Beauty fads come and go (may overplucked '90s brows rest in peace), but we're hoping the industry's latest trend is here to stay.
Of course, we're talking about buzz-worthy "slow beauty," a multifaceted movement aiming to push the industry in a holistically healthier direction. But what is slow beauty, really, and why is it more important than ever?
What is Slow Beauty?
Slow beauty emphasizes quality over quantity and ethical accountability at every step of a given product's life-cycle. In practice, this means reviving mindful personal care rituals, promoting sustainably crafted products, encouraging consumer investment in fewer, quality products, and challenging the current quick-fix ethos of the industry as a whole.
In many ways, "slow beauty" isn't new. At the most basic level, it's a plea for us to return to our human roots where ritual is an integral, sacred part of life. Love of ritual is something we all share — rituals of myriad shapes and forms exist across all cultures and times. Yet, in the hustle and bustle of the modern world, many of us have become detached from the joy to be found in these small, everyday practices.
A return to casual ritual is what puts the literal "slow" in slow beauty. Forget quick fixes and instant gratification; slow beauty invites each of us to slow down and to bring the luxury of mindful beauty and skincare practices into our homes and everyday lives with simpler treatments that serve both mind and body.
For example, have you been considering injections for those wrinkles? Instead, why not try facial gua sha, a 4,000-year-old Chinese massage technique that encourages lymphatic drainage, plumps skin, relaxes muscles and mind, and helps the face to look healthy, radiant, and sculpted? (It feels great, too.)
Thoughtfulness: Ethical Production & Consumption
The focus on ritual speaks to the spiritual center of slow beauty: Thoughtfulness. Like its cousin, slow fashion, slow beauty implores the cosmetics industry and all its participants to do less harm to people, planet, and animals by producing and consuming more sustainably and deliberately.
Why does it matter?
It's estimated that the cosmetics industry alone produces 120 billion units of waste every year. One reason for this breakneck pace of waste-making is the pressure to stay on top of trends, both by brands and consumers. Consumers want the latest hero ingredient, the new brow tool, this season's colors — and brands have to churn, churn, churn to make those products available before the next "new thing" hits. The result is lots of waste from the machine of mass production, and also from this rapid pattern of consumption (think the beauty version of "fast fashion").
Quality over Quantity
Slow beauty challenges this "fast beauty" norm by encouraging consumers to buy fewer, better products; products that are more thoughtfully made from start to finish.
Slow beauty looks at the whole product life cycle, starting with raw ingredients. This means attention to where an ingredient comes from: Where it's grown, by whom, what the working conditions and pay rates are, impacts on the environment and wildlife, etc. It's a demand for ethical production that respects laborers, communities, land, and animals.
Ethical production also means a look at who's actually making the product with an emphasis on small-batch, people-made products.
Packaging and End-of-Life
An eco-conscious approach to beauty also means attention to packaging, from tubes to shipping labels. The criteria is similar to the formula: Is the box from recycled stock or renewable sources? What are the tubes made of? Is the packaging biodegradable, compostable, refillable, recyclable?
Of course, all of this must come with results — that's why we use personal care products, after all. But what slow beauty asks of us is to think not just about what that color looks like on, or how soft it makes our skin, but also how it honors you and the planet.
In all, slow beauty is an ethos that encourages us to buy less, buy better, create and consume more ethically and sustainably, and — of course — take the time to appreciate what we use.
By Lauren Evashenk