The Biggest Summer Beauty Trends to Watch

From sunscreen to bronzer, classic beauty staples see a seasonal boost each summer. But thanks to product format innovations like sticks and sprays, as well as the impact of influencers such as Alix Earle and Katie Fang, summer-oriented products are evolving. With so many different brands competing in sunscreen, search results are yielding clear trends for SPF in terms of active ingredients. The same can be said of bronzer and tanning products, which are seeing growth this summer. And fragrance continues to be a strong spot not just for brands, but also for consumers, thanks to the ongoing popularity of sweet and tropical scents.

Sugary, Sweet Scents Reign Supreme

There is no denying that Sol de Janeiro has benefited from tweens and teens’ enduring love of sugary and coconut-scented body sprays. Now, competing fragrance labels spanning from masstige to premium and luxury are turning to the sweeter side.

Based on data from consumer data aggregator Spate, Google searches for the “gourmand” fragrance category grew by 77.5 percent year-over-year for the 12 months ending in May 2024, led by notes such as vanilla and caramel. Sol de Janeiro is likely a big part of this: its cult Cheirosa 62 Perfume Mist emphasises its caramel and pistachio notes. “Caramel” fragrance searches surged 78.2 percent year-over-year, and vanilla notes were a top trend for luxury perfume launches in 2023, according to Fragrances of the World’s annual report. This year, vanilla continues to be popular: Kayali has seen growth in searches for its signature vanilla scent Vanilla 28, according to Spate, as does Phlur for its Vanilla Skin line of fragrance products.

Demand for beachy and tropical fragrance notes like coconut is also a trend not limited to Sol de Janeiro. Coconut fragrance searches have grown 43 percent year-over-year, per Spate data. Fragrance influencers have propped up the #islandgirl hashtag on TikTok – which has 1.4 billion views – and have been recommending tropical-themed scents such as Ellis Brooklyn’s Miami Nectar, Ouai’s St. Barts and Snif’s Coco Shimmy.

Fragrance Comes For Hair Care

Ouai’s May 2024 launch of its St. Barts spray points to the rise of another scent-led trend for summer: hair fragrance. Hair fragrance searches are up 16.1 percent year-over-year, according to Spate, with Gisou’s fragrance dominating on TikTok. This comes as launches of specific hair perfumes increase, as well as debuts of multi-purpose scented sprays categorised for both hair and body by brands such as Rare Beauty.

With a growing number of TikTok hairfluencers encouraging their followers to go without washing their hair for a week at a time, the rise of hair fragrance is part of a launch strategy by haircare brands to offer more products for unwashed hair in between blowouts. So far, hair fragrance has shown more growth potential than dry shampoo, a category with a deluge of launches in the past year. (According to Spate, dry shampoo searches last peaked in October 2022, due to a report about dry shampoo in spray bottles containing the carcinogen benzene. The category has declined 66.3 percent year-over-year since then.) One exception has been K18′s new AirWash Dry Shampoo, which sold out after tapping into the hair scent trend through videos with Earle discussing its odour-fixing properties.

Legal or Not, Chemical Sunscreens Win

Thanks to the virality of French pharmacy and K-beauty trends on social media, international sunscreens are having a moment, with Google searches for chemical sunscreen brands outpacing mineral options. While French pharmacy brands can often be found at US drugstores and retailers, consumers are also seeking out harder-to-find K-beauty labels with ingredients not yet legal in the US.

According to Spate’s ranking of the brands with the fastest-growing sunscreen searches through May, L’Oréal-owned La Roche-Posay dominates after seeing viral success on TikTok. The TikTok K-beauty wave is also driving sunscreen interest, as three of the five brands are Korean: Beauty of Joseon, Innisfree and Tocobo. Bemotrizinol, the active ingredient in Beauty of Joseon sunscreen as well as many other K-beauty brands, is also seeing a surge of interest in the US as Google reported that searches for the ingredient were at an all-time high in May. The ingredient is not approved for use in the US, but searches for the ingredient have been on the rise after Dieux co-foudner Charlotte Palermino and US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have been calling for its legalisation. Influencers are a big driver of sunscreen trends, and influencer marketing platform LTK said that the searches for the sunscreen category are up 168 percent in the past 90 days on its platform.

Success of the Spritz

When Tower 28′s five-year-old SOS Spray containing hypochlorous acid went viral on TikTok last year, it was the start of a new obsession with face sprays of all kinds.

In skincare, mist and spray products saw 24 percent year-over-year growth in searches in the first quarter of 2024, according to Spate. The Tower 28 effect is apparent. According to the brand, one is sold every 15 seconds, and the search term “hypochlorous acid spray for face” more than doubled in May, according to Google’s weekly trends report. Recently, a growing number of independent beauty labels such as Prequel, Peace Out and Magic Molecule have launched their own hypochlorous acid sprays, which are marketed to combat acne.

It’s not just one buzzy ingredient driving the spray craze: Kosas’ probiotic spray – another Fang get-ready-with-me favourite – is listed under Sephora’s bestsellers category.

In the makeup category, setting spray is seeing an even faster rise than skincare sprays with 27.8 percent growth in first-quarter searches. Viral TikTok setting sprays such as Patrick Starrr’s One/Size On ‘Til Dawn Mattifying Waterproof Setting Spray and Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray are both listed as Sephora bestsellers.

Bringing Bronzer Back

Brands have been working to encourage a resurgence of all the beauty trends of the 2000s, and self-tanning and bronze faces are no exceptions. Paris Hilton and Miley Cyrus have both partnered with self-tanning startups, Tan-Luxe and Dolce Glow, and influencers are helping boost the category: LTK said self-tanner is a top-searched topic on its platform with 41 percent growth in the past week.

Searches for bronzer, meanwhile, are up 120 percent in the past week. For the face, the all-over-bronzer look that took hold in the early aughts started last year, thanks to Drunk Elephant’s viral D-Bronzi™ Anti-Pollution Bronzing Drops. Since influencers like Fang helped the drops take off, over a dozen brands have launched their own versions, such as Glow Recipe, Innbeauty and Saie. But many of these launches could be too late; Spate reports that searches for bronzing drop have declined in 2024, while face bronzer sticks, however, are seeing 14.7 percent year-over-year growth.

“We’ve seen an explosion of launches, and none of them are catching on quite as much as Drunk Elephant,” said Addison Cain, beauty strategy and innovation manager at Spate, of bronzer drops. “There’s just something to say about being the first mover on a trend.”

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