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A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange

A futurist predicts how the evolution of wellness will change us forever

This is what the weird future of wellness looks like

Welcome to the Dazed Beauty Digital Spa. From the role of placebo in extreme wellness to the problem with our cannabis obsession, here we explore the complexities of the wellness industry and how it might evolve.

In the next decade, notions of inner strength, privacy and community will redefine wellness. Mental, philosophical and moral perseverance will be key qualities to develop as part of our wellness routine as we are confronted with unstable socio-political times while also facing the technological and scientific tipping points of the 4th industrial revolution. We hacked nature during the second industrial revolution without facing the long-term consequences on our planet. Today, we are onto our next challenge: hacking the brain and the human body. Through emotionally intelligent AI, epigenetics and bio-tech, notions of health, happiness and the fundamentals of being human will be forever changed. Wellness is our era’s catalyst. It is the mirror projecting onto us all that the future can offer us and take away from us, with environmental and technological challenges never seen before.

AI and apps will bring mental health out into the open

Depression, anxiety and mental illness will be discussed in the open whilst self-care apps will continue as a form of companionship with projects such as the Anxietyhelper created by 16-year old activist Amanda Southworth who suffers from depression and wanted to provide users with a mental health toolkit to help cope with day to day life. We will gladly partner up with A.I. and quickly be able to access coaches, therapists and psychiatrists even at work with tools such as Ginger which provides mental health coaching, teletherapists and guided self-care for employees, and BioBeats an A.I. & Biofeedback app designed to teach people about the origin of their stress and how to manage it. Tech will aid us to help others too. Samsung’s predictive text App makes communicating with people suffering from depression easier by detecting phrases that can potentially hurt. As awareness of mental health increases, so do public spaces for rebalancing our hectic lives with an increasing number of resources such as HealHaus, an inclusive healing space in New York with mental health resources.

Physical disabilities will be progressively de-stigmatised

Justin Gallegos was the first person with cerebral palsy to become a Nike pro athlete in 2018. Experts such as Stephanie Thomas (@disabilityfashionstylist) have led the shift by sharing their struggles, creating new norms and educating the public. We will see an embrace of those showing that wellness and strength go far beyond physical and mental abilities.

Over 50s find their voice in the wellness conversation

The all too often ignored over 50 will be thriving as they are already. They are divorcing or dating, travelling or starting businesses, reinventing life, taking risks and carving the path for others to follow. By 2030 we will have a much higher representation of wellness influencers over 50 inspiring all age groups. We already have Sisterz, Yazemeenah, and Viva Fifty. Brands such as Nike and their new ISPA philosophy, centred around a set of principles to empower future urban survival, are purposely designing across target consumers with UK Design Lead Darryl Matthews stating: “We thought by targeting a consumer at the start of the process, it would hinder us from looking beyond a preconceived look,” reflecting a new and less biased approach to consumer segmentation and prioritising lifestyle over other factors such as age.

Self-health shifts to community health

The next decade will see the personal wellness industry closely aligned with the economics of caring for our community. Attitudes are shifting from ‘me’ to ‘we’ and focusing less on individual health goals and more on the bigger social and environmental issues.

We will see a rise in gyms taking action. Organisations such as UK-based GoodGym, Ourmala and The Running Charity are already bringing like-minded athletes together to tackle social issues such as abuse, homelessness, trauma, loneliness and climate change. Plogging is another form of grassroots sustainability combining fitness and doing good for the planet. The Swedish-inspired fitness craze combines running and recycling and we will continue to see variations.

Communal living will have a resurgence with the concept of “Social Fitness” already being led by WeLive, Rise by We and Serenbe reflecting the growth of wellness estates, projected to reach over $197 billion by 2022 according to the 2018 Global Wellness Monitor. It remains to be seen who will benefit from these spaces, but public spas and baths with a local and more accessible approach to wellness are making a large comeback. In 2018 Bompas & Parr’s Paradise Now playground in London and Studio Puisto’s neighbourhood sauna in Tampere, Finland, reflected the future of community wellness.

Dissipating gender constructs will redefine the meaning of self-care

Gender identity and breaking taboos will continue to dominate the wellness conversation. Male strength will be redefined by a new mindset that is already being heralded by the younger generations. As we move away from the stereotypical male norms, in the next ten years tapping into emotions and practising self-care will be seen as a marker of masculine strength as exemplified by @boysinpolish and The Good Men Project, part of a wider movement that rejects toxic notions of masculinity. Hair loss preventatives and prescription penis pills will be presented as fun and cool with current startups such as Roman offering products for erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, hair loss, herpes and more. Hims is another men’s wellness brand addressing hair loss, skincare and sexual wellness.   

On the female side, hormones, periods and fertility are also coming out in the open. Hims just launched Hers whilst Moodtopia is a book by Sara-Chana Silverstein focusing on helping women stabilise their moods. MoodyMonth is an app designed to track moods and get advice during a woman’s cycle, without sharing data in respect of the user’s privacy. We will also see a rise in hormone focused beauty brands such as Knours and Amareta offering “clean, natural and hormonal” skincare designed for prenatal and pregnancy stages.

