The Rise of “Glow” Beauty

The Rise of “Glow” Beauty

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The beauty industry is now seeing a major shift towards a beauty trend many dubbed as “glowy,” “dewy” or “glossy.” This essentially means having an incandescent and radiant complexion that looks like you’re glowing from within.  

But it was only a few years ago when consumers demanded beauty products with the term “matte” or “mattifying” that promised to last throughout the day. Popularised by the Kardashians and other Hollywood celebrities to sculpt and shade their features more boldly, makeup application techniques like contouring, bronzing and baking was all the rage.

Omnilytics Retail Data Kim Kardashian

Image Source: Elle

Now that a completely opposite beauty trend is flourishing in the market, could this be the consumers’ way of reacting to the “matte” trend having reached a critical mass? “I think it’s in part a backlash against that overdone makeup look,” said Rose Beer, health and beauty director of Grazia magazine.

Many credited this new trend to the influence of Glossier — a community based beauty company that markets themselves with the tagline of “skin first, makeup second”, and the K-beauty industry. In South Korea, however, glowy and dewy skin is not a trend, rather a coveted beauty standard. The ideal skin type is coined as “glass skin”, a term that describes hydrated, clear, luminous and translucent skin that mimics the appearance of glass.

The K-beauty industry is one of the biggest forces driving the beauty industry worldwide. Known for their highly innovative, effective and fun beauty products, western beauty brands often look towards K-beauty brands for inspiration. Products that have long been K-beauty trademarks like BB cream, cushion compacts and sheet face masks have been made popular in western countries so it’s no surprise that the “glass skin” ideal has translated into a beauty trend around the world.

To analyse the development of this trend and how consumers, brands and retailers are reacting to it, let’s take a look at data from social media and Sephora. Sephora is currently the world’s largest beauty retailer, thus analysing their data from this retailer would provide a good representation of the overall market.

Putting “Glow” Beauty To The Test

On social media, #Glow had 6.9 million tagged photos on Instagram while #Contour had 4.7 million and #Bronze had 3 million.

As foundation, highlighters & illuminators and blushers are the most popular products from Sephora, we will compare the top three products in two different categories; glow against matte.

Let’s start with foundation.

Omnilytics Retail Data Sephora Foundation


Omnilytics Retail Data Sephora Foundation


The graphs above compare data from glow foundation and matte foundation, with both displaying some similarities in number of SKUs and sellout rates. From the graphs, we can deduce that consumers are demanding glow and matte foundation at a comparable rate, which is surprising since the glow trend is on the rise. Even so, this should not discourage beauty brands to stock up more on glow foundation because this product type is still selling well. The similar sellout rate between the two categories could simply mean foundation choices are still not as receptive to the trend just yet.

Next, let’s look at highlighters & illuminators versus bronzers.

Omnilytics Retail Data Sephora Highlighters


Omnilytics Retail Data Sephora Bronzers


The graphs above illustrate a distinct difference in the performance of the respective categories.

Based on the number of SKUs and sellout rates, demand for highlighters & illuminators gradually increased while bronzers’ demand decreased after experiencing a high sellout rate in May 2018. Similar to the findings from glow foundation, consumers aren’t aggressively spending on highlighters & illuminators but they are still showing a slow but consistent interest. Thus, brands and retailers should continue investing in this category cautiously by refraining from overstocking and testing the market first with low stock quantity. On the other hand, consumers and retailers lost interest in bronzers in June 2018. Brands and retailers may consider gradually decreasing the number of SKUs for bronzers just as Sephora did as consumers shift towards embracing the glow trend.

Lastly, we’ll compare data from glow against matte blushers.

Omnilytics Retail Data Blushers


Omnilytics Retail Data Blush


Based on the data above, we can infer that blushers are less competitive and popular in comparison to foundation and highlighters & illuminators due to a significantly lower number of SKUs for blushers. Both glow and matte blushers experienced a high sellout rates in May, followed by a decrease in June. However, both sellout rates remained relatively high even with a low number of SKUs. Glowy blushers were stocked more than matte ones but still showed good performances, indicating them as a more popular choice. This could mean the blush category has a growth potential and brands and retailers can consider expanding their SKUs for them.

The Overall Picture

Though matte beauty products are still relatively popular, we noticed consumers, brands and retailers are gradually drifting away from matte beauty products, with the exception of foundation.

Besides that, “glow” beauty had a significantly higher number of SKUs compared to matte beauty, suggesting Sephora and beauty retailers are actively pushing this trend into the mass market.

We can concur that glow beauty is rising at a slow and steady rate among consumers hence beauty brands and retailers should remain innovative in developing these type of products. An important thing to note about the K-beauty industry is though it portrays an exemplary market in product innovation and quality, they still lack in inclusivity of assortment colours. Face makeup products such as foundation, BB cream and CC cushion are some of the most lucrative categories in the beauty industry, yet the K-beauty industry has left this market wide open. And don’t get us started on lipsticks and lip glosses. In short, the opportunities are boundless for western beauty connoisseurs as long as they are able to capitalise the market by producing inclusive, innovative and high-quality collections.  

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