Is no makeup the new makeup?

Image by Twylamae
Words by Bianca O’Neill

How beauty sales are shifting towards a post-makeup world.

We’ve known for a while that Kardashian-esque #kontouring was fast going out of fashion – even Kim herself has toned it down recently. And with the release of beauty care products under the moniker Kylie Skin off the back of the billion-dollar Jenner’s makeup empire, it does beg the question: is the era of heavy, influencer-style makeup over?

At the very least, we’re seeing huge disruptions to the cosmetics industry – mostly fuelled by consumer demand for natural ingredients, sustainable packaging, ethical concerns (like the end of animal testing), and gender-neutral collections. So what is fuelling this change?

‘No-makeup makeup’ looks are an increasing trend on Instagram, as we move away from the heavily made-up influencers of yore. It’s a beauty look that has been made even more popular by the barely-there ‘natural’ looks featured on cult brand Glossier’s Instagram page.

And after surpassing a $1.2 billion valuation earlier this year, it’s clear that Glossier’s vibe is a hit with consumers too.

Meanwhile, skincare sales have been growing rapidly – and in some markets, surpassing traditional makeup categories. Where previously skincare was focussed on ‘turning back the clock’ for older female consumers, it has now shifted focus onto protective and preventative solutions for a younger demographic – and rapidly growing spending block – in millennials.

According to L’Oréal’s 2018 Annual Report, skincare took a whopping 39 per cent of beauty sales last year, while makeup lagged behind on 19 per cent of market share. Locally, the AFR recently reported a 7-8 per cent rise in skincare sales each year for the past few years, in addition to a 25-30 per cent growth in dermo-cosmetics and natural brands. 

“The skincare market is booming at the moment,” says Rodrigo Pizarro, MD of L’Oreal Australia. “All the products [such as those in the La Roche-Posay stable] that are related to sensitive skin are in high demand… Sales have been doubling every two years.” 

The findings echo a sharp rise in consumer concern over the chemicals contained in skincare products, with brands like Sukin and Go-To delivering an ever-increasing range of natural alternatives to harsh chemical exfoliants and paraben-laden ingredients lists. 

Even fashion brands are jumping on the ‘no-makeup makeup’ bandwagon. Stella McCartney, Giambattista Valli and Saint Laurent all showed barely-there faces on the runway at Paris Fashion Week last month.  

So is this the end of makeup? Are we heading into a brave, new, post-makeup world? As traditional gender roles loosen, and women are increasingly rejecting the patriarchal ideals of beauty inspired by the male gaze, it certainly seems from the declining sales figures that makeup might just go the way of the dinosaurs. 

For now.

Follow Bianca’s fashion industry commentary on Instagram at @bianca.oneill.

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