Gen Z turn to natural remedies to get their highs

With a future so intelligent and mature, there seems to be no room left for debauchery with the rise of productivity tracking, social media exposure, digital overload and our obsession with health and wellness. Gen Z is known for being very low users of Class A drugs as they prioritise healthy long-term habits. But isn’t a dose of rebellion and decadence a part of personal growth? According to a recent Time report over 90% of Gen Z suffer from depression and anxiety. To tackle this, the pursuit of natural hedonistic alternatives is key for a nature and health-conscious younger generation. CBD infused products from drinks to skincare have been the rage. Magic mushrooms are considered the next key ingredient in foods, drinks and beauty products.

Poetry becomes the new meditation

Developing our inner philosopher as a form of meditation on life will be a part of wellness and we will need this skill to remain mentally strong in the face of challenging times. To cope with an uncertain future and a world that feels out of control, we are turning to poetry to create meaning during our time-starved daily routines with poetry books hitting all-time high sales figures in 2018 in the UK, while a Poetry pharmacy will soon also be opening in Britain too. We will continue to see a surge in spiritual practices as reflected in recent figures showing the number of Americans aged 4 to 17 using meditation has grown from 0.6% to 5.4%. Tech products are already harnessing the mass appeal of meditation too, with products such as Muse, a headband with real-time feedback to aide a successful practice.

The rise of biotech sees natural ingredients reengineered

In the next decade, we will see more beauty products enhancing our wellness routine through food ingredients, something that is far from new. Brands such as Winky Lux and Mink Makeup are already offering matcha, kombucha and cactus infused products. Food-based haircare ingredients are also on the rise according to Mintel but the future will see us re-engineering natural ingredients as some disappear due to climate change and others are adapted to fit our needs. The biotech industry is already worth $133 billion and in the age of the Anthropocene – the post WW2 era when our environmental impact has created a new geological age – we will focus on gene editing, stem cell technologies and manufacturing nature. This will affect our entire approach to wellness products.

Personalisation will be taken to the next level

The study of heritable changes in gene function, also known as Epigenetics, will change the face of wellness and spur the rise of next level personalised diet services such as DNAFITEpigen Care is the skincare version of this and offers tests to determine which skincare products match an individual’s unique profile. This type of advancement will be empowered by The Skin Genome Project, the largest database of clinically effective ingredients for skincare ever created analysing the effectiveness of over 20,000 skincare ingredients.

Skincare will become infused in your clothing

Clothing and wellbeing will become intimately linked as our wardrobes extend into 'wearable skincare'. Textile technology which has been growing for the last 30 years will reach the critical mass with daily clothing impregnated with healthy compounds spreading benefits to wearers ranging from nutrient to mood-lifting aromas. Take Remedy Wear, the clothing line which uses zinc to help with Eczema. Or the Japanese spinner Fuji Spinning Co Ltd which has developed a range of textiles laden with pro-vitamins that turn into vitamin C and E on contact with the skin, when rubbed or warmed by the body's heat. We will also look to the ocean to inspire the next generation of wellness textiles. Textiles such as SeaCell Lyocell and Umorfil will become more ubiquitous, packing garments with healthy anti-oxidants, vitamins, sea salts, oceanic collagen and amino acids.

Home technology will change how we approach both fitness and healthcare

Intelligent healthcare will become the norm as we adopt 5G technology and spend more time at home. Software will help us treat and manage diseases efficiently while the home will become more intelligent with mirrors transforming into interactive gyms offering personalised routines and tracking. This will create a different sense of “health haven” but also runs the risk of being restricted to the privileged few. DIY health home kits will be fully adopted by public healthcare and force us to be our own doctors and contend with our fear of needles. Thorne Research, Modern Fertility and Biemteam are already changing the face of medical testing. Personalised healthcare will grow to a point we cannot yet fully imagine, but it will certainly reach critical mass as beauty giant L’Oreal has already launched a wearable that uses microfluidics technology to measure the pH level of the user’s skin.

Our data will become our most valuable currency

Personal data, algorithms and A.I. will be intricately linked with wellness as we navigate the next decade. Identite is a cosmetic service concept created by Seymourpowell combining big data with a user’s personal profile. Meanwhile, digital phenotyping – which examines people’s digital footprint to detect signals of health or disease – walks a thin line between a healthcare revolution and intrusive surveillance. We are already seeing how big tech is enabling the Chinese government to rate citizens according to their health and fitness with the country’s new “Social Ranking” initiative. Points will be used to reward or punish citizens and companies by impacting their access to health care, travel and employment. Through a highly controlled experience, A.I., if in the hands of the wrong people, can trap users in echo chambers and also impact their freedom. The hyperpersonal and highly invasive will navigate a blurry line and users will need to understand opt-in rules before handing over their data for tracking.