If news from the beauty world has a theme lately, it’s a worldly one.
With Mother Earth in mind, less has become more in terms of packaging, and a growing number of beauty brands are using more sustainable and biodegradable ingredients.
On top of that, Americans are becoming more intrigued by global beauty routines, whether they are represented by the innovative ingredients defining Korean beauty (K-Beauty) or rainforest-sourced ingredients in Brazilian lotions and other skincare products.
“I am happy to see that there is a movement towards the holistic approach to beauty,” says esthetician and cosmetic chemist Elina Fedotova. “Consumers are seeking healthier beauty products and treatments, which pushes the industry to change.”
With that in mind, here are six of the latest beauty trends.
A Switch to Essential Oils
Fragrances in soaps, body care products, lotions and cosmetics may smell like flowers or plants, but they can be packed with chemicals and aren’t biodegradable, says Fodotova. In fact, one study found that scented products (like perfumes and hair sprays) can emit the same amount of chemical vapors as petroleum emissions from a car.
“Essential oils not only have a pleasant aroma, but they can positively impact the entire body and will never hurt the environment,” Fodotova notes. One possible downside: Aromas of essential oils can vary slightly depending on the batch, while artificial fragrances are more consistent.
Alternatives to Plastic
Instead of plastic containers for skincare and hair products, more eco-friendly beauty products are lessening their carbon footprint by using glass or metal packaging, which is not only good for the environment, but also the consumer, says dermatologist Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, MD. “Plastic, whether it’s recyclable or not, can leach all kinds of chemicals into skincare products,” he notes.
When it comes to eco-friendly products, recycling has commanded the most attention of the three “Rs”: Reduce, reuse and recycle. However, more brands are starting to experiment with refillable and reusable packaging, says beauty industry entrepreneur Leigh Winters.
There are hurdles when it comes to abandoning single-use plastics in favor of, say, refillable bottles of shampoo or tubes of lipstick. “It’s a large undertaking to educate consumers about refillable processes and train them to get into a cycle of conscious consumerism that is different from all the products they’ve ever used before,” Winters says.
Despite the need for consumer education, this new packaging tactic will still be a development to watch as companies figure out ways to refill everything from deodorant containers to powder compacts.
The no-frills approach to packaging is another eco-friendly trend. “I’ve seen a movement towards less is more in packaging that has risen both from demand by eco-conscious consumers and the entrance of more sustainably minded brands in the marketplace,” Winters says.
Winters notes that social media–based industry watchdogs, such as the popular Instagram account Estée Laundry, hold beauty brands accountable by calling out unnecessary and excessive use of plastic in shipments. “Such transparency has never before existed or been so easily available in the history of beauty, making it readily apparent that consumers hold more power than ever before,” Winters says.
There is an advantage for the brands themselves, though: Minimalist packaging allows them to keep costs low and focus more on high-quality products.
Innovative K-Beauty Formulations
In swapping out harsh chemicals for gentle ingredients like green tea leaves, ginseng extract or honeysuckle, South Korean brands tend to source ingredients from the Earth. And instead of layers of foundation and heavy makeup, K-Beauty is all about adopting a comprehensive skincare routine that doesn’t rely on chemicals to clarify, tone and hydrate skin.
“Although not every brand is the same, the passion in Korea for taking care of your skin is what drives brands to offer high-quality, innovative and trendsetting products,” says industry expert Joobin Jung.
She notes that collagen-boosting ingredients like vitamin C and collagen peptides are go-to K-Beauty ingredients, used in formulations designed to help women achieve healthy, glowing complexions.
The Latest in Brazilian Beauty
Move over coconut oil: Antioxidant-packed babassu oil made from the seeds of babassu palms in the rainforest is one of the best-kept Brazilian beauty secrets. The oil is said to moisturize skin and hair without greasy residue.
Other borrowed-from-Brazil beauty ideas included açai serums designed to address facial lines and rich mango butter moisturizers that not only smell like a tropical vacation, but are also packed with vitamins A and C, which help brighten skin.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.