The changing face of make-up: How the trend for contouring is making waves in the colour cosmetics market

February 19, 2015
5 min read

Kim Kardashian’s famous ‘selfies’ have been pretty unmissable recently, even producing a book exclusively featuring images of herself. And when in late 2014, she posted a photograph of herself applying her base make-up and contouring her face using different shades to highlight and emphasise her features, the ‘selfie’ trend officially entered the make-up tutorial arena. Contouring then became a beauty buzzword, with many online tutorials appearing, informing women on how to use base make-up to enhance their bone structure and facial features.

Launch of the first contouring make-up range

In November, Rodial announced the launch of what is claimed as the world’s first contouring make-up range, with Daisy Lowe as the face of the range; a capsule collection designed to make the act of contouring easy for all women.


Contouring products on the rise

To support the launch of the contouring collection, Rodial also launched a Contouring Bar at department store Harvey Nichols last year, offering women a bespoke introduction to sculpting. Although producing a first with its new in-store service, Rodial is not the only beauty brands to launch dedicated contouring products.

Tom Ford Beauty’s Autumn 2014 collection similarly included a Contouring Cheek Colour Duo, combining a lighter, pearlescent shade to highlight and a deeper, matte shade to contour and add definition and structure to cheekbones. Followed by the December 2014 launch of black’Up Dual Ended Contouring Stick, described as a revolutionising and easy-to-use product to highlight, contour and create a professional play of light and shadow. Finally in January 2015, Smashbox launched a Step-by-Step Contour Stick Trio, designed to easily help the user contour the face shape, define cheekbones, perfect the nose and sculpt the jawline. The three universal shades match every skin tone.

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Customising the in-store experience

Online tutorials are valuable, and whilst the Rodial homepage features several, personal demonstrations are more likely to attract new product users. Mintel’s research shows that older women, specifically those aged 55 and up, are more interested than average in seeing products demonstrated on women of their own age. It is hardly surprising therefore that when in 2013, make-up artist Lisa Eldridge produced a series of make-up tutorials aimed at the mature woman, she experienced viral popularity. In-store tutorials can also be helpful for over-55s as they will be tailored for more mature skin.

At the other end of the spectrum, those aged 16-24 and those situated in London are far more likely than average to blend products together in order to tailor the result to their skin tone. Again, in-store tutorials are a better way to highlight this capability.

Consumers who buy products which cover the skin for the majority of the day are most likely to buy luxury brands; with 42% of primer users and 32% of foundation users opt for luxury brands

What does it mean for the market?

This new focus on sculpting is expected to inspire women to make additional purchases in the colour cosmetics market, focusing on blending different shades of base products and investing more time on the application of foundation. This increased investment in the category can provide a surge in retail value sales, similar to that seen after the BB boom in 2012 and the fashion for artistic nails in 2014.

Indeed Mintel’s data finds consumers who buy products which cover the skin for the majority of the day are most likely to buy luxury brands; with 42% of primer users and 32% of foundation users opting for luxury brands. The importance of colour matching in base cosmetics also inspires women to spend in this area.

It is not only colour cosmetics that could benefit however, the trend for facial contouring can benefit subsidiary areas, such as blending brushes, sponges and mirror lights to help make facial contouring easy to achieve at home. The contouring trend focuses on enhancing the natural shape and features of the face. This could develop further into other areas of make-up, for example eye and lip products that enhance natural shapes, rather than create a transformative look.

Synonymous of the way the BB claim became popular in other beauty markets beside skincare, the contouring claim is beginning to expand beyond colour cosmetics. In January 2015 the hair contouring service was launched in Charles Worthington London salons. The technique involves a face shape analysis and the hair is then coloured with lighter and deeper tones to flatter face shape. Although currently only available in-salon, there is the future possibility of brands offering similar wash-out hair contouring kits for use at home.

For more information on luxury beauty products, see our range of comprehensive market research reports available on our store.

Finally, there is further potential here for digital guides to aid women in remembering and perfecting the contouring technique, once they have had a personal demonstration in-store. YSL, for example, launched a Google Glass make-up tutorial which allows participants to take home a digital copy of their make-over to replicate.

As Senior Beauty Analyst for Mintel, Charlotte collates and analyses a wide range of data on the beauty markets, including consumer trends, product sales and new innovations. Charlotte joined Mintel in 2013 as an Analyst across the Beauty & Personal Care and Household sectors and now specialises in Beauty.

Charlotte Libby
Charlotte Libby

Charlotte is a Global Colour Cosmetics and Fragrance Analyst. Her expertise lie in consumer behaviour, trends and product innovation.

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