Let’s face the facts: Beauty is big business. From the K-Beauty phenomenon to indie brands with cult-like status, knowing which trends to add to your assortment can help you enjoy a slice of the $445 billion beauty industry pie. Here are some of the hottest trade secrets.

In this era of selfies and YouTube videos, the power has been placed in the hands of the people -- especially when it comes to the beauty game.

Heritage brands like Estée Lauder, Lancôme, and Clinique are now losing market share to newer independent beauty brands like Glossier, ColourPop, and Kylie Cosmetics. It seems beauty has become more about how quickly you can turn around new products and how well you’re engaging your target customers.

A recent article clearly highlights this point:

“Now consumers of all ages, eager to tap into the transformational experience of beauty, are more willing than ever to try the influx of new small, independent brands that they discover on social media and through beauty influencers.”
(Note: ColourPop has amassed 4.7 million Instagram followers, while Kylie Cosmetics boasts a gigantic following of 13.8 million.)

In a $445 billion industry in which the rules are being rewritten daily, the keys to success include engaging your customers, ensuring you’re solving a problem, getting them excited about product launches, and having your fingers on the pulse of what they’re looking for.

The ASD Trade Show is a treasure trove of cosmetics and beauty products; the trick is knowing which items to focus on. Here are six trends currently taking over the proverbial beauty counters.

The Product Trends That Are Driving Retail Sales

1. Skincare = Self-Care

Serums, facial oils, balms, cleansers, moisturizers, exfoliants: caring for your skin is no longer a one-two step -- although on the other side of the spectrum, facial cleaning wipes do remain an essential in the beauty aisles, as an easy solution for frequent travelers and gym-goers.

Thanks to trends like hygge -- a Danish term defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being,” there’s an emphasis on staying home and “masking” rather than being out dancing. After all, staying in is the new going out.

For your customers, it’s about enjoying the process while creating social media content for their Instagram Stories, Snapchat or YouTube, as seen on the feeds of fashion, lifestyle, and beauty bloggers. They want to be able to show off their face covered by a charcoal, clay or “dry sheet” mask on your social channels! This is a huge opportunity for all retailers to capitalize on.

For example, the luxury British brand Charlotte Tilbury has a dry sheet mask that’s getting tons of face time on social media (it actually looks like Jason’s mask from Friday the 13th!).

Freelance beauty writer and blogger at Love And Water, Gabrielle Starr, explains it best here: “I think that reminding people that there is a strong connection between self-love / self-care and beauty is essential to our collective health as people.”

2. K-Beauty as a Phenomenon: Products, Ritual, Innovative Merchandising

Korean beauty isn’t just a fad, it’s an industry unto itself -- and the entire world is drinking the K-Beauty Kool-Aid.

In a Refinery29 article, Christine Chang, the co-founder of Glow Recipe, a curated website featuring natural Korean beauty products, explains:
"I think American women are reaching a place where they’re kind of embracing the holistic view of beauty — the ritual — and enjoying the sensoriality, and enjoying skin care in general.”
Today, K-Beauty-inspired creams and sheet masks are a fixture in every local Target and CVS, approximately six years after becoming a new trend.
But don’t mistake these products as merely cute and colorful: besides reinventing visual merchandising at the retail level, Korean beauty stems from serious skincare innovations and technology.

3. Cosmetics with Natural Ingredients

Featuring everything from coconut oil to matcha, it’s all about clean beauty that features superfoods and earthy ingredients. The organic brand Cocokind Skincare even developed a sea moss exfoliator!

We spoke with beauty & lifestyle freelance writer Arielle Crane about the natural beauty trend:

“All-natural products have become such a trend, but I think we’ll only start to see more ways that brands are tapping into natural ingredients and oils to enhance features, as opposed to adding more chemicals and ‘disguising’ what our beautiful natural faces have to offer.”
As with the foods we eat, the labels on beauty products may require further inspection or research. Case in point: the term “natural” is completely unregulated by the FDA, and alternative vocabulary terms such as “synthetic-free,” “organic,” “eco-friendly,” “plant-based,” or “cruelty-free” aren’t always trustworthy.

Thankfully, the USDA requires at least 95% natural ingredients in order to qualify for the organic seal of approval, and more and more brands are stepping up their game by offering clear, transparent labeling and behind-the-scenes glimpses on their websites or social media feeds. Compassionate sleuths of all ages can rely on sites like Leaping Bunny to do the legwork and provide up-to-date reviews and info.

One thing’s for sure: Being eco-friendly and cruelty-free isn't a trend, it's a movement.

Beauty product trends driving retail sales - eco-friendly and cruelty-free

4. Highlighters, Luminizers, and Crystals

Considering we’ve reached peak mysticism levels, it’s no surprise that the bronzer trend is making way for a more ethereal, luminescent look.

