Edouard Keller – Managing Director of Carlin International Group: Hello Sarah, you are in charge of the Carlin Beauty trendbook. Can you introduce yourself in a few words? What is your background, how does one become a Carlin Beauty specialist?

Sarah Balcon – Trend Forecaster: After studying photography at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, I discovered the world of forecating agencies. I loved the principle, which is to say the curiosity and the 360° watch in all the sectors of creation, visuals, applied arts but also socio, consumption… and of course the transmission of this information to the customers in the clearest and most actionable form possible. I started collaborating with Carlin in 2015 on an assignment for the Beauty trendbook precisely! And upstream of the direction of this trendbook, I contribute each season to determine the major trends.

Sarah Balcon – Trend Forecaster

E.K: Have you always been passionate about the world of cosmetics?

S.B: Yes, I have loved beauty since childhood. Does this come from my very elegant and coquettish grandmother? It’s possible, I think she passed on to me her love of beauty in all its forms. This childhood passion was especially passed on to me through the world of perfume: after years of collecting miniature perfumes as a little girl and being fascinated by advertising campaigns, I thought of becoming a nose. I had this double interest for art and science: I finally opted for applied arts.

E.K: Can you tell us a little more about the contents of a Beauty trend book? What do we find in it?

S.B: The trendbook presents the major trends of the season: stylistic desires with strong aesthetic codes, which we always link to developments or disruptions in current events and consumer behavior. Each of these trends is embodied by a person, a place and a product. We then provide creative solutions to meet the needs of the brands: face and body care, make-up, haircuts and hair coloring, tools and accessories, packaging, beauty tech’ and wearables, ingredients, textures and colors are explored. We highlight products from our partners Capsum and Gattefossé: they develop specific formulas for Carlin or draw from their catalog of formulas and we offer their samples to handle and apply in addition to the trendbook. The aim is to offer clients from all beauty sectors reliable and sensitive sources of inspiration to help them develop their products, direct their research, communicate or even give final shape to products in the process of being created.

We are able to interpret their attitudes at the moment to know what they will be heading towards tomorrow.

E.K: Still focused on consumer expectations?

S.B: Always! By following their evolution closely and thanks to our experience in the industry, we are able to interpret their attitudes at the moment to know what they will be heading towards tomorrow.

E.K: It’s easy to imagine that the Covid crisis has strongly influenced the beauty trends of the last years, how do you analyze it?

S.B: It’s often said about other subjects, but it is also true in beauty: this crisis has precipitated changes that were already at work, and it has reminded us of essential truths. On the one hand, it has increased consumers’ expectations of transparency from brands: ingredients, formulas, processes must be accessible and clean now more than ever. It has also streamlined their behavior: they no longer want to waste time and money, they have lost their naivety and the statements of brands are no longer enough for them. They want scientific proof of what is claimed. This crisis has also shown us that caressing, touching, sensoriality and physical experience are vital: in response, the textures and fragrances of skincare and makeup, but also experiences anchored in reality, place, exchange and meeting with others are flourishing. Beauty was reinforced during the confinements in its two main aspects: on the one hand, a practice of beauty for oneself, for one’s own pleasure, a beauty-gesture of love towards oneself; on the other hand, a practice full of fantasy, of patterns, of colors, a beauty-seduction of oneself as much as of the others since one practiced it alone or almost. Through experience during these troubled times, it has confirmed its importance in our lives and for our balance.

Cahier Beauty 24 – Carlin Creative

E.K: For a few months now, the buzzword has been “metaverse”. What impact does it have on beauty? Is this a real phenomenon to follow in the years to come? What are the technical innovations that influence brands?

