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These Are Millennial & Gen Z Women’s 10 Favorite Makeup Brands

Young women are ruling the beauty industry, and brands are changing their tactics and creating new products to attract them. But what are their favorite makeup brands? We asked…

Millennial women “dominate” the beauty market in the U.S., with 18-34-year-olds buying more products than any other generation—they’re reportedly twice as likely to be heavy buyers than Xers or Boomers. So, with young women the biggest buyers in beauty, it’s no surprise that makeup brands are making over their marketing strategies for Millennials and Gen Z. Glossier was a game-changer in the makeup industry, geared towards a generation of consumers that “want[s] products that work but that don’t cost three figures”—and opened the door for a slew of indie beauty brands that sell directly to consumers. Refinery29 asked Millennial females to judge a few of these up-and-comer brands based on their all-important Instagrams and websites, and found they were swayed by messaging, imagery, authenticity, and yes, Millennial pink packaging. In other words, the competition is heavier than ever.

We’ve looked at the biggest new beauty trends that Millennial and Gen Z women want to try, but what are they filling their makeup bags with on the regular? To find out, in our recent survey on beauty and personal care brands, we asked 13-34-year-old females, “What is your favorite makeup brand?”* We should note that about a third of female respondents told us they have no favorite makeup brand—not too surprising considering we’re talking to a generation that is far less brand loyal to beauty than their mothers and grandmothers might have been. (We’ve said before that the idea of a “signature” scent, lip color, etc. is long gone.) We also saw a significant amount of fragmentation in responses, another indication that competition for their beauty attention is intense. But a few makeup brands did garner more responses than others, and we’ve ranked them in a top ten list:  

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of makeup brands that Millennial and Gen Z women like best—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The list is ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

Their Favorite Makeup Brands

13-34-years-old females

  1. Covergirl
  2. Urban Decay
  3. Maybelline
  4. MAC
  5. ELF
  6. Tarte
  7. NYX
  8. Bare Minerals
  9. Mary Kay
  10. NARS

Covergirl, Urban Decay, and Maybelline are the top three favorite makeup brands of Millennial women. It’s notable that two of these top three brands are drugstore buys. When it comes to purchasing beauty products, young women are looking for the best deal. The beauty market is currently “ruled by” Millennials, but their approach to buying beauty isn’t cut and dry. A recent survey from The Harris Poll revealed that 51% of 18-34-year-old cosmetic product buyers buy their items in-person at big box retail stores, 44% at pharmacies, and 35% from an online specialty beauty product store. Whether online or in-person, it looks like most Millennials agree on one thing: 85% say that once they find a product they like, they’ll buy it wherever they can get the best price. 

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.