Last month, with news of some restrictions easing, it seemed everyone started searching for their staple beauty items once more and search volumes for some of the most popular products started to grow.
From the most popular primer, through to this month’s must-have eye shadow, in this latest ‘Foundation Finds’ article, we explore the big brands dominating search in March, as well as some of the most favourite skincare brands topping SERPs this month*.
Our beauty routine below is based on the top five most-searched products for March 2021, starting with the UK’s most popular beauty base layer…
The Most Searched for Primers in March
As the lockdown restrictions begin to lift, it’s apparent more people want to up their skincare and beauty game once more and, with over 5,400 searches made in the last month alone, ‘Smashbox Primer’ is the product of the moment for starting off our make-up routine.
Pitched as the brand’s most iconic product to date since launching in 1996, Smashbox’s ‘Photo finish’ primer has earned not only its own landing page but the brand has created a whole section on its website dedicated to its most popular item.
And, it’s no surprise this must-have beauty item has become a hit with beauty vloggers and influencers alike, as the hashtag alone on Instagram has over 40,000 posts associated with it to date.
Pitched as a ‘hybrid of your last skincare product and first make-up item’, the cruelty-free, vegan primer had 1,000 more searches than the next most searched primer; The Ordinary high-spreadability which is described as a serum-meets-primer product.
Primers have had a bit of a revival in recent years, with many beauty industry experts hailing them as essential for starting any good beauty routine. And, despite the legacy many beauty brands have, it would appear product reviews and affordable prices have a bigger impact on overall popularity, with younger brands The Ordinary and Elf proving a hit with beauty consumers over well-established brands such as YSL.
The next step in any good beauty regime is the foundation, which for spring 2021 sees the return of a beauty vlogger’s favourite…
The Most Searched for Foundations in March
Described by many as a ‘cult beauty product’, NARS foundation had over 40,000 searches in March alone, with consumers looking for the make-up item of the moment. NARS’ range of foundations has been a permanent product of focus for make-up bags everywhere as its lightweight foundation makes it the perfect Spring item for stepping out of lockdown.
It’s not the first time NARS has enjoyed the spotlight either, as Australian beauty retailer Mecca declared it the brand’s best selling foundation of 2019. The fitting title ‘best-seller’ has once again proved to be true for NARS as 2021 becomes a revival year for this make-up bag essential, as Vogue once more lists it as the best foundation for 2021.
Beauty consumers are actively searching for this foundation more than double compared to the next popular product; Charlotte Tilbury, proving it’s reputation is a hard one to beat.
With over 5 million tags on Instagram, the #NARS signature hashtag continues to gain momentum as make-up lovers everywhere share their favourite NARS products. The overwhelming popularity of this foundation isn’t going anywhere either as it continues to make top product lists and feature in vloggers’ ‘must-haves’ posts.
Moving onto the next product, concealer, which sees another cult-classic return for NARS…
The Most Searched for Concealers in March
Once again, this New York make-up brand is streets ahead when it comes to search volume and consumer demand. With nearly 5,000 more searches than household classic Maybelline’s concealer, NARS are once again dominating consumer interest for March 2021.
As the world of cosmetics and beauty brands is heavily driven by reviews from influencers and other beauty product users, it may not come as a surprise to learn that a Reddit thread sharing the best and worst concealers propelled the NARS concealer into the spotlight.
Nearly every beauty review in the thread claimed it was their favourite ‘fail-safe’ product, with users around the world sharing collective praises for this humble product.
As the beauty industry relies heavily on consumer reviews and product feedback, this is another huge win for the brand, as Reddit has a global reach and could help influence millions of consumers.
The search trends for concealers above also suggest, whilst there is still interest for the more classic favourites by household brand Maybelline, the volumes don’t come close to the huge interest NARS has gained in recent years.
The top concealer brands are a real mix of household classics and emerging e-commerce brands, which indicates the landscape for UK make-up consumers isn’t reliant on the more traditional, pre-pandemic tester approach in-store.
