Through the rollercoaster of the 2020s, one subset of consumers holds firmly in their belief of a better tomorrow—even if our utopian dreams are out of reach. Nestled between utopia and dystopia, “protopia” is a realm where we recognize the future’s potential for improvement, but don’t seek absolute perfection. The consumers leading this mindset shift are known as optimistic rebels; they acknowledge the dread and anxiety around them, but prefer to have a good time anyway. These forward-thinking folks wield humor as a shield, unapologetically embrace quirkiness and absurdity, and thereby craft a spirited resilience, viewing the world through a playful and comedic lens (BeautyStreams).
As visions of utopia become blurred and more realistic forms of protopia begin to take shape, The Simulators have begun to build their own kind of future. These consumers are dominant, charismatic, and both fascinated and fascinating. They connect with superstitions and spirituality to attain their goals, and their passion drives them to bring their perspectives to life in our world—they push the limits to make the world grow with them, creating their own version of protopia. Connect with this subset through serendipity, spirituality, discovery, creativity, and challenge (Nelly Rodi).
Merging elements of texture and sensorial play, a new standout beauty trend is making waves. Introducing: aquatic allure. Social media influencers and runway stylists dove headfirst into this new trend, playing with dewy skin, wet-look hair, shimmering finishes, and ocean-toned nail art. It’s all about embracing otherworldly beauty, with gradient blushes, metallic eyeshadows, and iridescent textures taking center stage while aquatic hues become the palette of choice. But there’s more to this trend than aesthetics—it goes deep into the sea itself. Beauty product innovators are turning to ocean-sourced ingredients, like algae and seaweed, to keep their shelves stocked with “blue” elements that tackle natural resource scarcity head-on (WGSN).
As we combat waste in our supply chain, the beauty industry has begun to connect with one powerful, yet unexpected, partner: artificial intelligence. Scientists and beauty brands are using AI as a resource to discover new ingredients and formulations with less trial and error. AI-powered tech can create precise, unforeseen formulas with shorter development times, as it scans molecules, identifies peptides, and finds ingredient replacements with less research time involved. The surprising result is that many new formulas on the market have been built using only computational models (WGSN).
In with the old! It’s time to embrace new (and old) sources for ingredients and materials. As we exit the age of abundance, brands and consumers are on the hunt for novel sources—they’re not only embracing the new, but rediscovering the old. Backyards and gardens are the new ingredient goldmines, inspiring beauty buffs to dabble with plant oils like broccoli and rosemary, whether they’re buying retail products or concocting homemade magic. The waste-avoidance brigade is also in full swing, giving rise to upcycling as brands work to patch supply chain “leaks”. Virgin materials are increasingly avoided in favor of upcycled, natural ingredients, like flowers from tulip farms (WGSN).