Gen Z: Redefining beauty, redefining the beauty industry

Written by Hannah Tales

Gen Z are demanding more from cosmetic brands than any generation before them ever has and they aren’t shy about their desire to drive change in the beauty industry. Our newest generation of cosmetic consumers are changing the face of ‘beauty’ and shaking off age-old standards.

Gen Z’s top beauty brands include Mac, Urban Decay, NYX, Covergirl, Tarte, Kylie Cosmetics, Fenty Beauty, The Ordinary, Glossier, Morphe, Fluide, ColourPop, and Lush. So why are these brands engaging this generation so well? The simple answer is that they understand the Gen Z mindset. And the following 6 insights capture how, and what your brand can do to engage this generation…


  1. Social media feeds are the new teen magazines, and the ultimate source of inspiration

Unlike past generations, Gen Z don’t look for recommendations from makeup critics on glossy pages, instead they’re turning to the collective wisdom of the online beauty community for “skintellectual” information. 56% of teens follow a beauty or personal care brand on social media, therefore it’s a platform where they can access their friends, celebrities, influencers and brands all in one place. Social media enables them to no longer just read about products, but see them in action, via their most trusted inner circle of influencers.

Gen Z are both seekers and distributors of knowledge via social media, so how can you enable them to see your products in action and empower them to shout about your brand too?


  1. Gen Z swipe between URL and IRL; discovering brands online but purchasing offline

Although 62% of teens say that they digitally research beauty products before making a purchase, 90% of American teenagers prefer to buy cosmetics in-store. The in-store experience of shopping for beauty products is engaging and fun for Gen Z… it allows them to see products, engage with a brand, and seek feedback before purchasing. But they’re not looking for help or guidance from a sales associate in-store, their online research has already taken care of that.

If your brand is online, what can you do to engage and excite Gen Z? If you’re in-store, how can you work this to your advantage to encourage product experimentation?


  1. Beauty norms have changed; makeup allows Gen Z to express their own version of beauty

Beauty is no longer seen in a traditional sense – Gen Z are not in constant search for the ‘perfect shade of lipstick’ to repeatedly wear like generations before them. Instead, the face is seen as a canvas for self-expression, where they can experiment and have fun creating lots of different looks. Makeup is a way to radiate mood and could involve using bright lip colours and bold eye shadows, or relatively little makeup at all – Gen Z feel power in individual choice, there isn’t a ‘need’ for them to wear makeup every day, instead it can be a hobby for them to experiment with.

How can your brand and products promote the three things that Gen Z hold dear – choice, self-expression and experimentation?


  1. Gen Z want brands to recognise them as individuals and celebrate their uniqueness

They seek brands that provide products as diverse as themselves – Fenty Beauty, a popular brand amongst Gen Zers, launched its first foundation in an inclusive range of 40 shades, before expanding to include 50. There’s also opportunity to engage Gen Z by taking this a step further and represent more than just shade range diversity in your product line, by showing much broader inclusivity of different genders, body types, the LGBTQ+ community and those with visible and non-visible disabilities.

How can your brand celebrate Gen Z’s uniqueness and encourage them to be confident in their own skin?


  1. Brand promiscuity and brand loyalty sit hand in hand

So, what ends up in a Gen Zers makeup bag? Here we don’t see loyalty to one brand across their whole makeup collection, but instead they have an extensive collection of colour cosmetics. They are self-educated on the importance of different product attributes and which brand performs best on a certain product. Luxury makeup items sit alongside drugstore products in a Gen Zers makeup bag as they are savvy in identifying which products are crucial to invest in and where they can grab a bargain. If a product has proven its worth (regardless of what brand it is or how much it cost) Gen Z are loyal to this ‘holy grail’ product and are unlikely to stray!

What are your brands ‘hero’ products and how can you get them onto Gen Z’s radar?


  1. Gen Z are conscious consumers; brands who are mission driven engage and inspire them

Although they celebrate individuality, Gen Z have a desire to be part of something bigger than themselves. They care about brands being cruelty-free, fair-trade, sustainable and not having a negative impact on the environment. In fact, 83% already buy organic and natural beauty products and 82% said they were more likely to buy a product if it’s environmentally friendly.

They also scrutinise what is in their products, opting for those that are vegan, hypoallergenic and free from parabens, fragrance, sulphate and phthalate. The beauty buzz words are now ‘stripped back’, ‘honest’ and ‘clean’.

There is opportunity for your brand to make consumers feel like they’re doing some good for the world with their purchasing power, then they’ll likely get behind you. How can you express who you are and what your brand stands for?



If you find yourself asking the question ‘Is our brand doing enough to engage this future generation of consumers?’ this is where we can help… get in touch with us to find out more about this fascinating generation, and how RDSi can help you and your brand appeal to this complex bunch!

Hannah Tales (Gen Zer)

Suzy Clemo (Millennial)


Statistics sources: Piper Jaffray Teen Survey 2019, Mintel Gen Z Beauty Consumer Marker Report 2019.