Innovation That Matters

7 Fashion and Beauty Trends to Look For in 2020

Innovation Snapshot

From tech-like packaging to e-makeup, here are the top beauty and fashion trends set to gain momentum in 2020.

The line of influence in fashion and beauty is undergoing a dramatic shift, as blue-chip beauty companies realise that they may not be able to compete with the niche services and social media excitement that startup brands are generating.

The growth in plant-based ingredients and customised products are driving some of this momentum. And as the Internet of Things (IoT) flourishes, all kinds of items are being transformed into smart devices — including those we put on our face.

Augmented reality (AR) has also reached the cosmetics industry with 3D or “e-makeup,” and Generation Z is propelling the push for more inclusive fashion and gender-neutral brands.


1. Tech-like packaging

Photo source Lilah B 

We swipe, tilt, and tap 2,617 times a day, on average. As we’re so accustomed to using smartphones, these gestures are approaching natural reflexes. Consequently, beauty brands have started producing packaging with a “high-tech” look to echo our tech-savvy language.

Lilah B is a good example of this emerging trend in beauty packaging. The California-based makeup brand supplied products in fluid, pebble-shaped compacts that swing open. The founder, Cheryl Yannotti Foland, said she wanted the design to be “beautiful white, clean, and contemporary … something that looked and felt fabulous in someone’s hand” — just like the latest tech-devices.

New packaging innovations will not only require swiping or tapping to open products but will also enable consumers to apply cosmetics single-handedly.

For most people, there is often at least one hand interacting with the online world. With the emergence of tech-friendly packaging, soon there will be no need to stop scrolling even for a moment. This is the idea behind Weckerle Cosmetic’s One Handed Lipstick. Weckerle says: “The lipstick was developed for quick, easy and precise handling in any situation where you have only one hand to apply your lip product”.

The lipstick features a “flower opening” mechanism and a lock to prevent handbags suffering from lipstick-mayhem.

2. Smart-beauty

Photo source P&G

It’s not just the packaging that is becoming more tech-like, so are the products inside.

Procter & Gamble recently launched the Opté™ Precision Skincare System in conjunction with Funai Electric Co, a Japanese electronics and printing company. The wand scans the skin, identifies blemishes and then prints over them with a serum that evens out skin tone – giving the appearance of flawless skin.

With better tech, comes greater personalisation. German startup Skinmade launched Skinmade in April 2019, promising bespoke face cream in just seven minutes. The entire operation is handled by a computer and self-learning algorithms, which measures the hydration and elasticity of each customer’s skin type. It then adds specific amounts of ingredients to the face cream based on the client’s individual needs.

Likewise, L’Oréal, through its skincare brand, La-Roche Posay, is piloting a patch-like sensor called My Skin Track pH. The tiny device reveals your skin’s health in minutes and helps identify suitable skincare products.

3. E-makeup

Photo source

AR meets the cosmetics industry: 3D or “e-makeup” — and it doesn’t involve the consumer having to wear any real cosmetics.

Inspired by the AR filters craze on Snapchat and Instagram, “e-makeup” artists have created eccentric make-up looks that you can download to enhance your digital self. An individual at the forefront of the 3D makeup revolution is the Parisian artist Ines Marzat (also known online as Ines Alpha). Collaborating with artists, musicians and models on Instagram, as well as with some big brands, she has created looks that bloom, quiver and sprout on the screen.

The ultimate goal behind these outlandish looks is to share the photos and videos online. They also play into the idea that everyone has a digital online twin with whom they can be as creative as they want.

4. Inclusive fashion

Photo source Lauren Wasser

An estimated 20 per cent of Americans – and 27.8 per cent of EU citizens – have a disability. However, less than 2 per cent of media imagery features people with disabilities. Forbes estimated that the emerging market for disability-specific products is around one billion. With complaints about unrealistic and alienating beauty standards, designers are slowly stepping towards greater authenticity and inclusion.

Some adapted-underwear has been available for the disabled; however, it is “ugly and archaic,” says Intimately, the US-based online retailer seeking to diversify the intimates industry. The company has specially designed undergarments for disabled women, whilst using comfortable fabrics and pleasing colours. The bras and other underwear are also adapted for special needs. For instance, there are magnetic snaps and bras that latch in the front, making it easier to get dressed. 

5. Sustainable packaging 

Photo source Lush

Every year, over 120 billion units of packaging are produced by the global cosmetic industry. If this trend continues, landfills will receive 12 billion tonnes of plastic by 2050, which is the equivalent to 890 million Big Ben towers. 

Sustainable packaging is no longer a thing of a small, dedicated eco-pioneers. Neither is it limited to coarse textures and dull colours. Together, brands and manufacturers are increasingly producing eco-friendly materials that are sleek and sophisticated. 

Sweden-based PulPac is one company driving this progress. The company claims to have developed the world’s first production method for replacing all types of single-use plastic containers. Not only are the products cheaper than their single-use plastic counterparts, but they are also both biodegradable and compostable.

The Australasian Better Packaging Company has even created a form of eco-friendly packaging for e-commerce shipping. The company also produces an envelope/pack line made from limestone quarry waste, which feels like paper but is water-proof and recyclable. Their products are now used by retailers around the world, including Etsy suppliers and L’Oréal.

6. Gender-neutral brands

Photo source Phluid Project

Research by Ipsos Mori has shown that only two-thirds of Generation Z identify as “exclusively heterosexual.” In October, the Phluid Project launched the first gender-free retail store. Founded by Rob Smith, whose 30 years of experience in the retail industry includes stints with Levi’s and Macy’s, the Manhattan store aims to go beyond retail to challenge binary constraints. Among the store’s unique aspects are gender-neutral mannequins with no distinguishable features. It also has its own sizing system to help ensure its clothes fit all customers.

7. A new wave of men’s grooming

Photo source Isabell Winter on Unsplash

What started as a niche marketing trend within cosmetics, men’s skincare was amongst 2019 most-searched beauty trends. Brands are embracing more fluid interpretations of masculinity and beauty, allowing men to participate in the growing self-care and wellness movements. According to Euromonitor, men’s skincare market is set to reach €4.5 billion, growing 24 per cent in the next five years. 

Last year, industry giant Chanel launched an entire line of makeup products for men called Boy de Chanel. The collection consists of three products: brow pencils in four shades, matte lip balm and a sheer, tinted foundation. Chanel has made the products with men in mind as men have different skin to women – in general, male skin is oilier, thicker and ages differently.

Written by Katrina Lane