Maybelline may be a staple brand in many make-up bags, but it’s clear the brands that are actively present across social platforms and rank well in best-of online round-ups, make much bigger waves overall.
The Most Searched for Highlighters in March
Starting off as a trade secret in the world of theatre, the recent rise in highlighting as a make-up trend can be placed firmly at the door of the queen of contouring; Kim Kardashian. After all, who doesn’t want a healthy glow?
Despite being the first beauty brand to launch a high street version; Strobe Cream by MAC doesn’t make the top five list in searches for March 2021, being pipped to the post by Becca Cosmetics. Launched in 2001, Australian brand Becca Cosmetics has become renowned for its highlighter products, beating MAC as the most searched highlighter for March.
Younger brands like Fenty are using their huge presence on platforms like Instagram to help capture consumer interest. Whilst search for highlighter products have steadily grown, consumers have consistently searched for blusher as it remains a make-up bag staple despite the rising interest in a bronzed glow.
So, if you’re not so keen on giving contour a whirl, the next best product for adding a little colour to your make-up bag is…
The Most Searched for Blushers in March
As a well-established product for any make-up bag, the search trends for blushers are significantly higher than the newer highlighter and one brand that stands out once more is NARS. Once again, NARS can enjoy nearly twice the amount of searches for its blusher in March, compared to the next most popular brand; Charlotte Tilbury.
Once again, NARS has won the hearts – and purses – of beauty consumers and reviewers alike, gaining a solid reputation online via a heady mix of reviews, product tests and good old recommendations from celebrities such as Meghan Markle and the Hadid sisters. Many trusted beauty bloggers put the success of Francois Nars down to his ‘frustrated make-up artist’ approach to creating stand out products that didn’t exist previously.
Beauty brands will have to work twice as hard to beat a reputation such as NARS, with the number of endorsements from trusted key figures in the media the brand has gained – the search volumes speak for themselves.
Once you’ve got a base coverage, it’s time to focus attention on your eyes and lashes with one of the most popular make-up items of all time; the humble mascara.
The Most Searched for Eye Make-up Products in March
As lockdown looks start to evolve from focusing on eye make-up seen over masks, we expected to see a dip in search for related make-up products such as eye shadows, eyeliners and eyebrow pencils. However, the search volumes for eyeliner were relatively low, with NYX Cosmetics coming up top. The American-based professional make-up company typically champions it’s vegan and cruelty-free products, often being compared to cult classic MAC for creating hard-working and popular make-up products.
NYX Cosmetics is streets ahead in search, with 500 more a month, compared to L’Oreal brands Maybelline and Rimmel who have both got very established reputations for creating affordable mascaras and eye make-up products too.
A growing trend over the last few years within the beauty industry has been eyeshadow palettes; offering a selection of your favourite brand colours in one! And this has definitely been reflected in search volumes for March.
Launched in 2008, Morphe Cosmetics, has rapidly grown its small beginnings as an affordable brush brand to the makeup brand of a generation—the Instagram generation. It comes as no surprise that Morphe’s jaw-dropping eyeshadow palettes are the most popular. From the striking eyeshadow pigments, to blendable coverage and countless collaborations with some of the world’s biggest beauty gurus, Morphe has become an industry icon in eyeshadows.
Their success has undoubtedly come from the enormous social following derived from having affordable products and leveraging influencers, some of whom have over 10m followers – James Charles has a whopping 27.1m followers on Instagram – giving Morphe’s products reach to a giant audience.
With the same level of search, eyebrow products haven’t dwindled in interest or search – despite the pandemic, another cult classic make-up brand, Benefit, dominates the search once more. Known for its focus on brows and lashes, it’s no surprise the American beauty brand is still reigning champion as consumers look for the product with a solid reputation.
Benefit is so confident in its eyebrow products, the brand set up brow bars in department stores nationwide, selling the same products its make-up artists use.
