As the year comes to a close, team GTG pick the best beauty campaigns, launches and moments that made an impact in 2018

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2018 has been a momentous year in health and beauty for many reasons, but this time it’s not just the innovative product launches or the latest science-backed diets that have made history; it’s been very much a year of change, both in attitudes and in making a real difference to how the industry works. Airbrushing is becoming a thing of the past , ‘plus-size’ models are adorning magazine covers without having to justify it with the inaccurate label and Meghan Markle broke all the rules  as she glided down the aisle - it’s as if on New Year’s Day this year everyone woke up and decided to do things differently.

We applaud the thirst for change, and as 2018 comes to a close we’ve looked back at the most defining moments of the year to pick out our highlights. Here’s what rocked the health and beauty boat this year, and here’s to making even more happen in 2019…

The launch of Beauty Banks, a long overdue way to give essentials to those in need

February 2018

Picked by: Judy Johnson, Digital Editor

“When Sali Hughes and Jo Jones launched Beauty Banks , a non-profit designed to give toiletries and cosmetics to those in need, it made me feel proud to work in this industry (while of course also feeling utterly dismayed that so many people in the UK are now having to rely on food banks and these kinds of services). At GTG we’re inundated with beauty products and think little of starting a new moisturiser before our current one has finished in the name of journalism, but with news stories breaking such as young girls not being able to afford sanitary products it was high time to start giving back.

"The initiative has brought the beauty community together to donate toiletries to those in need; we’ve sent many a box up to the Beauty Banks office and I’ve personally ordered some Amazon deliveries of my own to contribute, while industry legends including Mary Greenwell and Nadine Baggott have been rolling their sleeves up and helping to sort and pack the products ready to be shipped off around the UK. It really shows the scale of what can be achieved when everyone chips in, as well as making all those on the receiving end of new launches and products for review to take a step back out of this industry bubble and see the bigger picture. Long may the goodwill and generosity continue.” Find out more about how to donate  here

The publication of 'Wonder Down Under: the user’s guide to the vagina’ - a mould-breaking gynae manual that every woman should own

March 2018

Picked by Victoria Woodhall, Editorial Director

“Which books did you buy in 2018 – Becoming by Michelle Obama? Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction? The one book that for me has been essential reading is The Wonder Down Under – A User’s Guide the Vagina  by public health researchers and sex educators Nina Brochmann and Ellen Støkken Dahl. It’s staggering really that not until 2018 did we have a gynae book that answered the questions and fears and curiosities that we’ve only ever demanded of Dr Google or our drunken best friend. It sold out in its native Norway in less than three days and when it launched in the UK in March, it became the stigma-busting must-read not just for women, but as our reviewer Anna Hunter said at the time “humans everywhere” .

"What sets it apart is not only the ground it covers from discharge (yes, healthy genitals do smell) to urine leaks, the CAT position (best for orgasms) to anal skin tags and unexplained pelvic pain, but also the engaging tone. Myths, such as the ‘poppable’ hymen, are summarily dismissed and emotions and ailments demystified. The writers have seen and heard it all; working on the frontline of fannies (and I may be stereotyping here that they may be also being less buttoned-up than us Brits), they don’t fight shy of detail ­– or, crucially, humour. After all, when has a conversation among friends about your lady parts ever been totally straight-faced? And it’s this that keeps you reading, discovering and learning.

"As the mother of a teenage daughter (and a son) I’ve made sure this is a book is on the radar of our entire our household. There are signs too that WDU has opened up a new publishing genre. Look out for The Gynae Geek: your no-nonsense guide to ‘down there’ healthcare by Dr Anita Mitra published on 7 March 2019. When vagina books by women medics make it on to those spotlight tables in Waterstones alongside the slew of medical non-fiction books by eminent (and mostly male) surgeons and hard-pressed junior doctors, it’ll be a major step for humankind. I’ll raise a (menstrual) cup to that!"

How the beauty industry is stepping up to reduce plastic waste

Throughout 2018

Picked by: Alexandra Harrison, Admin Assistant

“This year we’ve become much more aware of the amount of plastic we consume – and just where it ends up afterwards. David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 at the end of 2017, brought the plight of our oceans home so powerfully with its images of floating plastic bags and snarled up sea creatures and a powerful statement by Attenborough himself. We learned from a study on a Manchester river that the volume of microplastics – tiny particles of broken down plastic waste, synthetic fibres and microbeads, which marine creatures mistake for food – was far greater than scientists first estimated.

