American Beauty Buyers: A Closer Look at Millennials and Gen X

Nearly 1 in 2 surveyed Millennial and Gen X beauty buyers* in the US are still looking for the beauty style and products that work best on them.1

Where are they looking? Not just magazines, stores and TV anymore. Digital is now a main channel for beauty purchasers, with mobile leading the way. Indeed, beauty accounts* on Instagram attract over 20 million unique followers in the US.2

As they search for and discover beauty products across channels, the opportunity to connect with these women is massive. In 2015, beauty product sales reached $80 billion in the US.3

Download the digital magazineFacebook IQ wanted to learn more about what the beauty opportunity looks like in the US. We analyzed our own data, surveyed over 1,700 female Millennials* and Gen Xers* and commissioned Galileo Research to interview 31 women in New York and LA.

We learned that beauty changes for every woman as she gets older, whether through evolving trends, the effects of aging or boosts in self-confidence. We also discovered that women across generations value authenticity. Brands that speak to a woman’s life stage in a personal way have a better chance to connect to women with the right message in the right moment.

Applying the foundation

Before we look at these women by generation, let’s look at what they have in common.

We know that a typical beauty follower* in the US is open to learning more about beauty, as she follows three beauty accounts on Instagram.2 And she’s mindful about her beauty purchases, often considering product ingredients and price.

1 in 2 beauty buyers like to try new products regularly

Beauty is a playground: Younger Millennials

Beauty is an adventure to a Younger Millennial beauty buyer (18–24), who is more open to experimenting with beauty products as they test what is and isn’t their “look.” Younger Millennials’ looks span from full glam, with bright eyeshadow and winged eyeliner, to being make-up free. We saw that many embrace not wearing make-up in content they post on Instagram, using the #nomakeup hashtag that’s popular among beauty followers in this age group.2

A close-up of beauty buyers and followers ages 18–24 in the US

Show your best self: Whether they’re going for the natural look or rainbow-colored hair, there are many ways to reach Younger Millennials on the journey to getting more comfortable in their own skin. Showcase new products ripe for experimentation and resurface old ones that this age group might have missed along their beauty journey.

Comfortable in her own skin: Older Millennials

She’s a bit older and a bit wiser, and it shows (sometimes, if she’s not wearing her concealer). The Older Millennial beauty buyer (25–34) is starting to think about remedies against aging, including battling wrinkles, covering dark circles and creating the appearance of dewy skin.4 She’s considering which beauty products will help her look her best as she walks down the aisle and which ones she can count on for her daily beauty regime. But the door to adventure isn’t fully shut—indeed, she’s keeping her eyes open for the next trends and tips.

Keep her “in the know”: Older Millennial beauty lovers aren’t as up to date on the latest beauty tips and tricks as they were just a few years ago. Reach out with content that’s not only compelling but also helpful, like with a tutorial about how to apply a product or a personalized recommendation targeted to a key life moment, such as a wedding.

Beauty comes from the inside out: Gen Xers

Beauty is part of a holistic approach to overall wellness for Gen Xers (35–44), who consider all the ways to make themselves look and feel more youthful. Their resources and priorities are different from their younger counterparts, too. We see that many still consult magazines, and they’re more focused on their “me time.” Gen X women also post more about their lives, with hashtags like #kids, #fitmom, #yoga and #lovemyjob being unique to this group on Instagram.2

A close-up of beauty buyers and followers ages 35–44 in the US

Keep beauty simple: From eating clean to finding a skincare product with the right mix of organic ingredients, Gen X women know that beauty comes from the inside out. Celebrate how beauty can be personal and beneficial to every woman, and showcase how cosmetics and skincare will make her feel versus how she will look.


* Definitions
Cosmetics, beauty, hair and nailcare are among the leading topics of beauty accounts followed in the US.
Gen Xers are ages 35–44.
Millennials are ages 18–34. Younger Millennials are ages 18–24, and Older Millennials are ages 25–34.
Beauty buyers are defined as surveyed women ages 18–44 in the US who reported purchasing skincare or make-up products in the past three months.
Beauty followers are defined as Instagram users who follow at least one account categorized as a beauty account.
1 “US Beauty Path to Purchase” by Facebook IQ (Qualtrics-fielded survey of 1,785 women ages 18–44 in the US who had purchased skincare or make-up products in the past three months), Feb 2016.
2 Instagram data based on US audiences ages 18–44 who are eligible to see ads on Instagram based on a variety of factors and who follow at least one account categorized as a beauty account, Jun 2015–Dec 2015. Hashtags posted by beauty followers on Instagram.
3 “Beauty StatPack: US Sales, Consumer Behavior and Advertising Trends for Personal Care and Beauty Products” by eMarketer, Sep 2016.
4 “US Beauty Path to Purchase” by Galileo, US only (Facebook-commissioned study of 31 women ages 18–44 in New York City and Los Angeles who have purchased make-up, skincare or nail products and who use social media), Jan 6–12, 2016.