From the most talked-about trends to products, here's what fuelled the big beauty boom of 2020

Taking advantage of work-from-home days, several booked dermatologist appointments to get their procedures done as soon as their clinics opened. In a nutshell, skincare awareness was at its peak.

author_img Paulami Sen and Heena Khandelwal Published :  25th December 2020 11:35 AM   |   Published :   |  25th December 2020 11:35 AM

L’oreal’s Revitalift Crystal Micro-Essence and Earth Rhythm

Elaborate skincare regimens were a spot of calm that kept beauty enthusiasts happy during 2020. Those who had a routine comprising five steps, researched to include more and those who barely had a routine found the time to make one. Taking advantage of work-from-home days, several booked dermatologist appointments to get their procedures done as soon as their clinics opened. In a nutshell, skincare awareness was at its peak. Doctor Syed Shazia Fatima, cosmetic dermatology and aesthetic medicine expert, shares, “What was surprising indeed was an influx of new and old returning clients with multiple factors at play. Some wanted treatments that they couldn’t start earlier. They were at an advantageous position as masks can easily hide the downtime related to creams like retinol. A few others had recently developed skin and hair concerns. Enquiries about injectables to reduce wrinkles and smile lines and to augment cheeks and lips have been at an all-time high.” While a set of enthusiasts chose science-backed routes, others opted for DIY salon kits, but grooming certainly remained a preoccupation. According to research by Google’s The Connected Beauty Consumer Report jointly helmed by Google, Kantar and WPP, YouTube became a source one turned to for wellness measures. Sushmita Balasubramaniam, Domain lead CX & Commerce: South Asia, (Insights division, Kantar) makes an interesting observation in the report. She says, “Before COVID-19 times, consumers had the comfort of walking into stores and getting help from beauty advisors to try make sure they were buying something that suited them.” However, during the pandemic, what helped was technology. They educated themselves via YouTube — channels by skin experts like Cassandra Bankson, Dr Dray and Vanita Rattan were among some of the popular ones for product reviews. 

Good Vibes Rose Hip Serum was one of the most popular products sold on

Beyond metros
The fact that skincare was burgeoning during the pandemic, was proven by the fact that beauty e-commerce retailers grew by leaps and bounds. When we asked Manish Taneja, co-founder and chief executive officer, — one of India’s popular beauty retailers online — he confirmed that there’s been a 90 per cent spike in the sale of personal care products.“In the last quarter, we saw growth in hair care products by more than 100 per cent, followed by skincare, which grew by 85 per cent,” he informs, adding that, health care supplements, herbal teas, hair masks facial serums, toners, and sanitisers continue to be in demand. The other interesting discovery was that the spike in sales of grooming products was not relegated to the metros alone. He adds that the shutdown of salons during lockdown further might have been a key reason in the spike of online demand for personal care products, that kept increasing even in Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 cities. “The rise was at its peak in May. The demand for epilators, trimmers, scrubbers were also on a rise,” shares Manish.

Disguise Cosmetics

Vegan route
Vegan skincare found an increased number of takers as well. Desiree Pereira, co-founder and chief executive officer of the vegan label, Disguise Cosmetics informs that she has observed a slow but steady increase in interest in these niche products. She says, “We started seeing a bit of a hike in the awareness of the concept last year after people saw the documentary, The Game Changers, on Netflix. What also played a huge role in the demand was the Vocal For Local campaigns.”

Products that work harder
One of L’oreal’s top-selling products in 2020 has been the Revitalift Crystal Micro-Essence. It is an exfoliator with the goodness of beneficial ingredients like Salicylic Acid and healing Centella Asiatica, that can gently exfoliate. Pau Gruart, General Manager, L’Oréal Paris, India, says, “Consumers are searching for different formats and products that go beyond the basics to provide ultra-nourishment. They want to invest more time, effort and spends in keeping their skin health high.” He also adds that with makeup trends worldwide shifting towards the eyes, they are now focusing on transfer-proof makeup which would be essential as people continue to wear masks for the times to come.

