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Millennial Females & Males Sound Off: Their 15 Favorite Beauty/Personal Care Brands

We asked 1000 13-33-year-olds to tell us their favorite beauty or personal care brands, and found out the favorites amongst both females and males…

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the most disruptive beauty consumer of them all? Why it’s Millennials, of course! A quick round up of the beauty/personal care’s industries recent growing pains makes it clear that young consumers are forcing them to rethink the way things are done. Racked reports that the beauty industry is expected to grow to $51.8 billion in 2020, and women 18-34-year-olds are currently the largest portion of the cosmetic market, purchasing 10 types of products a year. But they are a “suspicious crew,” opting to go in-store and signing up for sample box services instead of risking buying online. In response, retailers are undergoing a “Sephoraization,” rushing to offer consumers the chance to try before they buy. Target has created their own beauty trial box offering, and some online beauty brands are establishing brick-and-mortar locations. Meanwhile, Women’s Wear Daily sounded the alarm that Millennials are leaving anti-wrinkle creams in the dust, and sending the beauty industry scrambling as the generation embraces a “a beauty-from-the-inside-out approach.” While their younger age is a factor, experts say there is also a shift in attitude, and the new generation is more likely to embrace “who they are”—including lines and gray hair.

So it goes without saying that we are keeping tabs on the beauty and personal care preferences of young consumers. Our most recent monthly survey of Millennials and teens got all the dirt on their health and beauty behavior, from where they’re buying to what they’re looking to buy and who’s influencing their decisions.

We asked 13-33-year-olds to answer the question, “What is your favorite beauty or personal care brand?”* and analyzed their responses according to gender. Here are female Millennials and teens’ top 15 favorites: 

  1. Dove
  2. Don’t have a favorite
  3. CoverGirl
  4. Neutrogena
  5. Aveeno
  6. Clinique
  7. Maybelline
  8. elf
  9. Bath and Bodyworks
  10. Suave
  11. L’Oréal
  12. MAC
  13. Lush
  14. Mary Kay
  15. Bare Minerals / NYX / Urban Decay (tied for 15th)

Congratulations to Dove, who ranked as 13-33-year-old females’ favorite beauty brand for the second year.

But “Don’t have a favorite” was the second most-frequent response, and though it is of course the antithesis of a brand, we left it on the list because it speaks to an overall trend amongst this generation in the beauty market and beyond. We said it in our round up of innovative beauty brands: For young consumers today, innovation trumps loyalty. Though they may stay committed to a brand for some time, if another is about to out-innovate their go-to, they’ll switch it up in a heartbeat. They are more than willing to try something new on the off chance they’ll like it more. This behavior is impacting all industries, but it might be the most shocking to the beauty industry. Gone are the women who stuck with one lipstick shade, or a signature scent for decades. Their granddaughters have taken over the beauty aisle, and they’re a finicky bunch.

Looking at the actual brands on the list, their brand choices are paralleling their shopping behavior. Big box stores and drugstores are the top two places that 13-33-year-old females re purchasing their health and beauty products, and their top 15 list is filled with the brands available to them in those non-specialty aisles. Of course affordability and convenience are the drivers here, but there is also a larger sense that these products are also quality ones. The internet is full of lists of the drugstore steals that makeup artists swear by, and these consumers aren’t as likely to believe that more expensive = more high quality in all cases. 

  1. Dove/Dove Men
  2. Don’t have a favorite
  3. Old Spice
  4. Axe
  5. Gillette
  6. Nivea
  7. Suave
  8. Head and Shoulders
  9. American Crew
  10. Irish Springs
  11. Burt’s Bees
  12. Colgate
  13. Degree
  14. Harry’s
  15. Neutrogena

Dove maintained their top position on males’ list as well, beating out Old Spice and Axe for the second year in a row. Males gave the response “Don’t have a favorite” as frequently as females, and interest in innovation and lack of loyalty are realities for this group as well. As we did last year, we will point out that while gender stereotypes about young guys “not caring” about personal care brands may still linger, the reality is that the majority do have preferences—so these non-brand answers are not necessarily all about indifference. One indication: one respondent told us he doesn’t have a favorite but chooses to be organic, while another said, “None in particular, natural products.” A 29-year-old male clarified, “I use a lot of brands, so I don’t have a particular favorite.”

Interestingly, Harry’s Shave Club made the top 15 list, and though it was not mentioned as frequently, Dollar Shave Club was also named by some respondents. Overall, Millennials have been the secret to beauty subscriptions’ success, and male-focused subscription boxes like these have been a hit with Millennial men thanks to their value and convenience. Harry’s inclusion of shaving products beyond the razor has likely helped boost their esteem, and earned them a ranking.


*These were open-end response questions to allow us to capture the full range of Millennials and teens’ beauty/personal care favorites. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind, and those that are actually most desired. The top 15 lists are ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.