2017 Indie Beauty Trends: Skincare Matters

Written by: | December 16, 2016 | Leave a Comment

I can hardly believe we are about to turn the last page of the 2016 calendar. Where did this year go?  If you’re like most small businesses, you’ve already started your 2017 business planning, but probably plan to spend December balancing the consumer holiday shopping and party frenzy with the final touches of your plan. We’re doing that here at Essential, too. And as part of our planning process, we look at the 2017 trends in beauty, body care, sustainability, and consumer buying behavior.

One trend that caught most of the US retailers off guard this Black Friday was that nearly 50% of all sales that day happened online, and not at the brick and mortar stores. Having an online retail presence, in addition to an Amazon market placement, might be as important as having your products in offline retailers.

“It’s an incredible milestone, but it’s also incredible that Black Friday inched so close to Cyber Monday this year, generating only $110 million less in online sales,” Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, said in a statement.” We’ll be watching this closely next year as Black Friday could be the one to top the records.”

If you are selling online, gearing up for more e-commerce sales is good business. Tools like Sprout and Hubspot can make your social media efforts more efficient and give you excellent data about what is and isn’t working. And using these tools will help you spot the micro trends in your own business. We’ll talk more about ecommerce marketing in January when we review some of our favorite marketing tools for indie brands.

Trend One: Back-to-Nature Color Palette


Pantone Spring 2017 Top 10 Colors

Pantone just announced Greenery as the 2017 color of the year. This lovely green-yellow color continues their trend of colors inspired by nature.

Fashion Week in NYC is a hyper-energy event and also when Pantone releases the next season’s color. Spring 2017 is all about going back to nature to find our inspiration for colors.

“One of the things that we saw this year, was a renewed sense of imagination in which color was appearing in context that was different than the traditional,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. “Reminiscent of the hues that surround us in nature, our Spring 2017 Fashion Color Report evokes a spectrum of emotion and feeling. From the warmth of sunny days with PANTONE 13-0755 Primrose Yellow to the invigorating feeling of breathing fresh mountain air with PANTONE 18-0107 Kale and the desire to escape to pristine waters with PANTONE 14-4620 Island Paradise, designers applied color in playful, yet thoughtful and precise combinations to fully capture the promises, hope and transformation that we yearn for each Spring.”

While you may not end up creating a Primrose Yellow face mask, your customers will be wearing Primrose Yellow nail polish, shoes, and maybe even Island Paradise eyeshadow. Incorporate these colors into your seasonal packaging, marketing, and even into products like a spring-inspired body polish, or Pale Dogwood lip and eye night creme that blends smoothly into your skin. Hazelnut and Lapis Blue are beautiful colors for natural products, and what teenager wouldn’t want a “Pink Yarrow” Bath Gel?  Have fun with this color palette.

Trend Two: Sustainability as a Lifestyle

Consumers are changing their relationship with toxic and synthetic chemicals, and as we move into 2017, this trend is escalating. At Cosmetic Executive Women’s November meeting, Lucie Green, of J. Walter Thompson revealed exclusive research on the natural beauty segment. “The trend is being driven by a growing consumer interest in sustainable living, research suggesting that sterilized Western environments are actually harmful to health, and a desire for “naturalism” in everything they consume.”  64% of Asia Pacific buyers choose socially responsible brands, compared to 63% in Latin America, 63% in the Middle East, 48% in North America, and 40% in Europe.

The beauty industry is responding with products that demonstrate purity, protection, relaxation, and support a holistic approach to health and wellness.

According to Greene’s research, the two main drivers are urbanism and environmental pollution, and the rise in allergies. Stress, lack of sleep, air pollution, noise pollution, indoor heating and cooling, and a sedentary lifestyle, coupled with fast-food diets and high-stress travel schedules, all contribute to poor skin and a lackluster affect.  To counter these modern, urban problems, consumers are turning not just to health food, but to healthy product for their skin. Gluten, corn, soy, nut, and dairy allergies are on the rise and people are looking for ‘non-allergy ingredient’ products for food and for their skincare. Vegan, Halal, Kosher, gluten-free, non-GMO, soy-free, corn-free, and so forth are just as important for beauty as they are for food.

The push toward sustainability and socially responsible brands is being driven, too by, millennials who are loyal to causes, who use their dollars to vote their values and have grown up under the reality of climate change. Although they are not the only generation pushing for socially responsible brands, they are driving disruption in the beauty industry by demanding sustainable packaging, sustainably sourced ingredients, a commitment to communities and to giving back. They use social media to speak their minds and influence online reputations by doing so.

Trend Three: Personalized Facial Masks

Retail sales of face and body masks are outpacing all other skincare items by 28% and this explosive growth is expected to continue. Long popular in the Asian markets, the love of facial masks as part of every skincare regimen has moved into the European, Latin America, and North American markets. Along with this growth, brands big and small have crowded the market place, so diversification is now key to standing out. So, too, is individualization of masks. This is the beauty of powder masks, like the Color Therapy Line of powder masks. By blending with essential oils, teas, tinctures, yogurt, jojoba beads, or other additives, you can create a truly unique mask for each customer’s specific need at a specific moment. Happi talked about the need for diversification and the entire mask market in an article earlier this year:

“With competition heating up, standing out from the crowd has become a major challenge for all brands competing in the facial mask market.  As such, we are now seeing brands trying to differentiate themselves by all means. Active ingredients that are well-known among consumers, whether from traditional skin care creams/lotions or food and pharmaceutical products, all play an important role in adding instant credibility to product efficacy claims and therefore helping differentiation.

