Contours of Change: Exploring the Evolution of Beauty Trends in India

Contours of Change: Exploring the Evolution of Beauty Trends in India

Beauty – a term bearing subjective nuances, elicits a diverse interpretation for everyone. Subjecting the term to a standardised definition may prove elusive, but within the context of this editorial, ‘beauty’ encompasses skincare, haircare, cosmetics, and fragrances.  

The Indian Beauty and Personal Care (BPC) market is the 8th largest in the world and presently valued at $16.8B with a forecast to compound at an annual rate of 11%. While luxury fashion houses with the likes of Marc Jacobs have been known for their beauty brand, the industry has also seen a rise in newcomers, particularly amongst celebrities. LoveChild Masaba, curated and attested by Masaba Gupta, 82°E, a skincare brand by Deepika Padukone, and Anomaly Haircare by Priyanka Chopra Jones serve as great examples for the growing trend.  

There has been a revolution within the beauty industry, as skincare has become more prominent in comparison to cosmetics as is evident with the growth of Korean skincare, vegan skincare, as well as ayurvedic skincare.  

“Until a few years ago, the beauty industry in India was inclined only towards the trends of natural and ayurvedic beauty products which remain popular. These were mostly aligned with these ingredients trending in the west. Now, however, there has been a notable shift towards Southeast Asian regions, particularly South Korea,” noted Dr. Kiran Sethi, MD, Medical Director of Isya Aesthetics. She continued to say that “the significant surge in K-beauty trends featuring minimalist makeup, a focus on fresh and natural-looking skin, and the popularisation of ‘no-makeup makeup’ looks is on the rise. In addition, there has also been a great rise in men’s beauty and grooming.” 

In the dynamic world of beauty, India is emerging as a vibrant hotspot for global brands and new marketplaces, with a notable surge in Ayurveda-rooted brands flourishing. Vivek Sahni, Founder and Chairman of Kama Ayurveda, says "India is experiencing an exhilarating phase in the beauty industry. As customers become more educated and conscious, the potential for growth in India is vast. We are witnessing a growing demand for clean and sustainable products, with consumers actively seeking natural ingredients and ethical practices." 

Sustainable and Clean Beauty  

The transformation within the beauty industry has begun to incorporate sustainability, as brands and consumers continue to be more mindful of the impact that the industry has on the environment, with nearly 60% of Gen Z consumers choosing to only purchase eco-friendly products. This has led to a rise of homegrown brands that choose to emphasise natural and sustainable ingredients, recyclable and biodegradable packaging, and products made with minimal carbon footprint, catering to the growing demand for eco-conscious beauty products.  

The shift in communication and information-seeking behaviour is evident, primarily driven by the exponential growth and accessibility of social media. Mini Sood Banerjee, Assistant Director and Head of Marketing at Amorepacific Group says “Sustainability is one of the most crucial emerging trends in the beauty industry these days. Consumers are now more aware of the environmental impact of beauty products and practices. Eco-friendly and cruelty-free beauty products are gaining popularity as consumers choose to align their beauty routines with their values. With growing awareness of cruelty-free and vegan choices, consumer preferences are shifting towards eco-friendly products.” She further goes on to highlight the tangible impact of these choices, stating “we have seen an ever-increasing demand and appreciation for the cult favourite INNISFREE Green Tea Hyaluronic Seed Serum since we have made it all vegan with its packaging and formula.” 

INNISFREE Green Tea Hyaluronic Seed Serum

At Kama Ayurveda, sustainability is maintained while formulating products and they are crafted within a state-of-the-art green production facility in southern India. In addition, the brand takes a comprehensive approach to eco-conscious packaging, utilising 100% recycled plastic containers. 

The influence of social media on communication and information-seeking behaviour is undeniable, driving a paradigm shift in consumer awareness. "Consumers today are well-informed," notes Sahni. "The rise of digital platforms has transformed perceptions and empowered individuals to share knowledge and explore effective products." 

