Project Blue Beauty: Can a Color Cue a Consciousness Shift?

A new year brings a promise of a new beginning, and a new decade, even more so. But in many ways, 2020 feels different. On the horizon looms an election, a deeply divisive impeachment process and worsening climate conditions.

The season is ripe for any solution that attempts to inspire unity and to relax our anxieties during social, political and environmental unrest. And this is when we turn to art, ‘blue beauty’ and nature for a moment of reprieve.

Enter Pantone. For 20 years, Pantone has announced a Color of the Year, based on global trend analyses across fashion, beauty, entertainment, travel, and social and economic conditions that inform the cultural zeitgeist of our time. The Pantone Color Institute partners with global brands to effectively translate the power, psychology, and emotion of color in their design strategy. Who can forget the infamous scene in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada when Meryl Streep’s character, Miranda Priestly, claps back at Anne Hathaway’s fashion ignorance with the most perfectly delivered monologue about the power of Cerulean Blue (2000’s Color of the Year) to drive global commerce, from the runway all the way down to the clearance bin? The Pantone Color of the Year not only influences product development and purchasing decisions across industries, but it is also meant to reflect the psychological and emotional state of our time.

This year, Pantone Color Institute chose Classic Blue as the color that will usher us into a new era. It is a reassuring shade that suggests trustworthiness and dependability, values that we hold especially dear in times of turmoil. And depending on who you ask, it might subtly imply other politically-leaning ideas, as well.

The selection of a color that represents the counter to what we all may be feeling and experiencing was intentional. According to Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, “We are living in a time that requires trust and faith. It is this kind of constant and confidence that is expressed by Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on.” This year, it seems, the chosen color is intended to be prophetic of a positive future, rather than reflective of our current reality.

At Beauty Heroes, almost a year after the launch of Project Blue Beauty, we celebrate the announcement of The Color Of The Year. It is a happy surprise that seems to offer a promise of hope for our future. Not the kind of “pie in the sky” hopefulness that is far off and out of our control. No, Classic Blue is steadfast, reliable and solution-oriented. It calms our spirits and brings a sense of tranquility, but it does not bury its head in the sand and wait for the hard times to be over. Pantone’s 2020 Color of The Year cues the expansion of the collective conscience to “look beyond the obvious” and seek new solutions together, in unity.  It is environmentally focused, and for clean beauty activists, we see it as a positive Indication of things to come.

Indeed, blue hues – and the calming skin benefits they bring – are nothing new in clean beauty. If we could have named an ingredient of the year for 2018-19, it would have been chamazulene, an anti-inflammatory found in blue tansy, blue chamomile, yarrow and other botanicals. And while we’re all for ingredient innovation, the blue wave we’re most excited to ride is not ingredient-led. It is the Project Blue Beauty movement: a brand’s commitment to sustainability in the full life cycle of their business, from sourcing to packaging to production to philanthropy. We’ve highlighted many of the companies that are setting the pace for the industry, and we’ve even identified our 10 Commitments to the cause. This year, you’ll see us put the spotlight on more zero-waste beauty brands, share stories from brands who have found innovative ways to conserve resources and put our money where our mouth is by continuing to contribute a percentage of our profits to 1% For The Planet, 5 Gyres, One Tree Planted, and others. We will also be supporting the first-ever Blue Beauty Awards through a global partnership…more on that in the coming months. 

If Pantone’s selection of Classic Blue doesn’t quite convince you that we’re on the brink of positive shift in our collective consciousness, perhaps Time Magazine’s selection of Greta Thunberg as Person of the Year will. In 14 months, the teen activist emerged from an isolated, angsty adolescent into the world’s most impassioned voice on climate change. She has pioneered the Fridays for Future movement and has traversed the globe on a zero-emissions ship called La Vagabonde to lend her support, march side by side with fellow activists and speak truth to power. “I’m not traveling like this because I want everyone to do so,” Thunberg told reporters. “I’m doing this to send a message that it is impossible to live sustainably today, and that needs to change.”

Inspired by both the steadfast Color of the Year, and the commitment of the Person of the Year, Beauty Heroes will continue to lead the industry in zero-waste beauty discovery and will continue to share innovative solutions to reducing our footprint on our one shared planet.


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