Beauty

A Look Into How Massive the Beauty Industry Is And Its Most Interesting Secrets

An in-depth look at the business of beauty and the innovations driving the industry.
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The eye has always been drawn to beauty, but as of course the famous adage goes, what constitutes as such depends mostly on the beholder. Nonetheless, irrespective of fluid definitions, it’s an irrevocable desire that has motivated women and men of all ages to prettify themselves, turning to cosmetics, personal care potions, and even surgery to achieve the most attractive results. With the collective might of our aesthetically-driven purses, it has given rise to a global industry that was valued at $532 billion in 2017 and projected to be worth $805 billion by 2023. 

With the rise of social media, there has never been a time wherein our appearances have been more at the forefront. But while it may be easy to dismiss this whole business of primping and preening as something superficial, anyone who’s swiped on a bright red lip to get through a tough day, or gotten a makeover to feel special, will tell you that beauty is more than skin deep. Which is perhaps why because of this emotional connection, the beauty industry is “one sector that remains impervious to the ups and downs” of the economy. 

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But while our yearnings may not have changed, the means to achieve our ends have. New scientific discoveries have given rise to improved skincare formulations and minimally invasive procedures. The way cosmetic brands communicate has likewise changed, with traditional media being supplemented or even upturned by ‘real girl’ reviews through Instagram, YouTube and the like. And while one may dismiss this as a case of more, more, more, the movement towards sustainability and inclusivity have been a welcome, and long overdue addition to the narrative. With industry stalwarts and new players all vying for the attention of the increasingly self-aware consumer, there’s clearly a lot to unpack. Here we talk a look at the hottest trends that have defined the industry, and the innovations that will bring the future of beauty today.

The Era of ‘Tweakments’

There was a time when cosmetic surgery was considered taboo, spoken about in hushed tones if even spoken about at all. But with even celebrities admitting to going under the needle and knife, sometimes even documenting their procedures on social media, it has brought these aesthetic procedures into mainstream culture. If even our benchmarks of beauty need to “get stuff done,” then perhaps there would be nothing wrong for regular girls to do the same? But perhaps the main reason why these aesthetic practices have become so prevalent, is that they’ve become so subtle. These procedures have become so understated, in terms of their results and the subsequent downtime, that they’ve earned the term ‘tweakments.’ A laser zap here, a little filler there, and one could even go to a party that same day albeit with a slightly altered appearance.

Whether it’s to look younger or to alter one’s face shape, these non-surgical facelift procedures have proven increasingly popular amongst the country’s many aesthetic centers. Dr. Vicki Belo, the founder of Belo Medical Group, loves the new innovative treatments they now offer at clinics. There is, of course, Skin Reboot which is popular amongst 20-somethings to slim the face and get that ideal K-beauty model, as well as face rejuvenation procedures such as Ultherapy, Thermage FLX, and Enerjet.

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One of the most in demand is Ultherapy, a high intensity focused ultrasound that penetrates deep within the skin to lift and tighten. “It’s the only machine that can go through the skin, the fat, and muscle, and almost the bone. The muscle is very important… because that’s really where you need the tightening. Because if we keep tightening the skin, but the muscles are loose, then the effects don’t last as long,” explains Belo. It does entail a bit of pain, and some downtime, but is a far cry from the facelifts of the past. It’s also one that is being endorsed by a lot of Manila’s prettiest faces, whose impressive before-and-after results proving to be quite inspiring.

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Facial Care Center is another such luxury clinic that caters to the country’s beauty needs. According to Mr. George T. Siy, president of the Marie France Group, “We’ve always been a firm believer that one does not have to go under the knife to see results.” Citing shorter recovery times and natural-looking effects, he attests to the popularity of these ‘tweakments.’ For example, the clinic's UltraV HIFU (high intensity focused ultrasound) contouring program, continues to be a hit amongst the clientele. “They love how it helps them achieve a slimmer V-shaped face, and that it’s multi-faceted, as it also destroys fat cells and reduces those saggy chins while enhancing the skin’s glow.” Siy also loves the Thermage FLX, a non-invasive radiofrequency therapy that smooths and tightens the skin, as well as the ReFirme Sublime, which uses both bipolar radio frequency and infrared light to stimulate the skin to produce more collagen.

But machines aren’t the only ones getting an upgrade. “There’s a huge trend moving towards non-invasive procedures from injectables, threads, and energy devices… Threads are becoming more interesting as companies seek to make longer-lasting, durable threads and new technologies to make it less invasive. They’re also being infused with hyaluronic acid,” shares Dr. Windie Hayano, managing director of Skin Inc Dermatology and Laser Center.

Aside from new tech, another thing that’s changed according to Dr. Hayano is the clientele. “Before all these procedures and products targeted an older, affluent female market. But now we see a lot of younger patients and more men coming in.” She continues that she does encourage patients to start younger, as doing a little now before wrinkles are permanently etched can be more effective than trying to reverse lines later on because you were remiss in your youth.

But while cosmetic surgery may be more widespread and accepted now, it’s still quite a polarizing topic. As with any procedure, these enhancements may come with some risks that should be considered properly. But the fact that consumers now have options and choices is a plus. When, how, or if you do partake in the waters of the fountain of youth is purely a personal choice but one we are fortunate to at least have.

The Skincare Revolution

Whether you subscribe to the 10-plus-step Japanese skincare routine or the streamlined approach of ‘skipcare,’ chances are, having nice, supple skin is quite high on your list of priorities.  Increased consumer awareness on the effects of aging and the preventive measures one can take have propelled these dream potions into the forefront. In fact, with projected sales of more than $131billion in 2019, skincare is set to remain as beauty’s biggest category. 

