The biggest beauty stories of 2018
The beauty and spa industries were quick to realise their part in reducing global plastic pollution, springing into action as the issue moved to the fore of social consciousness in 2018. Several skincare brands, salons and spas launched eco-friendly initiatives such as getting rid of plastic straws and single-use water bottles and cups, communicating a firm stance on their environmental policy to customers.
In May, the Government included wet wipes in its pledge to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, beginning by working with manufacturers to develop plastic-free versions and make sure customers know how to dispose of them properly rather than flushing them. Towards the end of the year, the Government announced a consultation to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds among other single-use plastic items, another part of its 25-year Environment Plan.
Given how quickly other plastic waste initiatives gained traction with businesses and consumers in 2018, it’s likely we’ll see salons and spas begin to phase out cotton buds or find sustainable alternatives even before the Government makes a decision.
Beauty pros are also in a great position to discourage the use of wet wipes to remove make-up – something many already feel passionately about – and it’s looking like the task of getting clients to switch to proper cleansing methods may well become easier with the addition of environmental pressure.
As veganism influenced consumers across the country, cosmetics free from animal byproducts emerged as a key driver in the growth of the prestige beauty sector, according to market analyst The NPD Group.
The total market for natural prestige beauty products was valued at £124 million in 2018, while interest in vegan products also sparked a boom in “vegan beauty” pins on Pinterest in the past year, with a 281% increase in searches since 2017. Salons followed suit, shouting about their vegan product and treatment options through marketing, while others established themselves as 100% vegan businesses.
Brands with cruelty-free certifications accounted for 20% of women’s facial skincare and grew by 18% in 2018, said NPD, and with 3.5 million vegans now in the UK, the trend shows no signs of slowing down. However, studies have begun to emerge that suggest diet and lifestyle trends such as veganism could be responsible for nutrient deficiencies in young women, so salons with vegan credentials may need to prepare to address potential backlash against the lifestyle choice.
Strength in numbers
2018 saw industry organisations and trade bodies join forces to help the industry grow and support those working and studying within it. Trade body the National Hairdressers’ Federation (NHF) launched the National Beauty Federation (NBF), a sister association for salons and spas to provide specialist business support; while in the education sector, the Hair and Beauty Industry Authority (Habia) in August unveiled an ambassador scheme for beauty therapy and hairdressing departments in FE colleges. The scheme will see Habia have direct contact with lecturers to provide them with regular industry updates and news, strengthening the relationship between education and industry.
The British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (Babtac) had regulation in mind when it partnered with the Hair and Barber Council (HBC) in October to help improve professional standards across both industries. A similar blurring of lines between overlapping – but historically separate – sectors was adopted by the UK Spa Association in November when it joined forces with UK Active, the country’s organisation for the physical activity sector, on an Active Spa membership to offer tailored business support to operators that provide both spa and fitness services.
Habia will run ambassador events from 2019, while Babtac and HBC announced plans in the pipeline for campaigns and initiatives to drive consumer awareness, as well as parliamentary representation, which will lobby for mandatory self-regulation. With all the key industry bodies launching focused initiatives and entering into alliances to pool resources and influence, we’re likely to see stronger efforts than ever being made to move the industry towards our shared goals.
Generation Z – generally referred to as those born between the mid-’90s and early 2000s – made a huge impact on the beauty industry this year as their influence as “the digital generation” started to shape the face of things to come.
In August, Mintel research said 64% wanted beauty products that are “fun to use”, such as colour-changing or heat-activated items and jelly textures. The researcher’s data also showed that more than simple advertising is needed to engage generation Z, a group willing to invest heavily in beauty products.
This influenced many brands to switch their focus from driving direct sales to building awareness of the story behind the company, an approach that lends itself well to demonstrating social conscience, which was identified as particularly important to the post-millennial consumer by J Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group Future 100 report at the beginning of the year.
Brands will continue trying to find new ways to shout about their authenticity and ethical credentials to win over the future generation of beauty consumer. We expect to see more adopt a gender-neutral identity, following in the footsteps of Skin Regimen from Comfort Zone, creating products, packaging and marketing campaigns that promote inclusivity and acceptance of all people. Salons will capitalise on generation Z’s desire for fun and engagement with an increased focus on client education – for example, Mintel’s research said 61% of the group were interested in having their skin analysed.
The injectables storm continued throughout 2018, with the focus moving to the ethics of performing these procedures on the high street. Health and beauty retailer Superdrug made Botox and filler treatments available to its customers in August with its Skin Renew Service, launched in partnership with Botox and Juvéderm dermal filler manufacturer Allergan.
Though treatments are administered by highly trained nurses and only available to those aged 25 and over, the NHS voiced concern over the medical responsibility of the service, calling for patients to be screened for psychological conditions that could influence them to undergo injectable treatment.
Meanwhile Ireland-based advanced skincare group Thérapie Clinic brought its competitively priced cosmetic injectables to England as it landed in the country, opening in London, Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester.
Despite client demand for the treatments, the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) reflected the opposing view that they shouldn’t be so readily available when it removed beauty therapists from its registers for Level 7 treatments, including dermal fillers. The major change in policy followed significant backlash from medics to the registers, which were launched in March.
Superdrug has plans to roll out the Skin Renew Service across further UK stores following the initial introduction at its branch on The Strand in London, while Thérapie has outlined ambitious plans for 100 sites by 2021.
The JCCP has suspended access to its register for injectables for all non-healthcare practitioners for three years while it evaluates the potential risks involved to the general public. This is a debate that shows no signs of being settled any time soon.
Show of support
Salon owners and therapists showed that their jobs involve far more than performing treatments. The industry came out in support of initiatives launched by their peers to look out for clients, taking advantage of beauty professionals’ unique position to provide physical and emotional help to the public.
Lash technician and trainer Julie Knight asked for the industry’s input on a campaign linked with training to teach therapists domestic abuse awareness, while salons across the UK joined a movement started by Every Body Massage in Liverpool to incentivise more women to book in for their cervical screening test by offering a free facial if they do. Skin cancer charity Skcin developed a free, accredited online programme for therapists to learn “skin surveillance” techniques that could help them work out when they may need to advise clients to seek medical attention.
Towards the end of 2018, a partnership between Stockton Riverside College in County Durham and the University Hospital of North Tees saw beauty therapy students open a salon in the hospital to provide treatments to patients and staff. Inspired by these initiatives, we think more beauty businesses will be moved to extend their expertise to those in need of support, setting up treatment spaces in other caregiving settings.
Brands too will become more vocal in their corporate social responsibility, using it as a key marketing tool to attract the growing numbers of socially conscious consumers.