Think of the dusty pinks and faded blues in ads for popular products like the underwear brand Thinx, or the makeup company Glossier. Soft gradients have seeped into trendy web design. Then, earlier this year, Pantone broke with tradition to name not one but two shades for its color of the year. Rose Quartz and Serenity, apparently selected to speak to a more gender-fluid world, also served to solidify the trending pastel palette. If pastels weren't dominating consumer products before, they definitely are now. So why are all these pale tones coming on so strong?