Why brands are embracing expressive beauty

As beauty consumers evolve, brands are starting to cater to customers using makeup as a means of art and self-expression.

By Annabelle Mayor
Posted 02. 10. 2019
3ina uv

In the past decade, beauty consumers have changed considerably. Many have gone from follower to expert, equipped with everything from the broad knowledge of global beauty brands down to the specific effects of certain ingredients in their skincare regimes. They’re also experienced when it comes to makeup, learning various techniques not only from family and friends but also through a plethora of YouTube videos and Instagram posts. Beauty is now used in a number of ways – it’s a hobby, a self-confidence boost, or a source of fun. It’s also becoming more widely appreciated and used as a means of self-expression or art.

Minimalist makeup has reigned supreme for years. The internet is filled with tutorials for ‘no makeup’ makeup and popular brands such as Glossier focus on products that create a pared-back look. However, beauty is starting to go bold again. Graphic makeup, neon colours and glitter are being seen both on and off the runway. Brands like Lime Crime, 3ina, Kat Von D, and Pat McGrath Labs have been catering to the trends. The latter, founded by legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath, hosted a pop-up in Selfridges in April titled ‘A Technicolour Odyssey’. The retail takeover was recently revealed to have achieved the highest ever turnover in its first month for a cosmetics brand in the department store. After realising the shift in demand for expressive makeup, other more natural brands are also starting to get on board. This year saw the launch of Glossier Play, a new sub-brand offering Glossier fans a range of colourful products to create dialled-up looks - a 180 from the brand’s trademark minimal style.

But the expressive beauty trend doesn’t stop at neon eyeliners. There’s a movement challenging the notions of conventional beauty and conformity. Beauty Papers, a print magazine launched by Maxine Leonard and Valerie Wickes, was born out of a frustration at the lack of diversity within the beauty industry and the need for a different approach. The magazine is a platform for expression and creativity, exploring beauty beyond its glamorous façade. Dazed Beauty - Dazed Media’s outlet dedicated to all things beauty - was set up in 2018 with the mission to represent beauty as a fundamental means of self-expression. The website and magazine documents and deconstructs beauty in its role in creativity and identity.

The popularity of influencers using makeup in unconventional ways also goes to show the mass appreciation of beauty as a form of self-expression and art. Princess Gollum (@princessgollum) is one such influencer who creates avant-garde looks, sometimes looking like something out of a horror movie. Heather Moorhouse (@makeupmouse) shares everything from everyday to fantastical looks, often painting her face in vivid colours. Korean artist Dain Yoon (@designdain) uses her face and body to create illusion paintings - a clear example of the line blurring between art and beauty. Across social media, it has become increasingly common to see individuals sharing their own creative makeup looks.

As consumers continue to fall more in love with beauty and build their confidence with makeup, they’re likely to want to explore and experiment. Brands should encourage this creativity and exploration throughout experiences – from inspirational content to spaces dedicated to playing with makeup in stores. Brands should also ensure these efforts are inclusive, with a commitment to diversity to show everyone is free to use makeup as a means of self-expression.D

Key takeouts:

  • As beauty becomes a dedicated interest of many, more and more people are using makeup as a means of self-expression
  • There’s also a greater appreciation of makeup as an art form
  • Brands are catering to the expressive beauty trend through their makeup offerings
  • Media outlets dedicated to representing different sides of beauty are gaining traction, as well as influencers who share creative, unconventional looks
  • Brands should encourage creativity and exploration through the experiences they offer

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