Science Nature Beauty

Highlighting skin health – a new era of decorative cosmetics?

Throughout human history, cosmetics have played an important role. From the earliest times, people tried to beautify themselves with the help of vegetable, animal and mineral dyes. In some societies, relationships, status and social hierarchies were signaled by colors on the face. The Latin term Decoratio, meaning the highlighting of the beautiful, has coined the current term for “decorative cosmetics”. The history, perception and influence of decorative cosmetics on culture have even been the subject of science for many years, e.g., in economics, where the so called “lipstick-effect” is used as an indicator of economic stability in times of crises. What is the importance of decorative cosmetics in our society and the cosmetics industry today? And what does the future hold? Much more has continued to develop in this field in recent years. One more reason to devote some time to this topic.

Color & care: make-up meets skin care

Today, the term “make-up” is used synonymously with decorative cosmetics. Decorative care products are available in a wide range for facial skin, eyes, lips and nails. Depending on the formulation, application area and desired effect, they are offered in the form of powders, emulsions, pastes, pencils, oils and varnishes.

For many consumers, decorative cosmetics serve two basic purposes. On the one hand, they emphasize the natural beauty of a person and provide a radiance inside and outside. On the other hand, decorative cosmetics help to conceal imperfections. For example, redness, large skin pores or acne can be softened or hidden. Highly covering camouflage make-up can even make scars or unwanted tattoos temporarily invisible. But for many people make-up is also a way of expressing their individual personality, their belonging to certain cultures or their mood and feelings. In summary, decorative cosmetics can help increasing our self-esteem and self-confidence.

When it comes to skin health, decorative cosmetics did not have the best reputation in the past. A thick layer of foundation might supposedly clog your pores, dry out skin or even cause inflammation. This has now changed completely. Instead of trying to balance out the assumed negative effects of wearing make-up, consumers increasingly not only expect their make-up products to be skin neutral but to actually be beneficial to their skin health. Consequentially, a lot of brands of color cosmetics have started to combine skincare with make-up. Hybrid products, such as make-up that not only performs UV light protection but also, e.g., has an anti-aging or moisturizing effect on the skin are on the rise. New technologies enable dynamic applications when it comes to the galenic of formulation or packaging. Advanced polymers and pigments enable new long-lasting experiences on the skin for the consumer.

But consumer experiences are not limited to physical product features:  Nowadays, application of make-up as an integral part of wellbeing can reach consumers who are looking for ways to address aspects of their mental health. By making decorative cosmetics application a ritual, brands can encourage consumers to take time for themselves; make-up ritual is the new meditation. Brands are able to establish a new depth of customer loyalty by becoming part of consumers’ intimate self-care time.


Beauty-tech – the new virtual reality of make-up?

We live more and more in a digital world where the boundaries between the real and the unreal are blurring with AI and AR strongly at the forefront. And the cosmetics industry is also making more and more use of these technological possibilities. Especially in decorative cosmetics, this opens up inexhaustible opportunities and is a real game changer for consumers. It seems, that launching a lipstick or make-up color palette on the market today is simply no longer enough. Beauty-tech is not just a trend, it is a movement and designed to increase sales and secure competitive advantages for companies. And the international big players and startups are right at the forefront of this technological development. From beauty mirror features for virtual makeup fitting in 3-D to customized foundation and artificial skin to spray on, everything is possible. And beauty-tech keeps evolving with consumer expectations toward personalized products and services. In addition to product customization in terms of color palette or preferred textures, consumers are also looking for skincare benefits tailored to their skin’s individual needs. Often brands combine AI powered tools with self-evaluation questionnaires to offer their customers the products best suited for them.

Nowadays, professional make-up is accessible to everyone from home and on the go thanks to social media. The cosmetics industry is evolving and it’s nice to see that people with disabilities are also receiving more and more attention. French cosmetics giant L’Oréal recently unveiled a new handheld make-up applicator called HAPTA that aims to assist people with limited mobility or tremors to apply make-up independently. Many other brands are also offering smart devices to fulfill the personal make-up needs of all types of consumers. Thanks to AR, discovering your next favorite hair, eye or lip color online has never been easier. Will the make-up of the future be more a question of collected data or of personal possibilities, taste and trends? The future will show us.


