Gone are the days when plonking a scented candle by your bath and glugging on a glass of pinot noir was enough to counteract daily stress. Health is the new wealth and its currency comes in the form of a new wave of beauty products and campaigns that are designed to nurture as well as prettify. Wellness is the trend du jour, and for the first time ever its value has outstripped the pharmaceutical industry with an estimated worth of 3.4 trillion dollars. Household beauty brands have been quick to jump on the bandwagon and are no longer paying lip service to women about looking and feeling good. Instead, their narrative is much more holistic and sincere. "Beauty consumers are aware that the lifestyle choices you make can have a huge impact on your appearance and psyche. It’s now necessary to look beyond products with an attitude that encompasses diet, fitness and wellness’ explains Noella Gabriel, co-founder of Elemis. They have recently recruited Amelia Freer, author of the bestseller Eat, Nourish, Glow to design exclusive recipes and train their therapists on the intrinsic link between a healthy diet and good skin. Other beauty juggernauts have also aligned themselves with ‘wellness warriors’ in a bid to help us get a better understanding of how we tick. Vichy’s expert panel includes ex model turned nutritionist Gabriela Peacock while Neal’s Yard Remedies have partnered with raw food pioneer Tanya Maher to launch the 'Year of Natural Wellbeing' a digital platform that focuses on different elements of health every month in 2016.
Feminism is also being thrown into the beauty and wellness mix. Equality has never been so high on the agenda and brands are tapping into this cultural shift in a bid to start conversations. Jennifer Aniston may have been telling us ‘we’re worth it’ a decade ago but it was Dove who devised the first serious body confidence memo. Their message now seems old hat compared to the trailblazing talk of today. ‘Love, Understanding, Community’ is the tagline for Bare Minerals who sponsor the Be Real campaign. It was formed in response to the Parliamentary Reflections on Body Image report and aims to change the attitudes for the better. Likewise the Sanctuary Spa launched the #Letitgo campaign after they carried out a survey on 5,000 which revealed that 7 out 10 women feel under pressure to be perfect. Revlon teamed up with Fordham University for their ‘Love is on’ campaign. "We found that a daily beauty ritual based on taking more time to appreciate yourself resulted in being more confident and open to love," explains Tracy Rohrbaugh, Vice President, Global Marketing, Revlon Color, "for us building a foundation of emotional wellness is the first step towards becoming more beautiful." Campaigns aside, beauty products themselves are also playing to the tune of feminism and wellness believes Mindy Yang, Vice President of MiN New York. "Women are forgoing traditional sweet scents in favour of fragrances that speak to them on a personal level. Cedar, incense and bergamot are becoming popular as they are easy to wear in a professional environment and help boost confidence." It’s a similar story for makeup too. "The current debate swings towards representing a confident, sentient individual whose makeup fits her face rather than clones a look," explains Terry Barber, Director of makeup artistry for MAC, whose SS16 collections are packed with products that anchor the belief that natural beauty is empowering.
Crucially, this trend isn’t just about investing in ourselves but others too. The feel good factor seems to be rubbing off and has given rise to a generation where we’re interested in products that are not only good for us, but for others and the planet. Brands are realising that giving back has never looked more beautiful. ‘People helping people’ is Neal’s Yard Remedies' slogan after they were one of first UK companies to launch skincare enriched with Fairtrade certified ingredients. Burts Bees created buzz around their impressive sustainability program and fierce protection of honeybee health. The UN cited L’Occtaine for helping to pave the way for the economic emancipation of 15,000 women in the Burkina Faso and closer to home, Lush launched their biggest campaign to date with the #GayIsOk campaign, which highlighted the persecution LBGT communities face, and raised £275,000 for affiliated charities. As the wellness movement continues to influence the beauty world, not everything available will be pretty. Brands will always have a bottom line no matter how much they ‘care’ about their consumers and social media remains a cruel body battleground as much as it is a platform for diversity and wellbeing. Yet while surface remains important, substance, soul and state is quickly catching up and that, we find very attractive.