In a turbulent and unpredictable time, our beauty routines have sometimes been the saviour that has helped get us through. An evening of pampering is sometimes exactly what is needed after a day of Zoom calls and homeschooling.
Our desire to turn to beauty in dark times is nothing new. Beauty has always been a way to put on a brave face and give us a much needed boost. During the recession lipstick sales soared and during world war two women used makeup as a way of retaining their self expression when in uniform.
During a time when all aspects of our lives have changed drastically it comes as no surprise our beauty routines would take a hit too.
As we began to spend more time at home and less time getting dolled up, taking care of our skin became far more important and not just for a radiant complexion. As further lockdowns loomed, far more importance was placed on self-care and our mental wellbeing, relaxing treatments and spa tools became the perfect way to create a calming and ritualistic routine even in the comfort of our living rooms. Products such as gua-shas and massage oils saw a rise in sales and according to Google statistics searches for ‘self-care’ related results hit an all-time high.
According to research carried out by L’Oreal, ‘25% of our personal care occasions’ such as putting on makeup or washing our hair for example, rely on circumstances such as getting ready for work or social activities.
As we spent our days in loungewear (or pyjamas) our need to apply makeup or style our hair became far less prevalent. A recent survey carried out by No7 found that 82 percent of us are wearing less makeup than this time last year and have made some big changes to our beauty habits.
As a result we have become more focused on taking care of our skin and ensuring we look fresh and healthy sans makeup for that early morning Zoom meeting. Sales of skincare at Cult Beauty up 157 per cent year-on-year and Superdrug’s skincare category experiencing a 62 per cent uplift year-to-date for online sales.
The skincare boom has been sparked by countless Saturday nights spent indoors applying face masks and without the morning commute, a seven-step skincare routine is finally justifiable. It’s ability to beat the blues is undeniable.
Another key driver has been the unforeseen changes to our skin’s health. With uncertainty and changes to lifestyle comes the inevitable bout of stress and anxiety for so many of us. As we know these things tend to wreak havoc with our skin. Dryness, inflammation and breakouts ensued and our searches for hydrating products like hyaluronic acid rose dramatically.
With a fall in makeup sales, we are led to wonder whether makeup brands will need to adopt a more minimalistic approach in order to survive. However, if we look to the past as any kind of indicator, after a lengthy period of limitation things have to flourish. The promise of normality, nights out and socialising means the anticipation of returning to experimental makeup looks and the chance to go all out.
Despite the beauty industry being one of the few industries that continued to thrive during the pandemic, our shopping habits were forced to change.
Beauty fanatics and novices alike know the joy of stepping into the beauty department and being somewhat overwhelmed by the array of products. Swatching countless shades on the back of your hand or trialling textures of skincare products are some of the most enjoyable aspects of a tangible shopping experience. As stores were forced to close their doors throughout countless lockdowns, we turned to online shopping to satisfy our beauty needs. But without the ability to try before we buy, brands needed to adapt their approach to ensure sales continued to flourish.
With brands from MAC to Chanel offering virtual ‘try-on’ tools to make shopping easier for their consumers. Estée Lauder reported their virtual lip try-on tool saw a 133 percent usage increase and expanded to offer a virtual foundation try-on tool on their app with popular demand.
As technology continues to become an increasingly important part of our everyday lives, it’s addition to retail has been vital over the past year. It has surely come to the rescue when the majority of our lives have been spent online. Even as we begin to return to some level of normality, it is suspected many of the changes we have seen in recent times are set to continue. Brands must continue to place focus on their virtual shopping platforms in order to reach their consumers effectively.
The past year has been challenging for many in a number of ways. Our reevaluation of what is a priority when it comes to spending has led us to make more conscious purchases.
As we entered what felt like the hundredth phase of lockdown, our priorities began to change. With stories of frontline workers unable to access sanitisers or families without basic necessities, the need to purchase yet another sheet mask seemed a little worthless.
With our social responsibility high on our list of priorities, we looked to invest in brands who were doing a little more in terms of their social impact.
L’Occitane also produced vast amounts of sanitiser and offered NHS workers free hand cream. The head of marketing reported the brand had an overwhelming response to their efforts to support frontline workers and saw sales spike significantly in the past year.
It is clear that as consumers we are keen to support those we feel are doing good. A small way to show our support at a time when many of us feel helpless. Brands that look to make a positive impact then gain further support from consumers creating a win-win situation.
It is difficult for anyone to know precisely how the pandemic and the endless periods of lockdown will affect us or the beauty industry long term, let’s face it none of us expected it to last this long.
It is clear that some of the habits we have adopted in recent months are here to stay, the benefits of saved time and money the driving forces behind many of the choices we now make. As salons closed their doors, DIY beauty became the new normal. Sales of home hair dye kits and foot spas rose and for some of us, the convenience of performing these treatments at home led us to reevaluate our monthly visits to the nail salon or hairdresser.
However, just as we adapted to the new normal, the beauty industry followed. FaceGym, who offer facial workouts and massages to sculpt the face opted to demonstrate facial workouts live online, whilst promoting their products. Another way professional beauty can thrive once salons reopen is by creating an experience that cannot be replicated at home. Despite the convenience and money saving benefits of DIY treatments, nothing can beat the feeling of stepping out of the salon after a blow dry or a fresh manicure.
In terms of our appetite for beauty, it is safe to say whether it is a holistic approach to skincare that satisfies our need to relax or our desire to shake off the lockdown blues with a dramatic new look, the beauty industry will continue to thrive.
No doubt our focus on self-care over high maintenance routines will remain for some time, the beauty industry has seen an overhaul and what was once referred to as a simply superficial market has become a necessity for many in terms of mental and physical wellbeing.
The face of beauty has truly changed and undoubtedly will continue to adapt to the ever changing world we live in.