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French Beauty: Pandemic Makeup Trends and Consumer Segmentation


For as long as we can remember, the je ne sais quoi of French beauty has been an imperfectly perfect ‘no makeup’ makeup look and striking red lips. Beauty brands, fashion houses, magazines, and pop culture references have all contributed to this narrative, and French beauty is seen as minimal, effortless, and iconic.


With the onset of the pandemic and the need to wear protective masks, how have French makeup trends evolved? To quench our curiosity, we extracted 700 recent social media posts about makeup from Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter users in France. We also identified 300 keywords to act as search proxies for consumer interest and purchase intent in an effort to understand the various consumer segments and their preferences.


Pandemic makeup trends at a glance

With the lips and cheeks no longer visible, the focus of makeup lovers has shifted to other facial features. The interest in eye makeup has significantly increased over the last year and continues to grow rapidly. It has the highest search volume (67%) amongst the various makeup categories. In contrast, search interest in lips is decreasing, while interest in face makeup like foundation and blush is dormant.


Based on search volume and growth, we analyzed consumer interests in makeup trends, and found that they broadly fall under four categories:


1. Bright and Brazen


This category is characterized by experimental, colourful, glammed up eye-makeup. It is the largest makeup trend category with the highest search volume (47%) and growth rate (25%). The consumers who ascribe to this are seeking bold and brightly pigmented makeup products inspired by trending videos on TikTok and Instagram. These trends provide experimental playtime, artistic expression, and help them stand out from the crowd.


Photo by Jamie Fenn on Unsplash

2. Self-Acceptance Seekers


This consumer interest category is waning but currently constitutes 24% of search volume. Those who ascribe to this like their skin in its natural form with all its imperfections. They seek to embrace authenticity, encourage self-love, and lean towards nourishing facial care products over makeup.


3. Neutral Chic


Neutral Chic makeup interest constitutes 15% of search volume but has high growth. Consumers are increasingly opting for an easy, efficient, and minimal look given pandemic-induced lockdowns, work-from-home, and a shift in priorities. They want to keep things simple and stick to the bare minimum makeup so that they can focus their time and energy on other things.


4. Elegance in Simplicity


This category is also low in search volume (14%) but has high growth. Consumers wish to accentuate one feature, such as the eyes or lips, while applying soft, muted colours to the rest of their face. With masks covering the French signature red lips, consumers are doubling down on a fierce cat eye.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

This category of consumers seek to look fleek at all times, making a subtle statement in the endeavour to feel accepted, appreciated, and adored.



How can makeup brands cater to these trends?


Makeup brands can capitalize on the established and emerging trends by strategically communicating to each of the makeup trend categories and consumer segments.


Multi-coloured eyeshadow palette offerings will appeal to the ‘Bright and Brazen.’ The ‘Natural Chic’ category can be targeted with a ‘bare essentials’ makeup bundle consisting of products requiring minimal time and effort. Eye makeup products can be highlighted to the ‘Elegance in Simplicity’ category so that they can get the perfect eye look.


While on the surface it may appear that the pandemic has drastically changed makeup trends and preferences, the French beauty aesthetic fundamentally remains the same: it is still minimal, chic, and seemingly effortless. Just the focus has shifted from the signature red lips to what’s most visible: the eyes. Perhaps it’s a good time to reimagine popular conceptions and representation of French beauty?



Write to us at [email protected] to read the full report on pandemic makeup trends.



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