Trust ingredients
With constant reading and research, ingredients came into immense focus. There was the luxury of time to understand that better. Brands like The Ordinary, Inkey List and Indeed Labs have found success abroad by formulating targeted skincare serums and treatments focussing on one or just a few ingredients that are designed to treat either dry skin, acne, pigmentation and so on. India followed in the footsteps to create their own brands like that— brands like Minimalist launched a few months ago — and also Earth Rhythm that were designed to highlight selected ingredients like retinol, bakuchiol, niacinamide and ceramide. Harini Sivakumar, founder and cosmetic chemist, Earth Rhythm shares, “The product that we sold the most was our Phyto Gel, which is a very soothing and calming gel and helps to maintain pH balance and moisturise your skin. Another product that we sold was Clear Skin Serum which has Vitamin C, Bio Retinol, Salicylic and Hyaluronic Acid.” Harini attributes the rise of such brands to the fact that buyers have been reading a lot of trends and skincare routines.

Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum

The glass skin promise
Korean Beauty or K-beauty enthusiasts found that staying at home could be conducive to their multiple-step beauty routine comprising double cleansing, applying toners, essences, serums, spot treatment and so on. Dedicated K-beauty sites like The Beautybarn and Limese Connect found several mentions on Instagram. What worked with Korean beauty brands was that they kept innovating their formulas even during the pandemic. We reached out to Mini Sood Banerjee, assistant director and head of marketing, of Innisfree, one of the most popular K-beauty brands in India. Their hydrating serums worked well with patrons during the pandemic as it helps address concerns of dehydrated skin, that might occur while staying indoors with air-conditioner. She says, “Innisfree launched their upgraded Green Tea Seed Serum in July. Year after year we keep introducing newer versions,” she says, adding that it is the promise of flawless glass skin that keeps people hooked onto K-beauty.


 Do it yourself 
The temporary lockdown of salons also meant that people started looking for and purchasing at-home kits. Anita Golani, Founder of iORA, a DIY Salon Kit, says, “Many brands including iORA were conceived during the pandemic due to the unprecedented demand for DIY products. Leading e-commerce channel Flipkart also shared that they have seen a surge in consumers buying grooming kits online. iORA saw an increase in sale for its manicure and pedicure kit and Glow Mask, which is a deep moisturization treatment for one’s hands and feet.” She predicts that the use of facial oils and beauty tools like gua sha or jade rollers are likely to see more of an upswing as well.   

Bare beauty 
It was heartening to note that despite an added emphasis on flawless skin, several influencers worldwide bared their real skin. Handles like #freethepimple started by model Lou Northcote garnered more of a steady rise in followers.

Matilda De Angelis and Keke Palmer, Images: Their Instagram

Actresses like Keke Palmer opened up about her struggles with acne and her journey with PCOS and The Undoing star Matilda De Angelis shared a make-up free photo with red acne lesions, resulting in several people emphatic clapbacks and voices of support and fans commenting on how they relate to her. Amid the tiresome quest for perfect skin, the fact that beauty is not diminished by imperfections was the most important wellness message on social media last year.   

Geetika Mittal Gupta

Tackling maskne
Maksne, acne resulting due to hours of wearing masks, spelt trouble for those who already had a disrupted skin barrier. We spoke to Geetika Mittal Gupta, founder and medical director of Delhi-based clinic, ISAAC Luxe, told us how one can deal with this troublesome phenomenon better. She advocates in favour of a simple yet effective skincare regimen some useful tips.
• Cleanse your skin regularly by washing your face every morning and in the night with a mild face wash that will help unclog pores. It is best to then use an oil-free moisturiser in place of a
water-based one afterwards.
• Do not squeeze your pimples. This will further lead to inflammation and may also infect the area.
•   Exfoliation is also important as it helps the skin cells turnover. Salicylic or Glycolic Acid present in exfoliates will help prevent acne.
• Avoid using products with petrolatum, an ingredient used in cream and ointments (petroleum jelly