Future beauty trends: From Korean skincare to bio botox

Future beauty trends. Photo: Dreamstime.

Future beauty trends. Photo: Dreamstime.

From weird face masks to smart skin patches, there are plenty of beauty trends to help you face the future.

Words: Tracey Strange-Watts

You know your beauty perspective has somewhat shrunk if you can’t decide whether you are more shocked that your all-time favourite serum may contain infant foreskins or that actress Cate Blanchett has dyed her hair bubble-gum pink. Good serums shouldn’t rely on such ingredients and style icons don’t share hair with My Little Pony.

But while enjoying my cuppa and a lie-down, I began wondering about recent beauty trends and whether they have any longevity. Will things like lobe lifts, glow-in-the-dark face masks and smart sun patches stick around or do they have the shelf life of Selfish, Kim Kardashian’s book of selfies? You may think you know the answer but read on…

Korean skin care always seems ahead of the game. Carbonated face baths, skin essences, rubber face masks and products that rely on (get this) water for hydration are all the rage in Korea and, thanks to social media, the world. The reality is, though, that Korea has a huge beauty heritage.

Face-slapping, often recommended when applying Korean skin care products, is associated with the tradition of sinking yourself in hot water only to your navel in order to kick-start your circulation. But before you scoff, think about it: gently slapping yourself actually does energize the skin – it certainly gives you a healthy flush. Remember that the next time you apply your serum.

Another time-honoured tradition is the face mask. Korean beauty consumers are currently elevating them to cultish status. But unlike the past, today’s consumers demand more immediate results, leading to the rise and rise in masks that offer instant brightening and/or tightening benefits.

Many include traditional ingredients like baekgangjam, made from silkworm cocoons, or clay-like powders which, when mixed with water, turn into gloopy pastes that “rubberize” on the face. Some also contain diatomaceous earth, otherwise employed as a worm and flea prevention treatment for dogs.  Go figure. But perhaps the best example of a faddish mask isn’t Korean at all.

In fact it’s very Hollywood. Californian company GlamGlow’s GravityMud claims a celebrity following and turns from white to a bright metallic silver as it firms on the skin.

Once dry, it can be peeled off in one satisfying sheet. But as a much fun as it might be to look like an extra from The Force Awakens, masks like GravityMud get the thumbs down from skin experts mainly because they often contain alcohol, the primary reason your skin feels more taut once they are removed.

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Verdict: There’s nothing wrong with face masks. But best avoid the gimmicks and stick with the tried and tested. We love Dr. Hauschka’s Firming Mask, $99, Antipodes’ Aura Manuka Honey Mask, $50, Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask, $144, Bobbi Brown’s Radiance Boost Face Mask, $85, and Nellie Tier’s Hydrating Mask, $45.

Boobs and jawlines aren’t the only things that droop as you get older. Earlobes do too. Hardly the worst of my problems you may think. But for some women it is an issue, especially those who love jewellery – saggy lobes cause earrings to droop forward awkwardly.

Step forward hyaluronic dermal fillers. Usually used to plump up lips and replace lost volume in the cheeks, fillers such as Restylane or Juvederm are now being used to inflate loose lobes and restore earrings back to their rightful position. The process is quick and also works on stretched out or torn earring holes. A bonus is that the filler lasts much longer in your earlobes because you don’t move them around like you do your cheeks or lips. (Muscle movement causes the filler to be absorbed more quickly.)

Verdict: Worth investigating if your lobes are damaged, or if droopiness is causing you to avoid ear bling.


Beauty therapists could soon be asking you for a quick swab of your saliva before actually asking you what your skin concerns are. Serums/lotions will then be matched to your genetic signature, not your basic skin type. For example, genetic research has shown that some people respond differently to certain skin care ingredients – retinol for example – than others.

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DNA testing will allow beauty advisers to recommend products not only for the health of your skin as it is now but also how it will age in the future. The service, designed by an Australian company, is currently limited to a few appearance medicine clinics in New Zealand but wider availability is expected.

Verdict: DNA testing – once the preserve of crime labs and disharmonious families – is coming to a beauty counter near you. Open wide and say arrrrrrgh…


Early this year L’Oreal revealed the My UV Patch, a malleable sticker-like sensor with dyes that turn colour when exposed to UV light. To get a sense of how much sun you’re getting, you take a photo of the sensor (which looks a bit like a heart-shaped plaster stuck to your arm or hand), upload it and an app provides the feedback.

The idea is that when worn regularly the sensor teaches you when you are most exposed to the sun – walking to work, or shopping at lunchtime, for example – and it’s this information about your behavior that gives you the opportunity to be more vigilant about sun protection. The disposable patch can be worn for up to five
days and, once on the market, L’Oreal plans to make it free.

Verdict: We have the highest melanoma rate in the world; good on you L’Oreal.


Hearts must have been fluttering in the appearance-medicine industry when it was announced that metformin, a widely prescribed genetic drug used to treat type-2 diabetes, appears to delay the ageing process at a cellular level.

If metformin can not only slow down ageing but also aid in the fight against age-related diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer, surely it can also help prevent wrinkles?

The green light has been given for a longevity study on humans and you can bet cosmetic companies will be monitoring developments closely.
Verdict: Like the rest of the world, we’ll be watching this space. If it works, beauty clinics of the future may be stocked with ageing- proof pills.

Reportedly the secret behind Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge’s smooth-faced beauty, Biotulin is an “organic” gel that claims to have a better-than-Botox effect on wrinkles. Available here at biotulin.co.nz, the German-developed product contains spilanthol, a local anaesthetic extracted from a plant that apparently reduces muscle contractions.

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Its association with two of the world’s most recognizable women aside, Biotulin certainly has its far share of devotees. The product also benefits from the rapid increase in popularity of natural and organic skin care. Unlike Botox, however, the effects of which can last up to six months, the smoothing/plumping benefits of Biotulin dissipate in hours.

Verdict: It’s still a little confusing how a topical gel that “relaxes” muscles doesn’t also lead to drooping or sagging around the rest of the face…

Social media – more specifically the photo-sharing site, Instagram – has democratized the beauty industry. In the past a successful launch of a new range was often restricted to those companies with big brands and big budgets; small up-and-comers struggled getting their message across. Not so much any more.

Millions of followers have made brands like Jeffree Star, LASplash, L.A. Girl and Sugarpill big news. But don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them yet.

Thanks to switched-on social marketing, megabrands like Garnier, Dove, Matrix and Pantene have also become even more Insta-persuasive and successful. Young or old, if you’re a skin care and cosmetics enthusiast, checking in with Instagram should be a priority.
Verdict: A third of the world’s population is expected to be on Instagram by 2018, and we say choice is always welcome.

Most of us are at least aware of the amount of fitness-tracking data available to us through our smartphones, even if we don’t actually take advantage of it. Calories burned, steps taken, heart rate achieved… But in future you can expect all that info to be blasted on a huge screen at a gym glass, along with that of the person next to you.

You will also be able to buy wearable health devices that can diagnose conditions like sleep apnoea, measure your blood pressure and help monitor conditions like heart disease or obesity.

Verdict: Staying fit and healthy is integral to looking and feeling good and we say that anything that gets us off the couch and into exercise is a very good thing indeed. It’s also only a matter of time before apps will alert us when our skin is dehydrated or tell us when our foundation is the wrong shade.

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