As we all try to navigate life in the midst of the current pandemic, most everyone is simply trying to retain a sense of normalcy. So in the morning, we get up and put on our (sweat) suits. We log on to our computers and get to work (from home). And ahead of that important meeting—now taking place on Zoom—we dab on some (tinted) moisturizer and high-five a million angels for finding balance and beauty in this state of in-betweens. While we’re still working on those first two adjustments to life as we know it, finding skin-care-makeup hybrids is actually easier than ever. Today, rather than Instagram-heavy foundations and more-is-more contouring palettes, our makeup bags are filled with products that bring a “healthy glow” to skin.
“At Sephora, I’ve seen a piqued interest in makeup and skin-care hybrid products,” says Jeffrey English, a beauty director at the cosmetics behemoth. “People are wanting beautiful, high-performance results without compromising good-for-you ingredients.” That’s why the makeup categories that are finding a boom in the current landscape are those like tinted moisturizers and nourishing concealers that have “skin-care adjacent” benefits, according to a report from Vogue Business. It makes sense: Faced with a new frightening reality, Google searches for “self-care “have seen a sharp 50 percent spike since the first of March. Given how closely skin care and makeup are tied to overall well-being, products that feel good on skin, while providing coverage, are more necessary now than ever.
“A few years ago, when most of us were blissfully unaware of what was in our makeup, we just wanted it to look good,” says Merrady Wickes, makeup artist and beauty director at The Detox Market. “Then consumers began reading labels and became very savvy with personal-care products.” This level-up of knowledge pushed skin-care ingredients like hyaluronic acid,SPF, and antioxidants into cosmetics. This is seen most prominently in the foundation category, but it’s certainly not exclusive to it: Lip glosses now have peptides, eye shadows contain SPF, and even mascaras tap shea butter and conditioners to soften your lashes.
And pros expect that this micro-trend in makeup won’t be stopping any time soon. One report from The NPD Group, a market research firm, stated that “as skin care continues to grow, the share gap between [it and makeup] is narrowing.” It’s important to note that skin care is still outpacing makeup at large, but because of its boom, makeup companies are shifting their offerings to align more closely with what consumers want out of their cosmetics. As Larissa Jensen, vice president and beauty industry advisor of The NPD Group, has previously pointed out, “natural” continues to be a beauty buzzword—both in terms of the ingredients used within products and the finish that makeup leaves on skin. “How [the makeup category] responds to this movement will likely be key to its revival,” Jensen says.
At a time when everyone is chasing the luster of complexion-forward beauty, blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cosmetics are shining brighter than flashy glitters and jewel-toned liners. One of the most prominent examples of this pivot is Glossier Play. The pigment-forward, ultra-bright spinoff of the OG “no-makeup makeup” brand was halted less than a year after it was first introduced, according to a report from Business of Fashion. Glossier was quick to get back to basics—and brands elsewhere are also laser-focused on elevating the fusion between the two categories that doesn’t necessarily require you to acknowledge that a product is one over the other.
Whether you shop at the small indie beauty shops, the department store, and drugstore you’re likely to see this shift. For example, since its launch in 2009, RMS Beauty has had such a cult following for its coconut oil-based UnCoverup Concealer ($36) that the brand spun off a foundation late last year. Kosas and Ilia, likewise, have been hard at work attempting to further blur the lines between skin care and makeup, creating new product categories like tinted face oil and serum foundations.
As far back as 2017, this has been happening in the luxury market: Cle de Peau Beaute reformulated its cult-classic concealer to add SPF to protect the delicate under-eye areas. Today, with the new Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturizing Makeup SPF 45 ($45) launch, Estée Lauder is fine-tuning this relationship between skin care and makeup, introducing more advanced ingredients like probiotics and ion-charged water that hydrate and leave skin better than it would be on its own (mind you: this is no small feat for a product category that’s regularly blamed for breakouts).
Meanwhile, in a big move for those craving skin-care ingredients at a lower price point, new launches are bringing multi-benefit products to all. CoverGirl introduced its Clean Fresh line that packs hyaluronic acid and aloe vera into Skin Milk Foundation ($12), Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint ($15) gives skin a wash of pigment while hydrating with hyaluronic acid, and No7 Lift and Luminate Triple Action Serum Foundation ($16) gives your skin a dose of vitamin A and vitamin C while reducing fine lines.
Considering that the very first foundation on the market was referred to as “greasepaint” (yes, really), the need for ingredients to do more than just spackle over dark circles and pimples—but actually aid in the betterment of skin—will continue to push the two categories together even further. Makeup sits on your skin for upwards of eight hours a day, and if product formulators can concoct foundations that moisturize and don’t crease, liners that protect lids and don’t budge, and lipsticks that hydrate and stay all day, why wouldn’t they? Confidence can come from a compact. Self-care can be slathered on skin. And what we need now is the ability to feel empowered and taken care of—no matter which product we reach for.