10 of The Hottest Beauty Brands, According to Gen Z & Millennial Females

Our youth brand tracker digs into the beauty brands that Gen Z and Millennial women think are hot right now…

With #selfcare and #selfies boosting profits in the beauty sector, brands in other categories want a piece of the action, creating a real beauty gold rush. Unlikely brands are finding creative ways to cash in on young consumers’ self-care obsession: According to Vox, “The beauty business is so lucrative that Spotify and SodaStream want a piece of it too.” Bumble is launching a skincare line, 7-Eleven sells their own makeup, SodaStream is touting the benefits of washing your face with seltzer, and many more brands are getting in on the craze with their own products. Others are coming together for surprising collabs, like Expedia and Estée Lauder. Leveraging young consumers’ Treat Yo’Self mentalities could pay off for brands that get into the beauty game.

Meanwhile, existing beauty brands are capitalizing on their Brandoms and turning products into full blown experiences. The Cut reports that Sephora’s first festival, Sephoria: House of Beauty, brought together 5,000 makeup addicts for a branded experience extravaganza. Attendees could play Urban Decay slot machines for coveted cosmetic prizes, make their own Make Up For Ever palettes, have a mini salon day at Dry Bar, or just sample all their favorite brands and take advantage of the numerus photo ops.  

Gen Z and Millennial women are driving this beauty mania. Not only is beauty one of the top things they like to treat themselves to, their interest in new products and digital native brands is upending the industry. And our youth brand tracker Ybrands keeps tabs on the beauty brands they think are hot right now. This year, we’ve collected over 56,000 interviews that tell us how young consumers feel about more than 300 brands. Here are the 10 beauty brands that Gen Z and Millennial females tell us are hot:

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*Ybrands measures young consumers’ relationships with a brand based on a weighted 6-point scale, ranging from “Never heard of this brand” to “This brand is one of my favorites.” As part of Ybrands’ “Brand Momentum” metric, we also ask respondents “Which of the following are hot right now?” These are the top brands that were rated “hot,” among those who are aware of the brand. The brands on this list are among the almost 300 brands included in the brand tracker as of 11/6. Rankings are subject to change as more brands are added and removed. 

Out of the almost 40 health and beauty brands that young females are asked about in our Ybrands survey—ranging from big brands to buzzy startups—these are the 10 that each age group says are hot right now. And Kylie Cosmetics is at the top of all their lists. According to the Financial Post, Kylie Cosmetics raked in $420 million in 18 months, mostly via organic marketing courtesy of founder Kylie Jenner. This year, Forbes famously called her a self-made billionaire—and reported that she has made $900 million in less than three years with her brand. Her status as both an online influencer and the member of an uber-famous TV family has propelled Kylie Cosmetics to success with young consumers, many of whom watch her every move online and are proud to be a part of the Kylie Brandom.

The lists of hottest beauty brands are full of new names—as mentioned above, young consumers' love of indie brands is upending the beauty market. Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, which went viral and has sparked a wave of inclusiveness across the industry, is winning more market share, and ranked number two on the hot beauty brand list among both 18-24-year-olds and 25-36-year-olds. Fenty appeals to The Diversity Tipping Point generation with inclusive shades of makeup and also opts for lower price points, which according to Billboard, has actually upped the brand’s average consumer spend above lines like Kylie Cosmetics.

But while upstarts Fenty, Kylie, and Glossier all made the lists, more longstanding brands were also deemed hot by young female consumers. Ulta and Sephora, which have both seen sales surge in recent years and are actively cultivating their communities of young fans, ranked in the top 10 among all three groups.

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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “A lot of people stay in jobs they hate. They feel stuck or need the money. I refuse to do this. I just gave up a Nursing career to be a CSR and I have never been happier.”—Female, 27, IN

YouTube is cracking down on creators that participate in dangerous viral challenges. The media giant updated their community guidelines to take a stronger stance against stunts that spin out of control—like the Tide Pod Challenge. Any creator that performs “pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger” will earn a strike—three and they’re out. What could constitute a strike? Just ask Jake Paul, who recently drove blindfolded for the #BirdBoxChallenge. (The Verge)

The inner five-year-old of Millennials everywhere is jumping up and down for Hot Topic’s Polly Pocket collab. In partnership with Mattel, the brand that wins at delivering unique styles is dropping a 17-piece collection of nostalgic merch. (The line looks a lot like another throwback collection we called out last year.) In celebration of the iconic toy’s 30th birthday (feel old yet?), ‘90s kids can cop everything from bags to hats to mini makeup palettes that feature shades like “Made in the 90s.” (Nylon)

YouTubers Life OMG! is like The Sims for a generation of aspiring social media stars. Players can pretend to be a video game streamer, a passionate creative, or another influencer. But the game is just as realistic as the kids who play it, making them do chores and deliver newspapers when they’re off the air. Similarly, most kids seem to know the dream is not a full-time gig; just take it from nine-year-old Oliver, who explains, “Of course I will have a good job as well, not just YouTube." (Vice)

Big brands are swooping in to save young shoppers from 2018’s oat milk shortage. The buzzy beverage has become the environmentally friendly alternative to almond milk for Millennial & Gen Z shoppers seeking dairy-free and vegan options. It became a barista favorite this year, mainly thanks to industry upstart, Oatly, which is opening a new factory to up their production. But they better hurry: big brands like Pepsi Co.’s Quaker Oats, Danone’s Silk, and Califia Farms are all getting in on this grain-based trend. (Bloomberg)

The most old-fashioned form of TV is experiencing a surge: over-the-air. While the Post-TV Gen continue to cut the cord, more are buying physical antennas to tap free networks and watch live events. Nielsen data found that this kind of old-school appointment viewing jumped from 9% of all homes in 2010 to 14% last year. Diving deeper into that 14%, about three in five also subscribe to streaming services like Netflix, and their median age is 36. (Fortune)

Quote of the Day: “I’d rather do a job I'm passionate about for a lower salary than do a high-paying but low-rewarding job.”—Male, 18, MA

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