S.B: Yes, the metaverse is unavoidable and will change the world of beauty on several levels. First of all, we can see that traditional physical beauty is already very influenced by the new codes of digital aesthetics and its freedom: fluidity of shapes created by 3D creation software, freedom from gravity, colors, textures, movement… Then, virtuality also influences our vision of ourselves: I think of the filters of applications like Instagram or Tik Tok, which transform or increase the real and which will have consequences in the real: makeup, hairstyle and care thought for the selfie, acts of surgery likewise with the desire to look like one’s “filtered” face… On the one hand we open the field to new ideas, on the other we sometimes have the impression of being less beautiful “in real” than “filtered”: this influence is neither positive nor negative in itself, but it does exist. In terms of technical innovations, I’m thinking of avatar creation, which is becoming faster, easier and more accessible, but also of immersion with virtual reality headsets that are increasingly lighter, and of augmented reality applications that are accessible and pleasant to use. I’m also thinking about tools for reproducing reality: whether it’s 3D creation or photography of real objects from all angles that are then transformed into 3D rendering. We are seeing many improvements and amazing innovations at the moment. These new renderings will revolutionize virtual fittings, making before and after simulations very fine and very realistic: we will be able to see the effect of a treatment, a makeup, a hair color and a surgery before going ahead with it. On a deeper level, I am sure that the metaverse will open up the beauty sector to its current outcasts: those who are interested in beauty but do not feel welcome or legitimate, and who will finally be able to experience it in a completely different way.

Cahier Beauty 23.24 – Carlin Creative

E.K: What evolutions do you notice in the link between fashion and beauty? Has it always existed? Is the launch of beauty ranges by all the fashion giants more profound than a financial opportunity?

S.B: Fashion brands are addressing more and more aspects of our lives and are becoming global lifestyle brands that encompass beauty, decoration, food, experiences, entertainment, travel, culture with books, music, podcasts, cinema, art, travel… They are becoming real universes, so we understand all the more their interest for the metaverse! Fashion is also going through a crisis linked to excesses and scandals, with the societal and environmental ravages of fast fashion, with the evolution of consumer expectations in relation to the environment: they must diversify. But deeply beauty has a natural and privileged link with fashion: they share the aspects of self-expression and self-image.

E.K: The importance of wellness has been growing for 20 years. How does it translate from now on?

S.B: To sum it up very quickly, I would say that wellness has risen to the same level as appearance in the field of beauty, and has even surpassed it! Wellness has become an essential component of beauty as well as of fashion: except in exceptional cases, we no longer want to suffer on a daily basis to be beautiful. “You have to suffer to be beautiful” is no longer relevant! This evolution of behaviors and desires goes hand in hand with the now acquired knowledge that, in any case, there is simply no lasting beauty without well-being. Beauty must therefore give pride of place to well-being: supporting and reinforcing it, creating gestures and rituals, offering textures and fragrances that are mentally and physically beneficial. The beauty that yesterday was more statutory, more conformist and seductive of the other above all; it has become a beauty-seduction of oneself before others, pleasure and well-being. Celebrating oneself, being on the side of pleasure and not of suffering is much more attractive as a discourse, but moreover this beauty will allow to open up to those who do not aim at an improved appearance but aspire to the well-being that this practice brings.

Cahier Beauty 23.24 – Carlin Creative

E.K: Is it accompanied by new uses and tools or new practices?

S.B: Yes, wellness is becoming more global, which is a fundamental movement, as we mentioned, and is part of a more holistic vision. Spas and beauty institutes will evolve, merge with sports clubs, workshops and courses: they will offer more complete rituals and activities, care and massage as always, but also health and nutrition consultations, cooking workshops, sports centered on connection to oneself and use of one’s body, because it is pleasant and necessary for one’s equilibrium to do so and not in a search for performance, talking circles, arts and crafts workshops, bouquets etc. We also practice more and more our well-being: in beauty and health rituals, but also by practicing activities, by taking time, by acting ourselves. We have understood that concentration, taking time, full consciousness are essential to our well-being. We are going to practice well-being at home, easily and according to our agenda via rituals and with the support of wellness tech tools. Wellness will be reinforced in these two opposing aspects: physicality, anchoring in one’s body, in a place, with others; and the virtual with the creation of practices and games in the metaverse. We will also travel to do ourselves good: wellness tourism will take off. Everyone is now aware that these issues are of concern and well-being must become accessible to all: rituals, facilities and treatments will become more democratic.

