How social media is changing the face of the beauty industry

The face of beauty is changing, and it’s more exciting than ever. Thanks to Instagram and User Generated Content, we’re able to see that social micro-trends are emerging to disrupt dominant themes in the realm of beauty. Kantar Added Value and Olapic teamed up to host a beauty event analysing the key transformations that emergent beauty trends are triggering, uncovering five major areas of change. 


Currently, a dominant beauty theme involves the idea of expression as a way of showing off creative prowess. Users show off their elaborate makeup skills, using their face as a blank palette for producing impressive makeup looks (this plays into the notable increase in the beauty industry’s interest in festive make up looks, such as GiffGaff’s Halloween makeovers and Debenhams’ Glamoween campaign).

But a cultural shift is upon us: nowadays, we talk more about exploring gender fluidity and playing with festival makeup looks than the precision and perfection of the makeup itself.

Thanks to influencers like Ugly Worldwide and Danny Defrietas; brand campaigns such as ASOS Face & Body, and the explosion of interest in funky face masks (look up #maskmonday if you don’t know what we’re talking about), creative expression in beauty is becoming more about having fun and making the most of your unique quirks instead of showing off your painstakingly artistic makeup skills.

Picture via @uglyworldwide on Instagram


The beauty industry is finally beginning to recognise that the personal is political. For years now we’ve been talking about body positivity and self-acceptance, but this rhetoric is moving into a space which is more about activism, and a radical celebration of identity.

Disrupter brands and influencers are tackling some of these issues head on. Glossier makeup and influencers Callie Thorpe and Tess Holliday pointedly challenge our existing beauty standards, while Fenty Beauty and Freddie Harrel’s Big Hair No Care represent a wind change in the way in which women of colour are catered to and represented.

Photo via @calliethorpe on Instagram


While the masses of post-workout snaps on Instagram might make you think otherwise, the way we treat our bodies is moving from a mantra of ‘push yourself’ to stressing the importance of ‘knowing yourself’.

We’re beginning to realise that beauty and holistic wellbeing aren’t just about products and workouts, but about actively planning rest and downtime.

Arianna Huffington’s #SleepRevolution, our new-found obsession with mattresses and apps to track our sleep, mood and hormones, and skincare brands with integrated sleep-enhancing products such as Kiss the Moon and Herbivore Botanical’s Moon Fruit all point to the idea that beauty isn’t solely about physical effort, but about getting to know the ins and out of our individual biorhythms.

Photo via Herbivore Moon Fruit


Beauty tutorials are all the rage. You can barely scroll an Instagram feed without stumbling across a video explaining how to get the perfect smoky eye.

But beauty is becoming at once more democratic and technical. Brands like The Ordinary and Neutrogena make expert skincare products and devices at affordable prices, and consumers have access to expert diagnosis and treatment thanks to tech products like HiMirror.

We’re therefore moving from only having access to exclusive techniques and tutorials to a genuine technical democracy – beauty expertise and its surrounding technology is becoming available to all.

Photo via The Ordinary


The dominance of ‘metrosexuality’ encourages to see masculine ‘beauty’ as simply an add-on of the products available to women. But increasingly, men are adopting a form of care regime tailored specifically to their needs, instead of simply carrying out masculine versions of feminine beauty treatments.

Zero Skin, MMUK and Brickell are all brands which understand that male ‘beauty’ constitutes a space much bigger than what is currently recognised in culture, creating products which look set to transform the male care regime.

This, combined with a cultural shift in men expressing their needs and emotions more openly (see Professor Green and Freddie Flintoff’s views on male mental health, and the ‘bromance’ of Love Island’s Kem and Chris), means the beauty industry’s take on masculinity looks set to be much more multi-faceted in the future.  

Photo via Zero Skin

What’s key to all of these emergent trends is their grassroots element – for the first time ever, beauty trends are springing from social platforms and micro-influencers, as opposed to trickling down from the top. We’re excited to see where the future of beauty will take us.

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