Brands like Glossier (and its “Haloscope,” described as “the galaxy’s first dew effect highlighter”), Milk (with its Holographic Stick, or what happens when a “Highlighter goes galactic”) and ColourPop (with its “Crushed Crystal Collection” of crystal-infused highlighters and mists) are all aiming to be in the spotlight.

Skincare and fragrance brands are also adding elements like rose quartz, clear quartz, amethyst, and black tourmaline to their products.

And if you’re not feeling the crystal-infused trend, then highlighter palettes and compacts are also popular.

5. Raising Eyebrows

While the matte lipstick look of the ‘90s is currently trending, the barely-there eyebrow trend is not.

When it comes to brows, the fuller, the better.

As a result, products that promise to fill in brows and give them extra drama -- in the form of powders and pencils -- are all the rage. Glossier’s “Boy Brow,” the mascara-like fluffer, filler, and shaper for eyebrows, has received top honors as a game changer and “Best of Beauty” award winner by magazines like Allure.

6. On-Point Packaging: Beautiful Inside & Out

Today’s beauty products and sell-through at the retail level, are judged by their packaging.

Shannon Davenport, a trend forecaster at the research firm Stylus, was quoted in the aforementioned Business of Fashion article:

“Packaging before, when it was behind a counter, was very different. Now packaging in a self-serve environment like Sephora or Ulta — you need to be drawn to it, you need to pick it up and once you have it, you need to want to share a picture of it.”

From twist-on lipsticks in easy-to-apply crayon shapes (à la brand TrèStiQue) and highlighter sticks (see Trend #4), to the poppy K-Beauty masking packages, the more innovative and fun the package, the more eyeballs it will likely attract.

Fashion, Beauty, and Accessories Product Trends? Get them at ASD.

Beauty Marketing & Merchandising Tips

1. Swatching Shades

Brands like Charlotte Tilbury, ColourPop and even mass-market names like Maybelline have made “swatching shades” part of their social content and are a great way to showcase different colors.

Here’s a video that features lipstick swatching!

2. Leveraging Instagram Stories and YouTube for Tutorials = Retail Foot Traffic

It’s easier than ever for retailers to create and publish videos to Youtube and Instagram. Youtube also acts a powerful search engine, allowing your customers to easily find you!

We spoke with Aurelie Sauthier, President of Made In, a leading agency in influencer marketing, about Instagram Stories and YouTube when it comes to beauty:

“Today, beauty brands need to capitalize on the power of Instagram Stories, As for YouTube, the greatest opportunity is for beauty brands on the channel is to partner with mid-level bloggers to be part of ‘product review type’ of videos, but mostly to get their name into videos that answer consumer needs.”

What does this mean for retailers and e-commerce shop owners? It’s easier than ever to emulate the video marketing that already drives success for the big beauty brands. Just post your own “DIY” videos each week to your site and/or your social channels.

Want to Leverage Social Media for Your Shop? Read: ASD’s Crash Course in Social Media for Retailers

The agency Made In worked with L’Oreal on this home hair-dye campaign starring top beauty blogger Bebexo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpFDCsso-pQ

3. Taking Visual Merchandising Cues from Retailers Like Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, H&M, and Pop-up Shops

Adding beauty products to your merchandising mix is a great way to delve into Crossover Merchandising.
We spoke with Sung Yoo, a designer who worked with e-tailer Glow Recipe on its shop-in-shop experience:
“When the task to design a shop experience for an e-commerce based business that curates many different (organic) brands came up, I really wanted to make sure the brand voice was aligned with how we created a visual language — especially since it didn't exist in this format before… Even more importantly, to simultaneously educate this consumer and make that experience feel effortless. We divided the products into skin types that were easily identifiable, then went from there.”
Indie retailers everywhere can take merchandising inspiration from temporary beauty pop-ups - and consider making those techniques permanent.

Look to fast-fashion and lifestyle retailers for inspiration on merchandising your products.

For example, Forever 21 and H&M display makeup products -- everything from lash extensions to “beauty blender” sponges in metallic-sealed packages -- on racks near the cash registers so that shoppers add beauty items to their hauls by the time it’s their turn to pay.

The Ultimate point of purchase add-on. And very lucrative.

The Takeaway

Adding beauty products to your assortment is a great way to appeal to new segments of your target audience, increase your Units Per Transaction, and, if displayed strategically, boost “last-minute” impulse purchases.

The playbook for the beauty industry is clearly changing, but staying in-the-know when it comes to the latest product and merchandising trends can help you focus on the items that can make for a beautiful sales quarter.

Are you a retailer or online seller? You can get all of the products mentioned in this article at ASD Market Week, featuring the largest wholesaler beauty, fashion, and accessories show on the West Coast, July 30 - August 2 in Las Vegas. Get your free buyer’s ticket here. Amazing products at incredible margins.