From skincare to make-up: Biggest beauty trends that defined the 2010s

Tan Wei Lin

CNA – Change is a constant – that’s a fact – and 10 years worth of it represent quite a substantial amount of developments to look back on.

A lot of it can be found within the beauty industry, which has made a significantly big shift in just about every aspect this past decade. There’s the exciting and the surprising, a whole lot of crazy, as well as plenty of upgrades in terms of beauty technology.

More importantly, the 2010s have brought about a change in consumers’ mindset toward beauty – as we become more knowledgeable about the industry and the products we put on our skin, we want our skincare and cosmetics not just to be more safe and effective, but also to be more environmentally friendly.

Which trends have gotten us into buying frenzies, and which ones should stay or be tossed away? Let us look back and review the happenings that have defined our beauty tastes and routines.

THE KOREAN WAVE

The biggest beauty movement to take the world by storm in the last decade is the K-beauty wave.

Sheet masks (for the face and various parts of the body), the 10-step skincare routine as well as a plethora of products that the rest of the world had never seen or tried before – like the cushion compact, sleeping mask, as well as weird skincare ingredients like snail slime and donkey’s milk – are just some of the things it brought with it.

These Korean trends may no longer be hot news anymore, but they are still going on strong and have also left evidence of their influence on Western cosmetic brands, which have developed their own versions of some of these Korean products.

THE GADGET AGE

Technology changes everything, not least the way we go about our beauty routine.

Fingers, it seems, no longer suffice as application and blending tools when it comes to putting on skincare and makeup. Instead, a nifty gadget or two are now required if you wish to improve how these products perform on your skin.

From microcurrent and jade facial rollers to LED light skincare devices, there’s an implement to suit every need and budget.

These promise a variety of benefits – they can soothe skin and boost the penetration of skincare products, firm and tighten skin or even target acne problems.

Make-up application tools, particularly those used for foundation, have gotten more advanced than ever before.

Ye olde wedge sponge may still be able to accomplish the job but the finish that it gives is nothing like the flawless results that a Beauty Blender, vibrating sponge applicator or Artis brush can give you.

CONTOURING CRAZE

Thanks to social media and the advent of “Instagram makeup”, contouring and highlighting have both grown into huge trends and become essential steps in every beauty influencer’s LOTD (Look Of The Day).

The trend speedily opened up a whole new product category in beauty – suddenly, cosmetics brands were coming up with all manner of highlighting powders and contouring sticks, not to mention handy palettes combining a variety of these.

Some credit (or blame) the Kardashian and Jenner clans for starting this potentially streaky-looking trend, but the fact is that contouring and highlighting have actually been around for quite a while – seen as early as the 1930s on film stars like Marlene Dietrich.

These makeup tricks for helping celebrities look better on screen actually do work like a charm, provided you don’t use them with too heavy a hand (as seen in many an influencer’s dramatic demonstration on Instagram). Remember that you are repurposing these shading techniques for real life and not for movie cameras.

MATTE POUTS

The matte lip is not a new thing, but it definitely defined the makeup look of the 2010s in an unprecedented way. It also paved the way for the arrival of a new product that is both loved and hated in equal parts – the liquid lipstick.

This super-matte lip product gives full-impact, budge-proof colour in a few swipes but also tended to annihilate all moisture in the lips.

Even so, nothing stopped it from becoming a best-selling makeup product – just ask Kylie Jenner, who built her multi-million-dollar beauty empire on her liquid lip kits that kept on selling out when the first batches hit online stores.

The liquid lipstick is still around, and, thankfully, is now available in formulas that are more forgiving on a dry pout.

As we go into a new decade, matte lips are likely to stick around, albeit in a velvet, demi-matte finish that is more wearable and can be delivered via both a liquid or regular lipstick.

SEMI-PERMANENT MAKEUP

One global trend that has really made its presence felt in Singapore in recent years is semi-permanent makeup. It’s not just eyebrow embroidery or microblading that can be done these days; one can practically get a full face of “makeup” that won’t fade or wash off at the end of the day – eyeliner, lip colour, even blush and a foundation-like skin base.

Of course, while these new techniques are all essentially a form of tattooing, they aren’t like the permanent eyebrow tattooing of yore with pigments that fade to a ghastly green. Instead, they produce a natural finish, as well as offer a customisable intensity. Best of all, they are not permanent and will fade in a matter of months, which means they aren’t irreversible should you decide on a change. It’s easy to see why semi-permanent makeup is so popular now – not only is it a great time-saver, it also offers those who are hopeless at applying makeup a way to hold onto expertly made-up brows, eyes or lips for months on end.

IN-YOUR-FACE HAIR

It began with full-on peroxide-blonde and then morphed into a bizarre multi-coloured rainbow trend. Then came pink, purple and grey, as well as ombre colouring techniques involving one or more of these outre shades for the hair.

Never had a hair trend been so OTT (Over The Top) and what’s more unusual is that it seems that the whole world is embracing it.

We aren’t quite sure what to make of it – a bold hair colour change may be fun and super eye-catching, but certain colours are simply not work- or school-appropriate and, worse still, have turned many a head of hair into a dry and wiry mess with the damage caused by extensive bleaching.

Our vote goes to a more subtle approach – ashy-brown tones can be much more attractive and are far easier to maintain than a crazy-bright colour that leaches out of hair in barely two weeks. More importantly, the health of your hair should be your top priority, because absolutely no colour will look good on hair that’s frizzy.

THE CLEAN MOVEMENT

Ten years ago, no one really questioned what actually went into their skincare products as long as they felt good, smelled good and did what they’re supposed to do. So what if there were a bunch of words we didn’t recognise in the ingredient list? There wasn’t any information out there about them; besides, the general assumption back then was that no beauty company would put anything unsafe into the products that we are using.

Fast-forward to 2020 and we now know the truth. Parabens, phthalates, sulphates and synthetic fragrances – some of the most widely used chemical ingredients in the beauty trade – could be responsible for irritating our skin or, worse still, may cause more severe health problems down the road.

The rise of clean beauty came about with increasing levels of awareness about these harmful ingredients, opening up a new branch in the industry that is largely made up of smaller-scale brands producing nasties-free skincare.

Of course, not all synthetic ingredients are harmful. At the same time, it is difficult to formulate some products or ensure their longevity without the use of certain essential synthetic ingredients. The key is in understanding which are the ones that are skin-friendly and safe for use. But while there are still points to be debated here, one thing is clear – clean beauty is here to stay and any beauty company that is seriously thinking about the future must have a foot in it.

SUSTAINABLE BEAUTY

The rise of clean beauty came about with increasing levels of awareness about these harmful ingredients, opening up a new branch in the industry that is largely made up of smaller-scale brands producing nasties-free skincare.

Of course, not all synthetic ingredients are harmful. At the same time, it is difficult to formulate some products or ensure their longevity without the use of certain essential synthetic ingredients. The key is in understanding which are the ones that are skin-friendly and safe for use.

But while there are still points to be debated here, one thing is clear – clean beauty is here to stay and any beauty company that is seriously thinking about the future must have a foot in it.

Packaging, for one, has started to change for the benefit of the environment – glass, instead of plastic; simpler packaging that does away with multiple layers of cardboard; as well as single-material bottles that create ease for recycling.

Some brands are even offering perks to customers who bring in their empty product containers for recycling.

Other brands have begun to look into sustainable and ethical sourcing of ingredients so that we may enjoy guilt-free beauty. Is it a tall order or a challenge that can actually be accomplished? The next 10 years will reveal the answer and hopefully get us much closer to being thoroughly environmentally friendly.