The Biggest Beauty Trend Of 2024 Is...Your Brain

From neurocosmetics to functional perfume, beauty products are tapping into emotions like never before.

Linking beauty to well-being is nothing new — there’s a reason why “self-care” and “beauty” have always been intertwined. Anyone who’s slathered on a buttery body lotion after a long day and felt their stress melt away, or applied a red lipstick and instantly felt more powerful, can attest: beauty has always affected our emotions.

“Beauty creates a sense of structure and routine, whether a scheduled hair and nail appointment or a daily skin care routine,” says Alyssa Mancao, psychotherapist and wellness practitioner. “These routines help provide a sense of calm and something to look forward to, which can promote a sense of relaxation, in turn boosting mental health.”

And it’s not skin and hair routines. Makeup therapy is a well-tread trend on TikTok in which users discuss how good applying makeup makes them feel. There’s merit to that. “A recent study showed that increased makeup use can improve mental health and well-being,” says psychiatrist and executive coach Dr. Anna Yusim. “Since the act of applying makeup involves three of the human senses (touch, smell, and vision), its use can induce pleasure, sensory perceptions, and psychological feelings while improving self-image, emotions, and mood.” On the product front, Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty is an example of a makeup brand that also makes mental health a core part of its messaging, from its soothing product packaging to its donations to the Rare Impact Fund.

But lately, there’s a whole new crop of high-tech beauty products claiming to influence our actual emotions with the ingredients they contain, not just with the rituals they induce. From neuroscience-backed skin care to “feeling” fragrances, emotionally-driven beauty products are working overtime to have us in our feelings, on purpose. Read on to learn more about the “neuro-glow” beauty trend.

The Brain-Skin Connection

If you (like us) make your life in the beauty realm, you may have stumbled across the term “neuro-glow.” The trend (or its moniker) was coined in Mintel’s 2024 Global Beauty and Personal Care Trends Report, joining a host of accompanying “neuro-” approaches. (Fragrance developer Givaudan even trademarked an active by the same name.)

The pursuit of a “neuro-glow” may sound sci-fi, but it actually makes sense — and is likely already a part of your routine. Highlighting the importance of addressing your inner state of mind (your “neuro”) to maximize your external beauty (your “glow”) translates to universals like beauty sleep, staying relaxed and hydrated, and getting outside.

As brands have begun to pick up on just how strong the mind-beauty connection can be, it’s become a pillar in products marketed to address human emotion from both cause and effect perspectives.


“We have all noticed at least once that our skin can react to a period of stress, or observed a beautiful glow when we're in love or just back from vacation,” says Philippe d’Ornano, president of Neuraé, a skin care company backed by neuroscience. “So we asked ourselves: if skin and emotions are so closely linked, why do we never talk about this connection when it comes to skin care?”

Neuraé’s offerings fall into the category of “neurocosmetics,” a branch of beauty that claims certain skin care ingredients, like red indigo extract and skullcap, can trigger neuroreceptors in the skin the same way your own brain signals would. Neurocosmetics promise to ease the physical effects of emotions like stress, sadness, and anxiety on the skin by connecting with your skin’s neuromodulators — chemical messengers that perceive your external environment and transmit that information to your nervous, immune, and endocrine systems. This brain-skin connection has the power to influence mood, confidence, and even cognitive function while you apply your skin care.

Yon-Ka’s recently released Serum CBD goes even further by claiming that applying the product can promote more restful sleep thanks to its 300mg of CBD, adaptogenic reishi mushroom, and calming essential oils like lavender and chamomile. According to Yon-Ka’s research, just one nighttime application can improve skin elasticity, reduce wrinkles, and generally “de-stress” the skin and brain.

Even if you’re skeptical about the way topical products can affect your skin cells the way your mood and brain can, many of these products use fragrances and essential oils like lavender and chamomile that are proven to reduce stress. Which brings us to the next category...

Fragrance and Feelings

Another (and perhaps more obvious) brain-beauty nexus comes with perfume. Our olfactory center — the area in our brains that processes smell — is closely linked with memory and feeling, making fragrance a natural vehicle for emotional influence. Using aromatherapy to elevate and manipulate mood is an ancient affair, but the new guard of fragrances pulls feeling into the marketing in a more literal way.

Charlotte Tilbury’s Fragrance Collection of Emotions, released early this spring, is made up of six scents blended to boost specific emotions. The collection includes perfumes with names like Love Frequency, More Sex, and Calm Bliss — Love Frequency, for example, touts itself as a love potion in a bottle with notes of rose and musky cashmere and “emotion-boosting love molecules” (FWIW: 84% of users agree the fragrance “boosts feelings of love” when sprayed). Bella Hadid’s new fragrance brand, Orebella, also taps into emotions by using an assortment of mood-boosting essential oils in all of its formulations. “Orebella’s scents are all based on Bella’s deeply personal and universally relatable memories,” says Orebella president Fabrice Gibert-Darras. “These fragrances have an almost magnetic pull connecting the physical smell with the emotional memory.”

Meanwhile, Gen-Z favorite fragrance brand Snif skipped the typical celebrity collab and instead partnered with author and mindfulness expert Alex Elle for its Heal the Way perfume, which was created specifically to boost feelings of comfort and healing. The fragrance includes pistachio oil, which touts calming properties (“This note serves as a reminder to protect my boundaries,” says Elle), along with pink davana essential oil, long used by herbalists and Ayurvedic practitioners to ease stress and calm the mind. Pacifica recently dropped a line of “neuroscience-backed functional fragrances” made with clinically studied fragrance notes that can elicit a positive effect on mood and emotions. Suffice it to say, the fragrance industry is fully in its feelings right now.

One Final Takeaway

Beauty and fragrance brands might be pushing to replace your therapist in 2024, but experts recommend using neuroboosting products as an accessory rather than a remedy — so don’t expect topical products to completely shift your state of mind. “As humans, we have a baseline with our mood — there is a term called ‘hedonic adaptation,’ which means, whether positive or negative things occur, we eventually return to our baseline,” explains Mancao. “When looking for ways to cope with their mental health, it’s important for consumers to ask themselves: Is the route that I am taking to feel better sustainable?”

Also, it’s a fine line between finding mood-boosting powers in your products and falling prey to wanting more, more, more. “Equating consumerism with happiness may perpetuate a cycle of materialism, whereby fulfillment becomes reliant on external possessions rather than internal satisfaction,” adds Yusim. “To enjoy beauty without relying on it for well-being, you can cultivate a healthy and holistic approach to self-worth and self-care. This involves prioritizing practices that nourish the mind, body, and soul, beyond improving one’s physical appearance.”

Take a page from Elle’s book and look at your neuroboosting beauty products as sweet little additions to your existing efforts around emotional health, while prioritizing rituals that don’t necessarily rely on purchasing new products. “I try my best to set aside time that is just for me and rooted in presence,” says Elle. “Whether it’s being intentional about how I wash my face every morning, or taking time to sit with the scent of my perfume after it’s sprayed, investing in my routines mindfully can have a meaningful impact on my well-being. Micro-moments of joy matter!”