Hands On to Hands Free: The Luxury Beauty Industry Post-COVID

The luxury beauty industry is taking its most ‘hands on’ activities and innovating them to ‘hands free’ in the wake of the global pandemic. Here are the top highlights sweeping your favorite brands

By: Jiya Sharma

Posted on: July 23, 2020

luxury Beauty industry skincare

You may not consider yourself an active participant in the world of fashion and beauty, but they definitely play an active role in you. If it isn’t Balmain glam, its comfort wear and if it isn’t makeup, it’s skincare. The COVID-19 crisis impacted all industries and the Beauty industry has been no exception. 

However, as an industry that holds adaptability and innovation at its core, the industry has come up with some creative solutions to ensure that each consumer can satisfy the same ‘pre-COVID’ needs in an ‘on-COVID’ manner. As the industry perseveres to satisfy and overcome, here are a few highlights to know.

Label Transparency: Be Plain & Simple

‘Cruelty free’, ‘fair trade’, ‘organic’, are all terms used by beauty products which attract large number of ethic-driven consumers. Due to the direct impact these products have on the user’s skin, reassurance plays a huge role in whether or not consumers invest in a product. Reassurance could range from claiming “100% Cruelty Free” to promising “Younger looking skin in 2 weeks”. However, with time, consumers have evolved to realize the sheer vagueness of the aforementioned terms. 

luxury beauty products Chanel

The rising physical as well as emotional need for cleanliness and safety during this pandemic have led to consumers looking for a higher transparency on the labels of the products they use. Transparency here would mean, not only in terms of what exactly the brand means when umbrella terms such as ‘organic’ are mentioned, but also, clear and understandable terminology in the ingredient section of products, especially those that claim to partake in ‘clean beauty’. As Arnaud Meysselle, CEO, Ren Clean Skincare believes, “Brands must take the sustainable development shift immediately, because in two years’ time it will be too late.” 
A recent study by Infuenster and Bazaarvoice found that 69% of women surveyed found ingredient information on products from sources excluding the brand itself! Only 1% were able to trust brands and found the information given sufficient. It is true that as consumers, we tend to trust customer reviews and google more than what the brand has to say for itself. However, the identity and story conveyed gets lost if this information doesn’t come from the brand itself. While the biggest names in the industry are yet to announce how they shall continue on a path of higher transparency, consumers and experts alike are now weighing competitors’ transparency levels and deciding which brands make for a better contender. In a recent article by Forbes, for example, Karen Young of The Young Group states "There is a transparency to Bobbi Brown. It's never tried to be something it isn't.”

Testing & Sampling: Hands free!

Using testers at cosmetic retailers to try on makeup has been an instinctive action for any beauty shopper up until January 2020. Within a span of months, even weeks, the action has been deemed unimaginable. Touching a foreign object in a store with your bare hands and putting it on your skin? The horror! However, while the action is out of the question, the concept is still very much in. 

Charlotte Tillbury Magic Mirror

Beauty consumers still want to sample products before making a purchase. The only alternative to sampling would be to take the product home, test it and return it in case of dissatisfaction. However, these returned products almost never make it back to the shelves. They are discarded and add on to the infinite amounts of waste that is disposed off into landfills and oceans. 

Hence, testing and sampling must continue. How? Let’s take a look. 

Firstly, Artificial Intelligence. Virtual try-ons have been around since long before the pandemic, but the current time might be its moment to shine. Charlotte Tilbury has Magic Mirror, L'Oréal Paris has Makeup Genius, Guerlain has the Voir app and so on! Currently being promoted as a safer alternative to physical trial, virtual try-ons have been widely adopted.

Orlandi V Shape testers

Secondly, Individual Testers. Pre-packaged individual testers have gained fruition in the current state of Beauty Retail. While Virtual Try-ons work just fine, they aren’t always an accurate representation of a product’s texture, longevity, reactivity and so on. Orlandi, a USA based fragrance and cosmetic sampling specialist has come up with V-shaped testers, which are beauty samples that can be opened with one hand. On opening, a single dose of the product, be it fragrance, oil, cream or even shampoo, is dispensed. Fragrances and scents are also being transformed to gel and wipe forms for easier testing. 

Thirdly, manpower hasn’t been underestimated post-COVID. With rigorous daily checks on Beauty Advisors, retailers such as Sephora have equipped their advisors with rules and procedures that follow a no-touch policy with the consumer. All the products are handled only by the duly sanitized staff, who try and sample products on themselves, as a sampling for the consumer, followed by verbal information. 

Makeup & The Mask

An impact on the Beauty Industry due to the need to wear masks may seem like a stretch to some, but the numbers back it up! As wearing masks in public areas was declared a compulsion, makeup purchase numbers showed drastic effects. 

The beginning of the lockdown saw many consumers backing away from makeup as a mask hid half their face and the rest got covered by shades. However, as we’ve accepted our present reality, makeup on the skin, eyes and brows, at the very least, are back in the game. Tutorials on ‘Makeup with a face mask’ have been quick to flood our feeds and inspire our creativity. As have makeup tutorials for Zoom meetings. 

Leaf transparent N99 Mask

Consumers are looking to brands that are adapting to their current needs. These needs include functional attributes of the products such as transfer-proof foundation, long-lasting mascara, colorful eyeliner, shinier highlighter, etc. Anything that makes the top half of their face look glamorous enough to match the designer mask that covers the bottom.

As for the egalitarians, not to worry, masks are adapting as well! For example, the recently launched LEAF Mask is one of the world’s first FDA-registered, clear mask to have N99-standard air filtering abilities as well as a self-purifying feature, thanks to a built-in UV-C light. It is a perfect model of a mask that shall allow the Beauty Industry to thrive while keeping users safe and secure from the virus. A true friend of the makeup industry.

The Rise of Skincare

As you read this, you are probably on your bed or desk, with green tea in one hand and a face mask brush in the other. Self-quarantine has offered the perfect opportunity not just for economies but for each individual citizen to look inward. As we do so, consumers are back to basics, turning actively from makeup towards skincare and haircare. The low social interaction is a cherry on top, offering the perfect opportunity for a reboot inside-out. 

The need for cleanliness has further driven the concept of ‘Clean Beauty’. Skincare post-COVID focuses not just on the results products have on one’s skin, but also on what impact they have from production to disposal. Brands such as Lamazuna, that focus on zero waste products, are increasingly gaining customer attention. 

Lamazuna products

The industry has always evolved with its people and continues to do so even today. As the future unfolds and the to-be-knowns of the COVID-crisis are revealed, one can be rest assured that whatever happens, beauty shall always remain a close friend and an adaptable one at that!

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