Top of the trends: Top 10 most-read stories on the biggest beauty trends of 2021

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

A round-up our biggest trends stories from past year. [Getty Images]
A round-up our biggest trends stories from past year. [Getty Images]

Related tags trends Fragrance Skin care make-up

Take a look at our biggest trends stories from the past year, spanning Asian fragrances, on-demand delivery, beauty tech and more.

1 – From Asia to the world: Why the next wave of niche fine fragrance brands will come from Asia

The unwavering appetite for niche perfumes and brand mastery of digital communication are some of the reasons why we can expect more niche fine fragrance brands from Asia​ vying for the international spotlight.

In the last decade, the fragrance market has been disrupted by the arrival of niched fragrance brands such as Byredo, Le Labo, Diptyque, and Jo Malone.

While the big brands may still dominate, they are facing stiff competition from these so-called cult brands as consumers lean towards a more personalised and intimate fragrance experience.

In 2019, Estée Lauder Companies reported that its fragrance category benefited greatly from the growth of Jo Malone, Le Labo and Tom Ford, which pulled in net sales of approximately $81m.

2 – Instant gratification: Sephora, Amorepacific and Watsons among retailers stepping up on-demand delivery services in China

Beauty majors like Sephora, Amorepacific and Watsons are stepping up its on-demand retail services in China as consumer preferences for speedy deliveries​ show no sign of waning post-COVID.

On-demand deliveries have gained huge strides in China following the outbreak of COVID-19, which saw movement restrictions and lockdowns across China.

Dada Group is one of the leading on-demand delivery and retail firms in China backed by and Walmart. The company operates two on-demand delivery platforms – JD Daojia (JDDJ) and Dada Now.

The company grew on the back of the need for grocery deliveries, propelling the company to becoming the largest local on-demand retail platform in the supermarket segment by gross merchandise value (GMV) by the first nine months of 2020.

3 – Tiny but mighty: Foreo believes future of beauty tech lies in portable devices that give pro-level results

Beauty tech firm Foreo is betting big on small, handheld devices​ that can produce the same results as professional equipment at home, believing it to be the future of the beauty device business.

Foreo is a Swedish beauty technology firm that rose to prominence with Luna, a facial cleansing and massage device. According to the company, it has sold over 20 million Luna devices.

The company, which is celebrating its eighth anniversary this year, witnessed an unprecedented uptick in demand in the wake of the pandemic.

According to the firm, it saw a 30% increase in online sales alone.

4 – Freshness first: Korean start-up Kuoca aims to lead the market with novel made-to-order concept

A beauty company specialising in made-to-order skin care inspired by fine cuisine believes fresh beauty, products that are made-to-order in small batch production​, will be the next trend to follow the clean movement.

Kuoca is a South Korean beauty start-up founded by Benjamin Yu and Jisu Kim. The firm debuted in 2014 as a made-to-order skin care brand catering to Korean ‘celebrities and VIPs’ before launching to a wider audience in 2019.

Inspired by concepts of fine cuisine, Kuoca emphasises the freshness of its formulations. The products are made-to-order in small-batch productions and contain ingredients like truffles and chaga mushrooms.

All products are made within 30 days of sale to maintain freshness and perform best within 18 months after opening, said the firm.

5 – Blurred lines: Post-COVID consumer concerns shift spotlight onto make-up that works beyond the surface

Concerns for personal health and the health of the environment are blurring the lines between make-up and skin care​ as consumers seek out colour cosmetics that provide more than just superficial benefits.

Just recently, Japanese cosmetics manufacturer Premium Cosmetics launched UUUNI, a beauty brand with that aims to provide beauty consumers with make-up that has skin care benefits.

The brand launched with UUUNI BrightUp Skin Foundation, a cushion foundation that draws on 37 skin care ingredients.

The wide list ranges from botanical favourites such as camellia seed oil, licorice root, angelica root and cica extracts. It also contains popular skin care ingredients such like alpha-arbutin, niacinamide, retinol as well as human stem cell extract.

6 – ‘Grossly neglected’: Underserved hair care market due for a tech upgrade – Verdure

Singapore-based brand Verdure believes there is need for more tech innovation targeting hair care​ concerns, with the majority of developments focused on other categories in the beauty space.

Verdure offers homecare devices and complementary products to tackle hair loss.

Brand owner Karen Lam revealed that the brand experienced 400% growth in the past 18 months, fuelled by the e-commerce boom and the lack of options in the space.

“I think the hair care industry has been grossly neglected and under-served in terms of innovation, particularly with devices. Much of that owes to the fact that research into the science of hair loss, and consequently, hair growth is still very limited,” ​said Lam.

7 – Vulnerable but irreplaceable: Indian sandalwood essential to creating nostalgic notes consumers want during pandemic

The unique composition of Indian sandalwood makes it the best ingredient to tap into need to create nostalgia​ in perfumery and personal care during pandemic times, says one supplier.

In the past troubled year, people have been turning to nostalgia to find comfort and cope with the instability that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought.

“We’re seeing this trend surrounding nostalgia and it's really come out of the COVID scenario. It’s playing across in a number of different segments from food to fragrances, harkening back to a time when life was simpler,”​ explains Vanessa Ligovich, chief marketing officer at Quintis Sandalwood, an Australian supplier of sandalwood products.

This is further driving the demand for the already prized sandalwood in segments that are linked to wellness and self-care, including ambient scenting, perfumery, and personal care.

8 – Baby boom: MyGlamm expanding into mum and baby care with over 80 new products on the way

Amazon-backed MyGlamm is set to launch over 80 new personal care products to tap into the rapidly growing mum and baby care segment in India.

This news follows the company’s announcement that it was acquiring online parenting platform BabyChakra and investing INR100cr ($13.5m) to build a mummy- and baby-centric content-to-commerce platform over three years.

Naiyya Saggi, founder and CEO of BabyChakra will join the MyGlamm group as co-founder and president and will spearhead the mum-baby vertical for the company.

The company is gearing up to launch over 80 products in this category under the BabyChakra brand in the next eight to 12 months.

9 – ‘A shift is happening’: Why brands that emphasise scientific accuracy will displace clean beauty firms – 5 to 5

The founders of a newly launched skin care brand 5 to 5 is expecting the clean beauty trend to decline​ in the coming years and be replaced by brands that are based on solid science.

5 to 5 was co-founded by Nico Yosman and Selvie Jusman, who both have a background in finance.

Launched in June, the Singapore-based brand’s philosophy is that everything it does “from product development to marketing communication” ​should be “rooted in science”.

Yosman and Jusman believe that the information clean beauty brands tend to market, such as a fear of certain ingredients, is contributing to its downfall.

10 – China’s fragrance identity: Partnership with Tmall crucial with demand for localised fragrance reaching its ‘peak’ – Givaudan

Co-creation and collaboration with partners such as Tmall are key to understanding how to localise perfumes for consumers that are hungry for new fragrant interpretations of Chinese culture​, says Givaudan.

In the past years, Chinese preferences for fragrances have moved away from leading international prestige brands like Dior and Chanel and towards niche fragrance labels like Byredo and Diptyque.

While the demand for such brands have reached a fever pitch in the booming Chinese market, Givaudan believes local consumers are now looking for perfume brands that offer more than a cult status.

“The demand for quality fine fragrance that is localised for Chinese tastes is now at the very peak. There is a perceivable stronger need for a Chinese interpretation [of perfume] and we have a need as a fragrance house to better understand the local consumer psyche,” ​said Yaling Li, Givaudan's head of fragrances, China and Korea

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