Maddie Cullen
5 September 2018

As we’re already beginning to plan for Christmas, it’s making us reflective of this year and the beauty industry. There’s been some big advances in the market during 2018 and some so important that they’re going to define next year too.

So without further ado, here are the 5 biggest trends that are shaping beauty right now…


The one trend that’s easily dominated this year is natural products. Two of the biggest companies Unilever and L’Oréal have launched their own natural beauty lines: Love Beauty & Planet and Seed Phytonutrients. With these guys betting on the trend it’s clearly the future of the sector.

And it makes sense. Natural beauty appeals to a lot of concerns consumers are raising at the moment: vegan, organic, natural ingredients, health concerns. Synthetic skincare is set to decline whilst natural grows as consumer switch to these new products.

The one thing that does hold people back from buying is price (79%). But with such a broad range of brands adopting natural credentials, it seems like there’s a product for everyone.

An issue some consumers have is with what ‘natural’ actually mean. It’s not as regulated as ‘organic’. With the increasing popularity, however, there will definitely be an overhaul of the ‘natural’ term, but before that expect more brands to adopt at least a few natural products, if not entire new ranges.


Now we couldn’t talk about trends without mentioning tech. As everyone’s acutely aware, new tech seems to be infiltrating our lives every week. And beauty is no different.

L’Oréal’s recent acquisition of ModiFace has definitely set the precedent for the sector. And they haven’t stopped there, L’Oréal has teamed up with Facebook to create AR ads that allow users to virtually try on cosmetics from their newsfeeds. We can expect to see this become the standard for online ads, although it’ll take a bit more imaginative thinking for skincare.

L'Oreal AR facebook ads

But it’s not just online. Beauty brands are catching on to the tech consumers are adopting in their homes. The HiMirror is Amazon Alexa controlled and hopes to become part of normal everyday life. Not only can it do the virtual try-ons, it is also a ‘24/7 beauty consultant’. It can offer analysis, advice and information – becoming a new platform for beauty brands to fit into.

On a smaller scale, L’Oréal are leading the way again. Their smart hairbrush uses sensors to provide info on hair health and brushing techniques which then all feeds directly into an app. It’s these leaps and bounds that are redefining brands each year.

There’s definitely risk involved. These innovations might not catch on every time, but the brands that try out tech will definitely succeed in the long run.


The influencer debate is hotter than ever this year. As the industry has skyrocketed, it’s come under closer scrutiny. They clearly work when the partnership is right, but the real authenticity of them is less sure. Fake YouTube views and Instagram followers are easily bought and sold, which means how successful an influencer is isn’t as easy to gauge as it once was.

And these bots are getting clever, adopting realistic behaviour to avoid detection and adding to influencer empires.

Influencer Content

So, naturally, marketers are searching for better engagement. Micro-influencers are now the go-to, with their smaller follower counts with high influence and engagement. The trust they have outperforms the bigger numbers. A micro-influencer is seen to have an authentic voice as they’re still close and highly connected to their followers.

Longer-term relationships between brands and influencers are more genuine and consumers respond better to them. One-off posts on Instagram don’t fit in with the genuine voice of an influencer, so showing their enjoyment of a brand over time builds up a much more believable relationship.

Amazon & online shopping

Amazon has quietly became one of the biggest beauty retailers, dominating 36% of the market. Despite beauty products being a very tangible purchase, people seem happy to research and opt for products online.

Amazon undeniably provides an easy, more convenient and more often than not cheaper alternative for shopping. Salon owners are even finding that customers take pictures of products in-store and then buy them on Amazon.

Amazon skincare bestsellers list

So independent online retailers have to offer more to compete with the giant.

Cult Beauty is an online shop that specially selects products that live up to their ‘cult’ claims. Consumers are therefore safe buying anything from the site. They provide the quality guarantee that Amazon can’t. They’ve taken on the role of a knowledgeable friend.

Cult Beauty best sellers              (Image: Cult Beauty)


Beauty Bay on the other hand position themselves as more than just a shop. It has tutorials, trend reports and reviews to become a one-stop beauty shopping and research destination. Again, it focuses on a more human approach that Amazon lacks.

Beauty Bay Jefree Star makeup tutorial            (Image: Beauty Bay)

Online cosmetic and skincare sales are growing (20% year on year in the UK), so the online market is definitely something to keep in the back of the mind.

Crowd-led innovation

Personalisation is increasingly popular in every aspect of beauty from skincare to haircare.

Start-ups have been quick to cash in on this interest as taking info direct from consumers saves them costly research initiatives. And they have seen the gap in the mass market. Big brands have too big of a consumer base to successfully personalise every product, but smaller online brands are nimble enough to make it work.

Volition Beauty is one brand that’s using the trend of personalisation to their advantage. People submit ideas to their website, and through an online vote, they decide which products to make. It capitalises on people wanting to create their own cosmetics, but also lets people pick and choose what suits them.

Personalisation is creeping into beauty and it looks like it’s here to stay as more brands and consumers opt for products that target individual needs.

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