What Will They Think of Next?

Beauty trends come and go. Every year, every season a new applicator, ingredient or product promises a wrinkle-free eye, an acne-free face, the next 'fountain of youth' in a bottle, pill or potion -- if they all worked as well as they tout, there'd be no need for anything more, right? So, how can we help ourselves, with images of perfect complexions everywhere we look?

Here are just a few cosmetic trends. Some have come and gone, some have stuck around -- maybe you've tried a few, maybe not -- maybe some have even worked for you!

In 2009, nutraceuticals hit stores -- vitamins designed specifically to affect the skin (remember those chocolate bars like Dove Beautiful?) -- and promised to fill fine lines along with meeting our desire for self-indulgence. Sure-fire hit, right? Turns out not entirely. Frutels -- chocolate gummies to clear your acne -- launched in 2006 showed little promise, but are still on the market in limited release. Beauty "Tea" Cakes, by Luna Bar and The Republic of Tea promised vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-aging benefits. They quickly disappeared from the market.

Nutraceuticals that dominate the market today are vitamins sold as part of scientifically marketed skincare lines focused on anti-aging. They contain vitamins C, E, biotin, zinc and a range of phytonutrients. As far as other successful ingestibles, Borba dominates, first introducing beauty-enhancing waters, and now offering supplements, chocolate chews and drink mixes. The jury is still out on the longevity of these "beauty from within" nutracueticals, as well as their efficacy. But one thing is for certain -- we are willing to try anything if we think it will help!

2009 also saw the introduction of probiotics in cosmetics, and even if you don't have oily skin, I highly recommend taking a daily probiotic. Probiotics (beneficial bacteria) improve the balance of bacteria in your skin the same way they do for your digestive system. They beef up the immune system, which for those with acne, is a dire need. They also aid nutrient absorption. For your body to digest and absorb the correct amount of nutrients from food, they need to be "bio-available," i.e.; easily absorbable. Probiotics help break food down, aiding in their digestion and absorption.

Antibiotics are the classic, conventional treatment for imbalances where infections and bacteria form (internally and externally). They not only attack the bad bacteria, but the good as well. This is where probiotics can help, restoring the balance of good bacteria so the skin can heal itself (just like when we take antibiotics and need to take probiotics at the same time, or eat tons of yogurt, or worst case, have to take a yeast infection medication -- eeeek).

Moving right along to 2010 and my personal favorites, the eye roller applicators, which are still on the market (and still a gimmick). I've been asked to launch an eye cream in this format many times and just cannot. Eye cream applicators of all kinds are everywhere nowadays -- jars, brushes and rollerballs. So, does the method of application matter? It doesn't. Sure, placing something cold on the eye area feels good, but it doesn't decrease puffiness or lines, and you can actually get the same effect by freezing spoons and placing them on the eyes (though not as convenient, of course). As always, it's about high-quality ingredients, formulation technology and what actually works for you. Gimmicks may make you feel better psychosomatically, but they are unlikely to help your skin.

While we are talking about eyes, another dubious product which launched in 2009, but really hit its stride in 2011, is eyelash growth technology. These treatments still abound, some with irritation or other harsh side effects reported. But as Elle magazine wrote, "Eyelashes are the new breasts...all of a sudden, every woman wants a bigger, fuller pair." Although that may be a bit extreme (did you ever catch a guy staring at your eyelashes?!), it is true that eyelashes are all the rage. And, since the FDA in 2009 greenlighted Bimatoprost (a known hair-growth stimulant) in the new eyelash treatment Latisse, improved eyelashes were within reach without having to use "thicker, fuller mascara." Latisse costs $120 for a one-month, once-per-day supply. But there were, and still are, other eyelash conditioning treatments that showed good results without excessive cost or potential side effects. Everyone still wants long eyelashes, so I see this trend continuing.

In 2012 came something I didn't remotely foresee -- blemish balm cream or "BB Creams."

The all-in-one BB Creams claim to brighten skin like a primer, even complexion like a lightweight foundation, cover blemishes like a concealer, hydrate skin like a moisturizer, soothe skin like an anti-inflammatory, offer UV protection (so no need for sunblock) and have the sort of anti-aging ingredients more commonly found in serums. I honestly never thought the Swiss army knife of beauty could become a true trend, but these creams are gaining momentum.

The concept came out of Germany in the 1960s, where dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek created an ointment for her patients after they had undergone peel treatments. Her cream not only soothed and protected skin, but also covered redness. Marketing the cream as "the South Korean actress's secret," she began selling it in 2005. It is especially popular in South Korea, accounting for 13 percent of the market there. We will have to see how they do here in the U.S., where traditionally, consumers have been unwilling to embrace all-in-one's, especially for specialty facial care. However, the large brands all have plans to launch them.

Women are willing to shell out big money for long nails, and acrylics have been around for many years to serve that purpose. These nails are far more permanent than a regular polish, easy to maintain, and promise a way to strengthen and lengthen short, natural nails. Sadly they have some nasty side effects.

Gel nails, a new 2012 trend, cure faster and do not have the fumes that acrylics do so they are considered a safer alternative. The cons are the same as acrylics -- the nail bed becomes unhealthy, thin and weak over time, which can, after stopping use, take months to heal. Acrylics and gels also cause a sort of shredding effect of the nail. Despite these side effects, fake nails show no signs of being "just a fad." Women (and men it seems) love nails!

There's nothing new about collagen in skincare, but collagen supplements are launching and trending now, marketed as anti-aging products that help improve skin. Collagen is a protein found in connective tissues throughout the body and are a major component of the skin. As we age, our skin's inner layer loses collagen and as a result, becomes less supple and firm and more vulnerable to damage. As collagen depletes, wrinkles and lines form in those places where the skin moves most. Collagen capsules can strengthen blood vessels, improve elasticity, strengthen skin and increase its suppleness. It is needed to repair and rebuild connective tissue to encourage strong muscles, skin, joints and mobility. Collagen fortifies your blood vessels to improve circulation throughout the body. Blood and nutrients are delivered to your skin, resulting in healthy, radiant and youthful-looking skin. Collagen also strengthens the structure of bones, tendons, cartilage and ligaments.

Collagen supplementation is just beginning to show scientific backing, so we will I think, see this trend start taking off beyond 2013. There is one beauty trend hitting Japan that I don't expect we will see here anytime soon. It is collagen-infused beer foam, which is supposed to improve skin, hair and nails. It is powdered pork collagen which you pour into a glass and top off with beer. A 10-pack of sachets costs 1,000 yen, or about $12.50. Sadly, this product, whose English translation is "enjoy the collagen foam," can only be found in Japan...awwww.

And now we come full circle -- 2008, '09, '10, '11, '12, '13 and beyond...

Naturally positioned, organic and fair-trade beauty products have rapidly moved from niche to mainstream over the course of the last six years. This trend is evident in the fact that high-end retailers such as Saks, Barney's and Nordstrom's are devoting sections of retail space to natural products, and CVS and Walgreens, and even Costco-type stores have followed suit, sectioning off large portions of their stores for natural and organic products.

While not all brands have flourished in these settings, some have -- due in large part to the brand itself, and not to the concept of "natural." Success for natural and organic products was not thought possible in this arena even a few years ago. But the trend toward natural and organic products shows no signs of slowing down, even in the specialty spa market. Beauty innovations that have shown efficacy while also having a minimal impact on the environment will continue to be in demand as consumers become better educated and more health conscious.