It’s now two years on from the initial launch of the Cosmetify Index, ranking the world’s biggest beauty brands on factors such as their social reach and engagement, so how does the beauty landscape look in 2021?
We’ve taken a look at the biggest brands in the world, which have been on the rise in the last twelve months, as well as who are the hottest beauty influencers in 2021.
To begin, we’ve taken a look at the 100 most searched beauty brands in the world, ranking them on: Instagram followers, Instagram engagement, Instagram mentions, Google search volume, and change in search volume.
The top three brands in beauty remain unchanged, but there are still plenty of interesting updates to the index.
Huda Beauty has consistently taken top spot in our ranking, which is little surprise when you see the numbers, with 49.5 million followers on Insta and 29.5 million hashtag mentions too. Founder Huda Kattan is a social media sensation and has truly lived the dream, going from starting out as a budding influencer to growing one of the biggest brands in the game.
Canadian brand M·A·C climbed one place, to second in our ranking, largely due to an impressive Insta following of 24.2m. M·A·C is one of the biggest names in beauty and was also one of the most talked-about brands on social media, with 20.55 million hashtag mentions.
Much like Huda Beauty, Anastasia Beverly Hills was built from the ground up by its visionary founder, Anastasia Soare, and is now amongst the very best in the business, with over 25 million people posting about their products on social media.
Avon Products is one of the biggest beauty companies in the world and is known for its business model of using door-to-door salespeople and brochures to sell its products. Avon is now sold in over 100 countries around the world, with over 6.4 million representatives.
The Body Shop
The Body Shop drops from fourth to fifth in the rankings but remains the most searched beauty brand in the world, with just under 38 million Google searches in the last twelve months.
As we’ve seen in previous versions of the index, Yves Rocher is a huge brand globally, especially throughout Europe, although its search volume has dropped in comparison to previous years.
Florence by Mills is the creation of Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown and dropped out of the top five for this edition of the index, down to seventh. Once again, the brand has by far the highest level of social engagement, with an engagement rate of 2.31% although this has steadily been on the decline since the first edition of the index which launched around the same time as the brand.
Making the top ten for the first time is Lush, known for its creams, soaps, shampoos, lotions, moisturizers, and more. One of the big selling points for Lush’s customers is the fact that all of its products are vegetarian-friendly, with around 85% also being suitable for vegans, with almost 1,000 stores in around 50 countries around the world.
Another newbie to the index is Oriflame, a Swedish-Swiss beauty and personal care company that is huge in Europe. Predominantly operating online, Oriflame has around 6,000 employees and over 1,000 products.
Making her way back into the top ten with Kylie Cosmetics is Kylie Jenner. Kylie Cosmetics enjoyed something of a relaunch in 2021, with all-new products, formulas and packaging, with the brand’s website temporarily crashing under all of the demand.
We also refreshed our look at 50 of the world’s most influential beauty influencers, which looks not just at the follower counts of our favorite Insta and YouTube beauty gurus, but also how much money they could potentially be earning from their sponsored posts.
James Charles rises to top spot on our list of the hottest beauty influencers in the world, with almost identical followings on YouTube and Instagram (24.5 million and 24.4 respectively), for a combined total of just shy of 49 million, despite a couple of high profile controversies in the last year.
Since we last ran the Cosmetify Index just a few months ago, Bretman Rock has steadily seen his followers grow, with 17.8 million followers on Instagram alone. 2021 was a big year for Bretman too, starring in his own reality TV show, winning “Breakthrough Social Star” at the MTV Movie and TV Awards, and becoming the first openly gay man to appear on the cover of Playboy.
Mariand Castrejón Castañeda is better known as Yuya and is one of the biggest beauty vloggers and YouTubers in Mexico, with a combined Insta and YouTube following of 41.6 million people. However, the last year has seen her channel take a slightly different direction as she chronicles her pregnancy with her first child.
Next up, we also like to take a closer look at which beauty brands have seen the biggest increase in interest over the last twelve months.
2021 saw searches on the rise for a lot of brands as the sector started to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
With a huge search increase of over 5,000%, the clear winner here was the long-awaited beauty line from Jennifer Lopez, JLo Beauty. The line was announced in 2020 so had a modest search volume of 20,900, but after being released to the world in 2021 that exploded to 1.1 million searches in the last twelve months.
Mallows Beauty only launched in February 2020 and received a total of 1,670 Google searches between October 2019 and September 2020, but flashforward twelve months and searches have grown by an incredible 2,846%. The success of the brand has surpassed the expectations of even owner Laura Mallows herself, who set a target of £50,000 turnover in the business’s first year, before smashing that target within just the first month!
Another brand that has enjoyed a great year is Le Prunier, a facial oil with a waitlist of tens of thousands of people. Sustainably made from the pits of plums, Le Prunier helps to seal cracks in your skin barrier and maintain moisture, and enjoyed a big boost in popularity when it was featured on one of Chriss Teigen’s Instagram Live sessions.
- 72.2% decrease
One brand that frequently featured in the top 100 of previous editions of the Cosmetify Index but just missed out this year is Jeffree Star Cosmetics, and that’s because it didn’t quite make the cut of the 100 most searched brands, due to a 72% decrease over the last twelve months.