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E.K: Moreover, we are witnessing the convergence of practices historically closer to medicine with beauty, such as the generalization of aesthetic medicine or the multiplication of nutritional solutions. What do you think about this?

S.B: In my opinion, this is a migration that is taking place all the time and in all established sectors, natural mergers where beauty meets food, it’s true, but also accessories, tech, digital. As in any fashion effect, there are abuses and dangers. We must take advantage of progress but be careful: by going to see specialists, by being aware of the risks and the irreversible nature of certain surgical procedures. Supplementation is good, and yes, food and health, and therefore beauty, are linked: but nothing can replace a varied and healthy diet, and the pleasure of cooking and eating! We celebrate instinct and self-confidence: in this field, we must never forget the basics and listen to our body which knows what it needs.

Cahier Beauty 24 – Carlin Creative

E.K: Finally, coming back to the consumer, what changes have we seen in the men’s beauty market in recent years?

S.B: The fact that beauty is leaning towards health and well-being has made it more accessible to men: men’s beauty has become a practice of self-respect and self-love as much as performance, optimization or preservation of one’s capital. On the other hand, the societal change of acceptance of our gender fluidity and the ongoing questioning of virility have also allowed men to have access to beauty practices traditionally perceived as feminine: I would mention, for example, the emergence of nail polish for men, which has been flourishing recently. A friend of mine recently told me that he wanted to get into nail art!

An example of a product that synthesizes different aspects of this male beauty is the Horace blue purifying mask that has been successful for the last two years: it is successful in the sense that it combines a beauty mask, a product traditionally perceived as feminine, and an intense and sharp color that evokes pride and claim but also fantasy. It’s almost like a tribal painting or a fan’s face painted with the colors of his team!

Finally, we have seen the emergence of non-gendered and inclusive products, such as in niche fragrances for several years. But also in skincare, many of which play on the word “human” which replaces “man” and “woman” and makes them almost obsolete! Humanrace, Pharell Williams’ brand, Everyday Humans, By Humankind, HeyHumans, Jada Pinkett Smith’s brand: the word has spread widely.

Cahier Beauty 24 – Carlin Creative

E.K: And on the woman’s market, especially concerning her possible empowerment?

S.B: On the side of the woman and her empowerment, it is a vast subject!

For me, the main change is that beauty is no longer mostly about “faking it”, hiding all the flaws, erasing all the imperfections: some brands have even banned these words and the photo editing that goes with them, and today we call “features” what we used to call “flaws” such as freckles, moles, skin pigmentation spots, bushy eyebrows etc.

Women can stop pretending, stop erasing themselves, that is a profound positive change that impacts beauty. But if they want to pretend, and this is also one of the great pleasures of beauty, to transform themselves, to pretend to be different, to reveal other facets of themselves, they can do it with a lot of sparkle, humor, fantasy. The fake aspect is no longer shameful, but it is claimed, even underlined! We can see the expression of it in the hyper-long false nails, the hyper-illustrated nail art, the hair coloring in anything but natural colors, the extensions and the wigs, the false eyelashes, the pulpy lips… the body is increased, transformed and the hierarchy true/false is turned upside down.

Everything is allowed, as with colors, and this multiform beauty which is at the same time well-being, pleasure and fun allows to have fun and to reveal all the aspects of its personality, according to the mood and the moment.

Cahier Beauty 24 – Carlin Creative

E.K: Before leaving you, what can we wish you for the months to come?

S.B: You can wish me to continue working on these exciting subjects above all! I never tire of observing the evolutions at work, these mergers of sectors where beauty meets food, accessories, tech, digital; these migrations of the beauty zones also where makeup goes from the face to the whole body, or from cheeks, lips and eyelids to eyebrows, dark circles or the area under the eyes, to teeth, to ears… I am passionate about this! It’s like being an explorer yesterday, I feel like I’m exploring new, unknown, neglected, yesterday invisible territories with the brands: it’s exhilarating! And it’s not immediately but I’m already thinking about it: you can also wish me a good summer vacation with my family and in Italy. To recharge my batteries and work on my beauty-pleasure around good Italian tables!

E.K : Thank you for your inspiring share!

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