Beauty Trends


We’ve gazed into our crystal ball and seen the beauty future. From 90s nostalgia to tech innovation, discover the trends you’re about to see more of…


With economic instability, prohibitive interest rates and ever-growing fear for the future of the planet, we’re seeking solace and escapism in all things 90s/00s. From the seedy realism of ‘indie sleaze’ to the insolent insouciance of the YBAs, we’re mining our pre-social media times and embracing a low-fi, low-maintenance look as we lean in to chaos and embrace ‘anti-beauty’: the awkward, the off-kilter and the ugly-adjacent.



In times of unrest, we embrace the subversive and radicalism is ripe for resurgence. Gothcore, fetish and mystical influences are bubbling to the surface — from Isamaya Ffrench’s eyebrow-raising penis lipsticks, to lacquer-look eyeliner that’s purposely slept in — there’s an air of defiance that challenges what ‘beauty’ looks like. Expect lashings of black, latex finishes, mussed-up hair and snogged-off lipstick, worn with a forbidding attitude (“What are you looking at?”).


On the flip side, we expect a surge in dreamy, ‘soft focus’ romanticism as people opt for ‘pretty’ over provocation. Paying homage to the sorbet-hued palettes of Sofia Coppola and Corinne Day, think: nearly-bare skin with an outdoors-y (peach fuzz) flush. Lips look windburned, cheeks are blushed and freckles are faked — just make like you’re a 90s movie heroine (Claire Danes’ Juliet or Kirsten Dunst’s Lux Lisbon).


When Pamela Anderson flaunted her beautiful, un-made-up face at autumn’s PFW, she granted us permission to admit our ‘imperfections’ — our sun spots, our overplucked eyebrows, our wrinkles — and to own our years, with all their signifiers. There’s been a shift in emphasis — away from appearance to attitude, with more and more people resisting the urge to look ‘poreless’ and ‘lineless’ in favour of acknowledging that ageing is a privilege and something to be celebrated. Skin care as make up will come to the fore, with more of us opting to save ourselves time by foregoing foundation and treating out make up collection like our jewellery box: an optional adornment, not a camouflage.


In our increasingly polarised world it makes sense that the trends will inhabit the margins and, with ‘New Sensation’ and its grungey, hazy, low-fi vibes at one end, we predict an uber-glossy, groomed and glamorous aesthetic at the other (think: Claudia Schiffer in CHANEL). We’re romanticising the ‘supermodel’ heydey, when hair was big and skirts were knicker-skimming — reclaiming the overtly ‘feminine’ in a way that feels rebellious. Expect a lot of gloss with brands like Tower 28  and SUMMER FRIDAYS  all creating iterations of the jelly-lip essential — and it isn’t just for lips: hair gloss is having a moment as we clamour to achieve the trending ‘Liquid Hair’ effect.


The wellbeing obsession has held us in thrall for a decade but, we’ve started to question our long-held commitment to ‘clean’. Exhausted by the unrelenting pressure to reflect the clean ideal, we’re adopting a ‘life’s too short’ attitude. Sure, we still want to be healthy in body and mind… but we don’t want to look at a chia seed. We’re reassessing ‘feel good’ and pursuing unadulterated joy — whether it’s going full #goblinmode and binge-watching box sets in bed, or donning our glitziest outfit for drinks at The Ritz, the ‘Goop approach’ is over as we channel a new spirit of intemperance.

From a beauty perspective, product that helps us to cheat the ol’ ‘clean living’ look (and the wellbeing benefits) will come to the fore as we crave low-lift skin care-make up hybrids that can quickly hide a hedonistic aftermath (what hangover?). Living life to the full is the modus operandi, which means the pendulum is swinging back towards a ‘bit of what you fancy’: work out when you want to (and don’t when you don’t), have salad for lunch and a cheeseboard for dinner, use natural oils and a synthesised serum — it’s fine to pick the best of both (and plug the gaps with clever hacks).


