Creating Tomorrow: clean beauty, tweakment, or both?
The increasing polarisation of the beauty industry
I managed to get shampoo in my eye during yesterday morning’s 10-minute shower. I don’t think that’s happened since I was about six years old, and resulted in a bloodshot eye for at least the first three meetings of the day. I blame the small bottle of hotel-room shampoo I’d resorted to using, having run out of my normal products which veer towards the more natural end of the beauty spectrum. And a polarised spectrum is what this industry has truly become. At one end, all-natural, organic, ‘clean’ and vegan products, and at the other the acceptable face of Harley Street and Rodeo Drive: the ‘tweakment’.
The word tweakment has moved from industry speak to consumer adoption this year, thanks in part to journalist-turned-author Alice Hart-Davis’ book of the same name. With the beauty forecasters at WGSN predicting that the tweakment bar will be as normal as the brow bar in coming years, I’ve become fascinated by the tweakment’s rapid rise, in a world where every mass-market beauty brand is at pains to point out its exclusion of anything that could remotely be described as toxic.
Alice believes it’s down to availability, but also the mindset of the younger consumer.
“There are more procedures available than ever before,” she told me. “Twenty years ago, the space between facials and facelifts used to be occupied by just collagen injections and Botox, but now there is a whole slew of offerings from laser facials to ultrasound skin tightening, microneedling and even injectable moisturiser gels. There’s also a whole raft of treatments I call ‘facials plus’, i.e. facials plus skin peels, or a light bit of lasering, which give greater results than a pampering salon facial and which make a stepping stone between pampering facials and slightly scary clinical treatments.”
And what about the consumer? “It’s no longer just about anti-ageing,” points out Alice. “In the early days of tweakments, they were all viewed as anti-ageing measures – Botox could reduce frown lines, fillers could fill up nose-to-mouth lines – and were aimed at an older audience. But now, fillers are increasingly being used for enhancing faces of any age. So that has brought a whole new demographic into the potential patient group. These youngsters are mad for procedures and see the fuller lips and contoured cheeks as a fashion statement. They know they want it and have no hesitation in a) getting the work done, and b) talking about what they’ve had done – whereas anyone who is 40-plus tends to be a bit more reticent about discussing aesthetic work.”
The stats back this up. In a 2018 Mintel report, 43% of respondents said they would be interested in trying a non-surgical cosmetic procedure. But keep this in mind: 46% of US consumers purchase products free of sulphates, phthalates and/or gluten, and more than 50% look for skincare with organic ingredients, according to the NPD Group’s Women’s Facial Skincare Consumer Report. If the consumer has reconciled the two ends of the spectrum, then brands will need to as well.
At UK-based Pulse Light Clinic, there’s been a surge in demand for treatments on the gentler side of the tweakment menu. Injections are out, in favour of PicoSure lasers for skin pigmentation and CoolSculpting – a non-surgical fat reduction treatment – for the body.
What’s for sure is that the switched-on beauty buff is better educated than ever before about what they’re putting on, in or beaming at their bodies, and the rest of the consumer base are just a few steps behind.
On my desk: product of the week
The shampoo that doesn’t sting my eyes? Love Beauty and Planet’s Coconut & Mimosa Flower Shampoo. My cheap and cheerful shower staple is vegan with ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients, and it comes in a 100% recycled and recyclable plastic bottle.
On trial: tweakment of the week – HIFU
In the interests of research, I put myself in the hands of Pulse Light Clinic who recommended HIFU (high-intensity focused ultrasound) for this tweakment virgin. Using ultrasound waves to stimulate and tighten the skin, I’d been told “it won’t hurt at all” – which I’d somewhat disagree with, but then I’m a total wuss. At least there weren’t any needles involved.
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