Beauty industry booming thanks to social media, experts say

Well-known beauty retailer Sephora is constantly filled with customers. (Photo by Taline Loschiavo/The Sheridan Sun)


Thanks to social media, the beauty industry is not what it was 10 years ago. The industry has evolved, and as a result, so has society’s definition of beauty.

According to Forbes, the beauty industry is worth $445 billion in sales globally. In 2007, the industry was reportedly worth $221 billion, meaning that it took only 10 years for this revenue to double. People are clearly willing to spend a lot of money when to comes to makeup and skincare. This growth in consumerism created a demand for more, and as such, the last few years has seen the launch of many beauty brands, all created and pioneered by entrepreneurial women.

What has largely contributed to this industry is YouTube and Instagram.

Carlene Higgins, a beauty expert and creator of the podcast Breaking Beauty, says that “Self-made influencers and YouTubers have largely replaced beauty editors in terms of delivering beauty brand messaging to consumers. The beauty industry has changed dramatically in a push to target digitally native millennial consumers.”

These social platforms have allowed for more voices to be heard, especially in online reviews.

“Beauty brands are slaves to reviewers,” Higgins says. “An onslaught of initial thumbs down can destroy a new launch.”

Some of these influencers have millions of followers. Makeup tutorials, skincare videos, beauty vlogs are continuing to populate the web, and are increasingly trendy among millennials. Plus, they are able to reach people across the world.

“Instagram has definitely changed the idea of beauty and really allowed artists to share their creative ideas not just on a local scale, but on a global scale. So if a trend starts in Australia, it will be in New York by the end of the week,” says makeup artist Maya Hashmi of ODARA Makeup.

For Jess Kayama, a Canadian beauty blogger, this ability to connect with people in different countries is one of her favourite parts about the beauty community. “I love talking to people that I may never have had the chance to talk to if I hadn’t started this,” she says.

Hashmi asserts that social media has absolutely changed the beauty industry in every single way regarding how products are introduced and sold. She uses Fenty Beauty by Rihanna as an example. The brand, which dropped early last month, has had staggering sales. While much of the anticipation stemmed from its creator, artist Rihanna, its numerous Instagram teasers posted prior to its release added to the hype.

An important aspect of makeup is that it is a form of self-expression, and is used as a tool to build confidence. Kayama, for instance, got into makeup after an eyebrow crisis.

“I got my eyebrows waxed one day, and they waxed them way too thin, so I panicked and literally ran to Shoppers Drug Mart. They ended up recommending this brow product. Then I started doing my brows daily, then foundation, and it slowly grew from there.”

Kayama’s love of makeup soon inspired her to start uploading her makeup products and mini reviews to Instagram. After encouragement from her followers, she launched her blog

A screenshot of Kayama’s instagram.

She says that makeup has the power to empower people. “I’ve heard of different volunteer opportunities where makeup artists will put makeup on cancer patients to help increase their confidence. I think that this is a great example of how the beauty industry can really empower women and make them feel better about themselves.”

Hashmi agrees. It’s the reason she loves her job – she helps women feel beautiful and confident every single day. “I’ve had young girls to older women all sit in my chair and it’s incredible to see how their self-esteem and confidence soars after a makeup application.”

Many would argue that this desire to look a certain way can be attributed to social media. “In this day and age there is so much pressure, especially for younger girls. Especially with Instagram, where you can’t help but see all these Instagram models,” says Kayama.

There is no denying the power that makeup can have. “It really allows a woman to put on her armour for the day and just really take the time to pamper herself and express how she’s feeling,” says Hashmi.

Higgins says women have the power to choose how they face the world. “Makeup has the ability to transform people. It’s a way of being able to choose how you present yourself which ultimately is one step towards actualizing who you are in the face of other people. You can also choose to not wear makeup, which is a statement in itself.”