Heavy lockdown restrictions are being lifted in the UK, allowing shoppers to enter the long-awaited ‘new normal.’ Reduced social distancing rules and a gradual return to socialising might motivate consumers to update their beauty routines. To capitalise on the returning demand, makeup brands need to accept that a year in lockdown has impacted expectations from beauty products and even altered beauty standards.

One of the crucial aspects could be the shift of interest from makeup to skincare, fuelled by the new stay-at-home lifestyle. According to GlobalData’s Covid-19 recovery survey, in December 2020, 30% of UK shoppers admitted to buying slightly/significantly lower quantities of makeup or having stopped buying it since the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19). More time spent at home allowed shoppers to devote more time to skincare rituals rather than going-out looks. Consequently, ‘natural beauty’ and ‘casual’ looks became a norm for many. Therefore, makeup claims and benefits should be re-evaluated by beauty brands striving to cater to post-pandemic demand.

High coverage foundations, vivid colours of lipsticks and eyeshadows or heavy contouring would not interest consumers opting for low-maintenance, easy makeup styles. The latest trends see a preference for a ‘fresh-faced’ look with minimal eyeshadow, lip gloss and subtle bronzing, setting a new, challenging standard for makeup brands that usually thrive on multi-step heavy makeup routines. The focus on skincare rituals, newly found by many consumers, has also created a sense of competition between skincare and colour cosmetics. Makeup products with a skincare halo and underlined low-key, easy application method could solve the dilemma.

Spring 2021 releases provide examples of such a ‘hybrid’ approach, maximising the skincare focus while still being marketed as makeup. Urban Decay’s Stay Naked Hydromaniac branded Tinted Glow Foundation comes in ‘flexible shades’ allowing ‘your real skin to show through the sheer glow finish.’ The addition of kombucha filtrate, inspired by food and drink trends, caters to consumers who seek added nutrients. IT Cosmetics’ solid lip serum provides both a hint of colour and four-hour hydration, claims backed by the inclusion of collagen, hyaluronic acid and a ‘tri-oil complex.’ Iconic London has enriched its new liquid bronzer with horehound extract ‘known for its anti-pollution benefits’ and promises a ‘natural-looking subtle finish,’ blurring the lines between skincare and makeup.

According to GlobalData’s Q1 2021 consumer survey, when asked about what ‘good value for money’ means in the beauty and grooming category, UK consumers pointed out high-quality products/ingredients (38% of the surveyed group) while others (17%) said they associate the term with multi-benefit/multi-functional product character. The new makeup launches strive to fit both criteria in hopes to cater to the post-lockdown preferences of consumers.

Just like fashion, makeup went casual in the pandemic and is unlikely to return to its ultra-glamorous roots anytime soon. Brands should take note of the hybrid trend to appeal to shoppers who, having exited lockdowns, have learned to embrace comfort and understated styles.

*GlobalData’s 2021 Q1 global consumer survey

**GlobalData’s 2020 Covid-19 recovery consumer survey week 11