How Social Media Has Transformed Beauty Standards and Trends

How Social Media Has Transformed Beauty Standards and Trends

Social media is now a big deal when it comes to deciding what's beautiful and trendy. Lots of young people, especially those aged 16 to 24, spend a lot of time on social media. But the pictures they see often show a perfect version of beauty that's hard to achieve, making many people feel bad about themselves. This can lead to feeling unhappy about how they look, and it's happening to kids as young as ever.

Because social media has such a big impact on how we see beauty, it's important to think about both the good and bad sides of it. In this article, we'll talk about how things like social media, photo editing, makeup ads, and other stuff shape what we think is beautiful. We'll also look at how this can make people feel bad about themselves. By understanding all of this, we can learn to be smarter about the media we consume and how it affects how we feel about ourselves and others.

The Rise of Beauty Influencers on Social Media

The transformative role of beauty influencers on social media has been monumental in shaping today’s beauty standards and trends. With the advent of platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, a new breed of trendsetters has emerged, wielding considerable influence over the beauty industry. Here’s how they’re doing it:

  • Collaborations and Impact:

    • Influencers collaborate with brands to promote products, leveraging their credibility and trust to influence their followers’ purchasing decisions.

    • These partnerships are highly effective, generating up to 11 times higher ROI than traditional digital marketing strategies.
    • Their influence can elevate or crash beauty trends, thanks to their expertise and large followings.
  • Authenticity and Relatability:
    • Unlike traditional celebrities, influencers often share more realistic perspectives on beauty, providing honest product reviews, teaching skills, and offering recommendations.
    • They connect with users by sharing interests, characteristics, and demographics, making them more relatable and credible.
    • Influencers encourage diversity and representation, though their use of filters and editing tools may also promote unrealistic standards.
  • Trendsetting and Engagement:
    • Platforms like TikTok have revolutionized beauty trends with challenges and tutorials that emphasize authenticity, creativity, and embracing imperfections. For instance, the "TikTok Winged Liner Challenge" made makeup application more accessible.
    • Beauty influencers on TikTok have also turned the skincare industry on its head, debunking myths and exposing ineffective practices, thus making brands more accountable.
    • Their ability to instantly propel a product to stardom, often leading to it selling out within hours, showcases the immense power they hold in setting trends.

The rise of beauty influencers on social media underscores a significant shift in how beauty trends are established and disseminated. Through their platforms, influencers not only promote products but also foster a community of learning, experimentation, and discussion around beauty, making them pivotal figures in the industry's evolution.

The Effect of Visual Platforms on Beauty Preferences

Visual platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat have revolutionized the way beauty standards are perceived and adopted by today's youth. The proliferation of face-tuned and photoshopped images by celebrities and influencers has created a new 'thin ideal' for young women and an expectation of perfectly sculpted muscles for young men, significantly impacting their self-image and beauty preferences. This transformation is further augmented by the convenience of shopping directly from these apps, often facilitated by influencer coupon codes, making it easier for users to attempt to emulate these beauty standards in real life.

  • Influence of Filters and Editing Tools:
    1. Instagram and TikTok's filters encourage users to alter their features, promoting unrealistic beauty standards through photoshop, filters, plastic surgery, and makeup.
    2. Many filters distort physical features to reflect Western beauty ideals, such as lighter skin and smaller noses, which can harm users' self-esteem and self-worth when they can't achieve these standards naturally.
    3. The anti-filter movement aims to promote natural beauty, yet it still underscores the importance of physical appearance, highlighting the complex relationship between social media and self-image.
  • Impact on Beauty Preferences:
    1. Video Marketing: YouTube's significant role in beauty tutorials shows the importance of video content in shaping beauty trends and preferences, making it a crucial platform for the beauty industry.
    2. User-Generated Content: The vast array of images and videos on social media platforms presents users with diverse appearances and styles, influencing their beauty standards and encouraging a continuous evolution of beauty preferences.
    3. Shopping and Trends: The ability to place orders directly through social media platforms turns feeds into virtual stores, further influencing beauty preferences by making the latest trends easily accessible.

The interplay between social media platforms and beauty standards is complex, involving a mix of influencer impact, the role of filters and editing tools, and the direct influence of visual content on user preferences. This dynamic underscores the need for a critical examination of how beauty standards are shaped and the importance of fostering a more inclusive and realistic representation of beauty in the digital age.

Social Media and the Globalization of Beauty Trends

In the digital era, social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube have become the epicenters of beauty trends, significantly influencing global beauty standards. The mechanisms behind this influence are multifaceted, involving algorithms, influencers, and user-generated content (UGC), each playing a pivotal role in driving these trends forward.

