As the visual trend gripped social media, it became easy and accessible for ordinary people to learn professional make-up techniques as everyone from make-up artists to beauty junkies and celebrities shared images and videos showcasing tips and techniques to achieving airbrushed perfection.
Before long, chiselling out cheekbones, overdrawing lips and blurring pores away became everyday routine and make-up became a spectacle.
Eventually, it grew into a community of people who worshipped pink egg-shaped sponges and shared new rituals such as “baking” and “draping” amongst themselves.
The beauty industry was never far behind, fuelling the frenzy by launching product after product to cater to their ever evolving quest for perfection.
However, new patterns in the industry suggest that consumers have begun, as Olay says, to love the skin they are in – choosing to believe that they are more beautiful than the world gives them credit for.
Less is more
Meitu, the developer of a suite of popular beauty applications which generates six billion photos and videos a month, recently observed that its users have begun to edit their photos less intensely on its BeautyCam application.
The company rates the intensity of beautifying from levels zero to seven on BeautyCam.
Compared to a year before, use of its two highest intensity filters, levels six and seven, fell by 36% and 33% respectively in its Android users. In contrast, use of its level four filter increased by 74.1%.
In a similar vein, Meitu saw a drop across all levels for iOS users, but recorded more than 20% increase in level four usage.
The data it has gathered has led Meitu to believe that looking natural will be the dominating aesthetic standard in the future, not just in China but globally. Meitu estimates that one-third of its users are from countries such as US, South Korea, Thailand and India.
In order to cater to the changing desires of its users, Meitu will be launching a new function on its BeautyCam app, AI Portrait, which uses Meitu’s powerful image processing technologies to preserve the skin’s natural texture, allowing users to give their photos a more natural aesthetic.
Enhance rather than hide
One brand that has aligned themselves with the naked face movement is hot millennial favourite Glossier, which just closed on a $52m investment this February.
Unlike other cosmetic brands, Glossier debuted in make-up with the barely-there Skin Tint, so sheer it cannot be classified with tinted moisturisers of BB creams. In fact, the brand assures on its website, that it absolutely will not “erase any other evidence that you are, in fact, a real human being”.
Its following make-up releases followed the same vision, creating a range of make-up products meant only to enhance what you were born with.
By embracing the natural, brands like Glossier have showed that daring to bare is not merely a passing fad, but a lifestyle.
Catering to this lifestyle has allowed the four-year-old brand to triple its size in 2017, compared to the year before, Bloomberg reported.
While the privately-owned company did not disclose its numbers, the brand shared that one of its Boy Brow eyebrow products fly off the shelves every minute, giving Glossier an estimated US eight million dollars in sales annually.
Dare to bare
In June, SK-II unveiled the #BareSkinProject, a campaign dedicated to providing consumers with an “authentic vision of bare skin beauty”.
The #BareSkinProject challenged six celebrities – Chloe Grace Moretz, Chun Xia, Kasumi Arimura, Mayu Matsuoka, Ni Ni and Tang Wei – to go make-up free in front of cameras with zero post-production retouches and help only from SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence.
“When I first heard about this campaign, I was thrilled,” said Moretz in a statement. “This is about being able to create a new movement of honouring the beauty of women as it is, and about being yourself with confidence.”
As part of the campaign, SK-II launched short films that intimately documented each celebrity's personal journey with the #BareSkinProject.
Directors Virgile Textier and Guillaume Cagniard said: "Our goal was to capture authentic emotions as they went through their journeys. Although each journey is unique, they each went through similar emotions of doubt, excitement, boldness and pride. It's beautiful to see it all unfold."
Soaring skin care figures
The success of the #BareSkinProject and the message it sends is reflected in the response from consumers.
Proctor & Gamble (P&G), parent company of SK-II, said in its 2018 annual report that the campaign helped increased the number of new SK-II customer by more than 23%, and contributed to sales growth of more than 30% in in fiscal year 2018.
It is not just P&G who has seen excellent skin care sales. The Estée Lauder Companies shared that in the fourth quarter of 2018, skin care sales increased by double-digits in every geographic region, accelerating up to 29% compared to make-up’s 4%.
For the first half of 2018, L'Oréal’s Active Cosmetics Division, which consists of skin care brands traditionally sold at healthcare outlets and pharmacies like La Roche-Posay, Vichy and SkinCeuticals, recorded double-digit growth.
The French company’s luxury brands, which includes a portfolio of brands like Lancôme, Giorgio Armani, and Yves Saint Laurent, benefited from the growth skin care sales which propelled them to grow by 13.5% in the first half of 2018 and 13% in its second quarter.