Once upon a time, the bathroom counter was the nexus of a woman’s beauty regimen: where we cleansed, moisturized and fussed over our hair. Though still central to our routines, it’s quickly losing ground to the kitchen, where we consume dessert-like supplements, protein powders, and healthy treats promising to deliver that sought-after glow and thicken stressed-out hair. Like yoga and meditation before it, the trend is another indication that our notion of self-care is expanding – no longer solely relegated to the gym or dermatologist’s office.
Female-led brands like Sakara Life, Moon Juice, DADA Daily, and Bubble are driving this edible beauty movement, which is only set to grow. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the category is expected to be worth at least $7.4 billion by 2020. “The wellness movement has consumers focused on being healthy from the inside out,” explained Harriet Kilikita, an associate lifestyle editor at WGSN. “They want to achieve that fresh ‘glow from within’ that has become so popular on Instagram via beauty and wellness influencers, which seems to be achieved through a healthy diet and key wellness ingredients.”
This idea is the crux of Bubble, a new online marketplace that is reframing the crunchy appeal of traditional health food stores for the design-obsessed millennial set. The site is merchandised not just by category of food and lifestyle (e.g. vegan, paleo, etc.), but by function as well. Customers can now shop according to what they want their food to achieve. That includes beauty-centric options like “Skin Glow” and “Anti-Inflammatory,” which consist of items said to contain hydrating and detoxifying properties, maintain the skin’s pH balance, and even targeting anti-ageing. Products include olive oil, turmeric latte mix and “beauty chocolate bars.” “We see more consumers realising that what they put inside their body has a direct line to what the outside of the body will appear and feel like,” said founder Jessica Young, who refers to Bubble’s approach as “tailored convenience.”
“Health consciousness and prevention savvy has always been my beauty regimen and now it’s becoming a mass movement because it’s effective.”
Sakara Life is founded on similar values. The organic meal-delivery service has four signature “programs” for purchase, one of which, dubbed “Eat Pretty,” consists of 5 days worth of supposedly beautifying meals. Alongside probiotic-centric salads and collagen-promoting chocolates, the plan is rounded out with a small selection of natural beauty products from CAP Beauty. The message is clear: promoting beauty today is twofold.
For DADA Daily founder Claire Olshan, who is also the founder of New York’s chic Fivestory boutique, the goal was to create a good-for-you snack line that actually tastes delicious and avoids the shame-inducing language many similar companies rely on. In lieu of counting calories, the hope is that customers will focus on what these snacks (which include hot turmeric cabbage petals and matcha latte truffles) deliver, rather than take away: a healthy glow, strong nails, shiny hair, and so on.
“Clean, honest and healthy food nourishes not only your soul but your overall appearance,” said Olshan, who points to social media as one reason the food and beauty industries are starting to merge. Not only has it helped spread the wellness movement across the globe and increased the desire for photogenic brands, but it has also educated consumers about the benefits of what they put on their skin and in their bodies. “People today crave beauty all around them, and makeup and skincare brands have allowed people to feel proud of their choices in an aesthetically-pleasing way,” said Olshan, “I think it’s now the food industry’s turn to do the same.”
One of the earliest arbiters of this trend is Amanda Chantal Bacon, the founder of Moon Juice, a beauty and wellness brand known for its plant-based adaptogen blends like Beauty Dust (designed to combat the effects of stress on the skin) and Sex Dust (designed to increase libido). In keeping with the holistic concept of beauty that these brands promote, Moon Juice has recently expanded into skincare as well, selling products like serums and acid exfoliators. “I’m just making products that I want and need,” said Chantal Bacon. “Health consciousness and prevention savvy has always been my beauty regimen and now it’s becoming a mass movement because it’s effective.”
“If a healthy diet, managed stress levels, and intelligent self-care and supplementation didn’t deliver, we wouldn’t all be so committed and growing in numbers.”
Although the effectiveness of such products is heavily debated, its this sense of efficacy promoted by marketers and the influencers they hire which seems to keep consumers coming back. A rise in brands sharing before and after imagery, as well as detailed clinical research on their products, has also transformed what shoppers look for from their products.
“They are expecting to see visible results from the products they buy,” explained Chelsea Gross, an associate director of client strategy at Gartner L2. As these brand founders argue, it’s taking a holistic approach to beauty that really delivers those results. “If a healthy diet, managed stress levels, and intelligent self-care and supplementation didn’t deliver, we wouldn’t all be so committed and growing in numbers,” said Chantal Bacon.
She’s not wrong that the trend is growing. Kilikita of WGSN agrees and believes increased personalisation will be key to the category’s future. “We are going to see more brands looking to give consumers specially crafted products with active ingredients that help them reach their specific beauty goals, whether that’s adding a certain vitamin to a tea or pairing specific supplement powders,” she said. “This is something we can expect to see go mainstream as bigger brands take the lead from these smaller start-ups.”
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