Americans embrace 'the natural look'

May 10, 2017

Today’s American women are embracing their natural beauty, flaws and all. According to new research from Mintel, ‘going natural’ is resonating with women as three in five (59 percent) say that they prefer the ‘natural look,’ including 54 percent of Millennial* beauty consumers. However, it appears that what women say they prefer for their beauty routine and how they look when they leave the house doesn’t always align. While these Millennial consumers are slightly less likely to prefer the natural look, they are more likely (71 percent) to actually wear a natural makeup look than female consumers overall (68 percent).

The majority of Millennial women report spending just 20 minutes or less on their regular beauty routine
The majority of Millennial women report spending just 20 minutes or less (59 percent vs 68 percent overall) on their regular beauty routine and one-fifth (18 percent) say their beauty routine consists of four or less steps. Usage of cosmetics products that are essential to the natural makeup look have also been on the rise among younger consumers over the past five years**. Indeed, nearly half (46 percent) of women aged 22-39 use eyebrow pencils today, up nine percent since 2011 (37 percent); four in five (79 percent) are using mascara compared to 73 percent five years ago; and 77 percent of these consumers say they use lip care products compared to 73 percent who said the same in 2011.

But don’t confuse the natural look with the no-makeup trend as nearly half (46 percent) of Millennial women say they feel more confident when they spend time on their appearance and 20 percent say they feel pressure to always look good. Despite these pressures, two in five (40 percent) Millennial women agree that it’s okay to not always look your best and over one third (36 percent) say that their appearance is a form of self-expression, especially among Younger Millennials*** (40 percent).

“Women of all ages are embracing their natural beauty, especially among America’s Millennial generation who are using color cosmetics to enhance their features in order to look like the best version of themselves. Brands have an opportunity to promote themes of self-expression and embracing natural beauty in product marketing in order to reach this active and engaged consumer market. Short beauty routines underscore that Millennials are strapped for time and emphasize efficiency, highlighting the importance of products that can be applied quickly and easily, as well as those that can multitask,” said Margie Nanninga, Beauty and Personal Care Analyst at Mintel.

Mintel research indicates that Millennials are results-driven in their beauty routines as beauty consumers in this generation are most likely to prioritize products that provide good results (58 percent) and to purchase products based on their benefits (43 percent). Further highlighting trends toward simplicity, two in five (40 percent) Millennial beauty consumers also look for products that are easy to use. However, while one third (34 percent) of Millennial women look for products they usually use, nine percent are influenced by interesting packaging or design when purchasing beauty products.

While ethical claims are further down on the list of concerns for Millennial beauty consumers, these claims are more important to Millennials than they are to other generations. Indeed, Millennial beauty consumers are more likely to look for products that have natural ingredients (25 percent vs 23 percent overall), are environmentally-friendly (12 percent vs nine percent overall), ethically-sourced (seven percent vs five percent overall) and those that donate a portion of proceeds to charity (six percent vs four percent overall).

Younger adults also seem to be more experimental and adventurous when it comes to nature-based ingredients in their beauty and personal care products. Mintel research on skincare ingredients and format trends in the US highlights that female skincare consumers aged 18-34 are more likely than female consumers overall to be interested in skincare products containing ingredients such as seaweed (52 percent vs 42 percent overall), ginseng (48 percent vs 37 percent overall), sandalwood (29 percent vs 23 percent overall) and fermented ingredients (28 percent vs 19 percent overall).

“Today’s trending skincare ingredients are nature-based, further highlighting consumer interest in natural and gentle ingredients. Beauty and personal care brands would do well to focus on natural offerings as a way to differentiate in a saturated market. Products that have clear, straightforward packaging that highlight the natural ingredients will help set the product apart and help push beauty and personal care consumers out of their comfort zones,” continued Nanninga.

35% of Millennial women claim to
buy most of their beauty products online
True to form, Millennials are keeping up with their tech-savvy reputation when purchasing beauty products. Some 35 percent of Millennial women claim to buy most of their beauty products online, and one third say they use apps that provide product recommendations (35 percent) or that let them try out different looks (31 percent). What’s more, three in five (59 percent) say they often research products from their smartphone while shopping in a store.

As more and more Americans seek out experiences over purchasing material things, Mintel research reveals that Millennial beauty consumers crave a fun shopping experience. Indeed, 65 percent would be interested in visiting a beauty pop-up shop and two-thirds (66 percent) say they would like to see more interactive beauty experiences in-store.

“For Millennial women, shopping for beauty products may be viewed as a fun indulgence as they enjoy learning about beauty offerings and trends. Millennials will likely be drawn to retailers that provide a seamless shopping experience, offering in-store kiosks and easy-to-use mobile apps to help them navigate through the buying process, while still being able to touch and feel products in person. Retailers should also consider apps that further encourage consumers to buy products on the spot, perhaps offering instant discounts or promotions at the point of purchase,” concluded Nanninga.

*Millennials are between the ages of 23 and 40 in 2017
**April 2011 to June 2016
***Younger Millennials are between the ages of 23 and 30 in 2017

Press copies of Mintel’s The Millennial Beauty Consumer US 2017 and Skincare Ingredient and Format Trends US 2016 reports and interviews with Margie Nanninga, Beauty and Personal Care Analyst, are available on request from the press office.

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For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

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