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A Look Back at Beauty in 2022: Ulta Beauty’s Most-loved Products, Who Won TikTok and More

Here, the products and brands that garnered the most momentum, as well as which beauty players successfully leveraged their TikTok and Instagram presences.

Beauty went big in 2022. 

For the first time, prestige beauty sales surpassed pre-pandemic 2019 levels, growing to $6 billion for the third quarter, according to The NPD Group. The mass market, too, saw steady increases across categories all year, with the exception of facial skin care sales, which dipped during the third quarter, per NielsenIQ. 

Overall, though, looking through year-end data, what emerges is a picture of an evolving landscape in terms of social media strategies and category shifts. While only time will tell what 2023 has in store for beauty — and whether a comedown looms — here’s a snapshot of some of the industry’s key moments this year. 

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Brands Winning on Instagram vs. TikTok

In 2022, the polarity between a winning TikTok formula and a winning Instagram formula became increasingly apparent. As data from Traackr makes clear, content was king.

Brands delved deep into TikTok — which just three years ago, was basically No Man’s Land — while continuing to advance their Instagram strategies.

The endeavor has proven to be a balancing act.

“Instagram is like a soap box: you have a megaphone to announce things, but your audience can’t deeply engage or perpetuate the message,” said Evy Lyons, chief marketing officer at Traackr. “Meanwhile, every piece of content on TikTok has the real potential to generate a domino effect, because TikTok embraces derivatives.”

In large part due to the platforms’ inherently different ecosystems, their respective brand leaderboards look markedly different.

Brand Vitality Score, or VIT, is Traackr’s proprietary metric to measure the reach, engagement and quality of a brand’s influencer content, in order to assess how a brand’s investment in such content correlates to its sales performance. 

Here, Traackr’s breakdown of the year’s winning brands on Instagram and TikTok, respectively, ranked by brand VIT.

Instagram: 

  1. Kylie Cosmetics: 706k
  2. Rare Beauty: 300k
  3. R.e.m. Beauty: 245k
  4. Makeup by Mario: 218k
  5. Huda Beauty: 215k
  6. Fenty Beauty: 210k
  7. Skkn: 173k
  8. Charlotte Tilbury: 171k
  9. Colourpop: 168k
  10. Lancôme: 153k

TikTok: 

  1. L’Oréal Paris: 203k
  2. Kylie Cosmetics: 198k
  3. Maybelline New York: 125k
  4. Neutrogena: 125k
  5. Rare Beauty: 117k
  6. Dyson: 102k
  7. Charlotte Tilbury: 96k
  8. Fenty Beauty: 80.8k
  9. Dove: 80.5k
  10. Cerave: 79.5k

Beauty Brands’ TikTok Engagement Rates, Ranked 

TikTok’s average engagement rate is 10 times that of Instagram’s.

In its biannual TikTok Benchmarks Report, social media marketing software company Dash Hudson reported that Instagram feed and Reels net a collective 0.49 percent engagement rate, while TikTok garners a 5.8 percent average engagement rate.

Equally as impressive is Dash Hudson’s finding that even as a brand’s TikTok following grows, its engagement rates usually remain on the incline, which contrasts to other channels, where the opposite often proves true.

Here, Dash Hudson’s ranking of beauty brands’ engagement rates in 2022, categorized by brand TikTok following size. 

Top-performing Growing Beauty Brands (10k to 100k followers)

  1. Ouai: 15 percent
  2. Dermalogica: 11.6 percent
  3. Revlon: 9.4 percent
  4. Clinique: 8.2 percent
  5. Mario Badescu Skincare: 6.4 percent

Top-performing Established Beauty brands (100k to 500k followers)

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  1. Anastasia Beverly Hills: 8.4 percent
  2. Charlotte Tilbury: 8.4 percent
  3. Drunk Elephant: 7.4 percent
  4. NARS Cosmetics: 6.8 percent
  5. Laneige U.S.: 6 percent

Top-performing Large Beauty Brands (500k+ followers)

  1. Florence by Mills: 15.4 percent
  2. Eos: 14.2 percent
  3. Fenty Beauty: 11.4 percent
  4. Starface: 11.1 percent
  5. Rare Beauty: 10.2 percent

Ulta Beauty’s Most-loved Items of 2022

Under the leadership of chief executive officer Dave Kimbell, Ulta Beauty has been flying high.

This year, it unveiled a new store layout, inked a slew of major partnerships — including one with Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty — and in the third quarter, saw a 17.2 percent sales increase to $2.3 billion, surpassing Wall Street estimates.

It’s been a landmark year for the retailer, which forecasts net sales for fiscal 2022 to be between $9.65 billion and $9.75 billion.

Here, a look at the most-loved (or wish-listed) products on Ulta Beauty’s website that helped fuel its success.

Cosmetics:

  1. Fenty Beauty Poutsicle Hydrating Lip Stain
  2. MAC Cosmetics Macstack Mascara Superstack
  3. Tarte Cosmetics Maracuja Juicy Lip Plumping Gloss
  4. Youthforia BYO Blush Color Changing Blush Oil
  5. E.l.f. Cosmetics Power Grip Primer
  6. Ulta Beauty Collection Juice Infused Lip Oil

Skin and Body Care:

  1. Peter Thomas Roth Instant Firmx Eye Temporary Eye Tightener
  2. Beautystat Universal C Skin Refiner
  3. Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner
  4. Osea Undaria Algae Body Oil
  5. The Ordinary Multi-peptide Lash and Brow Serum
  6. Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch
  7. Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
  8. Drunk Elephant The Littles Kit

Hair Care: 

  1. Divi Scalp Serum 
  2. Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector
  3. Dyson Airwrap

Fragrance:

  1. Billie Eilish Eau de Parfum
  2. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Eau de Parfum

Spate’s Top-growing Makeup Brands of 2022

Makeup made a comeback in 2022. Here, a look at which makeup brands saw the highest increases in consumer interest versus last year, compared to those that saw the most significant positive changes in average monthly searches in 2022, according to data from Spate.

Most significant year-over-year growth in U.S. Google searches in 2022: 

  1. R.e.m Beauty: +1,426.6 percent
  2. Neogen: +652.7 percent
  3. Dibs Beauty: +467.4 percent
  4. BreyleeL +377 percent
  5. Salon Perfect: +346.7 percent
  6. Lash Ease: +229.3 percent
  7. Makeup by Mario: +211.4 percent
  8. Wonderskin: +198.1 percent
  9. Ogee: +194.1 percent
  10. Gigi Gorgeous: +192.3 percent

Most significant positive change in average monthly search volume this year:

  1. Charlotte Tilbury: +310k
  2. Clinique: +150.9k
  3. MAC Cosmetics: +146k
  4. Fenty Beauty: +122.1k
  5. Nars: +114.6k
  6. Too Faced: +72.9k
  7. E.l.f. Cosmetics: +63.9k
  8. Rare Beauty: +61.4k
  9. Seint: +58.8k
  10. Estée Lauder: +57.8k