Beauty & Wellness 2030: Ritualistic, analytical and nostalgic

sector - beauty
sector - health & wellness
type - opinion
In the decade ahead, beauty and wellbeing consumers will push back against superficial appearance to analyse and augment their physical beings

Today: Ritualistic comfort

The lasting effects of the global pandemic and its lockdown measures have caused the beauty and wellness sectors not only to align further, but also to become internalised, moralised experiences, enjoyed in isolation.

Extended periods of quarantine have caused our comfort zones to shrink and become anchored to our own bodies, emphasising beauty and wellness as highly personal acts and processes. Accessed as a form of escapism, inter-Covid living has given significance to these behaviours, making them ritualistic and reassuring.

Beyond our physical bodies, the home has become an extended comfort zone, and with this, part of our holistic identity. It's transforming from a simple shelter into the intersection between self-identity, sanctuary and technology. We have become enmeshed in this domestic setting – the only place where we can freely touch.

As our domestic spaces become highly curated, everything we let into the home is a conscious decision. And amid fluctuating periods of solitude in our lives, we exist in a delicate balance of emotion, health and general wellbeing that’s being scrutinised and challenged in unprecedented ways.

In response, people are seeking methods of self-care that also provide a biological analysis, and a greater understanding and ownership of our wellbeing. Tracking and assessing our bodies from the comfort of our homes will soon become a ritual in itself. Devices like the Oura Ring point to this future, recording data that reflects our activities and movements, while using our time spent sleeping to gauge our overall health.

Other people will seek AI-integrated devices to calculate wellbeing in more depth, observing moods through our tone of voice and stress levels based on hormones, exemplified by Amazon’s Halo wearable.

Moving through this decade, we can expect technology that tunes in to more sensual aspects of wellbeing and beauty rituals. We will see progression in how we choose to present ourselves phygitally, while anti-screen experiences will become a route to greater wellbeing. 

Published by:

2 February 2021

Author: Lucy Hardcastle

Image: Ritualistic Comforts by Lucy Hardcastle for The Future Laboratory


Adapted States by Lucy Hardcastle for The Future Laboratory

2027: Beauty’s adapted states

Having revelled in Covid-19 vaccination liberation, in 2027 we are confronted by a waterborne pandemic, one that makes people’s skin highly sensitive to chemicals.

These ongoing health incidents, combined with the impact of the climate crisis on resources and supply chains, makes us realise how fragile and vulnerable we are. In response, people are re-evaluating how to interact with beauty products and nature.

This has triggered a mindset shift and accentuated a spectrum of attitudes and physical presentations: one end embraces a hyper-natural approach to beauty, while the other indulges in transhumanism, using technologies or devices to modify or augment the body and mind.

The hyper-naturalists accept and embrace universal differences and imperfections as beauty. Relying on the benefits of natural ingredients, they are forming their own category of activism and inclusion that drastically affects the way they scrutinise beauty and cosmetics products – and the companies behind them. Innovators such as Geltor and Ginkgo Bioworks are meeting their needs with bio-positive formulation development, creating products that are wholly derived from natural ingredients, but utilise synthetic biology to reduce impact on the planet.

While the hyper-naturalists believe it’s more progressive to optimise our natural state than augment it, in a world that’s as digital as it is physical, there are always individuals who want to play and transform their outward appearance. In 2027, these are the body augmenters.

With augmented reality (AR) face filters a normalised and accepted part of people's daily presentation – in fact, they’re now passé – transhumanism is building global momentum for people who no longer see physical reality as central to their identity. For the body augmenters, modification of their being goes beyond the screen.

Holographic wearables are now emerging that use 3D mapping to project visual attributes onto their face and skin. Others are transforming skin-embedded technologies such as data chips and wellbeing trackers into decorative body adornments that hint at a form of neo-tribalism.

In a world worn down by pandemics, how we find meaning through beauty remains in flux. Past views of perfection have lost their power, as a search for shared values, communities and digital subcultures shapes how we choose to represent ourselves.

‘There are always individuals who want to play and transform their outward appearance – in 2027, these are the body augmenters’
Lucy Hardcastle, creative director, Lucy Hardcastle Studio

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Physiological Nostalgia by Lucy Hardcastle for The Future Laboratory

2030: Physiological nostalgia

It’s 2030 and we have surpassed the point of visual media over-saturation.

Infiltrating every area of our lives, screen-based visual communication has drastically overtaken the written and audible word. The average person now looks at screens for about 10 hours a day – almost four hours more than in the previous decade.

This visual simulation is having notable neurological effects, with studies showing that the barrage of information, moving imagery and sounds associated with our screens and devices is leaving our brains in constant fight-or-flight mode. In fact, most of Generations Z and Alpha are teetering on addiction to the dopamine hit that tech delivers, finding comfort in the closeness of devices.

Physiological nostalgia aims to be the solution. A new form of anti-screen self-care, it transforms our domestic spaces into meditative zones where we can engage our other senses as a form of escapism. Central to this are sensory memory devices – screen-free technologies that revive memories or nostalgic moments to induce relaxation.

In this way, physiological nostalgia uses neurological cognitive processes and memory dependence to challenge our brain functions – slowing down our cravings for newness by tuning us in to solace.

Each sensory memory device helps users to revisit logged moments in time, recorded as audio, scent or haptic textures. After the rise of audio escapism in the early 2020s, scent wearables that offer olfactory moments have become a lucrative product line for fragrance innovators like Givaudan. Furniture, too, is becoming part of this; for the affluent, the Atmosphère chaise longue has become highly desirable, creating an at-home wellbeing bubble around the owner.

Giving people an object to replace the familiar comfort of holding their smartphones, hand-held sensory devices take cues from soft robotics; linked to a database, they can recreate any known surface texture. This provides textural grounding and comfort as a form of meditation for users, while bringing to life saved memories.

Lucy Hardcastle is creative director of Lucy Hardcastle Studio, a multidisciplinary design practice based in London, pioneering the use of interactive technologies, 3D visuals and the moving image to tell complex and emotionally resonant stories. 

This Scenario builds on Absent Beauty: The Experience of Beauty in the New Normal, a speculative provocation and presentation by Lucy Hardcastle, providing insight into how our post-pandemic reality will prompt adaptations for beauty as both a physical and virtual ‘user experience’. Lucy is offering beauty and wellness brands access to Absent Beauty's video presentation and insight report – please contact her for more information. 

‘Hand-held haptic devices provide textural grounding as a form of meditation’
Lucy Hardcastle, creative director, Lucy Hardcastle Studio

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