Everything old is new again

Everything old is new again

Real cameras (instead of smart phones), long play records (instead of streaming music), pencils and notebooks (instead of laptops and tablets) and then there are those bell bottoms trousers…

Novelty is in the eye of the beholder!  But it does feel as though plenty of consumer behavior is recycling in one form or another.  It’s always been part of fashion:  short skirts vs long skirts, broad shoulders vs narrow shoulders, full jeans vs narrow jeans.  The funny thing about fashion is most people no longer pay attention to fashion trends; anything goes.

As technology consumes more and more of our brains and our time, there is often a yearning to return to the simplicity of a low-tech life.  (Every time I move in that direction, I’m reminded it wasn’t really that simple.)

No surprise, beauty is no exception.  As skincare in particular becomes more advanced, sophisticated, scientific and complex, we find consumers looking for simpler, more basic solutions. Covid accelerated this move, though it started well before the virus hit.  Complicated, multi-product Asian skincare regimens that US beauty junkies were eager to adopt, began to seem onerous.  Ingredient lists with 60+ ingredients seemed senseless. (I now encourage my clients to keep the IL below 25 ingredients.) Consumers are so smart and so educated.  They know the difference between “fairy dust” ingredients and claiming ingredients and what those levels should be.

Plus there’s something romantically nostalgic and peaceful about uncluttering one’s life on many levels: clothes, furnishings, schedule of activities, meals and why not personal care products.  Again, Covid forced us into some of these situations, but this trend was already in place.

An amazing array of “simple” products has moved to the front of the beauty lineup and these are worth exploring.

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly launched in 1870.  It was pitched as a skin care product that “healed” wounds, burns and chafed or dry skin.  With the move toward “clean” ingredients in recent years, the much maligned petroleum jelly was pushed aside as being a pore clogging, fossil fuel derivative. Then came Slugging around 2014 in South Korea.  This trend of slathering Vaseline on needy body parts (and hair) came to the US a couple of years ago.

Over the last year, the number of views of TikTok videos in which influencers mentioned Vaseline increased by 46%. On Instagram, the number of videos that mentioned Vaseline jumped 93% over the same period.

According to Unilever, the multinational consumer-goods company that owns Vaseline, mentions of the product went up 327% on social media during the first week of February 2022, compared with the same week last year.

The global market for white petroleum jelly is estimated at over USD1.3 billion (statista.com).

Yes, it’s a hot product and a multi-tasker, no doubt part of its appeal.

Cerave Skincare launched in 2006 as a basic, not sexy, minimalist, certainly not luxurious, hardworking personal care line. TikTok put it on the map a couple of years ago after L’Oréal purchased the brand in 2017. It’s now a cult fave and not always in stock at retail. 2020 was especially impactful, as, according to CeraVe Global General Manager, Penelope Giraud, the brand was recognized as one of the fastest growing skincare brands of the year. Gen Z has discovered this billion dollar brand, loves its straightforward simplicity and lack of hyperbole. It’s simple, basic, no frills, affordable and gets the job done.

Egyptian Magic Cream, with 6 ingredients, was way ahead of its time when it launched in 1991.

Fragrance-free, it’s suitable for all skin types, and is often dubbed a ‘miracle worker’ for its ability to do a bit of everything. From soothing ragged cuticles and dry skin, treating eczema, burns and diaper rash, conditioning hair and functioning as a makeup remover, it’s easy to understand why it was originally sold as a homeopathic remedy.

The product is ubiquitous:  from Costco to Whole Foods, from specialty boutiques to yoga studios, from Walmart to Samaritaine, that white plastic jar with the red and blue label is easy to spot.

The celebrity following is not minor.  Egyptian Magic Cream flies just enough below the radar (barely) to retain its cult status without being overexposed (yet). Fans tout its hardworking, multi-tasking qualities and its efficacy and love its simplicity.

Romanian born Mario Badescu created his skincare line in his Manhattan kitchen in 1967.  He then opened a spa on the ground floor of his residential building. The goal of the line was to provide shoppers with a European-quality facial from the comfort of their own home—and without the insanely high price tag. The roughly 30 million US dollar brand (zippia.com) transcends generations and spans the lifecycle of skin from acne to anti-aging. Grandmothers, mothers and daughters/sons share product use information and compare skincare stories.

The simple packaging, graphics, ingredients and affordable price points have made the brand popular with Gen Z and Millennials for years. Both these demographics gave the brand a second life on social media.

“The Mario Badescu Skin Care line features products formulated with soothing botanicals, fresh fruit extracts, and other natural ingredients to create simple, gentle and effective skincare. With over 150 products, the unisex range spans the entire life-cycle of skin to address a multitude of concerns and needs.”

There’s definitely a message here.  As we all know, for every trend there’s a counter trend.  Skincare sophisticates will continue their quest for the latest, most technologically advanced, celebrity or science-endorsed solution to skin concerns. Unknown or unrecognized ingredients, new delivery systems, a fresh marketing approach and the promise of better, younger, softer, plumper, clearer skin—all this is tough to ignore. But there’s something to be said for tried and true favorites that speak softly and are never intimidating.  They’re always there for us to discover and re-visit.

Everything Old is New Again.  Tried and True doesn’t Disappoint.

Novelty can be thrilling but discovery can be found around every corner if we’re open to it.

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Before opening The Young Group in 1999, Karen was Vice President of Marketing, Advertising, Product Development and Sales Promotion for Lancôme. Prior to that, she spent seventeen years at Estée Lauder, where she held a variety of executive positions, including Executive Director of Color Cosmetics. Karen is an active board member of Fashion Group International. She is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. Karen divides her time between New York and Paris, where The Young Group also has an office. Since opening The Young Group, Karen has worked extensively in all categories of the cosmetic industry. She has developed concepts and products for RoC, Bath and Body Works, Neutrogena, e.l.f, Vichy and Oribe. Karen has worked on numerous established brands in the beauty category, including Christian Dior Beauté, Shiseido, Bumble & bumble, Dove and Paula’s Choice. Karen is an adjunct professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology, teaching Product Development in the Master's program in Cosmetic & Fragrance Marketing and Management.

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