The beauty and hairdressing industry has always been a master of reinvention. Having been reliant on animal testing from the late 1930s, the industry has made radical changes since the 80s and 90s when the effects of inhuman animal testing dominated headlines.
Despite the shake ups, make up, hair, and skin products are more popular than ever. The rise of the Instagram influencer has seen hair stylists and make-up artists become overnight celebrities with vast empires of loyal fans. A report released by retail analytic firm Edited, in mid 2019, estimated the industry to be worth a mammoth US$532 billion.
Though digital marketing, social media influencers, and video tutorials are largely credited for the sharp increase in sales, the industry’s ability to radically evolve is undeniably important.
The contemporary beauty and hairdressing industry has been a space traditionally dominated by female consumers. But the late 2010s has seen the industry shift in its traditional binary approach. While it may not be immediately obvious in the highly gendered product selection in the supermarket aisles, traditional products are beginning to play with who they market to. The inclusion of cis male, trans and non binary brand ambassadors and influencers has begun to reshape the industry and opened up broader conversations within society.
One of the biggest ethical issues facing the industry is the huge amount of waste produced by product packaging. While the industry has experienced rapid growth, so too, has its plastic footprint. In the US the plastic packaging used for cosmetics racks up about $25 billion per year is sales alone. That’s before a single drop of product is put inside them.
There have been stand out products in the last couple of decades, invented solely with the intention of reducing plastic packaging, most notable being shampoo bars and bath bombs (replacing bubble bath). L’Oreal have pledged to make all of their packaging reusable, compostable or recyclable by 2025, with other brands looking to redevelop, committing massive research and development efforts to develop cost effective, environmentally friendly packaging.
Hair and cosmetic products are taking a leaf out of the wellness playbook, with the rising popularity of ‘clean beauty’. Consumers are looking for ethically-sourced, cruelty-free, natural alternatives to the chemically-laden products that have traditionally dominated the shelves.
Once a niche movement, millenials and Gen Z have dragged clean beauty into the mainstream. Victoria Buchanan, senior futures analyst at The Future Laboratory, says the industry will have to continue evolving to meet changing demands into the future.
“As consumers continue to scrutinise what is in the products they put on their skin, zero-irritants will become the new standard of natural beauty,” she predicts.
From offering on campus training to regularly visiting apprentices in their salons, our trainers not only keep up with but help salons stay ahead of industry trends.
Check out the evolving face of TAFE Queensland's hair and beauty courses.
Sharan Berry-Doyle has more than 20 years of experience in the hairdressing industry. She's worked her way from apprentice to Leading Vocational Teacher and picked up numerous awards along the way. Passionate about mentoring upcoming industry professionals, nothing is more satisfying for Sharan than seeing her students succeed.