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Beauty trends to watch in 2024

The marketing team at international beauty packaging manufacturer and supplier Quadpack presents a summary of the key trends in the beauty market for the year ahead.

The world is facing growing concerns about climate change, international conflicts, resource scarcity and the rising cost of living. We are all affected in one way or another, and we are all adapting in different ways. Against this rather gloomy backdrop, however, the future looks bright. Younger generations are aiming to improve things in the most personal way possible, while at the same time being hyper-connected. 

The trends currently emerging reflect the various attitudes adopted in the face of the current global context, and the changing ways in which we think, feel and consume. Marcia Bardauil, Marketing Lead at Quadpack, explains: "It's all about keeping hope alive for the future. Beauty brands are adapting to the new reality, and packaging has a crucial role to play in this context. By seeing or touching it, you establish a new relationship with the product and the brand."

Trend 1: It's made for me

The world is changing, and so are we! We're becoming a "flex generation". Why hold on to a fixed identity if you might feel differently tomorrow? After all, tastes evolve in fashion, cosmetics and even politics. You can also adopt different personas simultaneously, both online and in real life. 

This radical variability demands ultra-personalization. Artificial intelligence (AI) presents all kinds of opportunities for beauty brands, from digital diagnostic tools and virtual perfumes to in-game launches. Stores are becoming experimental spaces where you can try on products that you then buy online. Brands are using new and unique ways to connect with their target audience, with pop-up stores, festival events, podcasts and influencer participation.

How does this translate into packaging? Packaging can follow this trend, providing unforgettable, enriching experiences. It can integrate with the high-tech world, allowing you to connect to online programs that track your skincare progress or pre-select products specifically for your needs. Unique formats can be designed to enable the use of mix-and-match formulas. But above all, it must appeal to the senses. Haptic packaging can feature sound closures, special designs and finishes that change color or texture. A very soft package can evoke the sensation produced by the velvety formulas it contains, or a satin finish can reflect the silky effect of the products.

Trend 2: blue

The ocean is the source of inspiration for a movement, more than a trend: blue beauty. The oceans are seen as a resource to be protected, a source of ingredients and a creative influence. According to the United Nations, "the oceans nourish us, regulate our climate and generate most of the oxygen we breathe." It's also one of the largest untapped territories on earth, inspiring legends of mermaids and other fantastical sea creatures.

Protecting the oceans is of paramount importance, and we approach it in many different ways. Visit Ocean Bound Plastic (OBP) prevents plastic waste from reaching the water, although waste recovery remains a major challenge. Beauty brands offer microplastic-free, reef-friendly dry products and formulas, but the risk of "blue-washing" remains high. Ocean-derived ingredients, such as trace elements obtained from sustainably-grown seaweed, are becoming increasingly popular. 

What does this mean for packaging? Packaging, if it contains plastic, must also be free of microplastics and preferably recycled from OBP. The Blue beauty can be inspired by the oceans, with marine-themed decorations, a color palette reflecting blues and greens, finishes reminiscent of water or textures evoking the aquatic environment, such as seapunk neoprene or "mermaid" scales.

Trend 3: quiet beauty

When consumers give priority to well-being, they reject over-consumption and we see a return to essentials. When making purchasing decisions, consumers ask themselves "Do I really need this?" and "Do I really need a new product?" However, they are willing to pay more for a quality product. While cost-cutting is the order of the day in other fields, prestige make-up remains unaffected. 

The Quiet beauty focuses on simplicity and efficiency. Less becomes more. B Corp beauty brands focus on what really matters. And skincare is becoming the new make-up, promoting natural, nude looks and a radiance that exudes health. In this space, brands offer essential yet premium ingredients that provide legitimate value to their customers, who are more informed than ever. Opportunities in the sector relate to the accelerating power of the mind-body connection and the transformative potential of psychodermatology and neuro-cosmetics. Here too, AI is helping to boost efficiency and accelerate product development.

How does this translate into packaging? Packaging can protect high-performance products and natural ingredients through hermetic design or by using airless technology. Reusable formats, which do not require new plastics for refilling, are part of eco-responsibility and offer good value for money, as consumers want sustainable solutions that last longer. Noble materials such as ceramics and wood fit perfectly into this approach. Their look and feel offer a timeless elegance, a craftsman-like aesthetic with minimalist lines.

Trend 4: an oasis in a dystopia

Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity: we live in a Vuva world. Younger consumers, however, are moving towards a "protopia"-type future, where life continues to improve day by day, little by little. It's true that we face global challenges, but we've also made progress, for example in water treatment, green building, renewable energy and sustainable food or material alternatives. It's a stimulating approach, embracing technology to combine the familiar with the futuristic, always from an ethical perspective. 

Consumer pressure and companies' own sustainability goals are driving companies to improve their impact. In the beauty sector, brands are launching products that respond to the world's problems with dry formulas, advanced sun care and climate-adaptive solutions that help skin adapt to the environment in real time.

How does this translate into packaging? Alternative packaging materials fit in with protopia's vision of the future: biocomposites such as Sulapac, recycled plastics, wood, aluminum, leather, cement, terracotta, cork, etc., are all used. Formulas that adapt to the climate will benefit from protection, such as physical barriers or hermetic/airless formats. This trend calls for a dark look with organic elements, but also brutalist shapes. Finishes in metallic materials can help achieve this futuristic touch.

Trend 5: In search of eternity

The population over 60 will almost double by 2050. As we live longer, the way we age becomes all the more important. The emphasis is on prevention rather than cure, with holistic health and beauty routines. Science has proven that epigenetics (which refers to lifestyle and environmental factors) is directly linked to skin longevity. Our cells are continually exposed to a long list of stressors such as poor diet, lack of sleep, pollution and UV radiation, which can lead to health problems and rapid aging. 

Consumers, both young and old, are looking for proven beauty solutions: evidence-based supplements and treatments that enable the constant pursuit of eternal youth. Alongside this, our continual digital presence in videoconferencing, selfies and social networks has given rise to a wide range of non-invasive aesthetic therapies and "tweakments", from cryotherapy to needle-free fillers. In 2024, we'll see the big brands joining the niche companies that started the trend.

How does this translate into packaging? Depending on the formula or treatment, packaging can be designed to help meet the need, for example, by mixing the active agents with the serum in a two-in-one package, or by incorporating a contact applicator with a "cold" effect. Mini-ampoules will provide an effective solution to single-dose applications. The aesthetic is pure, clean and laboratory-inspired, while new creative concepts in nutri-cosmetics packaging could in turn transform the look of traditional "pill boxes".

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