From ingredients to textures to pigments, Sue Wilcock, Global Head of Colour Cosmetics and Fragrance at Meiyume, talks about the indie brands scene and some exciting innovative formulations we have been working on. She also shares with us her inspirations and weighs in on what the emerging trends are in the current industry environment.

1. What does your role as Global Head of Colour Cosmetics and Fragrance look like?

As the Global Head of Colour Cosmetics and Fragrance at Meiyume, my primary role is to lead the team across three Meiyume Innovation & Development labs, located in the UK, and Indonesia, to create and experiment with innovative products that aim to empower and disrupt the beauty industry.  My passion for the role is driven by the excitement and satisfaction of seeing the Chemists and Technicians come together and share raw material ideas and consumer insights, that ultimately translate into a creation of a new formulation technology.

With a holistic view of both Colour Cosmetics and Fragrance, I am able to share with my team insights and trends garnered across both categories. The global collaboration between our teams also lets us have the ability to create diverse formulation solutions across different geographies, where customers have very different needs that append to their traditions, beliefs and lifestyles.

The need to network and collaborate with many business functions across Meiyume is key to the success of this role. Whilst teams such as Marketing and Commercial feed industry trends and consumer preferences to us, other teams such as Packaging Development, Regulatory and Compliance, Industrialization, Supply Chain, Manufacturing and Quality bring our formulations and products to life.  The collaboration and teamwork across the business turn into an ecosystem that allows our product solutions to stay relevant and always on trend.

2. What do you see as some current or up-and-coming formulation trends?

Sustainability’, ‘clean’, ‘natural’, ‘organic’, ‘certified’ and ‘safe’ – these are all key buzzwords in the industry at the moment. We are seeing a rise in colour cosmetics that are a fusion or hybrid with skincare formulations. More and more consumers are looking for transparency around what is contained within the formulations and the move to a ‘cleaner beauty’ option is key within formulation development at this time.

The shift from conventional to natural is apparent even in the colourant market where an availability of pigments derived from natural spices, plants and fruits are evident.  Finally, creating different sensorial aspects within the colour cosmetics market is key to creating a sense of pleasure around colour application and formulation use.

I also have to acknowledge the changes that can be seen around the impact of Covid-19. There has been a flurry of activities around using natural ingredients to protect the consumer from harmful bacteria.  In Colour Cosmetics and Fragrance, this has driven some developments around incorporating natural oils and ingredients e.g. lemon balm, propolis, anise extract and bamboo extract into formulations.  

3. Working across different markets, such as the UK and Asia, what are some regional trends that you see?

Across Europe, the USA and Asia the trends within formulation development are very different at the same point in time – however, we do see trends developing in one region and then emerging in another. The climate and weather, as well as local traditions and cultures create the emergence of trends.

The Indonesian market is particularly interesting as the growth of indie brands spearheaded by influencers is on the rise. Many of these influencers and vloggers are promoting Korean inspired formulations that contain ingredients like Yuja, a citrus fruit known for its whitening properties, or pearl extract known for its brightening and hydrating properties. The formulations emerging from Korea always utilise Asian ingredients inspired from marine, animal and vegetable sources. Korean beauty brands are leading the way in terms of innovative and playful sensorial textures. The shade palette, however, is usually quite limited and focuses predominately around a translucent, nude palette, with the colour focus being the lip area. Watch the market for the emergency of C-Beauty though, there are many innovative products being launched within the domestic China market utilising their local ingredients.

Within Europe and the USA, the trends are currently focused on vegan, wellness and clean beauty. This said, the make-up look utilising many different colour cosmetics is still extremely popular – with many brands focusing on eye palettes, false eye lashes and bold statements looks. The demand for all-inclusive cosmetics is growing and the emergence of cosmetics that are created to enhance your natural beauty is becoming more popular.

4. Do you have any favourite indie brands? What do you like about them?

I have no one favourite cosmetic brand – I love experimenting!

I do, however, admire the ethos around some brands like Juice Beauty, Jillian Dempsey and Axiology. They are all market products that have transparency around their ingredients. Within Asia, since working at Meiyume, I have had the privilege to work on an indie brand called BLP (By Lizzie Parra). This brand range targets key colour and sensorial trends, and launches to the market very quickly. I also like the formulations from Lemonhead LA, especially the space paste range and the eyeshadow palettes from Sigma Beauty. I have also recently started testing products from Onomie, Bali Body, boean, A’Pieu and Holika.

5. What are some disruptive solutions we are working on?

Biomimicry – creating products inspired by or mimicking nature.

For example, we are utilising plant colourings to create natural and colourful formulations. Cosmetic pearls that copy nature’s beauty. We are also utilising the waste created by the food industry and are looking at how we can incorporate this as a benefit in cosmetic formulations. An example of this would be the by-product of rapeseed production that could be used in formulations that require a nutrient-rich product story.

One technology that was created in 2019 by the team, was a traditional wax stick format that provided the consumer with a hydrating sensation to the skin and contained 40% encapsulated water. We developed this technology in the lip care category, and this year we plan to stretch the technology in different areas, including looking into creating a high SPF skincare based coloured BB / CC stick formats with a unique sensory profile.

In the future, I do believe that advanced robotics will emerge as a different filling solution for cosmetic formulations, which would allow for the manifestation of formulations with 3D effects, printed and sculptured technology; formulation development would then need to be aligned with such filling technology.

At this moment, the disruptive influences in the digital and cyber technology will impact the cosmetic industry in the future – what a challenging and exciting business to be a part of!