Whether it’s a serum that promises results in 60 seconds or an eight-step cleansing routine that takes time, effort and endless products, the beauty industry is a never-ending stream of instant gratification and consumption. But changes are afoot. With the backlash against ‘fast fashion’ and recent research revealing that one in five women feel guilty about buying new clothes, we’re starting to see more mindful beauty purchasing, too. Dubbed ‘slow beauty’, brands are reassessing how they can appeal to customers keen to embrace this simplistic approach.
What does slow beauty actually mean?
Trend forecasting agency, WGSN says it epitomises their ‘End of More’ trend. “It’s hard for brands to get their heads round but they need to adopt a ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ approach and prioritise simplicity and purpose in packaging, products and quality active ingredients,” says Clare Varga, head of beauty at WGSN. “By offering less, they are actually delivering more to consumers and adding value that goes beyond the bottom line.”
It also chimes in with the shift towards those precious moments of self-care. “It gives consumers the chance to connect with products and themselves and takes them away from today’s fast-paced society,” says Sarah Jindal, senior innovation analyst in beauty and personal care at Mintel. “It’s about getting back to traditional, functional ingredients that drive the efficacy of products. At-home spa products are also a key part of slow beauty and bath soaks and face masks are growing in popularity with those looking to dial things down.”
How are brands dealing with slow beauty?
The new ‘buy less but better’ mindset doesn’t mean beauty-hungry consumers will simply disappear – brands just need to re-think their strategies. Rather than NPD, Anna-Marie Solowij, beauty expert and co-founder of BeautyMART believes that for existing brands it’s a case of OPD (old product development) – updating classics that have a cult following. Or for new brands; sticking to single sku’s. “It’s more of a curatorial approach where instead of buying everything, consumers make more careful judgement. It also allows brands to survive on just one hero product until they can work out what their audience wants next.” Helping consumers navigate their way through a sea of endless products, brands like We Are Wild are the perfect example. A simplified trio of solid products that provide consumers with easy options that promise safe, ethical and effective solutions – for their skin and the environment.
There’s also an increasing focus on small batch production processes and foraged ingredients. With brands literally waiting for berries and seeds to fall naturally, there’s no way to fast forward these formulations. In tune with nature’s own rhythms, if you’re looking to be a truly conscious consumer, this is the way to do it. “Look at brands like Weleda – they grow, harvest and process their plant ingredients bio-dynamically and have UEBT (Union for Ethical BioTrade) certification which means all their sourcing and business practices are independently verified,” explains Solowij.
How you can embrace slow beauty?
Aside from asking yourself if you ‘need’ the new product you’ve just added to basket or whether it’s just a case of ‘want’, there are plenty of ways to take on considered beauty without denying yourself.
Use every last drop
With slow fashion it’s about wearing your clothes over and over again without wincing if people see you in repeat outfits. With beauty once it’s gone it’s gone but make a conscious effort to finish each product before you start the next. If it’s water-based you can always add a drop or two of water to loosen the remainder of product and the same if it’s oil based (just add oil not water).
You might be conscious about only buying seasonal fruit and veg in the supermarket but it’s something that’s becoming increasingly easier with beauty products too. Brands like de Mamiel produce their oils in conjunction with the season’s meaning your skin and the environment are all working at their optimum.
Spend some time on self-care
Take the ‘slow down’ approach literally. A 20-minute soak using bath salts like Sea Magik’s Turmeric Serenity Salts or a ready made ritual like ila Spa’s Healing Heart Facial means your fingers will be otherwise engaged so you can’t be tempted to slap on a 60-second face mask and return to your social media scrolling.
Think about solids
We all have a tendency to use too much product but solid formulas eliminate the habit of washing half of your cleansers and creams down the drain. They tend to be better for your skin, your wallet and the seas.
Scenting is another way to embrace the slower pace of life. Aromatic blends, essential oils and luxury diffusers from brands like Neom Organics can help promote those chilled out vibes and help counteract the fast paced demands from day to day life.