“The beauty industry stepped up to acknowledge its own part  as the government banned microbeads hidden in many beauty products such as skin care scrubs. Brands such as Soaper Duper and Aveda are leading the way in packaging, using recycled plastics. With the attention on single use plastics, such as drinking straws, face wipes and cotton buds, brands are instead introducing versions that are biodegradable. As a makeup artist, I get through lots of face wipes, but I’ve switched to biodegradable (I like Simple Kind to Skin wipes ). Refillables too are becoming more common, notably in haircare with L’Occitane and others offering shampoo and conditioner pouches. All of this has contributed towards huge progress within the industry and has proven that we can no longer turn a blind eye to an ever-growing problem. I’m sure the continued fight against plastic waste will become part of everyday life next year and beyond.”

The founding of the British Beauty Council, a new body to define and regulate the industry

October 2018

Picked by: Anna Hunter, Senior Features Writer

“Did you know that the British beauty industry has an estimated worth of £18 billion? And yet the needs and voices of this enormous and highly profitable sector are still to be officially recognised by policy makers, educators and employers. The British Beauty Council was founded this year by five industry experts to change this by promoting reputation, education and innovation, all within an ethical, inclusive framework that represents the entire sector, from product formulation to packaging design, salon services, media and beyond, all irrespective of race, gender, age, religion, culture or ability.

“A big task, sure, but with Millie Kendall MBE as CEO and advisory board members such as skincare expert Caroline Hirons, hair stylist legend Sam McKnight and makeup artist Lisa Eldridge, among many other highly influential figures in beauty, you can bet that the British Beauty Council will start to make enormous waves in 2019. From establishing a definition of the beauty industry so that it’s fully valued (you need language as a framework to shift perceptions) to making all information open sourced (check out the Instagram feed for fascinating daily facts) they’re off to a flying start.”

Meghan Markle’s refreshing Royal presence

Throughout 2018

Picked by: Sarah McGinnis, Art Editor

“It's impossible to discuss the redefining beauty moments of 2018 without touching on the Markle effect. Making a glamorous yet also understated stamp on her move into royalty, she’s embodies what it means to be a modern woman, from messy buns to delivering speeches about feminism while on tour with her now husband Prince Harry. In the beauty stakes, there was the very recent dark manicure (no 'ballet slippers' here) at The Fashion Awards to her pared back wedding makeup and signature undone hairstyles (she’s got George Northwood to call on so it’s always cool), The Duchess of Sussex has become a beauty icon in her own right. Next year will bring a new royal baby, of course, but we also expect more women’s rights action and smooth sartorial and beauty moves too. The fact that she uses a budget Nivea body cream is a fan of Nars Orgasm Blusher makes her a kindred spirit in my book.”

Em Ford’s #RedefinePretty project, a must-see video that proves the effect of beauty imagery

November 2018

Picked by: Ayesha Muttucumaru, Senior Features Writer

“Just how impactful can a beauty campaign image be? Hugely so, and, as highlighted by YouTuber Em Ford’s Redefine Pretty video , probably more than many of us probably realise. Examining how today’s beauty standards affect how we see and feel about ourselves, Em collaborates with a Professor of Human Brain Research to test something that has never been scientifically proven before - whether the brain’s reaction and our emotions can be affected by images that show models wearing makeup, without makeup and when they're retouched.

“In the experiment, the pictures were shown to women who had visible skin conditions such as burns and vitiligo, and they underwent MRI scans to track their brain activity. Their results were likened to those who had gone through terrible trauma, with some even compared to sufferers of PTSD. Demonstrating just how psychologically damaging the images we’re presented with can be, the video serves as a valuable reminder to brands and the media to be more conscious of their definition and portrayal of beauty and the importance of representation. With the topic of inclusivity being debated more than ever before, it’ll be interesting to see if and how the content we see online, on social media, in magazines and in stock photography libraries evolves to take unachievable beauty standards to task.”

What were your favourite health and beauty moments of the year? Let us know in the comments!