Long live British beauty! How smart, simple and state-of-the-art Brit beauty is in the lead worldwide

Move, over K-Beauty!

06 Jun 2019

Dear J-Beauty. And K-Beauty. And every-other-country-beauty. We love you, deeply, but it’s time for a break. It’s complicated. Like, literally: we can’t get our heads around cray-cray routines every day. So, we’re coming home, because smart, simple and state-of-the-art Brit beauty is in the lead

What links hair-colour guru Josh Wood, make-up mogul Charlotte Tilbury and vlogging megastar The Plastic Boy? They’re the UK exports impacting global beauty and making us feel pretty damn proud to be British. Our beauty industry is worth £18million, employing almost 260,000 people (and you are the cog turning that wheel, given that half of them are aged 16-34). We’ve helped shape major moments, from cruelty-free legislation to punk and piercing, and things are about to get serious thanks to the British Beauty Council – the first-ever formal group representing the UK beauty industry. “My goal this year is to have beauty listed at government level as a ‘creative industry’, in the same way that film, software and music are,” says Millie Kendall MBE, CEO of the British Beauty Council.

Here’s to the homegrown brands, influencers, tech and artists consistently blowing our minds with innovative moments that push empowerment and self-expression. All rise for the next Brit things...

1. Land of hope and glitter: We quizzed Millie Kendall – The actual monarch of UK beauty – on smashing the GLOBAL INDUSTRY and her SS19 trend forecast

Where has the UK ruled like no one else in beauty?
“Creative output! We’re leaders in terms of brand, design and innovation. Just look at hair: superstars such as Guido Palau and Sam McKnight confirm that. And we were the first to do clean beauty. The Body Shop and Neal’s Yard Remedies were the original UK pioneers of naturals, with a renegade stance on sustainability. We need to recognise what industry leaders we really are.”

What are we going to be obsessed with in 2019?
“Cannabis is cleaning up its image with a big focus on non-psychotropic hemp oil in beauty products, meaning it’s high in wellness-related CBD with zero THC [the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana]. Also, colour-changing cosmetics are going to be huge! Look out for The Unseen, a product line from artist Lauren Bowker, due to launch this year. We’re already fighting over Milk Makeup, cofounded by British fashion editor Zanna Roberts Rassi, and the next instalment of UK make-up legends Lisa Eldridge and Pat McGrath’s cosmetics lines will be just as popular.”

What is the British Beauty Council championing right now?
“The honest beauty trend, which takes a positive stance without the need for ‘negative vocabulary’, (where brands state what’s not in their products, for instance preservatives or cleaning agents, inciting fear and confusion). Instead we’re focusing on authentic brands that are really real, with a 360-degree approach to ingredient transparency, employee diversity and eco-footprint.“

2. Your nail crew: don’t worry, we’re in safe hands

Some of the world’s biggest manicure maestros are British legends – Marian Newman is the backstage go-to (obsess over her creations in her upcoming book Nailed It, out April 22); Jenny Longworth crowned herself the OG nail-art queen when Jessie J hit the music scene with those killer talons; and Sharmadean Reid brought us the out-there joy that is Wah Nails. So who’s filling our feeds with new-gen nails this year? Laura Southern of @houseofladymuck, Sophie Harris-Greenslade of @theillustratednail and trans activist @charlie_craggs.

3. Upcycle your beauty waste: it’s time to turn trash into treasure

Want to dip your toe into the activism convo? Start by upcycling your beauty waste. The Body Shop has cute ways to re-use packaging on its Pinterest page. We love what Sussex Uni student Ameenah Begum is up to with leftover eyeshadow: the 23 year old has launched Cos Watercolours to turn eyeshadow palettes with unused or broken powders (which would otherwise go to landfill) into watercolour paint sets, bridging the gap between waste and art. “By focusing on one element and finding the value in it, a new life can be given to colour cosmetics before considering disposal,” says Ameenah. “I’m trying to encourage retailers to do the same. I’m here to make a change.”

Hit up @ameenahbydesign to find out where you can send your powders. In the meantime, spend your next paycheque on the Brit brands that use recovered plastic in their packaging (Soaper Duper, Beauty Kitchen, Head & Shoulders and Odylique), give all your love to packaging-free Lush and top up your haircare bottles at Bleach London’s filling stations.

4. Brits call BS on baffling skincare: Alexia Inge, founder of Cult Beauty, decodes our hunt for good glow

“There’s a growing tribe of British consumers craving a simpler skincare approach in what’s become a highly complicated category. ‘Skip-care’ is when you identify the individual ingredients that work best for your skin and cut out the steps and formulas you don’t need. This is leading to a boom in single ingredient-focused brands: The Inkey List is nailing this right now and is 2019’s fastest-growing brand on our site (we have a constant waiting list for its Retinol Serum). It’s ‘luxfordable skincare’: entry-level prices with a luxe sensibility. Plus it’s good for the planet: the fewer steps, the less packaging involved.”

5. English Eccentrics

Our fragrance brands are turning the British countryside into fresh, fly scents this spring. Here’s what smells so right, right now

1. Samphire, £65 for 100ml EDT, Laboratory Perfumes. Shoreline herbs with that salty, sharp bite of coastal air. Wet and wild, what’s not to love?
2. Hemlock & Bergamot Cologne, £49 for 30ml, Jo Malone London. Kicks off crisp, like you’re biting into a slice of fresh cucumber, then turns powdery like a pollen explosion (minus the hay fever). Officially delish.
3. The Ingénue Cousin Flora, £185 for 75ml EDP, Penhaligon’s. Basically a posh Berocca in a bottle. All the crushed citrus drenching you like a juicy injection drip of vitamin C, no needle required.
4. Impression Jasmine Absolute, £110 for 100ml EDP, Ostens. This heatwave of a scent is like warm, sweet skin baked in suntan lotion, packed with heady jasmine.