Predictions are like opinions: Everyone’s got one. And 2022 is no different, in terms of insiders’ expectations for beauty product trends.
Some of 2021’s more notable trends included the growth in curly hair-care options and protective styles for textured hair. There was also the re-emergence of makeup, plus new premium-ized body-care options and the rise of nail stickers. These current trends will inform next year’s, which are set to fit into the themes of natural-looking beauty, bold colors in both eye makeup and nail art, and holistic takes on wellness.
Natural is in
Ulta Beauty released its first-ever trends report, for 2022, which mentions specific trends like faux freckles and colorful, vibrant eye makeup, bundling them into themes. Under “That New Natural,” the company explored what “natural” means, in terms of looking like your authentic self or embracing the natural state of a feature like hair or freckles. For example, Ulta Beauty cites the acceptance and proliferation of textured hair products and of skin tints that offer lighter foundation coverage. Ulta Beauty’s prediction methodology centers on shopping data from its 36 million rewards program members, as well as shopper surveys and its social listening tools.
“The industry is progressive. When we talk about inclusion and diversity, the industry has focused longer on trying to serve [customer] needs, from an assortment standpoint, [compared to] other industries,” said Monica Arnaudo, CMO at Ulta Beauty. “What is happening [trend-wise] does have a larger impact on the beauty landscape… The insights we’ve garnered and the trends for the last couple of years have shaped the beauty landscape and will continue to shape it. [Trend adoptions] are going to be even faster [next year] than we’ve seen in the past.”
Instagram released its 2022 trend report as defined by its Gen-Z users and noted that, while maximalist fashion will take over, the big look in beauty will be minimalist and natural. In an October survey of 1,200 weekly social media users between 13- and 24-years old, about one-third of young people said they are interested in learning more about and buying clean makeup and skin care in 2022. That includes buying vegan makeup and plant-based skin care, and just using fewer products.
And while semi-permanent and permanent body modifications may seem the antithesis of natural beauty, people are seeking services and procedures that offer a “just woke up like this: flawless” idea of natural. For example, lip blushing, which is equivalent to a semi-permanent lip stain treatment, has seen a 130% increase in mentions on review and reservation website Yelp, while the hydrating hair mask treatment colloquially referred to as hair Botox (though no needles or Botox are involved), has seen a 22% increase in searches. And with buccal fat removal touted by celebrity figures like Chrissy Tiegen, the slimming face procedure saw a 16% increase in searches on Yelp. To gather an understanding of trending topics, Yelp’s data science team measured the frequency of specific phrases related to beauty searched for by Yelp users.
Tara Lewis, a trend expert at Yelp, likened some of these trends to the legacy of “Zoom face,” which dominated the latter half of 2020 and most of 2021. It was driven by people scrutinizing their reflections while engaging in work-from-home video meetings.
“Whether it’s permanent makeup, buccal fat removal or [body] and facial contouring, it is all tied to people becoming more self-aware [of their appearance] and having more access to information,” said Lewis.
The bolder, the better
And though it may seem at odds with natural beauty looks, bold approaches to beauty are also taking center stage. If shoppers are not going au naturel, then they’re shifting to the opposite on the beauty spectrum, showing that “moderation” is not in the vocabulary of 2022, no matter the age, demographic or occasion. Ulta Beauty also expects hair colors like pale pink blonde, “soft apricot” and even grey to gain traction in 2022. Bright eye colors like red, sapphire and pastels are also set to take off.
In addition, Yelp and Pinterest expect nail art to be popular in 2022. Yelp saw a 75% increase in searches for nail art between January 2021 and October 2021. Pinterest, more specifically, expects galaxy and geode nail designs to gain traction.
This boldness also extends to hairstyles, with shaved head designs experiencing a 12x increase in Pinterest searches. Short mohawks had a 200% increase, and mullets had a 190% increase. Yelp also noted that mullets had a 73% increase in searches while disco-era curtain bangs saw an 828% increase.
“TikTok and other social media platforms have made it easier to see the translation of some of these trends in a way that makes it more accessible and easy for people to understand,” said Lewis. “People have more downtime [to receive services] because they have not been out and about over the past year.”
Well, well, wellness
Wellness can have many definitions, but currently, mental health has taken the forefront of young people’s wellness conversation. One-third of Instagram trend survey takers said they will continue to partake in mental wellness exercises like guided meditation and manifestation exercises in 2022. Additionally, at-home workouts will continue to gain popularity with Instagram users, as will the idea of the home as a wellness sanctuary.
And, according to trend forecasting consultancy WGSN, wild bathing will remain popular in 2022 but take on a new shape. As seen in 2020 and 2021, people are eager to explore and revel in the great outdoors, and WGSN expects bath and body products that replicate that experience to increase in popularity. Products based on seaweed or seawater are among examples, and brands like Bath Culture and Tom’s of Maine are well poised for the outdoor movement. Both WGSN and Ulta Beauty predict that wild-harvested ingredients will be popular in 2022. Indie companies like skin-care brand Alpyn Beauty helped popularize the wild-harvested concept, though adjacent ideas like upcycled ingredients also emerged in 2021.
“The top beauty trends for 2022 reflect wider societal changes, as consumers continue to look to sustainably-minded practices and products including waterless elements and longer shelf lives,” says Clare Varga, head of beauty at WGSN.