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UK Cosmetic Trends

March 15, 2024
4 min read

The days of undereye baking, matt lips, intense smokey eyes and cut creases are a thing of the past. The trend of cosmetic minimalism has started taking over in the last few years. This shift is seeing beautiful nude tones making a comeback and base make-up that promises a ‘glow from within’ rather than a streak of highlight that could be its light source. Blush has seen a particularly startling comeback in 2024, promoting healthy colour across the wearer’s face and supporting microtrends like ‘ballet core’ and ‘tomato girl’. What is a tomato girl, you ask? Imagine the kind of natural rosiness a girl who spends her days perusing farmer’s markets and eating antipasti in a coastal Italian town might sport and there you have it. 

The Quiet Luxury Trend

The uptake in minimalist make-up looks speaks to a wider trend of quiet luxury – the epitome of putting lots of effort in to look effortless. Quiet Luxury is all about looking elevated and expensive with subtle, muted and timeless make-up looks. However, with the tightening of discretionary income in the past years, consumers are looking for dupes as an alternative to prestige brands to achieve this look. We found that almost 30% of respondents had tried cheaper versions or copies of premium products and still more were interested in trying it. This has called for prestige brands to convey results and quality more effectively. 

Cliniques ‘Pink Honey’ is the perfect example of quiet beauty, it’s an understated lipgloss that enhances the natural colour of the wearer’s lips. The brand has referred to the product as ‘almost lipstick’ due to its subtle but beautiful quality. 

Achieving Bold Looks with AI

4 in 5 women aged 16+ reported that finding easy-to-use cosmetic products was a priority for them. Now, with AI filters, prospective customers can see which shades and styles suit them best and how to get the most out of them. This may lead to many make-up wearers feeling more confident to rock bold looks. Maybelline’s AI tool allows users to virtually try on their make-up ranges, intelligently and effortlessly creating a host of make-up looks. Unfortunately, the results can often be considered comical but with some refinements, the AI software could become useful – improving the accessibility of make-up for many. 

Short of virtually applying make-up to a user’s face, AI will also prove useful in providing personalised cosmetic recommendations. Eventually, this technology could draw insights from several highly individualised factors beyond looks, such as genetics, environment and user lifestyle. We’re predicting that AI will become integrated into store mirrors and transform virtual-try-ons from a clumsy and unrealistic technology to something that people rely on to speed up their decision process and improve their shopping experience.

Spending on Skin Cosmetics is a Priority 

Though the narrative on skin cosmetics has changed in that people are less likely to be wearing full-face looks, people are still spending the most on this category. This could be due to a call for lighter and better quality formulas which translates to more expensive products. We can see this surge in quality over quantity in the types of base make-up being bought. In our UK Colour Cosmetics report, we found that 37% of women buy liquid/cream foundation but only 6% are spending on contouring products. This reflects an attitude shift where ‘less is more’ is a priority. 

Chanel Les Beiges is a foundation marketed for its ability to create a ‘healthy, winter glow’. The formula, once applied, boasts a silky texture, visibly smoothing skin and resulting in a more even complexion. Despite its retail price nearing £50, it consistently flies off the shelves, highlighting that as long as prestige brands can prove their value over dupes, they will continue to succeed.

Thinking Ahead with Mintel

Cosmetics that exude quiet luxury will continue to perform favourably, therefore high-street brands should endeavour to display a touch of opulence in their advertising and marketing campaigns to remain competitive. Outside of this, brands can display quality and prestige through transparency in areas like ingredients and the product lifecycle and by positioning their formulas as safe with real skincare benefits.

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