It’s the last week of December, and hopefully that means you have your OOO auto-reply on and are currently sunk into your couch, burritoed in a fuzzy blanket with no plans of moving. This universal lull is about the time the antsy Type A inside of us all itches to start goal-setting for 2019, but before you start spending all your Visa gift cards on notebooks, try taking a moment to reflect on the year that’s quickly coming to a close.
That reflection doesn’t have to be a headache, trying to parse out your top-10 takeaways (though that might be cathartic, too). Instead, think back on the big moments that pushed culture forward this year, and consider how those positive strides — in widespread inclusivity, humanitarianism, and representation — bled into your own life. Because if you donated to the California relief efforts in the wake of the devastating wildfires, or are currently wearing a foundation that has more than 40 shade offerings, it means you felt the ripple effects, too.
Ahead, we’ve broken down the 12 biggest, most groundbreaking beauty moments that went down over the past twelve months. They’ll bring on the good vibes, and might even help kickstart your own resolutions — but only after you’ve settled on the perfect monthly planner, of course.
Cornrows Hit Fashion Week In A Big Way
Fashion Month has a reputation for promoting a narrow beauty ideal. But this year, instead of holding our breath and praying we don’t see any flagrant examples of cultural appropriation walking down the runway, we had something to celebrate: natural hair and protective styles, on the right models. R29 beauty writer Aimee Simeon wrote of the presence of cornrows during Fashion Month, “It was empowering and refreshing to see an accurate representation of Black culture, instead of a caricature, on the world’s biggest stages.”
More Makeup Brands Met The Fenty Foundation Mark
Last year, Rihanna and Fenty Beauty made 40+ foundation shades a benchmark, and raised the bar for other makeup brands to follow suit in 2018. Not only did we see strides in the mass market — with CoverGirl launching its most inclusive foundation range to date — but prestige brands stepped up their inclusivity as well. Marc Jacobs’ Shameless campaign was particularly notable, with the casting of 29 models of various skin tones and ethnicities to promote the brand’s newest foundation.
Photo: Courtesy of Marc Jacobs Beauty.
CoverGirl Made Animal Protection A Priority
This November, CoverGirl announced its commitment to cruelty-free beauty, picking up a Leaping Bunny Certification. The designation means that any product with a ‘CoverGirl’ label will only contain cruelty-free products and ingredients (including those provided by the company’s suppliers), according to standards set forth by certifier Cruelty Free International. The trailblazing initiative makes the brand the first mass-market label to take such a strong stance on animal protection, which will hopefully encourage other companies to jump on board.
K-Beauty Made Strides Towards Inclusivity
In years past, K-Beauty has been at the forefront of skin-care innovation — but it hasn’t always been a retail market driving the movement towards inclusivity. But 2018 showed a more representational K-Beauty market, with a movement to rectify the limitations in shade options for the signature makeup-skin-care hybrids — tinted moisturizer, CC cream, and BB Cream — by expanding the color range to encompass medium and deep skin tones. Buzzy K-Beauty brands like Julep and Kaja are championing the change.
Consumers Shopped The Beauty Brands That Contest Chemicals
This year’s Google search report — a compilation of 2018’s trendiest beauty brands — showed us that BeautyCounter was the #1 most-searched beauty label. Here’s why that matters: Considering BeautyCounter’s straightforward mission of delivering safe, non-toxic, effective makeup and skin-care products, it shows us that shoppers are trending toward cleaner and more transparent product options. Not only does the company ban the use of 1,500-plus controversial chemicals in its own lineup — like this mineral-mist sunscreen — it’s also actively lobbying for change across the industry.
Celebs Embraced Body Hair On The Red Carpet
We still have some work to do in terms of indoctrinating body-hair acceptance into the culture at large, but 2018 saw some strides. Amandla Stenberg showed off her armpit hair on the red carpet — à la Julia Roberts circa 1999 — and Madonna’s daughter Lourdes Leon went unshaven to this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund (a truly high-brow affair), both proving that body hair really is NBD.
Photo: John Phillips/Getty Images.
Real Stretch Marks & Cellulite Landed On Ad Campaigns
In October, Kim Kardashian ‘s latest KKW Beauty campaign drummed up a ton of buzz thanks to its sheer nakedness. To promote the new perfume, Kim sprinkled her social-media feed with nude images of real women of various sizes and shapes, showing stretch marks and belly rolls. Albeit slightly controversial, the novel campaign helped in advancing the conversation around body inclusivity in the beauty space.
Beauty Brands Donated Proceeds To Wildfire Relief Efforts
The wildfires that blazed through California this year were disastrous — the deadliest in the state’s history — and beauty brands stepped up to aid in the relief. Specifically, everyone’s favorite makeup sponge, BeautyBlender, helped those in need by donating and matching all proceeds from sales made on the brand’s digital retail platform to The California Community Foundation Wildfire Relief Fund.
… & Encouraged Political Activism
Not only did Dr. Sandra Lee (the founder of SLMD skincare and the Dr. Pimple Popper) spark a whole new genre of guilty-pleasure entertainment this year — with her hit TV series uniting popaholics everywhere — she also used her growing platform to encourage her followers to exercise their right to vote. To promote political participation on midterm election day, Dr. Lee announced that she would be gifting a free SLMD moisturizer (which normally retails $30) to anyone who snapped a poll selfie.
“Gender-Neutral” Became More Than Just A Buzzword
For the past, oh, hundred years, beauty campaigns have targeted women exclusively. But in 2018, we saw a rise in the gender-neutral beauty space — which led to the launch of non-binary makeup brands like Fluide Beauty, bringing the power of makeup to people who identify by an orientation other than a cisgendered woman.
Photo: Courtesy of LEE O’CONNOR FOR FLUIDE.
Our Favorite Direct-To-Consumer Brands Hit Retail
Just when we thought that our favorite mass beauty retailers — namely, Ulta and Sephora — couldn’t get any better, the already-stocked shelves got a revamp in 2018. Charlotte Tilbury, which was once only available in the UK and at prestige beauty counters launched at Sephora, and Ulta Beauty launched Kylie Cosmetics in retail stores across America, giving fans their first opportunity to sample both Pillow Talk and every shade of lip kit IRL.
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Read more: refinery29.com