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It’s basically a case of the older wanting to look younger and the young wanting to look younger still. With increased life expectancies and declining fertility rates resulting in rapidly aging demographics, there has been a robust demand for anti-aging products. On the flip side, millennials who were once laser-focused on makeup and color are beginning to see the signs of aging. As a result, they have turned to skincare to create the “optimal canvas for makeup,” and to view the care of one’s skin as an essential component of self-care and health—the ultimate status symbol, according to a report by the Estee Lauder Companies

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Anti-aging is also a big concern for fans of Japanese brand Shiseido. According to Genevieve Yalung of Shiseido Philippines, the brand's anti-aging lines like Future Solution LX and Ultimune have shown very aggressive growth for the last three years, as opposed to their whitening line, the White Lucent, which though still marketable has had more linear growth. “This clearly indicates that women are very much into youth-maintenance nowadays,” says Yalung. With such an emphasis on stopping time, the company is constantly trying to come up with new technologies. Its newest one is the Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Cream with ReNeura Technology. Inspired by neuroscience, it reboots the skin’s sensory powers and its ability to transmit information, thus making it more responsive to skincare.

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But high-tech science isn’t the only thing influencing the path of skincare. Another approach is to focus on our bodies and find ways to make our appearances better from the inside out. Collagen, the second most abundant substance in our body, has long been a buzzword among beauty circles. “Collagen provides the cushion, the firmness of our skin. But we lose one percent of collagen every year, so by the age of 20, we would have already lost 20,” says Belo. And while we can obtain some collagen from the food we eat, for it to be truly effective, Belo recommends taking supplements which have already been “predigested” and available for use by the body right away.

The Business of Luxury

With the Philippines being one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies, it has seen disposable incomes shoot up in 2018, according to market research firm Euromonitor. One category that has benefited is the realm of premium skincare, with Filipinos willing to invest in order to achieve the best results. 

Superhero products, despite their hefty price tags, are still flying off the shelves. Crème de la Mer from La Mer, many core products from Estee Lauder like it’s Advance Night Repair, Perfectionist, and Revitalizing Supreme, as well as skincare from Clinique, continued to do well. In fact, Estee Lauder Companies Inc., was one of the strongest performers in skincare in the Philippines last year

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Luxasia, a luxury omnichannel beauty company that represents many luxury perfumes, as well as Guerlain and Elizabeth Arden, is also doing quite well in the current business climate. Brand Manager Dinty Alcantara shares, “I can confirm that Luxasia PH is growing faster at 8% compared to Euromonitor’s projection of 3% growth.” And while designer fragrances are taking a bit of a break, premium skincare and cosmetics are more than making up for it for the company. “For Guerlain, the most popular would still be the Orchidée Impériale, Abeille Royal, and Rouge G de Guerlain. And for Elizabeth Arden, it’s the Green Tea, Ceramide capsules and Prevage."

Who Run The World?

In a refreshing turn of events, women are building cult brands and beauty empires banking on the success and reach of their online followings. Popstar Rihanna, of course, is one of the most notable, having launched Fenty beauty in 2017 in cooperation with LVMH. She drew praise for the wide range of its Pro Filt’R Foundation. Most notable in this line of 40, then 50 different shades, were the darker hues catered towards women of color, which were not normally represented by other brands. Aside from being a critical success, it’s also been a commercial one, with the whole operation valued at $3 billion. It’s made Rihanna the wealthiest female musician, according to Natalie Robehmed of Forbes, with all her combined efforts resulting in a $ 600 million fortune. 

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Another girl bringing in the big bucks is Kylie Jenner of the publicity-savvy Kardashian clan. Her namesake company, which launched in 2015, has made her the youngest ever “selfie-made” billionaire. With Kylie Cosmetics now valued at $900 million, which Jenner fully owns, plus profits she had previously accumulated, it’s easy to see how she’s made it into the elusive billionaire’s club.

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But as far as viral sensations go, one of the biggest success stories must be that of Glossier. Founded by former fashion assistant turned blogger (Into the Gloss) Emily Weiss, the millennial-savvy startup has made a name for itself by making the dewy, no-makeup-makeup look so desirable. Glossier, with its curated message of cute but chic beauty has definitely built a loyal fan base, with tons of its products regularly selling out. It’s earned Glossier a valuation of $1.2 billion, making it one of New York’s newest unicorn companies

Of course, on the home front, who could forget about the runaway success of Happy Skin, founded by partners Rissa Mananquil-Trillo and Jacque Yuengtian-Gutierrez in 2013? The entrepreneurial brand has been growing at a double-digit rate since they started, according to Trillo, who when asked mentions that they sell an average of 500 of their iconic lippies a day. “Happy Skin has been synonymous with lippies because we were able to address a pain point for women—lipstick formulas that either don’t last, don’t pack on color, or feel tight on lips. Our matte lippies, for example, address all these by being superbly hydrating while being highly-pigmented and long-wearing,” she shares.

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Clean Beauty

But if there is something that would hopefully define the beauty of the future, it would hopefully be the consumer-led movement towards sustainability. Recognizing that excessive consumerism has a detrimental effect on the environment, brands and the woke generation are trying to reduce their carbon footprints. Less plastic, reusable packaging, and ingredients and practices that don’t harm the earth or our bodies, are hopefully just the beginning of a major change.

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Mariane Perez
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