The changing face of aesthetics

June 4, 2021

By Sarah Blake

Image © deagreez, Creative Commons Licence.

As the world takes tentative steps towards a ‘new normal’, the hot topic on social media hasn’t been post-pandemic travel or getting back to going out. Instead, discussions have been dominated by excitement at, quite literally, keeping up appearances. As restrictions ease, the number of people who care about how they look has doubled. Beauty and aesthetics in the wake of lockdown got more than twice as many social media mentions as going out, and nearly seven times as many mentions as holidays and travel.

Jen Vittanuova, owner of Jen Vittanuova Medical Aesthetics, wasn’t surprised. She commented: ‘I was inundated with messages on a daily basis during each of the lockdowns. Not just from people who had missed their appointments due to the clinic being closed, but also from people who hadn’t previously had aesthetics treatments.

“People are making self-care much more of a priority, which can only be a good thing. And more people are booking treatments for family and friends who maybe haven’t been feeling great about themselves, or are in need of a bit of pampering or a treat.

“There’s also the fact people aren’t wearing make-up as much and are consequently noticing their skin more and seeing that their complexion is a bit dull or pigmented, that their skin texture isn’t great, or that they have a lot of fine lines.”

Image © insta_photos, Creative Commons Licence.

With non-surgical cosmetic procedures becoming increasingly accepted as an integral part of a beauty and wellbeing programme, lack of access to treatments for more than 12 months left many of us feeling miserable. More significantly, it’s impacted self-identity, self-esteem, and self-confidence. Add in the fact that people have never been so bombarded with seeing themselves on video, and it’s unsurprising that nearly a quarter of people are more interested in aesthetic treatments than they were pre-COVID. In fact, those who participate in regular video conferencing meetings are significantly more interested in aesthetic treatments than those who don’t, with 39% of people who use video conferencing weekly expressing a keenness for tweakments.

Jen said: “People want to catch a glimpse of themselves and be happy with what they see. There’s a keenness for clear, even, bright, young-looking skin that looks great without make-up. Ultimately, people just want to be the best version of themselves and to feel good.”

Consumers are craving beauty therapy and, finally, the feel-good factor is back with a vengeance. Increased self-esteem and confidence are the key drivers for 43% of people having aesthetic treatments, and more people are seeking natural-looking results. Not only has the ‘frozen’ look, from anti-wrinkle injections such as Botox, fallen out of favour, so too has the ‘fake’ look caused by over-use of filler. Indeed, the third-fastest growing non-surgical treatment is hyaluronidase, the injectable enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid–based fillers.

Image © Nadezhda, Creative Commons Licence.

“Filler is a fantastic treatment”, says Jen, adding: ‘When done properly, it enhances appearance in an incredible way. But there’s also been a tendency by some people and practitioners to use filler in a way that just doesn’t look natural, and people are beginning to have regrets.

“We get calls from new clients who have visited other practitioners and are beginning to feel that their face and lips look overly filled. They want to return to a more subtle look, and that can usually be achieved. In most instances we can easily dissolve the filler and start afresh.”

Laser has experienced exponential growth in popularity, with the number of clients interested in the treatments increasing by 107%. Facial skin procedures such as dermaplaning, microneedling, and chemical peels are also high on the list of in-demand treatments, with the number of practitioners carrying out skin care treatments increasing by nearly 50%. Unsurprisingly, injectables such as botulinum toxin (Botox) and dermal fillers dominate the non-invasive aesthetic treatment market, accounting for 62.5% of treatments in 2020.

Non-surgical alternatives to traditionally surgical procedures are also more popular than ever before. Nine out of 10 cosmetic procedures in the UK are now non-surgical, with non-surgical rhinoplasty and jaw and temple sculpting using dermal fillers coming top of the list.

It’s estimated that 1.5 million people a year in the UK currently have nonsurgical treatments, and Jen expects this number will only increase: “There’s been a radical shift in priorities and mindsets; people are valuing the things that make them feel good in a way they never have. Going for so long without things that were previously taken for granted has made us fully appreciate the positive impact that certain things have on us.

“Those who were having aesthetics treatments pre-COVID now know how they feel when they don’t have them. And as wellness and wellbeing will continue to take precedence, more and more new people will begin to start having treatments.