Knowledge Hub

Top trends in the health and beauty industry

The COVID pandemic transformed the health and beauty sector, with consumer lifestyle changes, supply chain disruption, and the closure of in-store retail all upending industry norms. 

With that in mind, let’s discover what’s looking and feeling good in the sector today...

Blobs of makeup products in pink, green, brown and orange arranged on a cream background

Colour cosmetics

The big loser, unsurprisingly, has been colour cosmetics. The closure of stores made it impossible for customers to try on products such as eyeshadows and foundations – and digital alternatives are not yet quite the same. Plus, with no events to attend, there’s been little incentive for people to invest in a new look.

So, COVID put paid to the renowned ‘lipstick index’ – the idea that during a recession, women will treat themselves to a little luxury. In the UK, it seems that role was filled by nail polish: in the first week of lockdown, online sales of prestige nail products rose by 24% year on year.

It remains to be seen whether we’ll rediscover our love for colour – but for the moment, the sector is muted.

Coloured cosmetic bottles lined up on a shelf


Fragrance sales also took an initial hit, dropping 13% in the first quarter of 2020 in the US and Europe. For premium brands, McKinsey found a 75% reduction in May 2020 against the previous year.

This sector has traditionally benefited from duty-free purchases, so suffered when international travel was grounded. Plus, in-store testers were unavailable.

However, the sector quickly bounced back. Fragrance can be enjoyed at home – you can even indulge in stronger scents if you’re not worrying about the effect on your fellow office workers or commuters! By summer 2021, market research company NPD Group said sales had risen in the UK by 20% so far that year.

Trends to note include a move towards clean and sustainable fragrances; higher concentrations; and unisex marketing.

Skincare serum creating a wave at the top of the image against a pink background


Skincare was already on the up – but during the pandemic, the sector rocketed.

Several factors were behind the rise. People had the time to invest in their skincare routine, plus money saved from not buying make-up. Many found face masks dehydrating. And there’s nothing like staring at your own close-up on Zoom to prompt you to tackle those dark circles under your eyes!

As a result, sales of cleansers, retinols, moisturisers, collagen and other products rose. According to one forecast, the UK skincare market will experience a CAGR of 5.2% between 2019-2024, to reach a value of $24.37 billion.

Some experts are now predicting a rise in ‘skinimalism’, as consumers ditch multi-step routines. But with new trends such as probiotic or microbiome-friendly skincare promising a scientific approach, it seems this sector will continue to boom.

Lady in exercise wear tying shoe laces on a rock outside


The big trend that COVID has accelerated is the merging of beauty and health. Consumers are moving towards wellness products, encompassing nutrition, fitness, sleep, mindfulness, health and appearance.

Instead of glamming up for a night out, people are relaxing at home with spa products such as bath oils. Diptyque reported that luxury scented candle sales rose by 536% in the first weeks of lockdown.

McKinsey estimates the global wellness market to be worth $1.5 trillion, with an annual growth of 5-10%. Its research found that 51.3% of UK consumers felt their prioritisation of wellness had increased over the past few years.

Cleanness and sustainability are key concerns here. Personalisation is another, with consumers expecting tailored nutrition, vitamin, fitness and sleep programmes to look and feel their very best.

It’s clear that the health and beauty industry remains an attractive one, but brands need to move with the post-COVID times. That includes investing in creative, data-driven, digital and in-store marketing and design services. Contact Linney today to discover how we could help your brand blossom.