The future of beauty is more diverse and inclusive than ever

Brands are hard at work mixing makeup formulas for literally every skin tone, type, and condition

Beauty is a multibillion-dollar industry, with skin-care products projected to reach $183 billion by 2025, making them the largest part of the cosmetics market. At a recent event at WeWork Now in New York City, health and wellness site Well+Good gathered four top beauty and skin-care experts to deliver a bona fide Beauty State of the Union; panelists discussed the industry’s latest trends and ingredients, as well as shifting attitudes that are leading to a more diverse, inclusive, and all-around beautiful world. From fruity sheet masks to medical-grade cosmetics, here’s what our experts say the future holds in the world of beauty.  

What’s good for the planet is good on our skin

There’s an increasing market for products that are not only gentle on the skin, but on the environment, too. Jessica Richards, founder of Brooklyn-based Shen Beauty, said she’s noticed a rising demand for “clean, organic, natural” products. Above all, though, Shen Beauty’s customers want something effective—“[something that] can remove a spot,” she said. “So if they have a sun spot or a zit, they’re more open to using an ingredient that, maybe, is not on the clean list.”

Consumers can expect to see more CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis, on beauty and skin-care shelves, thanks to the chemical’s supposed healing properties. “People are craving that healing, soothing oasis for skin, and that’s where ingredients like CBD have really kicked in,” said Christine Chang, co-founder and co-CEO of Korean beauty brand Glow Recipe.

‘Health is the future of beauty,’ and so are fruity face masks

Malena Higuera, general manager of corrective cosmetic brand Dermablend, predicts that “health is the future of beauty.” Specifically, she sees the further integration of the medical and beauty space, with medical-grade cosmetics becoming complementary to the world of dermatology.

Antioxidant-rich, fruity face masks—like Glow Recipe’s cult-classic Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask—are also on the rise, according to Chang. She describes a “next-generation” chemical exfoliant called polyhydroxy acid (PHA) that has a larger molecular structure than the more traditional lactic or glycolic acids, and works more slowly (and gently) on the skin.  

Less is finally more

The 10-step skincare routine is a myth, say the experts—“I can’t do 10 steps!” Chang said with a laugh. People are turning to more-streamlined skin-care regimens, customizing their routines to suit their skin’s specific needs. Chang calls it a skin-care wardrobe: “My skin’s dehydrated today. I have a wardrobe of skin-care products, like you have clothing products, and I’m going to pick-and-choose and customize my routine to what really works for me because I’m having that dialogue with my skin.”

The pared-down approach applies to formulations as well. In developing Dermablend’s foundation, Higuera tasked her lab with generating a full-coverage, nearly-weightless foundation with fewer than 10 ingredients. “They laughed at me and said, ‘Pigments are powders, so you have to put something in the formula,’” she remembered. But Higuera was adamant, and today, Dermablend’s Cover Creme Full Coverage Foundation is the No. 1 cream foundation in the U.S.

The future demands room for all

All panelists agreed that, above all, the future of beauty will include cosmetic formulas for every skin tone, type, and condition.

Industry insiders are also trying to keep the idea of embracing “skin realness” or celebrating “acne positivity” from turning judgmental. Higuera’s example: Telling someone with a pimple or blemish, “You don’t need to cover that,” when a person wants to use concealer for reasons that are hers and hers alone. She is working to eradicate the concept of “bad skin,” with Dermablend also remaining dedicated to offering the widest-possible range of makeup shades.

For the recent launch of Glow Recipe’s Pineapple-C Bright Serum, the brand not only hired non-models for their campaign, but also photographed everyone makeup-free, with their skin texture shown as-is. “We didn’t look for people with perfect skin because that wasn’t the point of the campaign,” said Chang.

In another Glow Recipe casting call, a mom showed up with her two toddlers—and dark circles under her eyes. “We shot her as is,” said Chang. “Because that’s her current skincare journey, and that was really representative of what we were trying to capture.”

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