount that we talk about our stress levels, not many of us actually stopped to consider the things we can do to have a measurable impact on them. From skincare to supplements, a new category of products is taking aim at the effects that stress has on the body, and helping you to better manage your daily stress levels. “Although chronic stress has been present for thousands of years, it has been only in the last decades that we have come to understand its underpinnings,” says psychodermatologist and Loum Beauty co-founder Dr. Francisco Tausk. “The deleterious consequence of chronic stress affects every organ in the body and persistent stress results in cellular aging, skin dehydration, increased wrinkling, and thinning of the skin."
In the past, the message around coping with stress was one of self-care, but, as Prima co-founder and co-CEO Laurel Angelica Myers notes, "Marketers have led us to define self-care fairly myopically with activities like a pedicure, massage, or something that feels like an 'indulgence.' The connotation is these acts are selfish indulgences, and as we’ve been taught to understand them, not necessary to the health and wellness of our whole self." But, stress isn’t something that’s here and gone—many of us will have stress that spikes throughout the day and has myriad triggers, from work to family to the general state of the world.
How that stress manifests is different for us all. Some will break out or get dry patches of skin, others will have trouble sleeping, while still others may find themselves in a tailspin of anxiety. Many stress care products use ingredients like CBD for its purported effects on the body’s response to stress—Prima uses it to help manage moods and internal functions by balancing the endocannabinoid system, while Loum uses CBD to reverse the effects of Substance P, which can cause oil and breakouts.
"The problem of stress isn’t going away—it’s only getting worse, and consumers are looking for ways to manage it both for short term and long term health (and sanity) goals,” says Myers. “Stress awareness, as well as the understanding that physical, mental, and emotional stress are all intimately interconnected, are all on the rise. It’s interwoven so deeply into our societal reality that it will only become more mainstream.”
Adds Loum Beauty co-founder Kat Bryce, “Stress is very much seen as the next frontier in beauty but it goes beyond that—in every category 'stress management' is emerging as a trend and the stress management space is expected to grow four to five times its current size within the next five years. We see 2022 as the year where it will heat up, with more brands coming to the market with anti-stress ranges, and the discussion around the impact of stress in beauty overall increasing."
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