- 71.6% decrease
Just behind Jeffree Star Cosmetics when it comes to an annual decrease in searches was Kat Von D Beauty, although not necessarily due to a drop in interest in the brand. That’s because in March, Kat Von D herself sold her shares in the brand, and it rebranded to KVD Vegan Beauty, so searches for its original name are starting to tail off.
- 67% decrease
In previous editions of the index, we saw brands offering products such as hand sanitizer see an incredible increase in searches as we all took hygiene more seriously due to the pandemic, so it’s only natural that we now start to see interest in some of those brands decline too. That was the case with Clinell, who produce antimicrobial hand wipes and saw searches drop by 67%.
49.5m Instagram followers
Probably the least surprising aspect of the Cosmetify Index at this stage is that Huda Beauty is by far the most followed beauty brand on Instagram. At the latest count, the brand had over 49.5 million followers, steadily closing on on the 50 million mark after adding around 1.5 million new followers since the last edition of the index.
25.4m Instagram followers
It stands to reason that one of the most-followed people on social media is at the helm of one of the most followed beauty brands, with Kylie Cosmetics just edging out M·A·C in terms of Insta followers. Kylie herself has an incredible 282 million followers on the platform, so her brand’s impressive following isn’t even 10% of her own!
24.2m Instagram followers
In third place in terms of social following is M·A·C Cosmetics, with 24.2 million. M·A·C is one of the biggest cosmetics brands in the world with a social following to match and while it was initially created with professional makeup artists in mind, its mass appeal nowadays is clear to see.
Huda also takes the crown when it comes to the highest number of hashtag mentions on Instagram, with over 29.5 million people posting about Huda and her products. That’s an increase of about 2.5 million from last year.
While Huda Beauty may take the top spot in terms of tagged posts, it’s not too far ahead, with Anastasia Beverly Hills having been tagged around 25.5 million times. Anastasia Beverly Hills started out as a smaller ‘indie’ brand but was propelled to the big time largely due to its excellent use of social media marketing.
As was the case with social followers, M·A·C Cosmetics was the third highest-ranking brand for its number of tagged posts on Instagram, with 20.55 million.
Florence by Mills has had an incredibly high social media engagement rate in each edition of the Cosmetify Index, and while that number has steadily dropped from around 7% in the first edition of the index to 2.31% this time around as the initial hype from the brand’s launch has potentially died down a little, that’s still a very impressive level of engagement for a big brand, especially one with 2.5 million followers.
RoC is a much smaller brand, with just 118,000 followers on social media, but it’s often these smaller accounts that command higher engagement rates, with fewer fake followers and bots amongst their followings.
The brand with the third-highest engagement rate on Instagram is Glossier, at 0.89%. Glossier provide intuitive, uncomplicated skincare and beauty products in a narrow and focused range of around 40 products.
One of the areas where we saw the biggest change in this edition of the Cosmetify Index was our look at each country’s favorite beauty brand.
While in previous years, the picture has largely been dominated by Yves Rocher, the addition of Avon and Oriflame made for a much more varied picture this year.
Other popular brands around the world included the Body Shop and Rituals and we once again saw a few brands which clearly have a strong presence in their home country, such as DHC in Japan, Fenty Beauty and Juvia’s Place in the Caribbean, Innisfree in South Korea, and Madara Cosmetics in Latvia.
With the beauty industry having a large carbon footprint, we also wanted to highlight some of the sustainable brands that our users at Cosmetify have been loving the most in the past three months, as more and more of us make a conscious effort to reduce our impact on the planet, especially when it comes to our beauty routines.
REN is a clean skincare brand that strives to provide sustainable and cruelty-free products and pledged in 2018 to become completely ‘zero waste’ by the end of 2021, meaning they’ll only use recycled, recyclable, or reusable packaging. They also recently launched the #WeAreAllies sustainability initiative alongside other brands such as Caudalie and Herbivore.
Kiehl’s has been around for over 150 years but they’re still looking towards the future, with their two sustainability schemes. Through Kiehl’s Does, the brand aims to generate less waste and emissions through its ingredients and packaging, while Kiehl’s Gives sees them giving back to charitable organisations and initiatives.
Aveda has been leading the way in sustainability for some time and was the first beauty company to use 100% post-consumer recycled PET packaging. Today around 85% of their bottles and jars are made using the likes of old milk jugs and plastic drinks bottles.
After being our most popular sustainable brand last year, Origins drops to fourth for 2021. They’ve pioneered steps towards clean skincare, including research into plant science and skin biology, to identify the very best natural ingredients to create their formulas.
As the name suggests, Honest Beauty is all about doing good. Jessica Alba’s company started out inspired to create baby products free of petrochemicals and synthetic fragrances and that approach has been carried over into the beauty brand too, which is free of parabens, phthalates, petrolatum, sulfates and chemical sunscreens.
We also took a look at which were the most popular beauty products that Cosmetify users have been searching for in 2021.
The most searched product was Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter, followed by The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution.