With an army of beauty bloggers and vloggers, the world of makeup and styling has exploded and is showing no signs of slowing down. Instagram-savvy Millenials are in search of the perfect selfie and tripping over each other to buy makeup, lotions and potions used by the likes of the Kardashians. They also seem to trust YouTube sensations over the large corporations when it comes to advice.

Benefit has partnered with Mother Clucker to launch the JUST Wing-IT pop-up in Shoreditch in celebration of its new Roller Liner eyeliner.

Never has there been so much emphasis and importance on our health and wellbeing too. From Peleton’s home fitness cycle classes to FaceGym treatments, even greater emphasis is being placed on what we put in our bodies and our lifestyles, and that means a whole host of new retail experiences opening up. Take Benefit for example, which has partnered with southern fried chicken brand Mother Clucker to launch the JUST Wing-IT pop-up in Shoreditch in celebration of its new Roller Liner eyeliner. Not your average partnership, but sure to blow up on social media and sell out. There is even a vegan option available too.

Printemps in Paris has introduced Le Green Market, a new section that offers products and brands specifically selected for having more than 99 per cent natural ingredients. This highly educational section brings together all the representatives of natural beauty in a single place, making it easier than ever to revolutionise beauty routines.


An experience bar and aromatherapy concept complete the wide range of face and hair treatments, makeup, nutritional supplements and fragrances. Printemps designed this dedicated section to be a playground of experiences, allowing shoppers to test, touch and smell the ethical products of tomorrow while taking care of themselves today.

‘The fast beauty trend shows no signs of slowing in 2019. In many ways, the fast beauty movement mimics fast fashion – it is trend driven, disruptive and the products are less expensive. This new breed of beauty brands has changed the established business model, bringing quality, affordable, on-trend products to market in weeks, not months or years. It’s all about finding what’s relevant, finding the ‘super hit’ in the here and now, or what’s coming, that will catch hire with shoppers and delivering against it by accelerating the speed to market. In today’s Instagram world, nobody wants to be seen wearing the same thing twice – whether that’s fashion, or makeup. They want new and they want it now – trends are moving at lightening speed,’ says Nathalie Lawrence, retail beauty specialist at arken P-O-P International.

In the same way that fast-fashion prompted that industry to rethink seasonality, beauty brands are having to rethink their approach to retail display as a result. ‘While the astonishing rate of new product development driven by the fast beauty model is great for shoppers, it can cause issues with retail display. Investment in display within beauty has typically been directed towards permanent point-of-purchase solutions. Mass brands reset planograms quarterly and retailers plan for a rolling major refresh programme over a three to four year cycle. This kind of retail rigidity doesn’t work for fast beauty brands and is the reason why many have taken an e-commerce distribution first approach. With SKU ranges changing all the time, planograms need constantly updating and traditional display solutions prove limiting and costly in terms of time and remodelling/manufacturing of new display system parts to accommodate new ranges,’ continues Lawrence.

Makeup Revolution’s new retail display system, designed alongside arken P-O-P.

Makeup Revolution has worked with arken P-O-P to develop a new retail display system. It enables all products to be held by a unique divider system or simple tray, so changes can be made at top speed instore. There are no push feeds and no new injection moulded tooling required when new SKUs are launched. Flexible, practical and durable, the new merchandising solution gives the brand the limitless configuration potential fast beauty demands, when it comes to different ways of merchandising. Crucially, it also makes it effortless for store teams or field teams to remerchandise displays.

The space planning at FaceGym, Coal Drops Yard is based on the brand’s process – preparation, workout, cool down.

FaceGym has opened its latest site at Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross. The concept is about balancing the confidence and glamour of the beauty sector with the energy and utility of the sports sector. The space planning is based on the FaceGym process – preparation, workout, cool down. Key signatures were pulled from typical gym environments such as the lockers, jump boxes and ballet barre.

The space offers a variety of facial workouts by a team of specialised trainers. The Make It Bar provides an opportunity to blend a custom Training Serum with vegan, cold pressed oils to produce natural skincare fresh on the premises. ‘It’s the first studio to boast a highly innovative and unique workout proposition – “a freestyle barre” offering a facial exercise class schedule for those wanting to learn facial workout techniques for themselves,’ says Becky Phillips, senior designer at Checkland Kindleysides, the agency responsible for the design. There is a selection of third party products specifically sourced by FaceGym founder Inge Theron who studies, travels and tries all products to ensure quality and fit with the brand, as well as FaceGym own products.

‘We are seeing the continued rise of participative retail within the beauty sector – innovation will increasingly extend beyond cosmetics into skincare and haircare. High-end/personalised services will become increasingly accessible. This is a trend being led by the founders of Drybar who are set to launch Squeeze – a service that will transform massage in the same way we saw with blow dry bars. Squeeze is an accessible and highly personalised massage concept with a tech-savvy booking system and the ability to select music, lighting and temperature to personalise the ambience of the treatment space,’ says Phillips.

She says we can also expect to see increased commitment towards sustainability, and beauty regimes are set to become more streamlined with consumers adopting ‘skincare diets’ and focusing on simple yet highly effective results-driven products. ‘This will have a direct effect on merchandising and education within retail spaces. Modern hybrid medicalised-spa spaces will continue to emerge, offering the latest wellness services and medical beauty treatments in a warmer, less intimidating environment.’

Personalisation will be pushed into exciting new areas in 2019. ‘In terms of personalisation based on human biology, we expect the use of biomes to really take off and, potentially, to eclipse DNA. It’s easier to understand, more analogue, and extends beyond beauty into more general health issues, so the biome conversation will be supported by adjacent categories – diet, gut health, clean eating, self-medication etc – yet the subject is still grounded in solid science. Gallinee is a great example of this,’ says Kate Ancketill, CEO and founder of GDR.

Sustainability and transparency will continue to move more and more into the mainstream and it will be increasingly important for brands to bake this into their core purpose. ‘While this is happening, we’ll be interested to see how activist-led start-ups continue to push the envelope. Boie USA, a personal care brand with reusable and recyclable body scrubbers and toothbrushes; Nécessaire, which lists their “obsessively researched ingredients” in The Yes List and those they don’t use in The No List; and chemical-free, eco-friendly Sustain have all caught our eye recently,’ says Ancketill.

So what does today’s consumer want from health and beauty brands? ‘Consumers want brands to fit within the wider context of their lives. Consumers don’t view their health and beauty treatments in isolation; they see them as something that supports their overall health or lifestyle goals. Brands need to position themselves within this space.

‘Interestingly, there is an inherent tension between the two most popular approaches to achieving this. Some solutions, influenced by Korean step-based beauty routines, are about slowing things down and engaging consumers in long, thoughtful, mindful engagements, while others, like Recess (single-use products “that go where you go,”) and Fenty Beauty Matchstix Trio (magnetic packaging that sticks together, making it easy to find in the handbag) are all about the quick fix for on-the-go consumers,’ says Ancketill.

The new Bloomingdale’s playground for beauty and fragrances is the next phase of the flagship store’s complete transformation.

Over in New York City, Bloomingdale’s has put the finishing touches to its reimagined beauty floor at its 59th Street flagship. New features include a luxe fragrance hall, a vast array of beauty services and spa rooms, innovative beauty shopping service and a multitude of new brands. The new playground for beauty and fragrances is the next phase of the store’s complete transformation.

‘The beauty department is the first stop on every customer’s journey upon entering the store, and in renovating the space we had to ensure that it would capture and engage our shoppers. The revamped department has all the sought-after brands, a spectacular luxury fragrance hall and enhanced service offerings. In addition, through state-of-the-art installations we have created an environment like no other beauty floor in the world,’ says Francine Klein, vice chairman and GMM for shoes, handbags, fashion accessories, fashion and fine jewellery, cosmetics and outlets.

The department spans 3,382 sq m of the flagship’s main floor, with an additional 102 sq m of beauty outposts located across multiple floors of the store. It houses more than 200 beauty brands including 75 new and noteworthy names. The new floor boasts state-of-the-art counters, interactive spaces and tech enhancements to elevate the shopper’s experience in a fun, dynamic atmosphere synonymous with Bloomingdale’s DNA. There are modern product displays in open sell environments and multiple play stations to encourage shoppers to touch, feel and try out products.

The space is also home to a multitude of shop-in-shops, where brand partners created environments reflective of their brand image. These include a new design concept by Tom Ford Beauty, integrating digital technology and private consultation stations. The brand created a sleek, state-of-the-art boutique with high-tech mirrors, virtual make-up try-on tools and an interactive scent experience.

In May last year, Saks Fifth Avenue relocated its beauty department to the second floor, with a significant focus on experiences. The 2,973 sq m beauty space houses more than 120 colour cosmetics, skincare, fragrance and wellness brands as well as 15 spa rooms along with services such as facials, massages and a flower shop.

