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US beauty consumers get younger

News, 02 August 2016

NEW YORK: Tweens and teens of both sexes in the US are extensive users of beauty and personal care products, for reasons ranging from self-expression to boosting self-confidence, new research has shown.

According to Mintel, some 90% of 9-17-year-old girls are beauty product users. And while that may not be a surprise, the fact that the same can be said of 69% of boys in that age group is more unexpected.

More than two in five boys aged 12-17 use facial cleansing products (44%), the research firm reported, while perfume/cologne is used by 42%, and lip care products by 41%. Hair styling mousse, gels and creams are less favoured, being used by only 29%.

More unexpected still is the age at which some boys are starting to use these grooming products: 25% of 6-8 year olds, for example, say they use body spray/perfume/cologne.

"Beauty awareness starts at an early age, and tweens/teens are becoming increasingly savvy due to the popularity of YouTube beauty tutorials," said Margie Nanninga, Beauty Analyst at Mintel.

"Although self-expression is key to make-up usage, it's evident that half of teenagers use makeup to feel more confident," she added.

Looking older and looking good were once a largely female preoccupation, but that appears no longer to be the case, either.

Overall, 16% of US children aged between 12 and 14 use personal care products to look older/more grown up; and young boys (19%) are now more likely than girls (14%) to feel the pressure to look good.

But the definition of what looks good is shifting away from airbrushed perfection, with more than half of teens (51%) looking for a brand spokesperson who is "like them".

That's more likely to be true of teenage girls, however, as teen boys remain swayed by celebrities (40%) and athletes (33%). Hispanic teens are far more likely (71%) to use products with celebrities in their ads than teens overall (54%), too.

"Teen girls are especially likely to seek authenticity, preferring those who aren't airbrushed and those who are strong role models," noted Nanninga.

"A preference for relatable spokespeople is likely driving interest in YouTube vloggers and reality TV stars, who teens likely see as more relatable. However, we see the opposite with teen boys, who are more likely to want celebrity spokespeople."

Data sour from Mintel; additional content by Warc staff