Trade Show Report
Cosmoprof 2024: Innovation, massiveness, and mundaneness
Our Editor-at-large Selah Rui Li shares her impressions from four intense days at the world’s largest beauty show in Bologna.
28 Mar 2024

The general impression is that the Cosmoprof 2024 edition was nothing short of massiveness, with 55,000 square metres of space, over 160,000 visitors, and more than 3,000 exhibitors. Within this grand spectacle, sparks of innovation lit up the beauty industry’s future. However, amid the vastness and sparks of innovation, there were also moments of mundane predictability.

For first-timers, the event’s scale, vibrant colours, diverse products, and palpable energy in the exhibition hall are undoubtedly captivating. However, as one becomes acquainted with the surroundings, a sense of repetitiveness can settle in.

Sparks of innovation: refill is getting trendy in hair salons

As a keen observer with a particular interest in beauty tech and sustainability, I was a little bit disappointed by the Green Beauty Hall; it was only about natural ingredients and only seven beauty tech companies gracing its aisles. 

However, my excitement peaked when I ventured into the Professional Hair Hall, where innovation transcended the mundane practice of simply adding new ingredients or competing solely on packaging aesthetics.

One thing that I noticed is the rise of refillable products in professional haircare. Packaging comprises a staggering 70% of the industry’s waste. As industry insiders, we understand that recyclable packaging doesn’t equate to packaging that is actually recycled. True sustainability lies in reusing packaging — a sentiment echoed by the Dutch brand Fuente. Their refill shampoo and conditioner solutions, adopted by 150 high-end salons in the Netherlands, not only foster customer retention but also make a profound sustainability statement. With environmentally conscious Gen Z entering the market, this trend is poised to gain even more traction.

In France, Marcapar leads the charge with refillable, plant-based shampoo powder mixed with hydrolates — a trend swiftly gaining popularity among 850 salons. Meanwhile, Italian brand Opificio Emiliano elevates the salon refill experience to a sensory level, guiding customers through an olfactory journey ending up with a nice Italian ice cream. 

The salon industry’s embrace of refill models is understandable. With a majority of salons being small, independently owned businesses, they can swiftly adapt to change. Moreover, combating the rise of ecommerce necessitates innovative strategies, as reverse logistics for refill in ecommerce poses significant challenges.

Could the salon refill model serve as a beacon for the broader industry? As the EU strives for climate neutrality by 2050 and legislative revisions loom, such as the Packaging and Packaging Waste document, the time is ripe for scalable refill solutions that transcend salon confines and infiltrate mainstream retail. And if so, what will the future look like? 

Other remarkable mentions

— Startup Precision Skin by DermConcept. Utilising AI to analyse facial data, this London-based brand offers hyper-personalised skincare formulations tailored to individual skin goals. However, such innovation comes at a price, with the Bespoke Starter Kit retailing at £480.00.

— One of the unique features of Cosmoprof is its country pavilions, where nations unite to showcase their brands. In the Swedish Pavilion, organised by Business Sweden, I found KN’Z and their meticulously designed vanity makeup closet the most interesting.

— My other favourite stand in the mentioned Pavilion was by Depend — the Nordic leader in nail products — who also shared invaluable insights for brands aspiring to succeed at Cosmoprof. As the industry continues to evolve, embracing innovation while staying true to sustainability will undoubtedly shape its future trajectory.