With growing resistance to the ‘must-have’ culture we’ve subscribed to, we ask ourselves: “does this fulfil a need?” ahead of making an investment — opting to streamline our daily routines without forgoing any benefits. This speaks to a new essentialism as we aim to simplify our lives by paring back and making more considered, conscious choices. Our beauty cabinets have become a bit bewildering, so now we’re looking for the ‘white t-shirt and jeans’ of our beauty routines, which is why we’ll see brands formulating in accordance with this appetite for concise, easy-to-navigate ranges that work for their shelf real-estate.


Our suspicions surrounding ubiquitous ‘clean’ terminology — coupled with desire for results — will mean an increased appetite for synthetic substitues that replicate the efficacy of their natural counterparts, while minimising the environmental fallout. With growing awareness surrounding the ecological burden of the beauty industry, lab-grown ingredients that help to safeguard natural resources will be found in a spate of new ‘hybrid’ formulations: a fusion of natural and nature-identical synthetics that deliver a spectrum of beauty and wellbeing benefits.


Beauty has evolved beyond a means of ‘looking better’ into something more encompassing, with products that straddle the lines between physical, mental and spiritual health. We’re keen to connect with the world in a nurturing way, and seek comfort in nature, mysticism and the metaphysical. We want to feel more ‘centred’ in increasingly destablising times and are reaching for ranges that promise a sacred or ritualistic experience. From crystal-laced perfumes to primordial pigments, the time for scepticism’s through…


The beauty industry, like everything, is ripe for AI domination, as technological advances enable brands to offer tailored products that address your unique needs. We’re already seeing 3D-printed foundations (DCYPHER Cosmetics can ‘read’ your complexion and whip up a match in a matter of minutes), and this desire for ‘bespoke’ has inspired a swathe of exciting new product development. Clé de Peau Beauté is spearheading pioneering research into how genes affect our skin’s characteristics which in turn, will unlock a wealth of personalisation possibilities (think: ‘made to measure’ formulas that meet your unique needs. We’re also predicting a flurry of medical-adjacent wellness innovation that gives real-time advice on pretty much everything — from what you should snack on to when you should go for a run to help counteract stress and offset any monthly emotional hurdles.


And with AI influences seeping into mainstream culture, beauty is embracing anime and avatar aesthetics with exaggerated features, wacky colour combinations and shade-shifting finishes. The beauty space is leaning in to the creative possibilities that AI brings and, as fantasy beomes reality, we’re seeing a rise in doll-like manga eyes, pastel and acid-wash hues, stylised wigs and comic-inspired nail art. This ‘gamification’ of the beauty space is ripe for innovation, as SFX make up, temperature-sensitive pigments and cyborg-esque, opalescent finishes grow ever more desirable. It’s all about translating a filtered, animated aesthetic into everyday life, whether via subtle nods (like outsize hair accessories) and naive nail art, or more eccentric, grand-scale transformations with the help of prosthetics and theatrical make up trickery.


We’ve watched the world fall back in love with the humble soap bar and now, in the interests of sustainability, the race is on to innovate new solid formulations that not only minimise waste but have knock-on climate benefits due to being lighter and easier to transport. By switching from liquids to solid or powder formulations, brands will extend the shelf lives of their stock and open the door to an heirloom approach, where you buy once and refill for life — elevating packaging and granting scope for craftsmanship (à la French make up brand La Bouche Rouge). From beautifully housed solid fragrances to cake mascaras and convenient toothpaste tablets, the possibilities are endless.


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Cult Beauty’s Content Editor and a Cult Beauty OG, Verity loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm. A quintessential Libran, she’s a self-professed magpie for luxury ‘must-haves' and always pursuing the new and the niche — from the boujee-est skin care to cutting-edge tech. Balancing an urge to stop the clock with her desire to embrace the ageing process (and set a positive example for her daughter), Verity's a retinol obsessive and will gladly share her thoughts about the time-defying gadgets, masks and treatments worth the splurge...