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Image courtesy @salvjiia

2019 is the year of transformative beauty

TextGeraldine Wharry

From body paint to hued pubic hair, dental braces to facial jewellery prosthetics, fashion futurist and trend forecaster Geraldine Wharry predicts this year’s top beauty trends

2019 heralds the rise of an anti-beauty movement. Beauty now presents itself as a means of transformation, a boundary-pushing form of expression which feeds a need to feel in control of our freedom, in a world shaped by a 2018 doom and gloom year. A subculture of experimental and exhibitionist artists is bringing daring aesthetics to the fore, redefining the notions of imperfection through body modifications.

From body paint to hued pubic hair, photoreal tattoos, dental braces to facial jewellery prosthetics, 2019 will set the tone for the next decade. The deeper we go into crisis and the more homogenised our consumer world becomes, the more beauty will offer an escape, a direct route to self-empowerment and individualism.

Through the sheer power of raw self-expression and a limitless attitude, beauty trends are showing what innovation is fundamentally about. Not predominantly led by tech or science, albeit key developments are always happening in this field, but by the fundamental process of creating, with our bodies as the canvas. The result is an artful and experimental approach to pushing boundaries, forcing us out of our comfort zones and changing notions of inclusivity. Beauty is no longer about looking what is deemed “good”. It is now about shattering conventional perceptions.

In 2019 we will continue to see artists and influencers hack the human template, giving us a d.i.y. preview of the future possibilities of bioengineering. Although the scientific breakthroughs are not yet available to the mass, their presence has entered our psyche, doped up by Instagram offering creatives an unhinged platform (except when it comes to nipple bearing).

Braces are the new grills

As a starting point, braces and freckles which once may have caused embarrassment are now celebrated, enhanced with colour and metallics as seen in Asos’s recent Pride campaign featuring @uglyworldwide. Braces celebrate the awkwardness of youth, echoing the continued trend (omnipresent since 2014) for 90s nostalgia and embracing the child within us. Braces will be the new grill, a sign of pride, as signalled by photographer @JoshuaWoods and make-up artist @athenapaginton.

Skin conditions will no longer be othered

In our article “what humans will look like over the next 100 years”, we focused on forms of skin pigmentation that will become aspirational between 2018 and 2028. Vitiligo, the community within and around it will continue to harness the uniqueness of the condition to emulate body paint - in line with the trend for individuality - enhancing and playing with the skin’s chromatic contrasts unique to each person.

The rise of body modification

Moving on from natural conditions, artificial body modifications will increase in popularity ranging from contact lenses to face jewellery prosthetics and surrealist faux tattoos. Our Instagram culture has unleashed a need for theatrical effects and daring looks, heralded by make-up artists turned influencers. In 2019 the race to break new ground will add to the momentum of beauty influencers inspired by sci-fi. To imagine the future, they use 20th-century art movements as a springboard. Surrealism and Graffiti inspire temporary tattoos with artists such as @Phillip.Kremer and @maytahmi manipulating the face to the point of making a satire of the human condition. Brands such as Libertine and Loewe also tapped into the emerging trend for faux tattoos with a lighter tone in their Spring Summer 2019 collections.

Should have gone to Specsavers

Contact lenses will also play into the trend for otherworldly, ugly beautiful and disturbing creatures as we see an emergence of looks blending 70s punk and 90s rave cultures. White lenses as well as orange tones emulating Living Coral, the Pantone colour of 2019 will be the prominent trend.

Face jewellery will become a new beauty category

Body jewellery in 2019 will grow as its own beauty category, outside of the accessories market. Emulating prosthetics, in particular for the face and nails, these pieces will fully become a part of our make-up routine. Make-up artist such as Sam Schavlev @sam_makeup_art will be inspired by “mutant beauty” whilst @lisetgarza and @nailunistella use precious stones and metal to turn our hands into articulated jewellery pieces.

Complex braiding

When it comes to hair, attention to architecture will be key. We will see complex braiding as well as “foreign body” insertions such as rings, safety pins and chains, echoing the trend for body jewellery. The styles will have a historic and tribal connotation, culturally aggregating African Masai tribes, Egypt and Greek goddesses shown here by hairstylist Takayoshi Tsukisawa. Wooden or horn components will be replaced with plastics (the recycled nature preferably) and metal ornaments such as amulets as seen with @xpresioncreativos’ creations.

Back to the 90s

Also celebrating structure in a more geometric way are hairstyles tapping into eighties and early nineties hip-hop. Stylist @rickrobertshair nods to Kid n’ Play and Grace Jones. Whilst Jamie Gonzales emulates early 90s David Sims photography adding a contemporary touch with bright ombre hues ranging from fiery to mellow orange.

Pubes will be hued

In hair colours, 2019 will signal a shift from powdery pinks and bright greens to yellow. @janine_ker_hair harnesses the colour as well as bold patterns into her creations, in line with our trend vision for patterned hair. The trend for hued body hair will make its way down from underarm to pubic hair, echoing a growing attention to the area with a host of pubic hair oil brands such as Fur.

The body is a canvas

Probably the most daring trend for 2019 will be the rise of body and face paint. A product of drama-infused editorial and catwalk styling, we will see every day looks emulating this in a paired down way. For example, only focusing on eyebrows. The inspiration is raw and led by both performance art - think Yves Klein’s Anthropometry performance and Paris is Burning drag queen beauty. The body is an art canvas and this notion is being expanded by a host of creatives including polymath artist and designer @marasheva in her performance for @tamburinsofficial. The trend is the perfect vehicle for chromatic and textural experimentation and can be paired down into futuristic eyeliner inspiration as seen in Tiffany Patton’s make-up shot by Matthew Priestley.

Bright bold brows

The same attention to colour and painterly textures affects eyebrow treatments. Neon green emerges as a key colour as well as tribal tattoo inspired touches spurred by the iconic Michele Lamy. Brands will need to explore bold hues and how to achieve them with natural ingredients, a movement spearheaded with brands such as Milk.

Sharpen your lip liners

Lips in 2019 will be sharply defined and outlined. Make-up influencers will continue to explore graduated effects, but the focus will be on a prominent lip, highlighted with bold and dark colours. We will also see 3D lip embellishments adding the theatrical quality of the 2019 Beauty Trends, as shown in the work of make-up artist Kanako Takase showcased in V Magazine’s September issue.


In the beauty story we are writing at the dawn of the next decade, influencers, brands and end users are conjointly taking matters in their own hands to redefine the codes. The communities once on the fringe will grow in influence. The next decades’ majority will be different in terms of looks, beliefs and race. Independent thinking will be key to thrive, very much illustrated in the art-infused, boundary-pushing trends emerging for 2019. The irony of trends is that the future is currently unpredictable, unstable yet creating a preferable future is undoubtedly within reach, and those who manifest their vision will lead in 2019 and beyond.

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