Ashley Miles, EVP, Refinery29, helps identify unique ways to connect beauty brands with millennial and millennial-minded women to drive brand relevancy and sales. As a busy millennial herself — leading Refinery29’s brand efforts, raising her three-year-old daughter Mylah and, of course, keeping up with her global vintage discovery passion — Ashley understands the complexities of connecting with this empowered generation. Here, Ashley writes about technology’s impact on global beauty trends, expanding product discovery and shopping.

Every beauty trend has a life cycle. Some trigger decades-long cult followings while others barely last a season. But the driving force behind them today is technology – functional capability as well as reach and access – forever changing the way beauty consumers discover and purchase the latest trends and products.

Beauty-minded millennial women (or as we like to call her at Refinery29, ‘our girl’) have access to more information than ever before. The creators and purveyors of statement looks and beauty products live not in the pages of magazines and billboards, but in the world around her. And visual and social platforms are taking culturally rooted beauty habits across borders, giving millennial-minded women unprecedented access to new trends and products in real-time.

Street Style: Not Just For Locals

International beauty routines, fads and next-level product crazes are ripe for the picking. According to Refinery29’s Her Brain on Digital study on millennial-minded women, 90 percent of millennial women agree that technology makes it easier for them to discover new products. Eighty-eight percent say that technology has given them new sources of inspiration.

And now, thanks to the Internet and global commerce, they are free to order beauty products made anywhere in the world, at any time. Look no further than the strikingly popular bounce creams and cushion compacts coming out of Seoul, Korea (see the Whamisa Organic Sea Kelp Mask and Sulwasoo’s Perfecting Cushion, which was named ‘Worldwide Wonder’ and in Refinery29’s first annual Beauty Innovator Awards last month).

The international walls are coming down and that means deeper access and greater discovery. And while global beauty inspiration isn’t new, how today’s beauty consumer can experience it is. Look no further than Refinery29’s upcoming original video series Fashionably Bound in which readers don’t just see a trend worth knowing about, they actually experience it for themselves –virtually, of course – using the new virtual reality Samsung’s Gear VR® powered by Refinery29.

The New Trailblazers

Leaders in the world of beauty and style – editors, influencers, makeup artists, cosmetic brands and technology entrepreneurs– are changing the way they interact with beauty consumers and future customers digitally. Russian-turned-Californian YouTube star Evelina Barry’s “Daycation with Evelina” brings an international perspective to her daily explorations in cities around the world. U.K.-based makeup artist Wayne Goss, sold out his holiday brush collection in less than five minutes, generating a 12,000-person waiting list and being named the ‘Must-Watch Beauty Vlogger’ by R29’s team of Beauty Innovator Award judges.

Millennials know better than anyone that watching a master in action is the best (or perhaps the only) way to really learn how to do something well on your own. In fact, 90 percent of millennial women agree that video tutorials have opened their eyes to discover new interests.

When it comes to her online video consumption, beauty ranks number one. Second to beauty, DIY videos are incredibly popular among millennial women. And it’s easy to see why. Seventy-eight percent agree that technology has allowed them to connect with and build communities around shared interests. The reason? Millennial women aren’t just ambitious and empowered by the latest technology, they’re eager to share and discover information with like-minded individuals.

Shopping While She’s Shopping

More than 75 percent of millennials actively use their smartphones as a ‘personal shopping assistant’ when shopping in local stores. 49 percent of millennial-minded women also prefer to shop directly on their mobile phones, in many cases purchasing from competitive retailers via mobile while she is trying on items in a store. Our girl is shopping while she’s shopping, so engaging with her in an authentic and relevant way throughout her daily journey is a huge opportunity for Beauty marketers.

In April, Sephora started to carry the Korean skin care line Belief, allowing American women to purchase some of the same products as Korean women – in different time zones and with different currencies. And while the majority of cutting-edge Korean products can still only be found abroad, 78 percent of millennial women agree that technology is a tool to discover and research products prior to seeking them out in a physical retail store.

Whether it’s staring into a mirror or at the screen of a smartphone – beauty is top of mind for millennial women and technology is upping her game – expanding the global product availability at the bat of a perfectly elongated eyelash.

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