What make-up means to Gen Z: 3 key insights – part 1


Frankie Swaine

Associate Director, New York

The first in our series on key insights into Gen Z’s relationship with make-up, cosmetics, and beauty: nothing in the category is as diverse as Gen Z themselves.

The first in our series on key insights into Gen Z’s relationship with make-up, cosmetics, and beauty, we’ll take a look at how brands can connect with consumers more deeply, empower them, and give them confidence and inspiration to broaden their beauty repertoire.

Insight 1: Nothing in the category is as diverse as Gen Z themselves

Gen Z is the most ethnically diverse and gender fluid generation in the world. They don’t see being different as a barrier, but as an opportunity. From skin color to sexual orientation, Gen Zs relish their differences and unapologetically assert themselves as exactly the type of person they want to be.

Indeed, this age of selfies and Snapchat offers up a plethora of platforms for self-expression – and the importance of managing and controlling appearance and persona is bigger than ever. For this generation, make-up offers a way to express themselves and show their ‘best face’ to the world.


Color is key to facilitating self-expression, and our consumers are excited by the wide ranges of bright colors being offered by brands like Kat Von D, Urban Decay, Jeffree Star, and MAC. The guys we spoke to are especially drawn to bold, non-traditional colors, which allow them to explore different personas and fully express their moods. Bright colors and creative looks offer a unique sense of freedom from needing to conform or create flawless ‘everyday’ looks; using bold colors is all about nonconformity.

Popular beauty vloggers @makeupbyjaack, @mannymua, and @makeupbymichaelfinch

For Gen Z, however, color within the cosmetics category is not only about ‘color pop’, but also about skin tone. Many of the consumers we spoke to shared their struggles to find make-up that felt like it was actually made for them – especially when it comes to skin-color-dependent products like foundations, primer, concealer, lipsticks, and blush.

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As a result, many Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) consumers must look beyond the obvious and put in much more work to find products that work for them. One of our respondents of Indian origin reported that she must search for topics like “foundation routine for brown skinned girls” to find out about products that she can feel confident using. And one of our African-American respondents told us that she feels she can’t buy skin make-up off the shelf, but must buy several shades and then create her own blend to match her skin tone.

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As migration and an increase in mixed-race consumers create a continually shifting population, there is a huge opportunity for cosmetics brands to step up and cater to the diverse faces of Gen Z.

If you’d like to learn more about any of these insightsget in touch with our New York office.