The Future of Wellness, According to Avedas Barbara De Laere

In a COVID-19 world, “safety is the expectation of luxury,” said Barbara De Laere, global brand president at Aveda during Beauty Inc’s and Footwear News’ 2021 Wellness Forum, speaking on key trends driving the future of wellness.

An in-house poll conducted by the American cosmetics company — founded by hairstylist Horst Rechelbacher in 1978 and now owned by Estée Lauder Cos. — found that 57 percent of people say they “care more about cleanliness” than they did pre-pandemic, and 27 percent are “willing to pay more for superior health and safety protocols,” according to De Laere.

“I think it’s very important, especially in our industry, that we ensure that we approach health and safety with extra care and also that our sanitation practices remain very, very visible to our guests as they come into the hands of the experts,” she added, in conversation with Jenny B. Fine, executive editor of beauty at WWD and Beauty Inc.

De Laere also noted the rise of community care and social self care globally, fueled by the isolation felt during confinement due to the health crisis. There’s been an increase use of technology to connect, she said, as humans seek social integration.

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“Even in these, what we call, very individualistic cultures in the West, people are using their privilege to help each other, both friends and strangers, in various ways, which has physical positive effects on both the caregiver and the recipient,” De Laere said.

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Alongside this shift, there’s been a focus on a holistic approach to wellness — a once niche topic that has reached the mass market.

“We have seen, especially over the last year, that self care is extremely important and popular in tough times,” De Laere said. “And it now starts to touch many aspects of our day-to-day lives in a much more holistic and impactful manner….I believe that the future of wellness and self care is moving beyond holistic care for the physical body, which is still very, very important, but now also to incorporate holistic care for the community and for the planet.”

In beauty, consumers are demanding more from brands: “It is not good enough anymore to just have effective products. A brand needs to have societal and environmental impact. It needs to use its voice for good, have values and live up to them.”

Year-over-year, there’s been an 18.5 percent increase for Google searches of “sustainable beauty,” she added. “And we expect that biotechnology will become part of the beauty vocabulary in the near future, as people look more and more at how their products are made. They really want that reassurance that what they’re consuming is contributing to and not taking away from the planet.”

Veganism is on the rise in the U.S., she explained, and interconnected to how consumers feel about their health and impact on the planet. The number of vegans in the nation grew by 600 percent between 2014 and 2018, and for the last three years, there’s been a 16.2 percent year-over-year increase in search for “vegan beauty.”

Aveda products are now completely vegan, which the company announced in January, after removing honey and beeswax from formulations. The brand has had a positive reaction from clients — who are eager to return to hair salons.

“What we’ve seen in the second half of this year, through our salon panels, is that business was up 30 to 40 percent in the salon versus last year,” De Laere said.

Looking ahead, along with plant-based diets, other “core pillars of wellness” will continue to be a focus as consumers think about their immunity health, including exercise, better sleep, drinking water, she said.

“There are experiments with positive stress, such as the use of heat and cold on your body or intermittent fasting to support the immune system,” she added. “And there’s also a lot of research going on to better understand the microbiome, including testing and personalization of diets to improve health…You’ll see that there’s a focus on the reduction of chronic negative stress to prevent its potential negative effects. Think about meditation, think about breath work or spending time in nature.”


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