The Rise in Teen Beauty Spend

Piper Jaffray reports that beauty spending hit a new high for females at $368 per year, up 18% year-over-year in Spring 2018.1 That’s a huge increase. As we dive into pop culture and what makes our next generation tick, we want to know what’s driving this spike in beauty spend. What do you think is causing our teens to spend more on beauty products, particularly skincare?

Social Media

Social media is the likely culprit, with Generation Z being the first generation to be exposed to social media from their formative years. Social media presents more pressure on teens to look good, and let’s face it, the teen years can be cruel on your skin.

Not only does social media provide an incentive for teens to look their best, but it’s also a significant advertising platform that they’re exposed to by comprehensive content. Three-quarters of US female teens look at YouTube videos for tutorials on new styles and products, according to Mintel. YouTube beauty content surged by 200% between 2016 and 2016, says Pixability, and 47% of the audience of these videos were females between 13-24 years of age.2

YouTube videos give us a unique visual way to learn the art of applying beauty products. Could it be that teens are experiencing a new interest in beauty because it’s a way of expressing their creativity. There is a need to look different in their Snapchat stories and Instagram pics. In some ways, investing in makeup that can applied many different ways is an economical way of presenting yourself differently without having to fork out for a whole new outfit. You can have so much fun with makeup and it can really boost your look for a lot less than other fashion and cosmetic items.

Other Hypotheses

Picture quality is getting better. Could it be that the closer up the photos become the more teens are worrying about the quality of their skin? Teens may actually think skincare is vital to the longevity of their appearance (although we doubt they’re thinking that far ahead).

Perhaps it’s a simple as teens having more money. The global financial crisis is seeing the light of day, albeit unstable, and so teens are investing in their skin simply because acne and other skin problems are more prevalent as a result of hormones in your teen years.

Maybe the reason teens are spending more on beauty is because it’s just the fashion. In the same way that Doc Martens and Activewear have come and gone and come again, perhaps skincare and makeup are the new grunge look. We’re moving out of the ‘natural look’ and into a more dramatic palette. When you’re going for a natural look as a teenager it’s pretty easy to pull off without any makeup at all. To compete with stronger colour schemes you need to actually wear cosmetics.

Fashion spend hasn’t increased. Is the wave of minimalism and fast-fashion message coming through for Gen-Z. The more awareness we experience about the woes of fast-fashion the more consumers are looking to socially conscious and sustainable products. This of course includes beauty, and beauty companies are looking to show they care by investing in sustainable methods.


The reasons for increased beauty spend in teens is all speculation because the statistic has only just broken and we haven’t had time to test it yet. Here’s where you come in. We really want to know why more teens are spending money on beauty but also anyone in general. Please help us out by completing a quick 5 question survey about beauty.

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