‘Reassuring blues’ and ‘planet-friendly pigments’: A peak inside WGSN’s post-pandemic 2023 colour trends report

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

The COVID-19 crisis will have a lasting impact on colour trends to come, with newfound appreciation for colours that reassure, balance and give consumers hope [Getty Images]
The COVID-19 crisis will have a lasting impact on colour trends to come, with newfound appreciation for colours that reassure, balance and give consumers hope [Getty Images]

Related tags WGSN Colour cosmetics trends COVID-19 Makeup self-care wellbeing Natural ingredients clean beauty

The post-COVID new normal taking shape before our eyes is drastically altering consumer sentiment and behaviour in enigmatic ways, but the primal need for healing and renewal will drive cosmetic beauty colour selection in the approaching years, according to a new report from WGSN.

With some experts predicting COVID-19’s consumer behaviour influence to extend for a decade or more,​ come Spring/Summer of 2023, WGSN said a renewed sense of healing and hope felt by emotionally complex, lockdown-afflicted consumers seeking security would drive interest in ‘saturated tones’, ‘organic colour sources’ and ‘metallic shades’.

“Consumers will rediscover their love of colour cosmetics post-pandemic, embracing makeup that is both special and practical,”​ WGSN director of beauty, Jenni Middleton, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

Home: The new post-lockdown salon for healing and balance

“Colours will be restorative, healing, balancing and grounding. We will see lots of reassuring blues, because of their association with hygiene and cleanliness, but also decadent, rich colours to give us a sense of luxury – so colours such as lazuli blue to reflect the preciousness and the special treat that makeup is for many,” ​Middleton said.

WGSN behavioural data also showed consumers were using more cosmetic products for at-home, self-care rituals that were becoming quotidian events, she said.

“We’re seeing an at-home beauty tech uptick as people have got used to – and in fact enjoyed the experience of – replicating the salon experience at home,” ​she said. “As consumers face new challenges, healing will become a built-in habit in their everyday lives. We expect recuperation rituals to drive forward colours that feel restorative and balancing, supporting physical and mental health.” 

Plumping for ‘planet-friendly pigments

As CosmeticsDesign-Europe highlighted in December 2020​, the WGSN report also predicted clean label, organic and natural ingredients would be prioritised by consumers concerned with both ecological and personal wellbeing.

Clean beauty will expand to include clean colour makeup,” ​said Middleton. “Driven by increased consumer awareness of the environmental impact of beauty ingredients and demand for natural products, consumers will put planet-friendly pigments before payoff, seeking buildable formats with safe colour that is non-toxic and ethical.”

The veteran beauty analyst highlighted the retailer Sephora which had recently extended its ‘Clean at Sephora’ range after its sales increased amidst regular makeup sale declines. Brands added included Westman Atelier, Merit, Lys Beauty, Freck Beauty while Saie, ILIA, Lawless, Kosas Cosmetics, Tower 28 and Milk Makeup reformulated products just to gain the 'Clean at Sephora' seal of approval.

According to WGSN, natural colours like Tranquil Blue, Digital Lavender, Green Fig, Wild Rose and Yellow Freesia would feature in beauty cosmetics but also skin care formulas and ingestibles.

Masked post-lockdown emotional states

As the world stumbled, bleary-eyed from lockdown, sensitive cosmetic companies would tailor their offerings to a wide spectrum of need states – from exuberance to frailty – not to mention the new mask-ready normal, Middleton said.

Gen Z consumers will look for unique colour cosmetics that bring them joy [Getty Images]
Gen Z consumers will look for unique colour cosmetics that bring them joy [Getty Images]

“The lockdown and restrictions throughout the pandemic have had a unique impact on everyone's lives,”​ she said. Consumers will be managing multiple emotional states, and the colours they choose will reflect this. As people find their feet, saturated tones will connect them to feelings of optimism and hope, but also stability and balance.”

Regarding masks, she said “blush will emerge as an unlikely makeup hero”.

“Visible above the mask line and requiring less effort than eye make-up, the transformative simplicity of blusher will see the category flourish, used to add a healthy natural flush, a statement of pop glamour, or simply to look fresher and more awake. We’ll see it worn high on the cheekbones for occasions when masks are still worn.

“For many, especially Gen Z, makeup will provide a sense of escapism with dopamine brights, and nostalgic romantic pastels and juicy hedonistic colours that reflect hot summers in holiday destinations we might have missed.”

On screen ready: Metaverse & colour chapter

The rapid rise in virtual meetings, gaming and other online spaces would also function as zones of recuperation and relief, Middleton said, with colour palettes that considered the effects of pixilation courting a natural advantage.

“The metaverse will expand virtual worlds, enabling new forms of self-expression, and colour will play a central role here,”​ she said.

“Expect hues that are transformative, making an impact in both digital and physical realms. Many of our colours are designed to work on screen, as that’s the world we now live in, and these Include Digital Lavender, Luscious Red, Sundial, Tranquil Blue and Verdigris.”

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