Beast in Covent Garden

‘Traditionally, many beauty spaces within department stores rely on brand supported investment and innovation,’ says Kirsty Kean, lead retail specialist at Visual Thinking. However, she notes Debenhams in Watford where one fifth of the beauty hall is serviced by Debenhams and not by individual brands themselves. ‘The true difference-maker, however, is the cohesive, considered and clearly well planned and flexible zoned areas, with spaces such as the Perfumery, Skincare Lab, Hair Lab and a Men’s Lab. It is perhaps the latter, however, that is the most interesting,’ she says.

‘Male skincare is also seeing really strong growth, with sales up 16.5 per cent. According to the latest TGI data from Kantar Media, a third (33 per cent) of UK men say they use face creams and lotions on their skin,’ says Kean. ‘Beast is a relatively new Covent Garden store catering to men’s beauty, until now typically overlooked by department stores. It’s a curated collection of over 80 premium brands. But it has an understated approach to its layout with beauty categories instead of brands clearly signposted making it super easy for the male customer to find what they want with minimal interaction. With its new “Beauty Hall of the Future” concept, Debenhams is clearly keen to capitalise on this growing category, too.’

Kean notes Nordstrom in the US, which is also seeking to redefine the beauty experience with its new men’s store in New York. ‘Like Beast, its democratic beauty hall concept approach, used in its refurbished and new stores is, in many ways, the polar opposite of what brands themselves and store designers typically want to see. This still upscale, low level, intimate space eschews the familiar phoney brand war competition, with the great (and exclusive) product choice presented with an equality and parity that suits all, while still delivering feature brand space and voice. This revolutionary approach works at many levels, creating small but beautifully formed retail spaces within one authoritative area, where personal service and advice can be expertly dispensed.

‘Admittedly, the wants and needs of male shoppers in Watford are likely to be somewhat different to their Manhattan counterparts. But the Nordstrom store is proof that Debenhams is at least looking in the right places for inspiration. Yes, there is still much more that it could, and should, do: the Watford store is arguably innovative only because it’s Debenhams. That said, the inroads it is starting to make could quickly leave other mainstream retailers in the UK sector looking tired and out- dated by comparison. Time for more makeovers?’

The new Glossier NYC flagship is a social club for the like-minded.

Established in 2014, online beauty retailer Glossier has by-passed department stores entirely, with 90 per cent of the brand’s revenue coming from online sales. In December 2016, Emily Weiss, Glossier founder and chief executive, turned the penthouse at 123 Lafayette Street  – the address where it all started – into a shoppable showroom where the brand’s community could meet Glossier in real life. Almost two years later,  Glossier opened a permanent flagship there in November, designed by Gachot Studios alongside architectural studio P.R.O.

Glossier is a social club for the like-minded, an auto-body shop for the human body, says The New York Times. Customers are encouraged to interact with experiential rooms such as the Boy Brow Room and the staff, called offline editors, who wear mechanic’s jumpsuits in ‘Millenial pink’.

Skinsmiths’ stores provide an environment that the staff feel proud of and enjoy being in, and makes customers feel relaxed and comfortable.

For Skinsmiths’ store rollout in the UK, YourStudio designed an environment that the staff feel proud of and enjoy being in, as well as making customers feel relaxed and comfortable. The lighting is adjustable so the treatment rooms can change between treatment mode and consultation mode, moving from task lighting to indirect soft coffer lighting. The materials have been chosen for acoustic qualities so conversations can remain private, whilst others like the Timber terrazzo have been chosen for the sustainability credentials, as the timber is London Plane using offcuts recycled from local sawmills. ‘The palette and materiality has been developed so that Skinsmiths can standalone and be recognisable, with strong visual intentity across all channels from digital to physical,’ says Tom Edington, associate director of experiential at YourStudio.

He says the health and beauty sector is going through change, with brands starting to discover some individuality and wanting to be more expressive again, after years of health and beauty being paired back to be accessible for all. ‘It’s a really exciting time, with innovation and creativity at the forefront, so we predict we’ll see some very fresh approaches soon. Affordable beauty is a huge trend at the moment, and a store has to set the tone for being affordable and accessible while showcasing the product in the best way possible.’

2019 will see more social spaces open up for like-minded brand ambassadors to share tips, meet the makers behind products and gain knowledge, with more transparency and sustainable credentials. All in an environment that is oozing with Instagram-ready moments to share.