by Elisabeth King

The athleisure boom in fashion isn’t restricted to women wearing leggings, runners and sports tops on trips to shopping malls. Yoga is Australia’s fastest-growing exercise with nearly two million Aussies rolling out the mat on a regular basis, says Roy Morgan Research. Over 20 per cent of Australian women are regular joggers, 22 per cent are committed gym-goers and 16 per cent are cycling enthusiasts.

The national passion for exercise sees nearly 80 per cent of Australian women opting for walking to keep fit and swimming is right up there with 40 per cent of Aussie females taking to the water. Teens and Millennials aren’t the only keep-moving enthusiasts, today’s more youthful over-50s are embracing physical activity with a vengeance, notably cycling, golf and hiking, reveals Roy Morgan Research.

Importantly for the beauty industry, Australian women, like their counterparts in the US, Europe and Asia, want to look good during and after a workout. International market research company Mintel prompted global headlines earlier this year by nominating Active Beauty as one of the key trends set to impact the worldwide cosmetics and personal care market in 2017.

Customised and existing beauty products fuel growth

The trend started to gain real steam early last year. Sweat Cosmetics, fronted by elite US athletes such as Olympian Natasha Hastings, partnered with Sephora to spread the word about beauty products that “bridge the gap between fitness and beauty”. Designed for women who love to break a sweat, the two hero products are a 40-minute sweat-resistant universal powder and an 80-minute sweat-resistant foundation, both containing SPF30.

Later in the year, Tarte Cosmetics released the Athleisure skincare and makeup line, dubbing it the “yoga pants of skincare”. Taking aim at the estimated 100 million runners around the world, Shiseido launched a jogger/runner-friendly beauty portal. The Japanese giant offers active consumers advice on anti-UV and post-exercise skincare and beauty tips for joggers.

But products don’t have to have obvious names to produce booming sales among active women, says the NPD Group. The renewed emphasis on wellness and increased participation in exercise has boosted sales of long-lasting and waterproof products. According to Karen Grant, global industry analyst, the NPD Group – “In today’s image-driven society, the bar has been raised to maintain a perfected ‘natural’ appearance virtually around the clock. With the heightened focus on appearance, the door opens for manufacturers and retailers to fill the need for consumers seeking increased usage of beauty products that can hold up to the rigours of our active lives to look good before, during and after working out”.

The athbeauty trend in the US alone, says NPD, is behind much of the increase in prestige and mass beauty sales. In the year to February 2017, sales of eyebrow colour jumped 31 per cent, lip primers by 23 per cent, lip colours by 18 per cent and face primers by 16 per cent. There was a 66 per cent increase in the use of dry shampoos, a 16 per cent sales spike in waterproof mascara and 13 per cent in long-wear foundations.

Millennials and global momentum

Millennials worldwide are a major force in the growth of Acrive Beauty, reveals GlobalData. Over a third – 34 per cent – exercise several times a week and 56 per cent believe that beauty and grooming products help them to achieve a natural appearance by accentuating features, not masking them. A huge 89 per cent of this age group also believe that eating healthily is important for wellness.

There are localised preferences, though. US women are most vocal about colour cosmetics that go the distance – 39 per cent say they are frustrated by beauty products that don’t last, notes Mintel. In Asia, active beauty has a strong protection bent, especially against pollution and sun damage. South Americans favour products that protect their hair before and after exercise. While over 30 per cent of British gym-goers use the venue’s spa and wellness facilities.

The needs of active consumers have crossed over to packaging, leading to an increase in the use of tubes, easy-to-carry sizes and tougher plastic or rubberised containers. Enhanced performance clothing that provides data on skin temperature and hydration levels has also raised expectations about what women want from active beauty products, says Mintel.

Over a third of French consumers say they are interested in sportswear that releases fragrance or moisturisers in response to changes in body temperature. Nearly half of sporty German women are interested in bodycare products such as muscle soaks and topical creams formulated to help them recover after exercise. Global attitudes that will prompt innovative brands to create products that cool the skin as it heats up, add a hydrating barrier or other benefits activated by sweat to enhance the exercise experience, says Mintel.

New twist on beauty from within

Even though expressions like – You are what you eat and garbage in equals garbage out – have been around for decades, today’s wellness revolution has changed lip service to real action. Beauty-from-within products also have a long track record – think Imedeen and Blackmores Nails, Hair & Skin to name two long-popular ingestibles. But sales of nutriceuticals are surging strongly as more consumers become aware of ingesting the right ingredients to improve their skin, hair and energy levels. More than 56 per cent of consumers today are concerned about the impact of diet on their health and appearance, says GlobalData.

Functional beverages such as Elle McPherson’s Super Elixir are on a roll, says Mintel. New research reveals 49 per cent of people surveyed are interested in drinks packed with vitamins and minerals that will help them meet the demands of their fast-paced lifestyle.

The skin is the body’s largest organ and is the first to reflect bad lifestyle and food choices. Consumers are understandably sceptical about supplements that sound to be too good to be true. But many of the most popular ones have scientific proof and backing. Researchers compiling the National Health and Nutrition survey in the US, for example, tracked 4000 women aged 40 to 74 and discovered that a higher intake of Vitamin C and linoleic acid was linked to less wrinkles and more hydrated skin.

Collagen supplements are very popular in Asia and rightly so. In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, oral supplements containing collagen peptides were shown to improve skin structure and health by increasing hydration and the formation of natural collagen. Biotin has long been a mainstay of nail supplements. Studies have shown that oral supplements containing the water-soluble vitamin can produce a 25 per cent increase in the thickness of the nail plate.

Power of social media and personal responsibility

Social media has been enormously powerful in joining the dots to position well-being and beauty as a total lifestyle commitment from food through exercise, fashion and cosmetic choices. The complete box and dice approach is aimed at improving digestion, detoxification, skin, hair, nails sleep pattern and energy. As more and more people take responsibility for their own health, the global well-being industry is already valued at US$711 billion a year, says Euromonitor International, and will continue to grow as consumers increasingly use more grain-based foods, pills, powders and liquid supplements based on antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and probiotics.

More skincare brands such as Kora Organics with Noni Glow Skinfood Dietary Supplement and MitoQ’s Antioxidant Supplement are developing ingestibles that boost the results of their topical products. Gut health has also become crucial to a healthy, glowing appearance. Nearly 50 per cent of Australians complain of some type of digestive problem over a year, says Debbie Dickson, Founder and Formulator of the recently launched Regul8 brand. Six years in development, the three products – Cleanse, Restore and Maintain – are based on Chinese herbs and probiotics and deliver targeted results. Carla Oats of The Beauty Chef has long promoted the benefits of gut health and skin quality. Hero Glow Inner Beauty Powder was upgraded late last year to Glow Advanced, a new and improved bio-fermented super-food beauty blend with more antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and probiotics, designed to improve gut health and enhance the skin from the inside out.

According to Parminder Sandhu, supplement expert for Beauty Beneath, a division of Boots UK and sold in Walgreens in the US – “An ageing population, with the desire to live longer and look better, will increasingly rely on the converging category of nutricosmetics, where pills treat problems. Over the next decade, ingestible supplements will be seen as the linchpin of every woman’s beauty regime because they will be capable of driving immediate and dramatic transformations in how they look and feel”.

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