In the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, there is no wonder shopping and consumption trends and habits have completely altered. The beauty and cosmetics industry is no stranger to the shock of the pandemic and has taken a heavy toll in the last year, trying to quickly adapt itself. Mintel’s report on beauty retailing in the COVID era expected category sales overall to plummet 7.7%. However, despite the pandemic, it noted that some segments of the world of beauty retail would actually benefit from the consumers’ changes to lifestyle and new at-home habits. In fact, the $532 billion beauty industry is still expected to reach a market value of a whopping $805.61 billion by 2023 with further predictions maintaining that the global cosmetic skin care market will grow from $145 billion in 2020 to $185.5 Billion by 2027.

With that being said, it is impossible to ignore the changes to the face of the beauty industry in the aftermath of the pandemic. From glamour to “skinimalism”, from trying on makeup and perfume samples at the store to purchasing beauty products online, and from the need to have a professional do your hair and makeup to the development of at-home beauty tools and solutions, there is no denying the beauty regimen we once knew and loved has completely transformed itself in the last year.



2020 was most noticeably the year of the sweatpants, and the beginning of 2021 has been a continuation of the trend with stars enhancing minimalistic fashion. This minimalistic, “less is more” approach followed through into the world of beauty with what the beauty experts at Pinterest coined “skinimalism,” or the new glow up.

Meant to encourage consumers to ditch the expensive multi-step caked-on skincare routine they were used to and strip down to a plainer, effortlessly chic, natural version of themselves with the help of minimal products, skinimalism will be not only better for their skin but for the environment due to the reduction of waste and carbon footprints.

Regarded by many as the next big thing in skin care, skinimalism is based on the pre-pandemic South Korean “skip-care” trend, which involves paring down the number of products used in a daily beauty routine and limiting oneself to a handful of essential products. This, in turn, could mean the end of the “shelfie” trend, referring to the Instagram-famous trend where influencers and regular consumers took pictures of the many beauty products one could find on their shelf. Now, viewed as wasteful and even boastful, the shelfie trend seems to be another casualty of the pandemic.


At-Home Beauty Treatments

Once consumers started wearing masks, working from home, socially distancing

and adhering to countless restrictions and lockdowns, many turned to at-home beauty treatments. In 2020 they ditched the glam, swapping luxury makeup products with skincare products that will better treat their acne-prone and dry-skinned faces associated with mask-wearing. According to Spate, there has been a 187K increase in search volumes for skin cleansing products like “face serum products,” “face peeling and scrubs” (+70%), and more skin-related treatments including pimple patches and freckle pens.

The pandemic has led to a shift from “the lipstick effect”, which alleges that even during an economic crisis, consumers will still prioritize purchasing small luxury items, such as lipstick. It seems that not even the theory could hold up to a pandemic that forces everyone to wear masks, making lipstick something consumers only wear during their online Zoom meetings leading them to purchase more false lashes and eye makeup.

Even though hair salons reopened in most places, many consumers dreaded visiting them and turned to at-home treatments. Hair color sales grew 172% versus 2019, blonde-enhancing purple hair shampoo, conditioner and hair masks have been on the rise, as did bath products (up 65%).

Due to the increase in time spent in front of our phones, televisions, and computers, many consumers became aware of the harmful and aging effects of blue light, increasing the search volume for blue light skincare by nearly 50%.


Sustainable Beauty

As most consumers are now focused on their wellbeing, the beauty industry had to adapt itself and offer sustainable and safe products that can be used at home. This call for conscious consumerism led to a surge in the purchasing of aromatherapy and more organic, detox products.

The shift to a focus on health was also evident in the high search volumes (234K) for “hair growth oil,” since consumers were looking for ways to make their hair healthier rather than for ways to style it.


The Rise of Online Beauty

The pandemic led to a completely different shopping experience since back in 2019, 50% of UK consumers and 90% of Americans said they would rather purchase beauty products in-store rather than online. Due to the pandemic, the beauty business needed to come up with a similar online experience that won’t deter consumers from shopping. Enter the virtual “try-ons” from brands like Bobbi Brown and Lancome. Their quick-thinking seems to have worked since 34% of consumers can now be considered “digital beauty” shoppers. This new digital shelf created by the many beauty brands’ online platforms will soon enough move toward Facebook and Instagram shops that will enable consumers to buy directly through their social media accounts.

The beauty industry was well on its way to change even prior to the pandemic outbreak but it undoubtedly accelerated the transformation. Striving to be innovative and stay one step ahead of the game, the beauty world is still trying to cope with the major shifts in trends it has witnessed in the passing year. It seems that 2021, which has started with the majority of us still in our sweatpants or pajamas, is going to remain more about our growing concern for our overall health and the beauty world will have no alternative but to follow suit.