Slow Beauty: How Hyper - Consumerism is Dying in America

How much did you spend on beauty products last year? $500? $2000? Well, in the U.S, the average woman spends a staggering $3000 on beauty products every year - that’s almost $200,000 in their lifetime.

That's why the beauty industry is worth billions- in fact, it’s currently valued at $532.43 billion and is expected to reach $805.61 billion by 2023. With a growth rate of 4.5 per cent per year, the sector is showing no signs of slowing down.

But every industry has a dark side and beauty is no exception. Unprecedented growth has created more jobs, entrepreneurs, and innovative product breakthroughs but it has come at a huge environmental cost.

In the past five years, the industry has quickly adopted a fast fashion model which involves short production schedules and an endless supply of products that serve only to perpetuate throwaway culture.

Waiting months to develop products is a thing of the past - beauty companies are opting to stay on top of buzzy trends by churning out products at a break-neck pace that consumers are struggling to keep up with. E.L.F, an American skincare and makeup brand, is a pertinent example of the rampant consumerism of fast beauty. In 2017, the company launched 128 items, an increase of 40 percent from the previous year. This was a staunch effort to stay ahead of competitors and cater for some of the trendiest products at the time.

It can be argued that this ever-expanding variety and choice means the industry is innovating and customers are benefitting, but is that the whole truth? Not necessarily. The cost of producing cosmetics (especially on a large scale) causes price to be favored instead of originality. Choice fatigue is also a real thing. A consumer study showed that 70% of beauty consumers are overwhelmed by too many beauty product choices and 63% of consumers are confused by beauty product claims.

But how did we even wind up in this cult of consumerism in the first place? The rise of social media and eco-commerce has a lot to do with it. Almost two decades ago, people would flip through magazines and look at celebrities on red carpets to find out what’s new in the industry, but that lost its appeal when beauty influencers took over the digital space. Search ‘makeup haul’ on YouTube or Instagram and you’ll see hundreds and thousands of videos of makeup tutorials, reviews and beauty hauls.

The relationship between content creators and their audience is almost exclusively about buying, testing, and recommending products. Every week there’s a new release and brands are willing to pay influencers tens of thousands of dollars to tout their products. Research shows influencer marketing has shot up in recent years, rising from an estimated $2 billion in 2017 to about $8 billion in 2019. What’s more, beauty giants are now spending 75 percent of their marketing budget on influencers.

It’s little surprise that spending on cosmetics has increased dramatically. FOMO (fear of missing out) and a “more is more” attitude often displayed by many influencers means consumers are constantly trying to keep up with the trends.
But trends do one thing: they come and go. A trendy product is only “hot” for a short period before consumers move on to the next thing. So, where do the millions of unsolved inventory go? It’s not very clear.

The beauty sector doesn’t keep track of unsold inventory or returned products (perhaps intentionally). However, it’s estimated that between 20 and 40 per cent of beauty products end up in landfill. It’s clear that the industry is wildly unsustainable and something needs to change sooner than later for the sake of our planet.

The Rise of Slow Beauty
The good news is there’s a growing movement towards conscious consumerism with heightened concerns about climate change. Lockdowns due to the pandemic also encouraged slower, considerate approach to beauty rituals as consumers became more conscious of their health and wellbeing. Millennials and Generation Z have been at the forefront of this revolution harnessing the power of social media to hold brands accountable, putting everything under public scrutiny from excessive plastic packaging to unethical ingredients.

They want to see fewer products, clean formulations, non-toxic packaging and greater transparency related to ingredient sourcing and manufacturing practices.
This is easier said than done for an industry that essentially exists to sell more products and maintain as high profit margins as possible. While big ticket brands have been slow to adopt these changes, small indie brands have been quick to respond.

As a result, more consumers are switching to smaller, more innovative and sustainable local brands that reflect their values rather than spending their money on huge legacy brands. Slow beauty, much like slow fashion, is a more thoughtful and aligned approach to producing and consuming cosmetics. It means buying less and consciously choosing beauty products’ that are not only kind to the skin but people, planet, and animals.

Here are the six main features that define slow beauty:
1. Minimalist routine
The Korean 12- step routine has become a marketing gimmick used by western companies to boost sales. Not only is it overwhelming, it’s expensive with hardly noticeable benefits. Slow beauty replaces many products with tightly-edited staples that achieve similar results.

2. Sustainable sourcing
Slow beauty demands greater transparency in a brand’s supply chain as conscious consumers are more confident in ethically made products. This requires brands to source ingredients that are produced responsibly and work with suppliers who treat their workers and the environment with respect.

3. Focus on efficacy
Fast beauty products are diluted with cheap synthetic fillers to add volume which decreases the potency and gives mediocre results. On the flipside, slow beauty values quality over quantity and often includes a short list of carefully sourced concentrated ingredients that get the job done.

4. Multifunctional
For value-for-money oriented minimalist consumers, slow beauty is ideal as most products have more than one task. You can combine several steps of a regimen in one product to create an effective pared-down routine, saving time and money

5. Low waste
Plastic waste is a huge problem in beauty. The industry generates 120 million tons of plastic packaging waste every year, much of which is not recycled. Slow beauty brands strive to eliminate this waste by putting their products in plastic-free packaging made from recycled or biodegradable materials. They also use fewer packaging materials overall.

6. Small batch production
Due to the time, effort and resources, the products are only made in small batches. Every aspect of the production is controlled so that overall product quality is consistent from start to finish.

At Bellavana, we believe slow beauty and sustainability go hand-in-hand.
Our aim is to reduce the pressure of fast-paced consumerism the industry puts on consumers today by taking a slower, more mindful approach in all aspects of our operations.

Instead of bucking the trend of launching new products every few weeks, we’ve curated range of four multi-purpose products, covering all your skincare needs.
We’ve omitted unnecessary filler ingredients such as parabens, PEGs, dyes, opting instead for higher-quality active ingredients to provide the best possible results. Ultimately, our mission is to create products you love without sacrificing the planet. Join us in the revolution.

You May Also Be Interested In: 

How the Beauty Industry Impacts the Plastic Crisis

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