Those born between 1997 and 2012, officially known as Generation Z, grew up online. They have spent their entire lives googling, watching YouTube, taking selfies and dancing and watching beauty tutorials on TikTok, their main social network. And all the hours invested have their impact. If we compare Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980), which tries to keep the mirror time to a minimum and uses minimalist products designed for working women, with the members of Gen Z, who enjoy never-ending beauty routines, the difference is clear. Their full face sessions involve concealer, foundation, contour, blush, highlighter, lip gloss, powder and setting sprays. They use brushes and sponges, practice techniques like baking and contouring, and know what lip combo is trending.
The fascination with makeup in adolescence as a way to own the transition to adulthood is nothing new. It is a means to express yourself, fit in, look good and rebel, all at the same time. So what has changed? The difference is that all the time spent watching tutorials has provided them with in-depth knowledge of the product and its applications. According to data from the influencer marketing platform Kolsquare, the average age of TikTok users in the United States is between 11 and 24 years old, and they devote an average of 80 minutes a day to it.
“TikTok is a reference for this generation because it has a lot of beauty content generated through short videos that send clear messages in a short time. It favors quick, highly visual tutorials, with product testing, showing finishes and application methods. This generation’s preferences change at the same pace as the trends. Before, they leaned towards matte, opaque skin, with a lot of coverage, thin eyebrows and eyes with dark and shiny shadows. Today, Gen Z takes great care of its skin and looks for subtle makeup that has a natural, luminous effect, but at the same time is very carefully designed to enhance each person’s features. Glow and juicy, hydrated, voluminous lips take on special prominence,” explains María del Carmen Miranda Lagos, beauty expert from Kiko Milano.
The makeup specialists at Kylie Cosmetics agree: “Members of Generation Z are experts in makeup and skincare, they have their own standards and gather information before purchasing or recommending each product. We must remember that Gen Z is not only a consumer of content, but also a generator.” For the brands, this generation represents a challenge because they are informed, demanding customers, not afraid to say what is on their minds and capable of producing the word-of-mouth effect that translates into virality. “To be on TikTok you have to be a dynamic brand, capable of understanding consumer needs and reacting accordingly. And, of course, it is important to share the same codes and values as the TikTok user: equality, respect and sustainability. And I’m not just talking about the message; the format also has to be worked on to develop viral, attractive, desirable content,” explain the Kylie Cosmetics experts.
A product going viral and selling out is a new phenomenon to which all brands are exposed. Just a month ago, Rosalía released a video talking about her lip combo, and she mentioned the iconic Benetint liquid lip blush from Benefit Cosmetics. The consequences? “We did not sell out of the product because when the video was uploaded, we were aware of the phenomenon and refilled the stock at Sephora. The sale that we usually make in an entire month tripled in five days,” says Mariona Morreres, head of communication for the firm. This has also happened with luxury brands like Dior. “Three years ago, Rosy Glow blush and Dior Addict Lip Glow Oil went viral on TikTok and, since then, they are often out of stock. The blush was from a Kylie Jenner tutorial, and people are still crazy about it. Many mothers tell us that they buy it for their daughters, who are true fans of makeup,” says communications director Sylvie Durcudoy.
Since many members of Generation Z do not have independent income, affordable brands and dupes (an affordable product that is very similar to a high-end one) are a hit in that age group. “Millennials are more reluctant to use cosmetics, sometimes out of laziness, while zoomers go for everything and use many products. Of course, due to their economic status, younger people consume lower-priced products,” says Estefanía Nieto, technical director of Medik8. And Gen Z looks for proven-quality, low-cost products by analyzing thousands of TikTok reviews.
Is this a fleeting fashion? Will zoomers stop devoting so much time to makeup and opt for shorter routines when they grow older? “Could be. Gen Z invests a lot in skincare and elaborate makeup. They use more instruments to be able to adapt to each product and perfect each part of the face, and they are more skillful because they copy the tutorials they see. They may take this to their future. But they may also simplify their routines when they enter into daily dynamics that take up more time, such as work and so on. Furthermore, the makeup trend is focused on achieving simple, refined looks,” says David Deibis, official makeup artist at Perricone MD.
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