Personal Care Industry: Color Trends & Influences

Color Trends & Influences In The Personal Care Industry 2008/2009

Discovering what is driving trends begins with keen observations of the world community, detecting what is on our minds and where our eyes are focused, and asking: “Why?”Digging down to basic emotions and needs is the basis for any assessment of how trends might translate into products, services, materials and, of course, colours. Currently the answers exist as polar opposites. Half of our dual personality society wants nothing more than to live a simpler, purer, authentic, and more natural life, while the other half craves a new take on luxury, living large and pushing the limits of both time and technology.
Environmental concerns Environmental concerns and sustainability issues permeate our lives. It is no longer just our concern for future generations that is driving what appears to be the most far-reaching social movement of our time but a belief that natural resources may be in short supply during our lifetime.This wake-up call has brought about change in our perspective and our thinking around the globe. A shift in our collective views is what can bring about a change in our desires and call us to action. The seeds that were planted in the 1960s have matured into a movement that drives design and development today and will for the foreseeable future.Though not a new theme in the cosmetics and personal care industry, increased environmental consciousness has resulted in unprecedented interest in natural and organic products and increasing spending in this category. According to research from the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), the demand for products that complement a simpler, purer and more natural way of life is on the rise.In order to address the growing consumer demands, companies are employing design, construction, natural ingredients and colour to create products and packaging that appeal to our desire for wellbeing, eco-consciousness and a connection to nature.

Green is the iconic colour of this movement, but as we become more ecoconscious, our view of what it means to be earth-friendly expands to encompass an understanding of the interconnectedness of our planet.

Along with our continued desire for green, we are now expressing a more global perspective with the colour blue. Green will not be upstaged as the colour of nature but will share the spotlight with blue, a colour linked to humanitarianism and broader global issues.

Add the colour white, which evokes purity, functionality, cleanliness, and progressive thinking to the palette and in the same way that the colours of fresh air, clean water and fresh foliage create balance in the world around us, blue, green and white come together in perfect harmony for home interiors, personal care and visual communications. Hues that reflect the complexions of the global population, and mineral based colours in yellow, red, gold and purple, are also part of the colour trends coming from a focus on natural resources across all industries.


An undercurrent of uncertainty reminds us that life is a never-ending progression of ups and downs that affects everyone. The enthusiasm and excitement of the ride up turns to fear and stress when losing ground on the other side. Yet even for those that do not like the way things look right now there is an optimism that all things go in cycles and that life is soon bound to change for the better.

Clarient’s 2009 ColorForward report echoed the sentiment in describing forecasted colour “Sagacious” as “hopeful green, blanketed in neutral brown, defining the uncertainty of our future.”

During times of uncertainty there is a renewed respect for ancient structures, solid foundations and colours that conform rather than confront. Greys, beige and complex neutrals are colours that come to the forefront.

Hope counterbalances our unrest and aspirations give us hope and optimism about our future. In direct contrast to the neutral hues of uncertainty, bright chromatic vibrant colours crop up to remind us that colour and our futures should be active, full of life and fun.

These brilliant hues take on new qualities as they attempt to mimic the vivid colours we see on the screens of the latest televisions, computers and digital devices. The bright lights once reserved for the entertainment arena have become part of our everyday experience. No longer a “Technicolor dream” these hues that light up our everyday reality are being translated in materials that take the colour off the screen and into products for home and fashion.

Luxury ‘deserved’

In direct contrast to the values-based consumers who often shun conspicuous consumption, there are affluent young adults and empty-nesters who want and, maybe more importantly, feel they deserve to indulge in luxury.

With the means and desire to splurge on premium items, they are fuelling the transition of products from niche markets to the mainstream. Mintel, which identified the trend, expects mainstream companies to embrace the new market by creating special luxury brands for common household products.

Look for fashion-forward, deep, graduated shades mixed with touches of metallic on one end of the colour trend spectrum and sensuous pastels that are almost white on the other to be used to convey the luxury experience and communicate the value of these products.

Colour kinetics

When it comes to colour, the most exciting news in the cosmetics and personal care market may not be in the product but in the packaging. Technology, much of which is coming out of Japan, will allow manufacturers to be inventive with colour and materials, which is especially important in categories being increasingly penetrated by niche brands.

A new palette of colours inspired by the multifaceted colour variations of the automobile industry and made possible through innovations in technology is on the horizon. From rich hues of blue and greens to the lightest tints and white, the colours have depth, luminosity and an ethereal quality not possible before.

New pigment technologies and substrates allow the colours to blend, undulate, and vibrate. Pearlescent hues replace single colour surfaces and colour goes stealth as new pigments and processes allow the surface to change hue when viewed from different angles or in different light.

Gradations push the limits as the surface moves from saturated hues to the lightest of tints or moves from colour to clear allowing the colour of the product to show through the packaging and become part of the design. Highly reflective surfaces will take on the look of liquid metal and silver is frosted, toned and tinted. Gold adds shimmer rather than shine or is matte.

The dynamics of apprehension or hopefulness, technology meeting nature and individualism versus the good of mankind are pushing design to new heights and by 2010/2011 the colour expressions and nuances will be nothing short of sensational.

Personal Care Magazine Cover
Color Trends and Influences’ was published in Personal Care magazine August 2008