Lockdown Shakes the Foundations in Health and Beauty


The lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK has brought rapid change to our structures and routines. One aspect for many that we likely did not comprehend at the start of the lockdown, as it was not understood quite how long the restrictions would last, is the impact it would have on our personal care and beauty routines. For many of the population, a trip to the hairdresser or nail technician is a monthly occurrence, but how has lockdown affected the way we look after ourselves or use cosmetics? What kinds of products will we prioritise, and which will be leave in pre-lockdown? Will consumers favour high-end products or will cheaper brands fair better?

Re-creating Salon Treatments at Home

The somewhat obvious winners in the light of the pandemic were sanitary products such as hand sanitisers and soaps. However, as the months of restrictions passed, shoppers started to look for a way to maintain their beauty routine whilst in a state of lockdown. With salons closed, many shoppers turned to buying hair care online. Retailers such as Boots and Superdrug found demand challenging to keep up with. Many hair dyes and associated haircare products were sold out for weeks, with online shopping queues forming and restrictions on the amount that shoppers could buy. According to reports, hair dye became Boots’ top search term on their website for three weeks within April. It is difficult to predict if at-home haircare with remain in high demand. One the one hand, with salons eventually but slowly being allowed to open with rigorous measures in place to lessen the risk of the virus spreading, consumers may go back to their old routines leaving their hair to the professionals. On the other hand, with the risk of the virus not being eliminated and the salon ‘experience’ definitely being changed for the foreseeable future, consumers may decide to hone their at-home haircare skills and continue buying box dyes to use at home.

girl wearing beauty products

It seems that as the lockdown has continued, shoppers are looking to not miss out on their beauty regimes and personal care items, possibly in a bid to re-create the salon feeling at home. A poll held by YouGov showed that 3 in 10 Britons are buying clothes or beauty products during the lockdown. Another poll revealed that beauty products come in a second behind groceries when looking into what consumers are buying during the lockdown. It seems, in light of this information, that it is no surprise that L’Oreal have reported that their first quarter sales in China actually increased by 6.4% on the previous year in the same period. However, it must be taken into account that China are ahead of others in terms of reducing lockdown restrictions. Online beauty sales in the UK as a whole have increased 53%, with most in-demand products being nail kits, cuticle oils, face-masks and haircare. For some, post-lockdown may mean that they decide to tighten the purse strings and continue to bring the salon experience home.

Who Will be the Winners and Losers?

Highstreet brands are likely to not fare too badly in the storm that lockdown has brought to many other sectors, for instance figures show that hair dye and hair care are staying resilient in the face of adversity. According to reports, the UK Highstreet accounted for 80% of beauty sales in 2018. This might not come as a shock to some, for instance, there is evidence to say that the beauty industry did not find it hard to survive through the 2008 financial crisis either.

On the other hand, with the COVID-19 pandemic being a somewhat unique crisis in recent years, it brings with it not just financial changes but changes to everyday life as well. Kantar research shows that the pandemic and lockdown restrictions that stem from it now means that there are eleven fewer occasions in which we would use personal care products, bringing with it ‘100 million fewer applications of lipstick and mascara’. With such fewer social occasions in which we would use health and beauty items, it begs the questions as to whether consumers will maintain their regimes? Now that for the most part, the workplace has moved onto video conference software like Zoom and Teams, commentators believe that many will now not get ready like they once did. It is expected that many are now not wearing make up at all, and those who are, are opting for more ‘fresh faced’ and simpler looks, focusing on skin care and health rather than heavier make up that they were accustomed with.

cosmetics on table

It seems that, for the beauty industry, lockdown restrictions may not change exactly how much we buy but what we buy. With evidence showing that a more simple, fresh faced look now being favoured, but with online beauty sales soaring 53%, consumers may just be switching up what they choose to spend their money on. Forecasters predict that this change in taste will bode better for cheaper brands however, with more expensive cosmetics like high-end makeup brands missing out. More cost-effective skincare brands like ‘The Ordinary’, who offer, simple, cost-effective skincare have reported that their larger volume bottles of Hyaluronic acid and Squalene formula have had a 35% increase in sales recently.

Lockdown has certainly made consumers think about what they are spending their money on when it comes to beauty products. It has also possibly changed our relationship with cosmetics and skincare products for the foreseeable future. It seems likely consumers will think more about what products they put on their skin, rather than using products to cover it up, as the workplace goes more remote. For salons, only time will tell how consumers will adapt to post-lockdown salon treatments. For some, it may mean that they continue to bring the salon home with Highstreet store-bought treatments that they have become accustomed to during lockdown.

Interested in learning more about changes in the health and beauty sector? Contact us today to start a conversation.

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