This article was originally published in the Ancient Beauty Trend Report. Receive your copy here
Whether it’s turmeric face masks or rice water cleansers, Ayurveda or adaptogens, remedies that are rooted in beauty wisdom that traces back millennia have established a newfound relevance with consumers today.
But why is beauty from the past resonating so strongly with consumers in the present?
“In an era dominated by superficial claims and fleeting trends, consumers are gravitating towards the reliability of age-old practices, natural ingredients, and holistic wellness,” says Hannah Roberts, Global VP Marketing & Strategy, Consumer Care, at beauty and personal care ingredient supplier Croda International.
“In a saturated market rife with exaggerated promises, looking to the wisdom of ancient plants and practices provides consumers with an authentic alternative rooted in time-tested traditions,” she adds.
The growing popularity of ancient holistic practices like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine both within beauty and across food and wellness more generally, also reflects how consumers are linking beauty to their physical and mental wellbeing.
And brands are seeing opportunities in this space.
“We are seeing so many founders coming out with brands that are inspired by their heritage, their ancient beauty, using ingredients and sharing stories but marketing them in modern, cool packaging,” says global beauty expert and founder of travel company Around the World Beauty, Stephanie Flor.
“People are just obsessed with the stories of where these products are coming from, whether they’re from that culture or not.”
Prados Beauty is a colour cosmetics brand founded by Cece Meadows, who is a proud Xicana and Indigena (Yoeme) and aims to bring awareness to, and collaboration with, other Native and Indigenous artists through sustainably-produced cosmetics, such as Native American designer and artist Lauren Good Day.
This approach fosters a sense of authenticity and cultural connection that Gen Z, in particular, are looking for.
TikTok has also played a strong hand in reviving the interest in traditional beauty remedies as well as ingredients.
For example, Cica, aka Centella asiatica or Gotu Kola, which means ‘fountain of youth’ in Sanskri, used in traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic and African medicine, has gained traction in skin care over the past five years for its regenerative, healing and wrinkle-smoothing properties.
On TikTok, #cicaskincare currently has 3.3 million views.
'Ancient beauty’ may have seen a recent surge of new brands, but it also reflects a consumer need that has been growing for years.
“Ancient beauty is not merely a trend,” says Roberts, “it’s a movement towards a more meaningful and sustainable beauty experience, resonating with consumers who seek authenticity, cultural connections and a sense of wellbeing.”
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Trend 1: Why ancient beauty brands are luring Gen Z
Hair oiling, gua sha, dry body brushing and rice water treatments stand out as some of the most viral – and long lasting – TikTok beauty trends of the past five years.
But while they have been extensively popularised by influencers and celebrities, it is no coincidence that they are all rooted in ancient and time-tested beauty practices and rich cultural traditions, and this lies at the essence of their appeal.
For Gen Z, ancient remedies and traditional beauty rituals are proving to be attractive for many reasons, including offering respite from their tech-heavy, hectic lifestyles.
This trend explores why centuries-old remedies are striking a chord with the TikTok generation, and the opportunities this presents to brands.
Trend 2: The forgotten beauty ingredients set for rediscovery in 2024
Nothing quite sparks a buzzy beauty trend than an ancient botanical ingredient that is rediscovered for its potent cosmetic properties.
Many ingredients that are experiencing a modern renaissance in beauty – such as powerhouse adaptogens reishi and tremella mushrooms – have crossed over from their popularity as a health food or wellness trend, and the next ingredients set to surface in 2024 are no exception.
Trend 2 spotlights several key ingredients that have been largely overlooked in beauty, yet offer powerhouse benefits that will see them used more and more in 2024.
Trend 3: Why Ayurvedic beauty is the new 'clean' beauty
'Clean’ beauty is both everywhere and no longer enough.
Nearly a third of the US market is ‘clean’ beauty (source: Brandessence), yet with consumers, ‘clean’ now is losing its clout.
For 91.9% of beauty consumers, product efficacy is the number one focus when shopping for products, outweighing ‘clean’ and ‘safe’ formulations (80.4%), according to Harris Williams’ autumn 2023 Health & Beauty Survey.
In the 2022 survey, product efficacy and ‘clean’ were equally weighted.
But a movement has emerged in which brands are offering both, taking the narrative beyond ‘cleanical’ and combining efficacy and high performance with a traditional plant-based system of healing that dates back 5000 years.
Enter Ayurvedic beauty brands that utilise modern science to offer efficacious skin care products, and plug the gap the ‘clean’ beauty failed to address.
Trend 4: Why TCM is skin care's next big opportunity
With its ancient remedies and time-tested practices dating back 3,000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been gaining attention in the beauty world.
But while gua sha and jade rollers have largely dominated its discovery in the west up to now, TCM offers enormous potential for emerging beauty brands to bring its tradition-rich ingredients and practices to consumers, and ultimately to develop their experience of its holistic approach, based on prevention and restoring balance.
“In consumers’ eyes, traditional medicines, ingredients and practices have thousands of years of R&D behind them, and they will increasingly turn to ancestral knowledge to address beauty and self care needs,” says Sienna Piccioni, Head of Beauty at WGSN.
“We are seeing this the most with the emergence of Traditional Chinese Medicine within the beauty space.”
Trend 5: Tea-infused skin care is brewing fast
Tea may be an ancient ingredient, discovered thousands of years ago in China, but its revival in skin care is serving up fresh appeal.
Although brands have been boosting beauty products with tea ingredients for many years, its popularity is brewing fast.
According to Future Market Insights, sales of tea-based skin care are forecast to rise by 8.3% by 2033.
This trend looks at the brands focusing on measuring the efficacy of different blends when used topically, as well as the rise of functional ingestible teas as a wellness ritual, to support beauty from the inside out.