The most successful beauty collections embody themes that capture the imagination–and today’s forward- thinking brands look to engage the spirit, too. With palettes and shades inspired by the zodiac, chakras, crystals, elements and the wonders of nature, more brands are tapping into a definition of beauty that is more than skin deep.
This trend dovetails with the interests of younger customers. According to a survey of millennial and Gen Z participants conducted by Vice last year, 80 percent described themselves as “spiritual” with a belief in some form of cosmic power. In addition, 54 percent of those surveyed said they look “to connect with brands that enhance their spirit and soul,” while 77 percent seek “to buy from brands that align with their values,” according to marketing analysis of the survey.
Of course, this trend is not exclusive to younger generations. “There is a greater spiritual awakening going on on the macro level,” says Tiila Abbitt, founder of Aether Beauty, a vegan, cruelty-free brand that specializes in crystal-infused cosmetics. “Given the state of the world and the environment and constantly hearing negativity in the news, cosmic and spiritual trends evoke a sense of peace that is hard to find currently.”
From the beginning of history, humans have found meaning and solace in the alignment of the stars, the balance of the elements and the secrets of nature. The ceremonial use of crystals, from the Greek word for “ice,” dates back to the ancient world, where these special minerals were believed to protect against evil spirits and even common maladies such as hangovers.
It did not take long for civilizations to begin using crystals cosmetically, too. They served as key ingredients for the signature kohl eyeshadow worn by the ancient Egyptians. This blending of the cosmic with the cosmetic enjoys growing popularity today, especially when brands successfully unite effective ingredients with a deeper meaning.
“Aether Beauty is based on the medieval concept of the cosmos, which is what the word aether means,” Abbitt says. “For example, the Rose Quartz Crystal Gemstone Palette, is infused with actual rose quartz because it helps to prevent against wrinkles, redness and fine lines.
But on the spiritual side, it is a crystal that evokes love and self-love.”
Most customers have at least a passing familiarity with cosmic and other natural symbolism, which gives brands that tap into these themes the advantage of instant recognition. For example, the Eleman Beauty brand chose the universal themes of water, earth, wind and fire to connect with customers.
“We designed our eyeshadow palettes based on the four elements of nature, giving it brand identity,” says Gwen Monique Billings, vice president and cofounder of Eleman Beauty. “We know that consumers today are aware of the natural and physical elements of the earth and understand the meanings.”
Photo by Dan Farrell.
A Natural Fit
It is no surprise that today’s mystically and cosmically themed collections often overlap with the clean beauty movement, which celebrates pure, safe ingredients and sustainable practices.
For example, all Eleman Beauty products are PETA-certified vegan and cruelty-free. They are also made without gluten, parabens, mineral oil, BHT or BHA. “In this day and age, we wanted to create a cosmetic line that has safer ingredients, and to teach the end consumer a healthier option with cosmetics that they are using on their skin,” Billings says.
Most millennials are receiving that message loud and clear. “The millennial client is more likely to seek out and pay more for sustainable brands because it is in their ethos as a generation,” Abbitt says. “They are willing to pay more for brands that are ethical and sustainable, which is why the whole vegan and cruelty-free trend has exploded over the past few years.”
Of course, today’s spiritually based collections are often more whimsical, fun or adventurous than earlier clean options, which tended to stick to neutral tones. For example, Abbitt set out to create a clean beauty line that also embraced the gorgeous metallic shades she wanted to wear herself.
“I always wanted a metallic option, but there were never innovative choices for me in clean beauty,” Abbitt says. “So I knew when I launched the brand that I would create an all-metallic palette.” Thus the Crystal Grid Gemstone Palette was born, featuring metallic eye hues. “So many people told me not to do it, that the clean-beauty client only wants neutral colors,” Abbitt says. “But this palette has proven that not only is that not true but also my brand isn’t limited to only the clean-beauty client. All people want clean beauty.”