Reflecting on Kama Ayurveda's journey, Sahni recounts the initial misconceptions about Ayurveda. "When we started Kama Ayurveda, people often presumed Ayurveda was related to herbal or medicinal aspects. Fast forward two decades and the perception has completely transformed, thanks to digital platforms providing easy access to information." 

Inclusivity in Beauty  

In our world, diversity is abundant, and inclusivity is essential. Beauty brands are realising that beauty goes beyond traditional norms, resulting in a newfound focus on diversity and inclusivity. One of the most significant steps towards inclusivity is the expansion in the range of shades in makeup products and breaking gender stereotypes by introducing gender-neutral skincare and cosmetic lines.  

Masaba Gupta’s brand LoveChild by Masaba is one of the leading beauty brands that works specifically for the Indian skin tone. In agreement with inclusivity within the industry, Dr. Kiran says “we have more diverse offerings and they’re only increasing. It started with the movement to stop the entire concept of ‘fair’ being beautiful and we saw brands like ‘Fair and Lovely’ (rebranded to ‘Glow and Lovely’) change their entire branding and concepts.” She further states “with more representation through social media, I think we see a lot of change in mindset and brands are increasing things as simple as shade ranges, and talking more openly about things like how different colours show up differently on different skins.” 

Sahni expresses the same belief, saying “brands are diversifying their product offerings to cater to a broader spectrum of skin tones and types. Marketing strategies increasingly celebrate diversity, featuring a range of faces, and body types, going against gender biases and stereotypes, that represent the varied beauty within the country. There’s a conscious effort to ensure that overall representation is reflective of the diverse population, fostering a more inclusive and empowering beauty landscape in India.”  

Artificial Intelligence in Beauty 

The rise in internet usage and digitalisation has led to the emergence of personalised products in the market that cater to different categories of consumers across various regions who are empowered and informed digitally. 

In the luxury beauty industry, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing a crucial role in reshaping the landscape of opulence and sophistication. Top-tier brands such as Chanel, Dior, and La Mer are seamlessly integrating AI to provide an unparalleled personalised experience for discerning consumers. Esteemed brands are utilising algorithms to decode individual skin needs and prescribe bespoke regiments, resulting in AI-drive skincare analyses. Virtual try-on experiences, exemplified by L’Oréal’s ‘Makeup Genius’ app, allows clients to virtually experiment with products, ensuring a tailored and immersive exploration of luxury cosmetics. This fusion of AI and beauty not only enhances product efficacy but also symbolises a commitment to innovation, marking a paradigm shift within the narrative of luxury beauty. 

This change is slowly also seeping into the Indian market. As technology plays a significant role in the global beauty sector, Sahni discusses India's adaptation to innovations like augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and virtual try-on experiences. "These technologies offer valuable tools for online engagement, personalised recommendations, and virtual product trials, highlighting their potential to cater to digitally savvy consumers.” 

“Artificial intelligence is practically ruling the beauty landscape, transforming the traditional landscape into a dynamic and highly personalised experience. From virtual makeup trials to data-driven skincare solutions, beauty has become more accessible and enjoyable. It also transforms how a customer interacts with the product,” notes Mini Sood Banerjee. 

Mini Sood Banerjee

However, Sahni acknowledges the irreplaceable nature of the in-store experience, particularly in beauty and skincare. "While these technologies enhance the online experience, the touch-and-feel experience in-store remains unparalleled. Beauty is a personal journey, and physically trying products and receiving guidance from well-informed beauty advisors allow consumers to make more informed decisions." 

An increasing number of global brands are setting their sights on India as a potential market for introducing their unique offerings, with premium beauty brands strategically entering the industry through collaborations and partnerships. Additionally, the demand for ayurvedic beauty remains robust, with a heightened emphasis on personalised, ingredient-centric, and sustainable products tailored to suit Indian skin types. 

The luxury BPC market in India is poised for significant growth and has an estimated projection to reach $20B by 2025, with the premium luxury segment experiencing a 15% expansion. 

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Arushi Sakhuja

Arushi Sakhuja
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