The Key Takeouts From The Beauty Trends Conference

Last week the annual Beauty Trends & Innovations Conference was held in London (26th Sept 2017). It was well attended with many of the key movers and shakers across the industry from both the brands and retail (online and bricks & mortar). Plus, of course, The Strategy Distillery.

It was a conference that was bursting with lots of fuel and inspiration for beauty and skin care innovation so we thought it would be useful to compile a topline synopsis of the key themes and predicted trends.


Global Macro Beauty Trends


The general idea of sharing, renting or owning something temporarily is growing at a substantial rate. We are now happily sharing cars with car clubs (e.g. co-wheels), swapping our houses to take cheaper vacations (e.g. lovehomeswap) and even letting people borrow our dogs (e.g. borrowmydoggy).

The example given at the conference was Wella’s Professional business support programme that helps salons to grow their business with social media guides and software for them to utilise.

a screengrab of the Wella business support page



People just want their lives and choices to be easier so they are given the most precious of commodities – time. Brands that simplify their usage, experience, communications and products are winning in this over complex, time short world.

A strong theme of the conference was ‘less is more’; to simplify and minimise product ingredients. And the trend has become not about the latest new active ingredient but more about ‘what’s not in it’ – often labelled ‘Clean Beauty’. Having recognisable ingredients helps consumers feel that a product has been simplified. There were also calls for more air tight packaging options to minimise or remove the need for preservatives.



Transparency in traceability, sustainability and minimising the ethical footprint are becoming bigger and bigger concerns to consumers.

There were a number of future predictions around transparency and there were some great snappy labels being utilised – ‘Seed to Skin’, ‘Farm to Face’:

  • Palm oil and its derivatives are likely to be the next big ingredients concern
  • The idea that beauty will follow food and ‘go local’. And such processes as cold pressed being utilised to minimalise the loss of natural nutritional ingredients
  • Water efficiency in the farming and production of products



Products and services that offer some form of surprise, immersion or sensory delight are winning with consumers across the globe.

In the beauty category, products with a multi-sensory aspect are beginning to be introduced. For example, cream to oil textures. Textures such as fizz and bubbles could offer potential alongside transformational fragrances.


Latest Beauty Trends 

Beauty Is Not Skin Deep

Many of the contributors talked about the growing importance amongst consumers of beauty management coming from looking after what goes inside the body and not just what you apply on the outside.

There was a consensus that beauty will become more interlinked with wellness and supplements. Prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics are likely to be fundamental in the healthy management of hair, skin and nails.


Green Beauty

This was all about harnessing the power of nature and can be viewed from a number of aspects: 

  • Discovery of new potent and efficacious natural ingredients
  • Blending the best that science and nature have to offer
  • Biomimicry – emulating nature’s tried and tested patterns and strategies for coping and defending. The example of the lotus leaf was given which has hydrophobic microscale bumps that basically make it self-cleaning. Applying this learning to skincare could mean that dirt and pollution would not be able to adhere to the face, for instance.



Gold is having a resurgence. It is an anti-oxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. Supposedly it can calm acne inflammation, reduce skin redness and protect against free radicals that lead to wrinkles and sun damage. It is a big trend in Korea and it has already started to filter out across the globe.



A statistic was given that 31% of people are interested in buying a beauty product containing a superfood. The superfood ingredients predicted to be the next big thing were things like Kombucha (antiseptic & PH balancing) and Turmeric (antiseptic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory).


The Koreans Are Coming

Erborian gave a good download of the Korean womens’ skincare mentality and behaviours. But the biggest takeaway from a futurology point of view was the huge success and size of many Korean brands; plus the fact that they are starting to focus on other markets outside Korea. They have been taking the United States by storm and it is expected that it will not be long before we will be seeing them moving their attention to Europe.

The marketing strategy of Korean brands tends to be 3 fold:

  • Only create products that are efficacious and highly innovative
  • All products should have skincare benefits including make-up
  • Recruit Koreans that have relocated to new markets to blog about their products. Thus, creating the demand to drive distribution


Environmental Aggressors

It is no longer about just all forms of UV protection. Protecting the skin against pollution has become a major concern in many markets.


On The Horizon

New Biotechs

This is the use of living systems and organisms such as enzyme and yeasts to provide skin and beauty benefits. For example, Anti-Freeze” proteins (AFPs are found in cold water fish and certain insects that have the ability to protect themselves against extreme freezing conditions).

Fermentation had many mentions as the next big thing. Also, the use of fractionation and cold pressed processes.



An interesting stat was revealed that 99% of the 5lbs of bacteria that an average person carries are beneficial to the body. Yet skincare products have tended to remove or upset the natural balance of flora and fauna on the skin. Future skincare will respect and support the ‘invisible layer’ of bacteria that live on the skin. New products will be ‘eco systems’ rather than ‘ingredient systems’.