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Beauty Trends

Where does a beauty trend come from?

Verity Douglas
Writer and expert4 years ago
View Verity Douglas's profile

We all know that trends wax and wane – they appear, we embrace them then just when we’re used to the idea of wearing our jeans so impossibly tight we daren’t sit, does the fashion world urge us to ditch sprayed-on denim in favour of ‘mom’, straight or bootleg… But who decides whether pink’s ‘in’ or dictates that we need to eschew navy blue (never!)? It all begins waaaay before runways and we’re here to help lift the veil on the way trends are ‘made’.

“What you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue. It’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean” says Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly to a baffled Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada – a scene that makes everyone wince as they realise their ignorance. Fact is, as Miranda continues to (pointedly!) highlight, these colours and trends don’t emerge from thin air – they represent a melting pot of influence (from the fatuous to politically pertinent) that marinate to forge our future taste.

Future labs monitor trends and emerging ‘buzz’ terms across multiple strands of society – keeping a close eye on Instagram, the news and the actual streets to report on the patterns they’re witnessing. Just like the ‘youthquake’ of the ‘60s, it’s often the teens who initiate shifts – from the memes they create to the music they move to – these are the kids who are (typically!) triggering tiny mutations that set trends in motion. Defying convention to plough their own furrows, these ‘Innovators’ might challenge perceptions of beauty – making a statement that gradually wends its way into your eyeshadow wardrobe.

For every Innovator there’s an imitator – an ‘Early Adopter’ as they’re (slightly more politely) called in trend-forecasting circles. If you imagine there’s a chart that looks a lot like one of Charlotte Tilbury’s {Cheek to Chic} blushers, we have the Innovators at the core encircled by an inspiration-hungry throng who thrive on fresh ideas. With fingers firmly on the pulse, this tribe takes the seed of a burgeoning trend and provide all the stimulus needed to help it to flourish. Switched on, plugged in and receptive, they’re your friends who were eating courgetti before you could readily find it pre-spiralised, or those who were cloaking their kisses with gloss while the rest of us pledged our undying allegiance to matte.

Hot on their heels are ‘The Early Majority’ – this is the point at which something has ceased to be indie and turned into something a little more mainstream. When you mention a name at this stage then it's likely your friends have a clue what you're talking about (fiiiinally), and as soon as you flip through a mag at the dentist you'll find the trends peppering pages. Already old news for the Early Adopters, this heralds a gear-shift when trends become movements - no longer hush-hush, they have now trickled down into cultural consciousness (two words: millennial pink).

Infected by the trend's ever-growing ubiquitousness, 'The Late Majority' are now waking up to the buzz and beginning to dip their toes into the (petal-hued) water. Resistant to change, this group like the comfort of seeing a trend on their friends, in the stores and all over their Instagram feeds before trying it out for themselves. Followers rather than influencers, this group - which represents around a third of the population - is a marketeers dream, willing to buy into diluted twists on what's 'hip' from the labels they love. This is the phase at which something evolves from a niche status symbol to absolute 'must-have' - by which time the 'Early Adopters' have left it for dust...

Which brings us on to 'The Laggards' (or the 'post-cool crew', as we like to call them). Traditionalists who prefer to adhere to their own 'tried and tested' aesthetic, they wait 'til a trend has become commonplace before grudgingly trying it out for themselves. You might hear them saying they've found a cool venue that everyone's already been to, or naming a serum you've had on your #shelfie for months. By this stage, the 'trend' has long ceased to be deemed column-worthy and those more receptive to newness are already two or three brands/palettes/styles in advance...

Shining a light on the super-cool skin care that's doing things differently, our {Skindie} campaign ushers little-known (hotly tipped!) names from the industry margins to speed up the product discovery process. Rather than waiting for names to seep into the the laggardly lexicon, we're honouring brands that are forging their own unique path through the industry landscape - encouraging you to upgrade your regime with a super-charged serum or underground cleanser that's sure to earn you beauty kudos from those in-the-know. What are you waiting for?


Verity Douglas
Writer and expert
View Verity Douglas's profile
Cult Beauty’s Content Editor and a Cult Beauty OG, Verity loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm. A quintessential Libran, she’s a self-professed magpie for luxury ‘must-haves' and always pursuing the new and the niche — from the boujee-est skin care to cutting-edge tech. Balancing an urge to stop the clock with her desire to embrace the ageing process (and set a positive example for her daughter), Verity's a retinol obsessive and will gladly share her thoughts about the time-defying gadgets, masks and treatments worth the splurge...