Wellness has become synonymous with holistic health and all that now entails, from sipping turmeric lattes, going on exotic silent retreats to wearing expensive athleisure leggings or downloading a meditation app.
So it’s not surprising that, according to new figures from the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness industry grew from $3.4 to $3.7 trillion between 2013 and 2015. What is interesting, however, is that the beauty and ageing category was down from $1.03 trillion to $999 billion in the same period.
“One reason for this is because of currency conversion. Global beauty revenues are reported in US dollars, which appreciated significantly from 2013 to 2015 against the currencies of major beauty markets. If we looked at the European beauty market in terms of growth expressed in euros, it would be significantly higher,” explains Beth McGroarty, the institute’s research director.
You don’t look or seem beautiful if you are unhealthy and unhappy
“That said, another force is certainly at play. We’re seeing ‘superficial beauty’ being replaced by the ‘wellness as beauty’ model as one of the most powerful trends to ever hit the vast beauty market – and its share of the market will only rise.
“It’s a megatrend unfolding globally. This radically different philosophy will shake up the sales share of the big brands because the ‘beauty comes from within’ or beauty as true wellness argument reframes the topical skincare claim as mere hope in a jar. ‘Fix it after its broken’, cosmetic repair is giving way to a beauty approach that revolves around prevention. And with this comes a new aesthetic – you don’t look or seem beautiful if you are unhealthy and unhappy.”
Undoubtedly, this has in part been powered by glowing, radiant Insta yogis and green juice foodie fashionistas, but also by a raft of websites, which inform and introduce niche startups.
Cora Hilts and Natasha Tucker began their luxury sustainable fashion website Rêve En Vert in 2013 and found a demand for beauty. “People care about what goes on their faces and bodies, which helps contextualise the fashion side of the business because more people are familiar with organic or natural beauty, driving new traffic to the site,” says Ms Tucker. “We are able to convert another market segment because they are then led to care and think much more about clothing.”
The site champions established British organic brand Bamford, as well as newbies such as Haeckels, a hipster thalassotherapy brand from the Kent coast taglined “Made of Margate”, and Guy Morgan Apothecary, sleek simple yet beautifully artisan products.
The clean eating trend has created new beauty consumers who want to have their gluten-free, raw cacao cake and eat it. No need to sacrifice glam for ethics as there are glossy, fashionable natural make-up lines, which celebrate how great it makes you feel to look good. Standouts include sparkly clean RMS created by NYC make-up artist Rose-Marie Swift and the carefully crafted Kjaer Weis by Danish make-up artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis in refillable jewel-like compacts. Plus bright star Ilia by Sasha Plavsic, who splashed fashion colours in chic metal packaging into the market.
Ironically, one could say the Silicon Valley tech which is boosting the market is also fuelling the need. “We spend so much of our time at screens, and the massive amount of information we have to process bombards our brains and upsets the nervous system,” says Denise Leicester, British founder of luxury spa brand Ila. “This creates great tension around the eyes in particular and the face itself is very sensitive with thousands of nerve endings. It’s a specific kind of stress we haven’t experienced before, and people are searching out deep-healing spa treatments, at-home rituals and soothing natural products.”
Ms Leicester’s brand launched as “beyond organic” in 2004 and is made with love ethics – batches are imbued with Sanskrit yogic chants. It has now grown into an in-demand brand at five-star-plus retreats all over the world, including RAAS Devigarh in Udaipur owned by one of India’s hot hoteliers Nikhilendra Singh.
The yogic-style beauty product has ripple effects, says Lucy Wakefield, co-founder and creative director of UK online wellness brand Calmia, which launched as a spa on London’s Marylebone High Street in the early-00s.
“When you use products that nurture, everyone benefits, not just ourselves – the positivity radiates out. This is very different from the earlier spa-wellness trend, which was all about being stressed, tired and needing a personal trainer, and that you deserved a massage, blow dry, facial after everything you had battled that day,” she says.
Superficial is just not sustainable on any level and Aveda is the mother brand of this ilk, the first to turn hippy into hipster when it hit the UK in 1994. Its visionary founder, Austrian-born Horst Rechelbacher, created the naturally aromatic lifestyle line having discovered the ancient Indian health system Ayurveda as a session hair stylist in the 60s and 70s, and committed to spread the idea of wellness and environmentalism through beauty.
Estée Lauder acquired Aveda in 1997, with Mr Rechelbacher remaining as a consultant for ten years before leaving to launch 100 per cent luxe-organic brand Intelligent Nutrients (IN). Passionate that “when we pollute our natural elements, we are endangering human and planetary sustainability”, he continually campaigned to clean up the beauty industry until his death from pancreatic cancer in 2014.
IN products such as Intellimune, a seed oil beauty supplement, Smart Armor Bug Repellant of essential oils and good enough to eat Lip Delivery Antioxidant Gloss have cult status, while Aveda’s authenticity still shines.
The smell of an aroma and soothing touch of massage is powerful
As the look good, feel good, do good virtuous beauty-wellness circle gains speed, communication is key. “Social media is vital in giving the instant access, but there is no comparison to personal, human connection. The smell of an aroma and soothing touch of massage is powerful. We as a population crave and search for an emotional connection in almost everything we do,” says Aveda’s UK general manager Darren Potter.
We also need truth and transparency. “There is a lot of lip service,” says Sian Sutherland, co-founder of innovative “beyond beauty” line Mama Mio. “Brands are using buzzwords and bending their original products to try and fit this new audience. It is just not credible. Wellness demands integrity. We need to stop thinking of it as a trend. It is a permanent social shift that is essential now.”