  • Algorithms and Trend Identification: Algorithms adeptly identify and highlight emerging beauty trends based on users' online activities, ensuring that the most popular and engaging content is seen by a broader audience. This algorithmic curation helps in rapidly spreading new beauty trends across the globe.
  • User-Generated Content (UGC): UGC allows for honest and direct feedback from the broader community, offering valuable insights into what real people find appealing or effective. This democratization of content creation has led to a vibrant community where everyone, regardless of their background, can engage in beauty discussions. Such engaging interaction has not only opened up beauty standards but also given a voice to previously overlooked communities, promoting inclusivity and diversity through campaigns like #bodypositivity and #naturalhair.

Social media's impact on beauty standards extends beyond mere trends; it has fundamentally altered perceptions and actions toward beauty. For instance, the visibility of cosmetic procedures like Botox on social media platforms has informed and normalized these practices, with approximately 11 million people worldwide having used it. Moreover, the pandemic-induced increase in online time has been linked to a growth in facelifts and blepharoplasties. On a more positive note, social media has also served as a platform for preventative health, particularly in raising awareness about skin cancer. Engaged users now prioritize skincare routines, especially concerning sun protection and the correct use of sunscreen, showcasing the platform's potential for positive influence on health and beauty habits. Additionally, the popularity of Korean skincare routines on social media underscores the platform's role in fostering a diverse and broad knowledge about skincare, indicating a shift towards more inclusive and holistic beauty practices.

User-Generated Content and its Role in Defining Trends

User-Generated Content (UGC) has emerged as a formidable force in defining beauty trends, offering authenticity and fostering a personal connection between brands and their audience. Here's a breakdown of how UGC is shaping the beauty industry:

  • Authenticity and Trust:
    • UGC is deemed authentic, resonating with 86% of consumers who prioritize authenticity when choosing beauty products.
    • It builds trust and lasting relationships, as 61% of beauty consumers prefer engaging with UGC over traditional brand content.
    • The impact of UGC on online conversion rates is profound, with a 161% increase for beauty products, showcasing the trust and credibility it garners among consumers.
  • Community and Engagement:
    • UGC campaigns by brands like Cocokind and Summer Fridays have successfully showcased real people and their experiences, strengthening brand reputation and celebrating self-care rituals.
    • Reposting content from customers demonstrates brand appreciation and helps build a vibrant community.
    • Creating branded hashtags and incentivizing UGC encourages customers to share their product experiences, enhancing brand engagement and community building.
  • Content Diversity and Insights:
    • UGC allows brands to showcase products in real-world contexts, thereby reaching new audiences and improving product development.
    • The top three most-used ways to create UGC in the beauty industry include product reviews, tutorials and makeup looks, and before-and-after photos, providing diverse content and valuable insights into product performance.
    • Companies leveraging UGC must ensure the content aligns with brand values and obtain legal rights, highlighting the importance of authenticity and transparency in UGC campaigns.

This multifaceted approach to utilizing UGC not only amplifies brand visibility but also empowers consumers by providing a platform for real and relatable beauty narratives. Through fostering a genuine connection and offering a peek into the real-life impact of beauty products, UGC has become an indispensable tool in the beauty industry's marketing arsenal, enabling brands to stay relevant and connected with their audience.

The Double-edged Sword: Positive and Negative Impacts of Social Media on Beauty Standards

Social media's influence on beauty standards is a multifaceted issue with both uplifting and distressing consequences. Here's a closer look at the double-edged sword it presents:

Negative Impacts:

  • Body Image Concerns: Exposure to idealized images on platforms like Instagram and Facebook can increase body image concerns, potentially leading to eating disorders as users chase an unrealistic slender, lean body ideal. Women portrayed as slim are often deemed more beautiful and successful, impacting self-esteem negatively.
  • Psychological Wellbeing: Body image misperception and dissatisfaction with one's body weight are closely linked to psychological wellbeing. This dissatisfaction is not limited to women; men too face pressure to meet certain body standards, leading to muscle dysmorphia and lowered self-esteem.
  • Toxic Comparison Culture: Social media fosters a culture of comparison and competition, where users measure their worth against idealized images, leading to body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and even cyberbullying based on body size, shape, or appearance.