The next step on from eyeliner and eyebrows is of course, mascara, where once again the same brand with a solid reputation for its products dominates search for March…
The Most Searched for Mascaras in March
Unlike the previously lower volumes for highlighter and blushers, mascara sees a month-on-month trend of thousands of searches as consumers actively look for the next ‘it’ product to try. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the more popular mascaras for March were makebag staples; Benefit and Maybelline.
Both brands are well-established within the beauty industry and have previously gained a reputation for reliable and hard-working mascara products respectively. Maybelline mascaras have an almost nostalgic vibe for UK consumers in particular, as the brand has had a consistent presence in the market for decades. Similarly, American Cosmetics company, Benefit has a solid reputation for creating crowd-pleasing, affordable mascaras.
The search volumes also support our assumptions that consumers are mainly driven by established reputations, as well as more affordable items, compared to the higher price tags of Lancome and Dior mascaras.
If there’s one make-up bag essential that everyone can agree on, it’s lipstick – in all shades – which brings us onto the most searched lipstick brands for March.
Historically, during periods of cultural and economic hardship, lipstick seems to weather the storm and sales typically boom with demands for red shades seeing significant growth. However, during a health pandemic that saw the world wearing masks everywhere, it would be sensible to assume searches for lipsticks would have fallen…
The Most Searched for Lipsticks in March
True to form, people are still searching for lipsticks in their thousands and March 2021 was no exception with a cult brand proving their reputation is still going strong. MAC cosmetics have gained a solid and unrivalled reputation for their lipsticks and it’s clear from the search volumes alone they’re not going anywhere!
Relatively new to the industry, Charlotte Tilbury lipstick is the second most popular term consumers are looking for – by nearly half compared to the next brand Huda. Whilst they’ve still got a long way to go to beat MAC, according to Good Housekeeping, Pillow Talk by Charlotte Tilbury (a nude shade lipstick) sells every two minutes which is an incredible statistic for a new brand, and only increases interest from consumers who are actively searching online for the most popular products to invest in.
Once you’ve got the all-important lip shade right, it’s time to set it all in place.
Traditionally, powders have been used to help keep products in place but, with the make-up industry constantly evolving, there’s a hip new product in town…
The Most Searched for Setting Powders and Sprays in March
As we’ve touched on, the search volumes for setting powders are surprisingly low, considering it’s a make-up bag staple – just as foundation and mascara are – yet only hundreds of searches for this traditional product are made on average each month.
Setting powder is traditionally used as a product to help give a matte finish to a look and American beauty brand Laura Mercier has become well-known for it’s cult mineral powder. Beauty lovers everywhere have been searching for their best-known powders and with the volumes in the thousands, other brands have their work cut out to catch up with this established beauty brand.
In comparison, its newer, funkier sister, setting spray saw search volumes reach the thousands. So, there’s a clear shift in what consumers want for 2021 as more people are searching for a setting spray instead of a classic powder. Arguably, this is also driven by younger generations having more interest in new innovative beauty products.
Supporting this shift in age is the most popular brand, Urban Decay, which arguably appeals to a much younger audience, using its social platforms to help strengthen its brand awareness. Labelled its bestseller on the homepage, the ‘All night’ setting spray is fast becoming a cult product for beauty lovers.
What Does The Future of Search Look Like?
It’s clear that even after a year ‘off’, make-up is still in huge demand and perhaps more surprising is the trend of up and coming brands beating the more established in search.
Cult products such as concealers and setting sprays are increasingly in demand thanks to social media platforms and beauty vloggers sharing their products in action. And, the continual rise of beauty brands using social media and influencer marketing to share product reviews will also help emerging and newer cosmetics companies make waves within the industry.
In an ever-growing industry, beauty brands will continue to compete with both the well-established reputations of household names such as L’Oreal and YSL, and fresh, new brands such as Elf Cosmetics and Fenty Beauty.
So, if you would like some help in making your beauty brand compete with the best of them on SERPs, we’re here to help. We’re beauty brand growth experts after all. Get in touch with our friendly team to learn about market insights, consumer trends, and more.
*The search data analysed, on average, 270 brands in each section.