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How “Selfies” are Changing Beauty and Personal Care Choices

Self-portrait photographs, or "selfies," have been around as long as photography itself. But the practice — and the buzzword — only became mainstream after recent improvements in smartphone camera design and the rising popularity of image hosting sites such as Instagram, Snapchat and What’sApp. Today, over a million selfies are taken each day, with the average person taking three per day.1 It’s no wonder consumers are increasingly looking for products that can deliver flawless, luminous, photo-ready skin and makeup — a trend that beauty and personal care companies should take a closer look at.

Understanding the trend

Brands are releasing products with cameras in mind, and the term “HD makeup” spiked in 2015, according to Google Trends. How can we define the category?

“Selfie beauty … is the whole preoccupation of consumers about their image, about their needs and how they’re perceived in the outer world and specifically in social media,” says Irina Barbalova, global head of beauty and personal care research for Euromonitor. “It’s not just about anti-aging now and wrinkles, but skin perfection.”2

This research confirms the experience of Laurie McFee, northeast account manager for beauty and personal care at Hallstar: “BB/CC/EE creams and light foundation coverages are growing in popularity in western countries, which follows this trend of having flawless skin. Having dewey skin to achieve the perfect selfie, without looking like you’re wearing the excessive makeup of traditional powder foundations, is still trending. We’re seeing several applications that can deliver this effect, such as primers, CC creams, bronzers, setting sprays, contour makeup, highlighters and concealers.”

“It’s not just about anti-aging now and wrinkles, but skin perfection.”

It’s important to note that while many beauty and personal care trends are seasonal or short lived, selfie beauty products may have more longevity because they’re tied to a longer-term trend toward personalization and a more natural lifestyle and look. The days of heavy foundation and smoky eyes are being replaced with a more natural but glowing look that highlights individual beauty. This bare-faced look aligns with increasing consumer demand for lighter, more natural products and lends itself to photographic lighting and the spontaneous look of the selfie — even when those moments are highly staged.

“High-definition makeup and illuminating lotion-like formulas are easy to apply and veil imperfections, eliminating the need for thick, matte finish makeup,” says makeup artist and stylist Michelle Simpson. “These products reflect light and create a soft, healthy glow … we need to celebrate our natural features and this is a movement toward that.”3

Achieving success

How can beauty and personal care companies take advantage of the desire for flawless, natural selfie beauty? Dennis Zlotnik, Hallstar market development manager, recommends focusing on texture.

“Look for textures that allow for even skin tone and natural coverage without a very heavy after feel. For example, Hallstar’s line of liquid crystal emulsifiers, emollients and other ingredients derived from naturally-based olive chemistry provide a range of high performing textures. Also, consider the end goal that you’re trying to achieve as well as what claims you’re trying to support. When suppliers and partners have this type of feedback, they can work closely with the company to narrow the recommendation—even create a custom formulated solution.”

Liquid crystal emulsifiers, emollients and other ingredients derived from naturally based olive chemistry provide a range of high-performing textures.

Liquid crystal emulsifiers, emollients and other ingredients derived from naturally based olive chemistry provide a range of high-performing textures.

Regardless of the marketing story built around trendy selfie beauty products, the brand will ultimately need a quality product that lives up to its claims.

“In this space, the immediate success comes from aggressive marketing, but long-term or repeat customer success is driven by the product’s efficacy and transparency,” says Zlotnik. “Social media and online product reviews — not to mention the selfies circulating on beauty blogs and other sites — are a major influence on purchase decisions.”

A related trend — mood-boosting products

The intense focus on the individual — how he or she looks and feels — is also creating opportunities in “mood-boosting” skin care.

“Looking at some of the top-performing brands, we’re also seeing consumers increasingly drawn to emotional rather than functional appeal,” says Karen Grant, global beauty industry analyst for the NPD Group. She states that consumers are “craving a more sensory experience.”4

Hallstar’s experts note that fragrance houses, where research includes measuring the brain’s response to certain ingredients, typically generate most mood-enhancing technology. However, textures and exceptional sensory experiences play a role in mood as well — and here is where beauty and personal care companies can play.

“We know certain natural ingredients do stimulate emotions — menthol, peppermint, rosemary, lavender and even small amounts of capsaicin (from chili peppers) are effective in lip plumping, muscle relaxing and after shave,” says McFee. “We don’t have hard evidence about textures, but we can make a solid assumption that a smooth, velvety texture is perceived as soothing and calming, a spray-on mist suggests pampering, and tightening serums and masks feel youthful. Emotive products are a complex area to explore — but it’s one that’s likely to grow. Functional natural ingredients can offer the exceptional sensoriality and natural scents that may impact mood. “



1 Strok, Josepia. "Selfie culture among generations." Techinfographics. Web. November 6, 2015. technoinfographics.com

2 "’Selfie beauty’ pushing trends in beauty and personal care." GCI. Web. March 24, 2014. gcimagazine.com

3 Burnette, Stephanie. "Cosmetics trend: a fresh-looking face." Democrat and Chronicle. Web. April 13, 2015. democratandchronicle.com

4 Meisel, Melissa. "The essence of individuality." Happi. Web. April 1, 2016. happi.com

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