Makeup has long dominated the beautysphere, but skincare is finally fighting back. It's like your cosmetics had a party on your face and your skin is hungover, causing you to turn to skincare to soothe your tired skin. But these days, consumers are savvy—they know their hyaluronic acids from their peptides, and they demand products and futuristic gadgets that genuinely make a difference.
Consumers as a whole have also become more demanding when it comes to environmental repercussions—they want more streamlined packaging and options that sit in line with their ethos, be that veganism or trying to use more locally sourced ingredients. To bridge the gap, we called on the beauty experts and buyers at our favourite retailers to reveal the topics they see being big news this summer.
When it comes to shopping for skincare, our number one question has always been "Does this work?" and now there's the added question of "Is this eco-friendly?" With The Evening Standard's The Last Straw campaign, which called for London bars and restaurants to ban plastic straws, and more attention being put on Pacific Plastic Island, consumers are demanding that their beauty products follow suit.
"I believe we'll see brands of all sizes pledging to swap to 100% plant-based packaging in the next couple of years," says Alexia Inge, founder of Cult Beauty. She also predicts consumers will look to brands using locally sourced ingredients—Haeckels, for one, uses hand-harvested seaweed from Margate's 14-mile coast.
Skin From Within
"A key trend we've seen increasingly from our customers is the combination of wellness, supplements and skincare," says Newby Hands, beauty director at Net-a-Porter. "This total integration technique is perfectly summed up by Dr. Nigma Talib's three-step skincare routine, which starts with a face cream, is followed by a face serum and is finished with a probiotic supplement. The whole trend is about what you put on yourself and what you put in yourself, and learning to integrate the two."
The team at Harvey Nichols agrees that this trend has been growing for a while. "For the last few years, supplements have been huge, particularly in January as customers want to detox in the New Year. These days, however, supplements aimed at making your skin look better have a better sell-through than overall health supplements," says Jo Osborne, head of concessions and beauty buying for the retailer. "Our best-selling supplement brand is the Advanced Nutrition Programme—we've sold over 3000 units so far this year."
At Space NK, adult acne continues to be a big search term, and there are a couple reasons for this. "With the boom in makeup, people are seeing their skin more clogged," says Margaret Mitchell, Space NK's buying director. "While younger customers are caring about their skin and getting into serious skincare, the problems they face are different from the traditional 'anti-ageing' needs. They need products that address clogging and blemishes."
Space NK launched Tata Harper's new Clarifying Cleanser (£59) recently, and 111 Skin has launched its two-section mask with different serum formulations for different acne types. Pinterest has noticed a rise in acne-related searches with "face mist for acne-prone skin" seeing a 130% increase in saves year on year in the UK.
Glowing skin isn't set to go anywhere, especially as skin-brightening, pore-refining vitamin C is seeing a surge in popularity. "Vitamin C is going to be big for us at Harvey Nichols this year too. We're seeing lots of brands release full lines of vitamin C rather than just the odd product, so you can now find it in cleansers, masks, moisturisers, serums and so on," says Osborne. "Rodial’s vitamin C range, which launched with Harvey Nichols exclusively, includes a brightening mask, brightening cleanser and brightening exfoliating pads."
Exfoliation, in the form of acids and peels, will also see renewed popularity with consumers in 2018. "We're seeing a lot of launches that focus on acids, as brands realise that this is a new step in consumers skincare routines, it's not just an ad-hoc treatment anymore. Acids now come in all forms, from toners to pads and serum-like liquids." Osborne believes the demand for vitamin C is being driven by the consumer awareness of pollution. "It's going to become a much bigger story; most of our new launches feature some kind of vitamin or acid."
Skincare devices are set to become a stalwart in our beauty routines, not just a fad. "We're seeing technology like the Foreo UFO where you can have the benefits of the sheet mask or facial through a 90-second treatment with a device," says Osborne.
French brand Carita is launching My C.L.E. (£299) a facial device that combines three LED lights, red for lines and wrinkles, blue for blemishes and green for pigmentation, with five levels of micro-currents via four metal nodules for skin firming. You can also switch to a white LED light that boosts skin glow. It's a do-it-all gadget that had me seriously impressed.
Dr. Dennis Gross's Spectralite (£168) uses amber and red LED lights to boost collagen production around the delicate eye area to plump out fine lines and wrinkles. It promises results in just two weeks.
Pinterest has spotted another up-and-coming K-beauty skincare trend. While sheet masks are now a staple in our bathroom cabinets, rubber masks (otherwise known as modelling masks) are on the rise, with a 230% increase in saves year on year. As with sheet masks, rubberised masks are Insta-friendly. They are, however, much more like a traditional mask, as they're wet on application before drying out to a rubbery texture you can peel away from the face. Shop our favourite rubber masks below, and expect to see more popping up this year.
Here at Byrdie UK, we've been obsessed with all things sleep for a while, and nightcare is a major category for Net-a-Porter. "It's a trend we're seeing from our customers worldwide," says Newby Hands, NAP's beauty director. "It's not just about taking off your makeup and putting on a night cream—there are far more exciting ways to look after your skin when you're sleeping."
"We're seeing that our woman is using a myriad of products, from layering sleep masks, using gadgets such as Ziip Beauty's facial device (£425) to help stimulate and firm up skin to deep cleaning," she continues. "Also, the nightcare trend isn't just about skincare treatments—there's a whole focus on nighttime, with Slip silk pillowcases and eye masks becoming best sellers in the beauty category."
Over at Feelunique, a key focus is sleep too, in the form of products that help you fall asleep (e.g., Spacemasks, £15; Ren's & Now to Sleepzz Pillow Spray, £18; or Decleor's night balms, £36) or those that beautify you while you dream. ■