If you’d have asked women 100 years ago what they anticipated beauty trends would look like in 2022, they’d probably have predicted something along the lines of the other-worldy aesthetic of Y2K beauty. Things like glitter, tinsel and shimmer might have graced our faces and hair as we whizzed about in flying cars and fuelled up our jet packs.
The reality, however, is that things aren’t set to look too dissimilar to the trends of the 20th Century. Sure, we have thousands more products at our disposal and skincare technology that we never dreamed could have existed, but when you look at the bigger picture, the main beauty mindset going into 2022 really isn’t all too different. In fact, what we’re seeing in terms of beauty trends for next year is a distinct return to the past. Nostalgic beauty, if you will.
As a beauty editor whose job it is to really observe the beauty space and predict the big trends for the new year, I must admit that making any ground-breaking revelations for 2022 has proved tricky. Sure, there’s plenty of new ingredients and products set to cause a gentle buzz, but when it comes to anticipating the sorts of things that will really take off, I’m at a bit of a loss. Because the truth is, we’re simply not buying beauty in the same way that we have been.
When I caught wind of the fact Estée Lauder was launching a limited-edition set that houses four of its most iconic products in retro Estée Lauder powder blue packaging for its 75th anniversary this month, I realised something monumental. And when it sold out in a matter of days, I knew I was onto something: The beauty landscape is shifting back, once again, to old-school heritage.
While the past ten or so years has seen us lap up every new beauty product and trend that came our way, the events of the past two years have left us reassessing our beauty consumption. Lockdowns had us dealing with a plethora of products we just didn’t know how to use, or even want to use. And this realisation has resulted in us spending our money more cautiously. Instead of buying every new launch that comes our way, we’re investing in more luxury products that really make us feel something.
Yes, nostalgic beauty products are set to dominate in 2022, and there’s good reason for it. “In times of uncertainty, there’s a real comfort in nostalgia. For many people, going back to old routines over the past 18 months has brought a sense of security, fond memories and a feeling of warmth,” explains Wizz Selvey, retail expert and Founder of WIZZ&CO.
You see, when it comes to social turbulence, much like the sort we have experienced since the pandemic broke in 2020, we often turn to the past to seek comfort. And beauty products act as one of the most effective ways to keep our brains in a happy place, thanks to their distinguishable scents and textures.
“Various research in neuroscience over the years has examined the link between the brain, memory & scent,” says Dr Jeanina Mahrenholz, counselling psychologist at Chelsea Pharmacy Medical Clinic. “The amygdala part of the brain has a primary role in processing memory and emotional responses. This part of our brain has a direct link to our lymphatic system and is sensitive to scent, which in turn may result in activation of memories and sense of nostalgia. Every scent is different on a person’s skin and experienced uniquely by those around them. This has to do with memories of the specific moment or person and themselves. It can be a specific time in life, missing someone, childhood or just a very special moment,” she adds.
It's of no surprise then, that scent and fragrance is the first area in which we’re set to see a surge. Lily Starling, Buyer for Fragrance at John Lewis reveals, “Our lives have been so disrupted over the past 18 months that we are seeing many customers turn to products that provide them with a comforting sense of nostalgia. Maison Margiela’s Replica fragrances, which are based on memories and stories, have seen incredible growth At John Lewis. Over the summer, we also saw a renaissance of luxe body sprays as customers began the shift back into nostalgic scents. Sales of Dior J’adore Deodorant Spray shot up by a huge 275%.”
And it is this move into nostalgic luxury that has really piqued my interest. Because for the past couple of years, I will admit that I have been somewhat of a bad beauty editor. In the past, big beauty launches were rare events that saw years and years of research by big beauty corps materialise as ‘game-changing’ products. But nowadays, there are simply too many beauty brands, too much information and too many choices for truly considered recommendations. And so, I have struggled.
But with 2022 and the nostalgia trend knocking, it seems as though this more is more approach to beauty is set to end. Much like the 1920s, forecasters are anticipating a return of opulence, luxury and glamour over the next few years. “We’re already seeing a rise of designer and couture brands in makeup. Valentino and Gucci and brought out out heritage ranges, with more fashion houses branching into makeup. It’s all about aspiration and luxury,” says Selvey.
While nostalgic beauty once meant picking up glitter eyeshadows, dabbling in a 90s-esque lip or embracing a 70s blow-out, in 2022, it’s set to become less of a trend and more of a general mindset. “We have seen a surge in founder-led brands growing quickly in the last five years. Now there’s an opportunity for heritage brands to go back to their roots, think about why they were created and show their strengths and stories to a new generation of shopper,” says Selvey. “We’re bound to see more creativity as a result of this—it’s set to be a really exciting year for beauty.”
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One sniff of this perfume takes me back to carefree teenage years, and I've been misting it every single day.