Trend Alert: No-buy beauty

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest brands, products and services that are trending with 16-24s.

The beauty industry is facing an online backlash as consumers speak out against its marketing activities and constant parade of new products, and the pressure it creates to keep buying more. Some have even pledged to complete a year of ‘no-buy’ or ‘low-buy’ to try and tackle their addiction.

While reducing consumption and waste aligns with the environmental movement, this isn’t the main reason beauty fans want to cut down. They primarily want to save money, and protest against the overwhelming marketing strategies that they say have a negative impact on their mental health. While most industries could be accused of manipulative marketing techniques, especially in an era with more advertising channels than ever, the beauty industry receives more criticism for this than most. Beauty is one of the most prominent participants in drop culture: the trend for brands to release limited edition products to generate hype and impulse buys among loyal fans.

The no-buy trend has been around a few years, but caught more attention thanks to YouTubers such as Hannah Louise Poston, who document their experience and encourage others to take part. Some YouTubers (such as EssentialGlam, pictured above) have released anti-haul videos where, in contrast to haul videos where vloggers show off new purchases, they detail the products they are not going to buy, with a particular emphasis on things they feel are overhyped or not worth the money. There are also several blogs and forums on the topic, such as the Makeuprehab subreddit, where over 60,000 beauty addicts share tips and communal support.

It may only be a relatively small number committing to low or no-buy pledges for now, but it does reflect a growing sentiment among Gen Z. There’s barely a part of their lives not infiltrated by advertising and marketing these days, from product placement in TV shows (advertising is no longer restricted to ad breaks) to ad-supported apps, games and entertainment platforms. The digital native demographic are conscious of the pressures that social media puts on them to look a certain way and own the latest cool products, and they are savvy about the motivations behind brand marketing.

Gen Z are already increasingly conscious of their consumer habits and the impact they have on the world at large, driving the trend for products such as plant-based food, recycled clothing and ethical make-up. With the no-buy initiative, they’re taking that consciousness a step further and looking at the impact their shopping habits have on their own mental health, well-being and bank balance.

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