Single-use, highly-customizable, and fresh are not new trends, but they are pushing the beauty industry to balance between responsible and sustainable and convenience. Powder masks can bridge both trends. Sell a 4 oz of jar powder mask, and include instructions for single-use applications to be customized with consumer ingredients like green tea, yogurt, avocados, milk, bananas, and so forth. You’ll meet millennials where they are; 60% of US millennials use food products at home to create DIY skincare because they think it is more natural and healthy than store-bought products.

Trend Four: Make it Easy

Consumers are busier than ever, and thanks to Amazon Prime, free shipping, next-day delivery, and easy returns, convenience has become a paramount factor in the buying decision. This make-it-easy trend is showing up in curated and subscription beauty and fashion boxes. Glossy Box, Allure Beauty Box, Julep Maven, and of course, Birch Box are just a few of the brands making it easy for their customers to try and stay stocked up on beauty products they love. Target has even gotten into the beauty box game, but they haven’t yet made it a subscription service.  Creating your own beauty box may be beyond what you can handle now, but you can pitch your products into these already established beauty boxes, or you could create a simpler version, giving your customers an automatic re-order of their core products every 30, 60, or 90 days.

Multi-use products have been trending up in the past few years, and for certain market segments, multi-use products are growing faster than the rest of the market. Men, teens, travelers, and moms all look for products they don’t have to think about. One bottle of Coffee Hair & Body Wash in the shower takes care of men, while a Face, Hair & Body Oil is great for mom and travelers. A one or two-ounce bottle fits easily in a bag and can sail through security.  Be creative in how you develop and market products, showing consumers how they can do more with less, which also supports the sustainability trend.

Multi-use products are part of this convenience trend. People can buy one bottle and make it work for two or even three things — like lip and cheek shimmer or hair & body wash, or a hair oil that also works for face, body, cuticles, etc. You get the drift.

Trend Five: Enhanced Natural

During Paris Fashion Week, runway models paraded with natural faces and minimal makeup. A bright pop of lipstick or a sweep of blush on beautiful, clean skin is replacing the perfect-skin look of foundation and powder. This means skincare really, really matters.  Products that reduce the affects of pollution and urbanization, that use botanical extracts, naturally-derived active ingredients, and enhanced skincare routines support this clean-face trend.

Vogue writer Monica Kim puts it this way: “A minimalist mood maintained its grip, as it has near everywhere else, but here, it was done with a distinctly French spirit—embracing the Parisienne’s come-as-you-are attitude, replete with frizzy ends and still-wet-from-the-shower hair.

Consumers are also turning toward marketing messages of ‘enhanced’ vs. anti. This is partially generational. As the second wave of baby boomers are reaching their late fifties, sixties and seventies, they bring with them values of the 1960s and 1970s, which are about freedom, expression, and personal evolution. This is in contrast to the more rigid social protocols and mores of my parents’ WW2 generation.  Millenials also embrace the “I am who I am” principle and have a more minimalist approach to how they engage in the world.  A return to the concept of I am who I am is certainly powering marketing messages from software platforms like MailChimp to Ralph Lauren and MAC beauty counters. Messages like, “being yourself makes all the difference” supports this trend.

Trend Six: Sustainable Local

Eating local has been trending for nearly a decade and there’s no sign it’s stopping. It has translated into a big ‘shop local’ trend and this ‘shop local’ trend extends into our skincare purchases.  Local ingredients reduce our environmental footprint, but that isn’t always possible. Coconut trees don’t grow in Portland! So consumers are looking for companies that source locally when they can– for instance we source local lavender when French lavender isn’t required, and also those that manufacture locally and support the local economy.

Small batch, custom created, and locally crafted are strong influencers for the millenials, generation Z, and a large percentage of Baby Boomers in urban cities. They are paying more for local, sustainable, organic, and natural, and this translates into more label reading, and knowing how packaging will be recycled.

Packaging trends are gearing more and more toward sustainable. CTL offers a sustainable, 100% level 5 recyclable tube. It’s a 10-year innovation in the making. Reduced manufacturing time is also a sustainable plus, and skincare companies can tout this innovation when they use these tubes, and similar packaging. From Beauty Packaging’s “Rethinking Eco-Responsible Packaging”, we learn

Anne Bedarf, senior manager of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), an industry group dedicated to a more robust environmental vision for packaging, says that, in general, packaging sustainability trends tend to be the same across all sectors, including beauty. These encompass sustainable sourcing such as forest certification and biopolymer use; material optimization such as source reduction and light weighting; design for recycling and composting; and labeling for recyclability. There is also a focus on eliminating toxicity at both the product and package level.

It will pay to expand your knowledge about the packaging options available to you and when you select sustainable, local when you can, packaging, you’ll be able to market your products to those who make purchasing decisions based on their sustainable values.

Trends – They Go on Forever

The beauty of trends is that they evolve. We’ve touched on a number of current trends in beauty and skincare, but there are many more trends emerging that will change the face of the indie beauty market. EWL will be attending the Indie Beauty Expo West in Los Angeles in January, and we’ll bring back more trends and ideas.

How are you responding to these trends? Are you seeing other trends in your own market? What excites you about these trends?


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