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Say goodbye to the beauty shelfie – those photos of bathroom shelves or vanity tables crowded with cosmetics products – as consumers move towards simpler skincare routines.

A part of the wider cultural shift that has seen people adopt slower, more considered lifestyles, and being more conscious of what they buy, slow beauty is about an uncomplicated beauty routine that uses only the essential products skin needs – and being patient enough to give those products time to work.

How does this tie in with sustainability? The idea here is that when you use fewer but better products, you cut down on unnecessary consumption and wastage. There’s no need to keep buying new-fangled products that promise the same effect when one or two well-made ones with proven formulas will do.

Michael Nolte, creative director of Beautystreams, an online insights platform for the global beauty industry, says the slow beauty trend had already emerged before the Covid-19 pandemic, but was accelerated in 2020 and 2021 by the crisis.

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“Slow beauty and mindful consumption focus on value and utility, and therefore will resonate with consumers who have to watch their budget. They’ll favour quality over quantity,” he says.

“During lockdown, many consumers realised that well-being and health are key to a balanced lifestyle. The goal is to have simple routines, comfortable textures and a healthy, rested look.

“And third, there’s conscious consumption. The crisis underscored the certainty that we are able to act if we want to, and that small efforts combined can make a big difference. Therefore, multi-purpose products are on the rise as they allow for self-indulgence without feeling wasteful,” he explains.

(Read also “Three Singapore It Girls Share How They Live A More Conscious Lifestyle“)

Although multitaskers are nothing new, brands do seem to be coming up with more products that roll numerous benefits into one package. Take Estee Lauder’s signature product, the Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex Serum, for instance. Upgraded last year, the new iteration isn’t just a night-time recovery serum, but a protective and moisturising one for day too, packed as it is with antioxidants and hyaluronic acid. It’s even suggested for use as a pre-makeup skin prep.

Su-Mae Chia, founder of local brand Bskin, says: “Our recent launches such as the Eye Care Multi-Tasking Power Serum and Smart Skin Cream, have all been multitasking products, and this is no coincidence. We developed them in response to the trend of customers decluttering their vanities by paring down their skincare routines.

“Some do this because of environmental concerns – less products mean less boxes and packaging waste – and others, to save time and money. Whichever the case, well-designed, multi-functional products let you simplify your skincare routine without compromising on results,” she says.

This article was first published in the June 2021 issue of Her World.