Trends in the Beauty Industry Over the Past 10 Years

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Photo Agnes Elisabeth Szucs/Getty Images 

So much has changed in the 10-plus years since I first started writing about hair, skin and makeup in 2005. Here are the trends I've noticed the most in the beauty industry.

Beauty Influence Has Moved From Magazines to Bloggers

When I first started writing online, it was a lonely world for beauty writers on the Internet. It was me and that was basically it. Everyone got their beauty advice from women's magazines, a few of which were regurgitated online, and The Today Show.

Then came the onslaught of beauty blogging. It started with a few dozen beauty-obsessed 20-somethings writing about their favorite products and enjoying the free perks that come with writing about beauty (free products. Lots of free products). But back then, blogging was looked down upon by more traditional media as a sort of fun hobby for people with obvious time on their hands. 

And then quickly that changed. Most likely it was ad dollars following the crowd, which had discovered the bloggers and were turning their attention towards them. Women, it seems, were hungry for advice from real people, not from anonymous editors behind the print in glossy magazines. People swarmed online, bookmarking their favorite blogs and watching a ton of how-to makeup and hair videos on YouTube. Thousands of beauty blogs have come and gone since then (turns out, blogging takes a lot of time and brings in little money for most) but a few lucky bloggers became brands. As they raked in readers and viewers, the ad dollars quickly followed.

And then that changed, too. Because nothing is as fickle and changes as fast as the Internet world. Bloggers who once made big advertising bucks from their blogs have had to change tack to become brand ambassadors. This means shilling freebie clothes, hair and makeup products on their blogs and Instagram. Basically, they get sent this stuff and take perfectly curated photos of themselves wearing it. It's a little like selling your soul, to be honest.

Who knows how long these brand ambassadors can retain our attention. It's not really real, is it, when one is paid to say something is great? Perhaps in 5 years, I'll check back in...

Celebrities Becoming Entrepreneurs

When I started writing about beauty in 2005, Gwyneth Paltrow was making movies, mourning the untimely passing of her father and starting her life with Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. She actually lived a block away from me then and I'd see her from time to time, head down walking briskly or getting into chauffeur-driven gigantic black SUVs, obviously en route to walk a red carpet. She was no lifestyle maven back then. Martha Stewart was the only name in lifestyle and she was serving a 6-month stint in federal prison.

Oh what a decade can bring. In the past 10 years, we've seen celebrities move from promoting beauty brands as spokesmodels to becoming lifestyle brands themselves. The entrepreneurial spirit has hit many a celebrity on the cusp of aging out of Hollywood: Jessica Simpson sold hair pieces with her stylist and then created her own fashion line; Paltrow started GOOP and her own skincare line selling creams that run upwards of $100 a bottle; Jessica Alba started Honest Company; Jennifer Aniston is co-owner of the hair product company Living Proof. Gwen Stefani, Halle Berry, Victoria Beckham and Heidi Klum have all created their own fashion labels.

Hollywood is not a safe place for women over 40, so it's no wonder these famous women are turning their attentions elsewhere to keep the money they've become accustomed to flowing in.

There is a Trend Toward Organic Products

Just as people care about what they put into their bodies and are anti-GMOs, people care about what they put on their skin and when it comes to skincare, I'm seeing many women seeking out organic options. This means they are turn to oils to cleanse and moisturize their skin and they are seeking out lotions and potions that come from nature instead of a chemist's test tube. I mentioned Gwyneth Paltrow's new skincare line. It's quite pricey. But it is organic, something Paltrow is obsessed with. So maybe she's on to something? Women may dole out their money for the real thing.

The Anti-Aging Industry is Growing at a Furious Rate

Twelve years ago you had Oil of Olay promising to erase fine lines and wrinkles. Now you have microdermabrasion products, Retinoids (think Retin-A, which isn't just for acne anymore), hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and peels. On top of this, you have a whole host of new minor cosmetic procedures that women are trying as early as age 25. These lasers and fillers (think Botox and Restylane) offer women a simpler, less costly option to look younger (facelifts are so 1980). They are becoming so mainstream, people are getting them done in the mall of all places.

What's more, whereas women of my generation (I'm now post-40) are very hush-hush about their Botox and fillers, younger women in their 20s are not embarrassed to admit they take preventative measures to age as gracefully as possible. When asked if she fears aging and what she does about it, The Bachelor contestant Amanda wrote in her bio for the show's Website, "Yes, I use an anti-aging skincare line, always wear sunscreen and get botox." She's 25. Wow.

That Said, The Word, "Anti-Aging" Has Suddenly Become a Bad, Bad Word

A trend that's developed the past couple years is to avoid the word, "anti-aging." It's become, in effect, a bad word among feminists over 40.

Dr. Christiane Northrup, Author of "Goddesses Never Age" was interviewed by the wonderful Dr. Frank Lippman about this on his Website: 

"The word 'aging' is virtually synonymous with decline and deterioration—both of which are not inevitable....It’s very important that we make the distinction between growing older and aging. It’s possible to grow older without decline. Growing older is simply the opportunity to move through space and gain value and wisdom."

Everyone's Into the "No-Makeup Look"

My favorite beauty Website, Into the Gloss, has made its name by interviewing some of the world's most famous and beautiful women about their beauty rituals and favorite beauty products. The women tend to go on and on about their favorite skincare products, but when it comes to makeup, they almost always claim to wear very little of it.

People Are Tired of Airbrushing

By spending billions of dollars exhorting anti-aging products and using super-skinny, airbrushed models and celebrities to pitch them, the beauty industry in the past created An Ideal Woman in the minds of anyone who watches TV or picks up a magazine. The Ideal Woman is thin with flawless skin, no matter her age. And she has drawerfuls of products that miraculously make her that way.

Cue the scratching record. This is changing. Over the past few years, magazines have been called out for overly airbrushing models and celebrities to turn them into this Ideal Woman. Women, it seems, are balking at all the fakey fake and the media is listening. Kinda. They have put women without makeup in their pages, they have posed scantily clothed women without airbrushing on their pages and just this year, Sports Illustrated put a large size model on one of its covers.

It's a small change, but the tide seems to be turning. People are sick of falsehoods. They want to see real women who look like themselves, not an idealized version. 

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