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Counter Talk: Discovery events showcase pace of beauty innovation

During ECRM’s recent Beauty Week sessions in Las Vegas, I spoke to a buyer from a national retail chain and asked her if any products in particular wowed her. She mentioned a skin care supplier that had a product made with peat as a key ingredient, which she said wasn’t among the products her chain carried, and her customers were always looking for innovation around healthy, functional ingredients.

Though buyers are always on the lookout for fresh innovations the pace of innovation has increased recently. Here are some key product trends retailers said are grabbing their attention:

Natural 2.0: Having natural, organic or vegan ingredients is no longer a trend — it is now a cost of entry in the beauty business. So, many suppliers are taking natural a step further with unique ingredients that are aimed at delivering specific results. In addition to suppliers tapping bogs for the aforementioned nutrient-rich peat, other popular ingredients include dead sea salts and minerals, charcoal clay, infused oxygen, volcanic ash, turmeric and rosehip. These ingredients are making their way into all product segments, including facial masks, skin creams, hair care and even bath bombs.

Bright and metallic colors: Color cosmetics are becoming even more colorful, shiny and metallic, with a hint of glitter thrown in. One buyer in particular noticed glowing eye shadow and holographic makeup — which are great for selfie-friendly millennials. The unicorn and mermaid effect are still going strong in this category.

Masks: While retailers and suppliers have cited facial masks as a popular trend over the past couple of years, they continue to evolve and now are available in many options, including those with such natural ingredients as activated charcoal. Metallic facial masks are a newer trend, as are masks infused with essential oils to provide an aromatherapy experience. The facial mask boom has even driven demand for hand and feet masks.

Men’s grooming: Many suppliers are offering such men’s grooming products as skin care and beard/hair care solutions. Suppliers have added new products or expanded existing lines, often bundling them into kits alongside other grooming it. Men also are getting in on the mask action, with many suppliers developing men’s masks.

Multicultural beauty: At this year’s Multicultural Beauty EPPS, products for textured hair were everywhere, and were key topics during the Global Beauty Alliance panel discussion. Skin and hair products aimed at the particular beauty needs of multicultural consumers also are becoming increasingly mainstream, though many feel they still have more work to do in integrating these products into beauty assortments.

Bath bombs: Bath bombs have exploded in popularity. Appealing both for their moisturizing benefits to the skin and for offering an excuse to take a long soak in the tub, they also offer colorful swirls and bubbles, making them truly Instagram-worthy. The Instagram hashtags #bathbomb and #bathbombs bring up approximately 2.5 million results, offering opportunities for social media engagement from brands and retailers.

Cleaning up: Eventually, all of these innovative products must be removed, and here too beauty buyers found lots of innovation, including cleansing sticks and balms — which are rubbed on the face then water is added to remove dirt, oil and makeup.

Notably, many of these innovations we saw at Beauty Week came from new and emerging brands, many of which were previously only on Amazon and RangeMe, or at a select few retailers. So it’s important for beauty buyers to stay vigilant and explore every opportunity if they hope to stand out with innovative assortments.

Tony Giovanini ECRMTony Giovanini is senior vice president of HBC at ECRM.
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