3PL Beauty Supply

Beauty Retail Trends in 2021

While we may not have had many chances to have a night on the town with our friends in 2020, that doesn’t mean that the beauty industry isn’t alive and well. The economic and societal changes that the COVID-19 pandemic brought about meant major changes in buying patterns in nearly every sector, and the beauty retail industry is no exception. 

Even in a Zoom room or outdoor, socially-distanced gathering, we deserve to feel great about ourselves, and there’s no better time for self-care, which means there’s still plenty of space for growth and opportunity in the beauty retail world.

In this blog, we’ll highlight the beauty trends that are driving the multi-billion dollar industry in 2021. 

Eco-Friendly Products


With consumer attention turning towards beauty products that are good for them, but good for the environment as well, clean, eco-friendly beauty lines reigned supreme in 2020. What kinds of trends and innovations were catching the eye of consumers in 2020?

  • Recyclable eyeshadow palettes and a beauty balm contained in a 100 percent biodegradable pot
  • Sustainable packaging guidelines, and limitations on single-use products like sheet masks, cotton pads, and wipes, with an emphasis on reusable alternatives
  • Shampoo bars that eliminate the need for wasteful plastic packaging
  • Celebrity-backed vegan skincare lines
  • Packaging marketed for its sustainability and lowered carbon footprint

Consumers are wising up to the damage that packaging and single-use beauty products are doing to the environment and actively seeking out alternatives that protect the earth.

Clean Beauty Products


What kinds of features are attracting buyers to new brands?

Natural, clean, sustainable products. When polled, two-thirds of consumers who purchase beauty products expressed their interest in trying new beauty brands and products if they were natural, and 59 percent said they would be interested in trying new, clean products.

Consumers today want to know what they are putting in their bodies and on their skin. They want to know if it will promote long-term wellness or if it has the potential to harm them, and as a result, they are looking for clean and natural products to add to their beauty arsenal.

The difference between clean and natural in the beauty world?

  • Natural products are made entirely from naturally-occurring ingredients, with nothing artificial
  • Clean products are beauty and wellness products that are healthy and free from harmful or “bad” ingredients 

Natural and clean products can actually be quite hard to source on a widespread level, which means that oftentimes, smaller, direct-to-consumer beauty brands have a competitive edge when it comes to offering these kinds of products. 

Diversity and Inclusion in the Beauty Industry


There’s no question that conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion quickly accelerated in 2020, with the summertime being a truly watershed moment in the quest for equality for all, regardless of race, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

The beauty retail industry felt this march forward into a time of greater acceptance, understanding, and equity with some notable changes and advancements:

  • Color cosmetics made for—and celebrating—black and brown skin
  • Women appointed to more positions of power in beauty retail
  • Research grants awarded to women in science and beauty
  • Charitable giving and shop-and-donate campaigns targeted towards LGBTQ+ allied-organizations
  • A push for affordable, sustainable menstrual products

The best part of this “trend?” It doesn’t seem to be a passing fad. Both consumers and retailers have realized that these changes have needed to happen for a long time, and it seems that a focus on diversity and equity is here to stay.

At-Home Nails and Hair Care


During stay-at-home orders, spas and salons locked their doors, and consumers began their search for reliable at-home solutions to maintain their hair and nail regimens. 

The at-home “prestige” nail sector gained $1 million in sales during the lockdown and saw growth of 29 percent during the second quarter of the year, and mass nail polish sales grew. 37.5 percent year-over-year for the first half of 2020. And, there’s no end in sight to this trend, with 17 percent of Nielsen survey respondents stating they planned to do their nails at home more often. 

Like nail care, at-home hair coloring sales saw a dramatic rise in sales, growing 36 percent year-over-year, with a 137 percent hike in online sales, with online hair dye subscriptions more popular than ever. While there is an expected return to hair stylists for some hair dyeing services, it’s projected that even post-pandemic we will continue to see many consumers purchasing at-home hair dye, with an eye towards high-quality products. 

Direct-to-Consumer Online Retailers


While brick-and-mortar sales of beauty and wellness products still hold a large majority of the market share, online beauty brands and direct-to-consumer sales models are beginning to gain a foothold. Until recently, nothing could compete with the in-store shopping experience, consumers are discovering the perks of eCommerce in the beauty industry.

The newest batch of beauty retailers is focusing less on selling to retailers and more on reaching new customers directly online, especially through the use of targeted social media ad campaigns. 

These changes are powered by a few factors:

  • The use of artificial intelligence to drive personalization
  • The inclusion of free samples with purchases
  • Loyalty and rewards points
  • Cross-selling and up-selling of related products

This business model keeps costs low while retaining profits, which no longer have to be shared with in-person retailers, and it helps create a lasting relationship between the consumer and the beauty brand, establishing brand loyalty. During 2020, even in-person, department store makeup counter brand giants like Estée Lauder pivoted to online sales thanks to lower acquisition costs and fewer product returns.

One of the ways these brands are finding success is by gearing their products to niche groups, like:

  • Specific age brackets
  • A focus on a particular gender
  • Low price offerings
  • Solutions to extreme problems like acne and other skin care needs
  • Those looking for natural, clean beauty products or hair care

With options like personalized subscription retail and artificial intelligence-based product recommendations tailored to each customer, direct-to-consumer sales are seeing major growth.

The Right Partner to Scale Your Beauty Brand


We’re not just good at what we do, we’re experienced. At OceanX, we got our start in direct-to-consumer commerce. We’ve been working in the beauty market for 30 years, and we know how to deliver your customers personalized, memorable shopping experiences and support you with innovative, cost-saving, efficient solutions from warehouse to mailbox.

We can be your “pick, pack, and deliver” partner even at high volumes which means we’re poised and ready to help you follow the industry trends or forge your own path and scale your brand. We’re even here for you when you need a market researcher on your team to track and analyze consumer behaviors.

We’ve proudly worked with recognizable, household-name brands like:

  • Proactiv
  • Mielle
  • Glossier
  • Athletic Greens
  • Frey

Through our partnerships, we’ve helped transform these brands into trendsetters and titans in the beauty industry. Now, we want to work with you. Learn more about the OceanX direct-to-consumer experience by downloading our guide today.


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