The skin behind make-up – the new beauty consumer priority?

Today’s consumers have evolved into “Skintellectuals” – they know their skin and its needs very well, specifically look up the characteristics and benefits of ingredients and scan INCI list for potentially harmful substances. They intentionally look for formulations and active ingredients which perform a specific job to integrate into their skin care and make-up routine.

Everyday life can be hectic and lack of sleep and stress can make skin look dry, uneven and tired. Applying make-up cannot just conceal skin imperfections but also make consumers feel more confident about their appearance and boost self-esteem. But besides hiding the symptoms of stress, professional make-up artists and stylists agree that healthy, well-groomed skin is a prerequisite for successful and long-lasting make-up. This can be achieved with a coordinated combination of cleansing and care, and an adequately moisturized and nourished skin is a good basis for decorative cosmetic products.

Of course, the cosmetics industry is also strongly influenced by global macro trends. Over the last years we saw hashtags such as #nofilter or #nomakeupchallenge gain popularity alongside the rise of skincare. While in the earlier 2000s matte textures, heavy contouring and excessive use of beauty filters dominated our feeds, leading to wide criticism of unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards, today many users strive for that perfect light-reflecting skin glow or embrace their natural beauty and proudly show off their acne or scars – no matter which look you prefer, skin health is the common denominator and prioritized goal. Make-up is considered an accessory to highlight the beauty of natural skin or a creative tool that elevates facial skin to becoming the canvas of self-expression and individuality.

According to Mintel, 33 % of female make-up users of 18-24 in the US strongly agree that their make-up reflects their personality.  Beauty is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition and healthy skin is emerging to become the most important consumer concern, and when consumers are shopping for new make-up products, they are looking for personalized advice and recommendations from brands not just for make-up.


Now, next and beyond

Today’s consumers are open to embrace new trends and discover new product innovations – be it a new formulation, new technology or a new sensory experience on the skin. Experimentation is high on the consumer agenda. Individuality, flexibility and inclusivity are more than ever desired by make-up consumers. The co-creation of the future of digital art in the metaverse, known as “dual reality make-up,” also applies to companies that manufacture decorative cosmetic products. Consumers are increasingly being involved in shaping the future of beauty by companies, and 76 % of Indian consumers say that they like to be amongst the first to try new technologies. Besides product benefits and color palettes, the image of a brand and their stance on ecological, social and ethical purposes has become an important factor for consumers when making purchase decisions. (Mintel)

Sustainability will continue to be a priority for consumers and they expect full transparency from brands as they have become highly aware of greenwashing. They demand clear statements on ethical sourcing, animal cruelty, microplastics, packaging, biodiversity protection and product safety.

The increasing focus on consumer health, wellbeing and safety is forcing cosmetic brands to use evidence-based science and authentic communication to build trust and credibility.

At the same time, new technologies are making professional make-up accessible to many consumers from the comfort of their own homes. New data from Pinterest shows that interest in luxury make-up is surging. In parallel, naturalness with modest glow is another trend. Brands will focus more on science and enrich and extend the effect of make-up products on the skin with effective active ingredients.

At CLR, we believe that when it comes to wearing make-up, focus on your skin care first. A healthy, groomed skin is the perfect base for a great make-up! We offer a large portfolio of highly effective active ingredients that are natural, safe and proven to be beneficial for skin health.

CutiGuard CLR™ for example reduces wrinkles and significantly improves skin smoothness as well as the evenness of skin color – three crucial factors for a healthy and young appearance. No matter, whether you prefer a minimalist natural glow or an expressive and artistic make-up – with its proactive and preventive approach, CutiGuard CLR™ is extremely suitable for modern aging consumers. It slows down the skin aging process and helps to avoid the development of the first signs of skin aging.



Elvira Ruppel

Product Manager