As 2017 draws to a close, Spa Executive will be nine months old (hurray for us!). And in those months we’ve had the chance to examine many a wellness trend.
So, moving into the new year, we’re flagging the food, treatment, beauty, and cultural trends that we’ve identified as ones to watch in 2018.
Here are 10 wellness trends — some that are just emerging, and others that have been around for a while but are gaining ground – that we think will be huge in the next 12 months and beyond.
While Westerners balk at the idea of dining on insects and arachnids – and Jews and Christians have specific prohibitions around consumption of all but a few – eating them is commonplace in many cultures in Asia, South America, and Africa. But the West is catching on with the newfound popularity of cricket flour, touted as an excellent and environmentally friendly protein source that contains good fatty acids, calcium, iron and vitamin B12. Meanwhile, more people are posting pics and videos of themselves snacking on beetles, scorpions, spiders, worms, and other bugs all over social media. As widely available wellness food options become more commonplace, the exoticism of insect consumption will grow in appeal.
Meat and butter
Pass the animal fats. While plant-based diets are still considered the healthiest, saturated fats are no longer the taboo they once were and diets that are high in fat and animal protein as well as plants — such as the paleo and ketogenic diets – continue to grow in popularity. American meat consumption is on the rise, and wellness seekers are also enjoying a love affair with butter. This is helped along by the increasing availability of conscientiously raised and cruelty free meat and dairy options, which remove some of the guilt around their consumption. Barbecue and steak are now considered health foods by many and are having a heyday.
A historically controversial substance, cannabis is enjoying a loosening of laws and a cultural mainstreaming, and is being embraced by the wellness and medical community. Lord Jones, a company that sells edibles and topicals recently partnered with L.A celebrity fitness hub Equinox to produce a series of events, integrating cannabis infused topicals into classes. Earlier this year, Lord Jones’ CEO Cindy Capobianco told Spa Executive, “Cannabis has so many dimensions. It is natural medicine. It is an anti-depressant and mood stabilizer. It is a coveted intoxicant. It is a health and wellness miracle and a sacrament to be shared among friends. Expect high-end offerings to come in all of these forms.”
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Korean skin care
K Beauty is huge. This growing trend in North America is actually said to be the result of an orchestrated campaign by the South Korean government to capitalize on the existing beauty culture. And Korean beauty is gaining on, and maybe even surpassing, France as the global leader in beauty. From BB Creams to cushion compacts, and sheet masks, we’ve moved onto Watermelon, snail slime, and the latest big thing, “glass skin.” South Korea is the eighth largest cosmetics market in the world, representing nearly 3.0% of the global market. When it comes to skin care, all eyes are on Korea, and will remain there for the immediate future.
The New York Times recently hat tipped crystals as a major wellness trend, though in fairness, crystals are nothing new to wellness, and have been used by energy healers since ancient times. Still, they’re seeing an upswing in popularity lately, being incorporated into more luxury spa treatments and healing rituals. Rose quartz and amathyst are being set about homes to “balance the negative energy,” and set into water bottles to infuse the water with their purported healing, grounding, and restoring properties. Then there’s crystal skin care and crystal light therapy. Crystals are being touted as cures for stress and pain, and as having the ability to “reduce radiation” from smartphones – along with many other things.
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Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, more popularly referred to as ASMR</a?, is a physical sensation response to audio, visual, and tactile stimuli described as a static-like or tingling feeling that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. Millions of ASMR seekers currently flock to YouTube for a tingle fix achieved by watching videos by ASMRtists whispering, slurping and tapping. But, as touch is one of the main triggers, it’s only reasonable that spas should pay attention to the estimated 40% of the population that experiences ASMR and start incorporating it into their menus.
When we spoke with Professor Marc Cohen recently about the spa and wellness trends he most excited about, he talked about “the trend to push the limits of human performance and to find comfort in uncomfortable situations, where you’ll see extreme sports, triathlons, and Tough Mudder events.” He also mentioned the tradition of going from extreme heat such as a sauna to extreme cold like a frozen river, explaining, “Having your body adapt to those extremes can make you more resilient the rest of the time. I see that as a strong trend within spas.” Cohen will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with Wim “The Iceman” Hof this January. Hof, who touts the benefits of extreme cold exposure and whose star is rising on the wellness circuit, will be wearing shorts.
We recently explored the term “anti-aging” and the movement towards eradicating it from the language around beauty and wellness. In August 2017, Allure magazine editor Michelle Lee announced in an op ed that the magazine would no longer be using “anti-aging,” writing: “I hope we can all get to a point where we recognize that beauty is not something just for the young.” And some brands are shifting towards more positive language such as “age embracing.” The more mature faces of Rebecca Valentine’s Grey Models are gaining traction in the fashion and beauty world, and some women are just tiring of being told they should want to look 20, when 40 is actually pretty great. We see this movement gaining attention though probably not taking over entirely.
Personal branding of therapists and trainers
In the age of social media, the iconic spa brands just don’t have the pull they used to. A recent survey by Well+Good found that more than half of respondents would prefer a retreat with a trusted trainer over a trip to a luxury spa property. Iconic brands are losing out to Instagram-famous trainers and wellness “gurus” who can charge up to $1000 for a retreat. Creating personal brands around key players on your services team could become a key element to staying in the game.
Finding new ways to incorporate technology
This may be the number one trend in wellness we’re going to see this coming year and beyond. From non-invasive surgical treatments to front deskless spaces, to software that takes care of all the minutiae so you can focus on your customer experience. From wearable techs – and even tattoos – that track your biomarkers – to consumer genomics, to smart hotel rooms – which inevitably will extend to the spa experience. From Artificial Intelligence and robots that will cater to your needs control the climate of your environment, to Virtual Reality that will transport you anywhere in the world, to chairs and beds that purport to heal with magnetic or vibrational energy. We can’t get enough of the tech developments in the industry, and can’t wait to see where they go next.
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