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Color Correct

By: Sara Mason
Posted: January 27, 2014, from the January 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.

Editor's note: For information on trends in color cosmetics from the male perspective, check out "Man Up" here.

  • Younger consumers aren’t afraid of bold, intense color, and they are mixing more tints and shades for a myriad of color opportunities.
  • Technology is helping consumers get more personalized and customized color and product recommendations, leading to better satisfaction and social sharing.
  • Experimentation is the name of the game in color cosmetics. Trends in textures, finishes, intensities, mixing, pairing, application and more are ever evolving, so listen to the feedback your consumers are offering and make your color products fun and profitable.

Color is a constant in beauty and cosmetics, but according to color consultant Roseanna Roberts, “Consumers are becoming much more open to playing with color. This trend originated in fashion, and continues to influence cosmetics.” Roberts also notes that the skyrocketing nail industry gives women permission to explore color, providing a safe canvas to start experimenting with combinations.

And the playful attitude has now been adopted more pervasively. “Overall, we see a decrease in the use of black in cosmetics, replaced by subtle neutrals and/or saturated brights as consumers take a more light-hearted approach to beauty,” Roberts explains.

The newest trend is long-lasting and highly pigmented color for eyes and lips, according to trend consultant Amy Marks Marks-McGee, founder of Trendincite. “It’s all about impact and the latest buzzword is pigment,” she says. Marks-McGee cites Nars Eye Paint and Estée Lauder Pure Color Instant Intense EyeShadow Trio for the eyes and Maybelline New York’s Color Elixir Lip Color by Color Sensational and Bite Cashmere Lip Cream as examples of high-intensity pigment in hyper-saturated shades to provide amplified color impact.

The bold colors of 2014 and beyond—such as Pantone’s Radiant Orchid and Dazzling Blue—give an added dimension and definition to colors for a more youthful crowd. The whole cosmetic look changes accordingly and translates into new market opportunities and product possibilities: pink, orange, blue and green colors for hair and cosmetics that blend the boundaries between hair and face.

Impact Colors’ Avatar Purple is a catchy example of how color can express a certain theme. It can work for eye shadow, lashes, brows, fingertips—in fact, the latest was translation of a French manicure to match purple-tinted hair. Doug Thornley, president of Impact Colors, which recently introduced 16 synthetic mica colors to its Fiesta Pigments line, cites Brilliance and Two-Tones as just two of the color themes relevant to the future of cosmetics as presented in his company’s “Color Trends 2015+” portfolio, developed in conjunction with color consultant Antoinette van den Berg. “The new themes are all about effects in color, texture and packaging,” says Thornley. “Our objective is to inspire ideas that will create new markets and revenue-producing products for our customers.”

Multi-Colors is the most innovative theme for 2015, according to Thornley, an exciting answer to the bright and intense colors that have been on the market but with intensity in multi-tone, almost psychedelic, effects. Inspired by soap bubbles and rainbows, Impact Colors’ Kaleidoscope line of color travel pigments creates a new version of intensity with three distinctive interference colors in one pigment. “Rather than use them by themselves, we recommend that travel pigments are used to complement or contrast colors, which will soften the shift in a chameleon-like way, a delightful surprise,” explains Thornley.

Try Before You Buy

With all the vibrant colors to choose from, finding the right color might be daunting. For those who might not have the expertise of a makeup artist, personalized color matching continues to be a driving trend, according to Roberts. “Custom services such as Sephora’s Color IQ, which partners with Pantone to analyze skin and find an accurate foundation shade, takes the guess work out of the matching process,” she says.

Consumers also continue to crave experience. “Some want to try before they buy, others want consultations with a live person and some enjoy self-service,” says Marks-McGee. Beauty companies are trying to address these needs using technology. Department stores are making over beauty counters with interactive experiences, specialty shops are launching in-store technology programs and brands are finding alternative methods to reach consumers. For example, Marks-McGee notes Clinique at New York’s Macy’s Herald Square revamped its beauty counter to allow customers to easily shop, browse and interact with the company’s products. The Clinique consultants continue to wear white lab coats but now also carry iPad minis. Using the electronic Clinique’s Skin Diagnostic Tool, they can “prescribe” product recommendations and either print them or e-mail them to customers.

Another innovation, L’Oréal Paris launched the Intelligent Color Experience, a high-tech vending machine located in the New York subway. Using digital technology the system detects the colors in a woman’s outfit and then recommends coordinating eye, lip and nail shades to match, which were available to purchase on the spot.

L’Oréal also offers the mobile app Color Genius, which provides suggestions for pairing makeup with outfits via a digitally submitted image to find the perfect combination anywhere, anytime.

Taking the experience one step further, Sephora partnered with Google Helpouts, which connects people with live experts over video—specifically, makeup artists advising on anything from choosing a complementary cosmetic color palette to applying the perfect cat eye. And for the social media crowd, Pampadour is a beauty website that allows users to add or clip beauty products from the Web and tag parts of the photos such as eye, face, lip and hair to tell their network what products were used. “Users can make recommendations, share advice, give feedback and invite new users,” explains Marks-McGee.

Minimalist

On the flip side, the desire for glowing, natural skin has generated an increase in nude and skin-toned makeup. “Foundation formulas have advanced, and the textures are becoming weightless and more natural,” says Marks-McGee. In addition to color tones, naked and nude are terms brands are using to connote the sheer and natural surfaces the products will leave on skin, such as Marc Jacobs Beauty’s Genius Gel Super-Charged Foundation. The brand uses Buoyancy Gel technology to create weightless, natural coverage.

Skin illuminators and nail “foundations” in nude and neutral colors also seamlessly seek to improve on nature. Ilia’s Polka Dots & Moonbeams illuminator is the brand’s bestseller. Working as a subtle highlighter, the organic ingredients are combined with rose hip oil to bring added dimension and vitality to the skin for a dewy glow. “An illuminator helps to enhance the angles on the face and produces a natural-looking result,” says Ilia founder Sasha Plavsic. By adding definition, the face can be contoured and highlighted to appear lifted in the right areas. “Flawless skin is always in, but for 2014, there is an increased interest in skin quality, and as a result, a preference for less base makeup,” adds Roberts.