What Is The World's Most Popular Beauty Brand?

Often dubbed as a "recession-proof" industry, the business of beauty is a big one. Per GlobeNewswire, the global "color cosmetics" market alone is expected to grow by approximately 94.49 billion USD from now until 2029. These days, new makeup companies are popping up frequently, especially with the popularity of smaller indie makeup brands (via Forbes). With all of the indie brands out there, alongside celebrity-founded makeup lines and established beauty companies, the possibilities are endless. However, with so many choices, picking between sticking with your tried-and-true lipstick or trying a new brand out may not be an easy decision to make.

It's no wonder how important brand loyalty can be as a factor in determining a beauty company's financial forecast (per Corra Research). A brand with popular makeup products can stand the test of time and continue to compete with new players as they emerge. Certain makeup brands have successfully homed in on this strategy and continue to dominate Google Search trends.

Tajmeeli, an educational resource with information on cosmetic procedures, written by Arab medical professionals, compiled data from Google Trends on the most searched beauty brands. According to Tajmeeli, the team put together a list of well-known makeup companies and ranked them in "search interest" based on the data from Google Trends, on a scale from 0 to 100, in which 100 was the most searched. The research revealed interesting results that are as eye-opening as your holy grail mascara.

L'Oreal dominates in the global cosmetics market

King Francois I who led as the monarch of France from 1515 to 1547, once said, "Paris isn't a city. It's a world." L'Oreal Paris proves this as the world's most popular beauty brand, per Premium Beauty News. Additionally, L'Oreal Paris is also the "most searched" beauty brand in Asia, Europe, and South America — dominating in 25 countries (via Tajmeeli). A factor behind the popularity of L'Oreal Paris may be due to their hair care and color lines.

In fact, L'Oreal was founded by chemist Eugène Schueller in 1909 who concocted and sold hair dye formulations to Parisian hairdressers. The rest is history, with L'Oreal later adding the cosmetic line L'Oreal Paris, as well as acquiring other brands under their umbrella.

According to Cosmetics Technology, L'Oreal continues its reign as the world's top cosmetics company, even after initially facing losses during the pandemic. The company rebounded and saw a 62% increase in e-commerce sales at the end of 2020. Statista listed L'Oreal Paris itself as the top cosmetic brand in the world in a 2022 report, valued at 11.22 billion USD.

Brand Finance, which analyzes the brand value of companies in various industries, recently reported a strong outlook for L'Oreal as the top cosmetics brand and cited L'Oreal Paris as the group's leading sub-brand. Brand Finance told Global Cosmetics News, L'Oreal's ability to "innovate and acquire complementary brands that build upon its significant history, value, and tradition," is the reason behind the company's success.

The celebrity makeup line that remains popular in the U.S.

In second place after L'Oreal Paris is the American-based CoverGirl, per Premium Beauty News. CoverGirl is the top beauty brand in North America and Australia & Oceania, dominating in 10 countries. But there's one North American country where CoverGirl doesn't reign — the U.S.

KKW Beauty, founded by Kim Kardashian, is the number one "most-searched" beauty brand in the U.S. Overall, this reflects a trend of celebrity-founded makeup companies becoming increasingly popular, due to social media and influencer marketing. Associate professor Patti Williams who teaches marketing at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School told Allure, "This is a category celebrities are believed to be knowledgeable about."

KKW Beauty is also the most popular brand in Germany (per Tajmeeli). However, KKW Beauty isn't among the top 15 "most-searched" beauty brands globally. Kylie Cosmetics and Fenty Beauty, founded by Kylie Jenner and Rihanna, respectively, seem to have more global appeal. Fenty Beauty ranks five in the world, while Kylie Cosmetics is ranked nine.

Kardashian started KKW Beauty in 2017, per The Cut. Since then, the brand launched contour kits, eyeshadow palettes, lipsticks, concealers, etc. Coty bought a 20% stake in January 2021 — making Kardashian a billionaire. However, the brand is on a hiatus as Kardashian seeks to rename her makeup line after divorcing Kanye West (via The U.S. Sun). After filing a trademark for the name "SKKN," Kardashian received a cease-and-desist from Cyndie Lunsford, owner of New York City spa, SKKN+.

e.l.f. Cosmetics takes over as no. 1 beauty brand among Gen. Z

It's no surprise that teenagers gravitate toward drugstore brands, as they tend to rely on their parents' money (per Piper Sandler). Piper Sandler conducts a semi-annual "Generation Z survey," in which U.S. teenagers are polled about their spending habits and preferences. The latest survey polled 7,100 teenagers across 44 states in the U.S. e.l.f Cosmetics was named the most popular beauty brand among Gen Z in 2022, overtaking last year's favorite, Maybelline.

Two men started e.l.f. Cosmetics in 2004 after noticing women with designer purses buying makeup from 99-cent stores, per Allure. The men sought to create an affordable makeup line that didn't sacrifice on quality. "We feel women shouldn't have to skip lunch or not go out for dinner or have other cutbacks to afford makeup," co-founder Joseph Shamah told CNN.

Since then the company has grown to also successfully cater to the younger demographic. In an interview with Yahoo! Finance, current e.l.f. Cosmetics CEO Tarang Amin elaborated on the company's strategy in connecting with Gen Z. "It's our extraordinary proposition in terms of having prestige quality at these really affordable price points," Amin said. He added, "We're one of the first beauty brands on TikTok. I think our various challenges have billions of views, millions of user-generated videos...So it's really our ability to be where they're at and engage with them in meaningful ways."

Ulta Beauty has a stronghold on teenagers as the 'top beauty destination'

According to Yahoo! Finance, Ulta Beauty continues to be Generation Z's top beauty store, with Sephora and Target following respectively. Interestingly, Ulta Beauty and Target announced their partnership last July, and since then 100 Target stores have an Ulta Beauty section. Analysts believe this recent partnership has only strengthened Target's popularity as a beauty destination and are confident in the collaboration. "Target was the no. 3 preferred beauty destination at 9% mindshare – further giving us confidence in the importance of the Ulta/Target partnership," analysts wrote."

Furthermore, Ulta Beauty houses over 25,000 beauty products, ranging from the affordable e.l.f Cosmetics to the luxurious Chanel Beauty. According to Reader's Digest, the wide variety of products and relaxed atmosphere make the store a fantastic one-stop-shop for all things beauty. It's a store where mothers and their teenage children can shop for beauty products simultaneously.

Overall, Gen Z is also starting to spend more on cosmetics, when compared to the previous year. Out of the teenagers surveyed, 37% report wearing cosmetics on a daily basis — an increase from 21% in 2021. Per Piper Sandler, skincare and cosmetics are the most important beauty products for teenagers, with 88% of them reporting that they would be willing to pay more for "clean" beauty products. It looks like makeup is making a comeback and we're here for it!