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7 Beauty and Grooming Trends: 2021 Mindbody Wellness Index

7 Beauty and Grooming Trends Every Salon Should Know for 2021

We’ve never had a year quite like this past one to look back on or to use as a basis to predict what trends are next. We wanted to get a few answers, so we launched the 2021 Mindbody Wellness Index, surveying almost 20,000 Americans about their beauty and grooming habits (and how COVID-19 may or may not have changed them).

Statista forecasts the revenue of salons in the US to drop from $66.2 billion in 2019 to $57.9 billion in 2020, due in large part to pandemic-related closures and disruptions. And yet, one thing we’ve learned this year is that no matter where you’re working or what activities you’re engaged in, your hair keeps growing and you still want to look and feel good. I’m willing to bet this year was also a banner year for beard product sales.

Certainly, some consumers started doing their own nails (some taking advantage of virtual workshops and kits from their favorite salons), and coloring (and in some cases cutting, oh my) their own hair, especially in the early part of the pandemic when most places were in total lockdown. But what we have seen consistently across the country is that, as salons reopen, demand for services is there. Consumers who have tried their own beauty maintenance have no doubt realized there is a reason they go to a professional, and many salons are operating at or close to capacity, albeit with restrictions on hours and numbers of clients.

While 2020 clearly presented challenges, there's a lot to look forward to in 2021. Here are some of the trends we believe will be seen in salons and beauty businesses for 2021:

The majority of Americans are equally or MORE devoted to beauty and grooming now

The Mindbody Wellness Index revealed the resiliency of salons and beauty. A majority of Americans (61%) say they're spending the same amount of time and attention, or more, on beauty and grooming than they did pre-pandemic. The number one reason for spending more effort is to look and feel good, followed by having more time. Just under a third (30%) of those spending more time say they're wanting to maintain their professional appearance while working at home.

Bar graph showing that people are spending more time on beauty to look and feel good

Consumers are keen on above-the-mask beauty

Happily, vaccines are here and are rolling out across the country, but experts predict it will be many more months before their adoption is widespread, so mask-wearing will be with us for the near future. Given this, the big beauty trend of shaped and groomed brows and luscious lashes will continue. In fact, while the number of manicure and pedicure services dropped during the pandemic, permanent makeup stayed consistent year over year. Beauty businesses can lean into the above-the-mask trend by offering these services or even promoting retail products that highlight the eyes (bright colors of eyeliner and shadow are fun and lift the spirits as well!).

Streamlined routines = opportunities for fresh services and products

While many are upping their beauty efforts, some are streamlining and going for low maintenance looks. Textured layers, curtain bangs, highlights, balayage and tone-on-tone color allow consumers to stretch their salon visits out a little longer. Knotless box braids will continue to gain market share, both for their comfort and their ease of maintenance. Accessories that make it easy to quickly change your look, such as claw clips and hair wraps, will continue in popularity. For nails, gel polishes, negative space nail art and press-on nails help clients to extend the time between professional appointments.

Interest in scalp treatments and hair growth is growing

When you're out and about, it's all eyes above the mask. When you're on Zoom, it's all about the hair. The hair trend of 2021? More consumers are seeking shiny, healthy-looking hair. Forty-one percent of Americans say beauty and grooming services, like hair services, are a necessity. We foresee a bigger interest in scalp masks and treatments, both in-salon and for home use, that can help to produce glossy, bouncy locks. For more long-term effects, clients will be asking about cutting-edge light treatments such as Low-Level Laser Therapy, or LLLT, which can stimulate cellular activity and hair growth. One advantage of the laser treatments? They don’t require close contact with a technician.

Forty-one percent of Americans say beauty and grooming services are a necessity

Social platforms are making it easy to bring in new Gen Z clients

One of the predictable side-effects of a homebound population was the growth in social platform usage, globally. Originally forecasting low or flat growth, Emarketer has revised estimates in usage across the leading social networks. Facebook’s share of the world’s social networking population will hit 59% in 2020, a growth of almost 9%. Snapchat will see numbers rise by 16%. The real winner is, no surprise, Instagram, with forecast growth in the user base of almost 23%, reaching over a billion users—a metric it was not expected to reach until 2024. The fact is, social media platforms continue to prove effective, and therefore influencers remain, well, very influential.

Fifty-four percent of Gen Z is spending more time on social media because of the COVID-19 pandemic. What are they also spending more time on? Beauty and grooming. A quarter of Gen Z (ages 18 to 23 in 2020) say they're dedicating more effort to their appearances—more than any other generation. For those looking to attract Gen Z, now is the time. Having a local influencer as a client or posting on behalf of your salon provides a definite lift in profile and credibility to this younger generation especially.

Bar graph is showing that Gen Z is embracing beauty and grooming during covid

Beauty goes on demand and mobile

With COVID, came the opportunity for some to try getting haircuts or other beauty services at home. When surveyed, just 7% said they had a beauty or wellness practitioner visit them at home since last March. However, many more are interested in trying this; 38% of our surveyed consumers indicated they were interested in having a hair stylist visit them at home. While not as enjoyable as a salon experience, the convenience cannot be overlooked. This is good news for single practitioners or entrepreneurs who don’t want the hassle of a brick-and-mortar location.

7% have had a beauty or wellness practitioner visit them at home

Safety continues to be critical

One cannot discuss beauty trends in 2021 without mentioning safety. Health and safety continue to be of utmost importance for salons and boutique beauty businesses. Even though it seems commonplace now to read about what a business is doing to keep employees and clients safe, that practice should continue for the future. Especially for a business involved in personal care, Americans expect salons to be exemplary when it comes to health and hygiene.

With increased awareness of health and healthy environments comes consumer interest in eco-friendly green practices and products. Consumers are reading labels and concerned more than ever about the products that they put into, and on, their bodies. Product lines and salon treatments that are environmentally friendly will score points with your clients, and if you carry them be sure to highlight them in your social media channels.

As we head into a new and hopefully, less drama-filled year, we can rest assured that salons still have a place in the lives of Americans. More than half (52%) of Americans say they're more confident when they get regular beauty treatments, and 42% say beauty and grooming is a big part of their lives. Salons and beauty businesses play a huge role in daily confidence-building as well as the self-care that our clients seek. Letting the trends of this year guide us, let’s keep the salon front and center as a regular routine in 2021.

See what else is trending in 2021.

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About the author:

Lisa Starr Headshot

Lisa Starr


Wynne Business Consulting

Lisa is a frequent collaborator with Mindbody and the Principal of Wynne Business Consulting & Education, which specializes in spa, wellness, and salon businesses and brands. She has over 35 years of experience in the beauty and wellness industry, spending the last 22 years as a consultant and educator helping wellness businesses optimize their operations while providing exceptional experiences for their guests. Lisa is the Task Force Chair for the Global Wellness Institute’s Consulting Initiative, a Contributing Editor at Spa Business Magazine, a regular contributor to global trade publications, and a highly rated speaker at industry conferences. She also offers live spa management courses both online and around the globe. 

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