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Beauty Report Card: Categories and Brands Graded by Influenster Reviews

Independent brands were among the most buzzed about on Influenster's platform. Kylie Cosmetics' chatter ballooned 8.2 times, while Jeffree Star got 5.6 times more discussion than last year.

Dry shampoos are hot. BB creams are not.

Those are two findings of recently presented data from Influenster, a product discovery and reviews platform. With peer-to-peer reviews propelling beauty purchases, Influenster has a vantage point on both trends that dominated the beauty landscape over the past year, as well as predictions of what is to come.

“As the destination for product reviews, Influenster receives more than one million unsolicited reviews each month,” said Elizabeth Scherle, cofounder and president of Influenster. The company tapped that user-generated content to present at a Beauty Insights Breakfast last month.

Influenster did a deep dive into the chatter of its community of four million members from across the world who offered unsolicited beauty reviews over the past 12 months. The company has access to 29 million reviews, videos and photos as well as question-and-answer posts. Reviews are critical, with 71 percent of Influenster’s base indicating they purchase a product because of a review.

Here are highlights from a category-by-category analysis:

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Makeup: Interest in color cosmetics ignited talk in the makeup segment. Makeup, in fact, was buzzed about 2.4 times more this year than last year, according to Influenster — and that was across drugstore, luxury and indie retail channels.

There was a surge in interest surrounding the brands that social media figures have created. For example, discussions of Kylie Cosmetics increased by 8.2 times and conversations about Jeffree Star products increased by 5.6 times. Indie brands can also be seen as more exciting, exclusive and coveted than brands everyone already knows about. Consumers like these indie brands because they connect with the compelling founder stories, the big focus on color and their strong presence on social media with influencers.

The chat on Influenster was all about facial cosmetics, especially foundation sticks. Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Stick Foundation evoked more than 8,000 conversations over the past year. Also firing up discussion were concealers, highlighters, primers, contouring kits, setting sprays and finishing powders. On a downward spiral, according to conversations, are BB creams, CC creams and tinted moisturizers.

A positive sign for mass brands, according to Influenster’s community, is that its participants like to find mass-market versions of premium products. That played out by a surge in interest in items such as Wet ‘n’ Wild’s MegaGlo Highlighting Powder (which was mentioned in more than 10,000 conversations).

For eye makeup, those who are active on Influenster cited rising interest in palettes, false eyelashes, primers, mascara and brow gels, pencils and powders. Eyeliner however did not enjoy the same increase in interest from consumers. “When we look at the content posted on Influenster, it is not that people no longer want to define their eyes, but that they are using other products such as Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow and false lashes to achieve that look,” said Susanna Goldfinger, marketing director at Influenster.

Lip products sparked more conversations, especially plumpers and liquid lipsticks. Big numbers were put up by Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid lipstick (with more than 35,000 conversations over the past year via Influenster) and NYX Lip Lingerie. Emerging in interest are lip liners and lip scrubs.

Beauty tools: Drugstores are getting more attention in the beauty tool category, driven by chats about brands such as Paris Presents’ Real Techniques. “Real Techniques is a true success story because even though it is not a new brand, it has done everything from crowdsourcing new brush designs to launching makeup sponges in a category first opened up by Beautyblender. This proves that performance- and quality-driven products in beautiful packaging can also win at mass. We see there being a real opportunity for brands to capitalize on bringing expertise in luxury to mass. Consumers want exciting products that are accessible,” said Scherle.

Skin care: Shoppers are talking more about face oils, face mists, facial peels, acne treatments, face masks, toners/astringents, eye creams, serums, night creams and facial cleansers; they are buzzing less about facial moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup removers and after-sun products, based on Influenster posts. Among the brands driving growth, based on its conversations, are Mario Badescu, Tarte, Lush, L’Oréal, Origins and GlamGlow. “We think that there’s an opportunity for drugstore brands to offer deep treatments such as masks and peels. Consumers are already excited about these formats in luxury and indie,” said Goldfinger.

K-Beauty represents a small but growing portion of facial skin care. The top brands driving this growth are TonyMoly, Dr. Jart+ and Missha.

Body skin care: Overall interest in the body skin-care category declined. The segments on the upswing were bath products, body oil and body scrub; and segments on the downswing were cellulite treatments, self-tanner, lotions, bar soaps, spa accessories body washes and tanning oils.

The falloff in overall body-care interest is thought to be tied to a 35 percent decrease in the buzz about products in the drugstore sector. Mass brands that bucked that trend, however, were Shea Moisture and Dr. Teal’s.

“If you look at the generations, Gen X-ers and Y-ers are buzzing less about body-skin-care this year versus last year, but Gen Zers are buzzing more than before, and the Lush Sex Bomb Bath Bomb is the product they’re talking about the most. One hypothesis is that the bathroom is a sanctuary for Gen Z-ers, where they can escape their families and pamper themselves. We think there is an opportunity for more brands to create bath and body products for Gen Z-ers,” said Goldfinger.

Hair care: Without the excitement generated by dry shampoos, the hair-care category would be pretty dull. The Batiste Dry Shampoo chalked up more than 30,000 conversations in 2017 on the Influenster platform. Treatments did show a flicker of life but conditioners are declining. It’s a 10 Miracle Leave In Conditioner was a standout eliciting more than 7,000 conversations over the past year. In hair color, the availability of bold color products gave a lift to in interest in drugstore hair color. Also notable was the buzz generated by Lee Stafford’s Hair Growth Treatment. This single product caused the buzz in hair regrowth category to double in size over the past year. Products Influenster calls ones to watch include Perk Up Dry Shampoo from Amika, IGK LA Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel and John Masters Organics’ Sea Mist Sea Salt Spray with Lavender.

Scherle concluded the presentation noting that the overall beauty buzz is up, driven by facial makeup, and the luxury and indie channels. Hair and skin had more modest increases in buzz focused on treatments within indie and luxury. A few takeaways for brands heading into the New Year, according to Scherle, are to bring expertise and luxury packaging at scale, dress for the shelf and the “gram” and let real people tell your brand story.