Positive Impacts:

  • Body Positivity Movement: Despite the challenges, social media also hosts body-positive content and communities that promote self-acceptance and inclusivity. Open conversations about body image issues are encouraged, raising awareness and fostering a more supportive environment.
  • Authentic Representation: A growing phenomenon on platforms like Instagram is the #BoPo (Body Positivity) movement, where influencers and content creators promote a healthy body image, challenging traditional beauty standards and offering new perspectives on beauty.
  • Healthier Beauty Habits: Social media has not only accelerated the cycle of beauty trends but also raised awareness about healthier skincare routines, emphasizing sun protection and preventative health measures. This shift towards mindful social media use and establishing a healthy relationship with cosmetic treatments showcases the platform's potential for positive influence.

In conclusion, while social media has significantly contributed to the propagation of unrealistic beauty standards, impacting individuals' mental health and self-esteem, it also serves as a platform for challenging these norms, promoting inclusivity, and encouraging healthier beauty habits. The key lies in mindful consumption and engagement with content that uplifts and supports a more inclusive definition of beauty.

How Brands Leverage Social Media to Set Beauty Trends

In the rapidly evolving beauty industry, brands are leveraging social media in innovative ways to set trends and connect with their audience. Here's a breakdown of their strategies:

  • Interactive Engagement:
    • Challenges, polls, and stories on platforms like Instagram and TikTok not only entertain but also engage users, making them feel like part of a community. This sense of belonging and participation is crucial for brand loyalty.
    • Examples include skincare routines challenges or makeup polls, where users vote on their favorite looks or products.
  • Tailored Content and Storytelling:
    • Brands cater to the unique preferences of diverse audiences by creating content specifically designed for different demographics, ensuring relevance and connection.
    • Storytelling plays a pivotal role in this process, with brands weaving narratives around their products to create a meaningful brand identity. This could range from the journey of a product's creation to how it fits into the lifestyle of its target audience.
  • Strategic Social Media Use:

    • Utilizing scheduling tools for consistent posts across platforms helps maintain a brand's presence and keeps the audience engaged.
    • Key strategies include:
      • Providing useful and informative content, like tutorial videos, which offer value to the audience.
      • Creating a distinct brand personality through a consistent voice and aesthetics, enhancing brand recognition.
      • Engaging the audience with content that sparks conversation, utilizing hashtags for wider reach, and leveraging user-generated content to build trust and authenticity.

Moreover, influencer campaigns have become a cornerstone for beauty brands looking to introduce their products to highly engaged audiences. By developing a distinct brand voice and using tactical tagging, brands can reach new demographics and stand out in a crowded market. Additionally, promoting social presence beyond social media platforms, such as on websites and in emails, ensures a cohesive brand experience.

In a notable shift towards authenticity, brands like Aerie and Dove have embraced unretouched images and diverse representations in their campaigns. This move towards inclusivity not only challenges traditional beauty standards but has also proven to be commercially successful, with Aerie's "real" campaign leading to a significant increase in sales.

This strategic approach to social media by beauty brands underscores the industry's dynamism and its capacity to influence beauty standards globally. Through interactive content, personalized storytelling, and strategic use of platforms, brands are not just selling products; they're shaping the very definition of beauty in the digital age.


The exploration of social media's influence on beauty standards underscores a transformative era where digital platforms serve both as harbingers of change and mirrors reflecting society's evolving beauty narratives. Through the magnifying lens of influencers, visual content, and user-generated content, we've navigated the intricate pathways by which social media shapes perceptions, trends, and self-identity in the realm of beauty. This dynamic landscape reveals not only the power of these platforms to dictate global beauty trends but also the burgeoning movement towards inclusivity, authenticity, and self-acceptance. The discourse laid out in this article illuminates the dual role of social media, acting as both a catalyst for heightened beauty standards and a stage for progressive discussions around beauty diversity and health.

At its core, the conversation around social media and beauty standards is a testament to the medium's profound impact on cultural norms and individual self-esteem. As we move forward, it becomes critical to foster a mindful relationship with these platforms, endorsing content that uplifts and celebrates the myriad expressions of beauty in its most authentic form. By championing diversity, promoting realistic beauty standards, and encouraging healthy digital consumption habits, we can steer the narrative towards a more inclusive and empowering future. The journey of understanding and navigating the influence of social media on beauty standards is ongoing, marking a pivotal chapter in the broader dialogue about identity, culture, and self-expression in the digital age.


How Have Social Media Platforms Altered Beauty Norms?

Social media has introduced a wave of unrealistic beauty standards by frequently showcasing individuals with seemingly flawless appearances. This is often achieved through the use of filters and photo-editing tools, contributing to a widespread sense of body dissatisfaction and diminished self-esteem among both genders.

What Impact Has Social Media Had on the Beauty Industry?

Social media has revolutionized the beauty industry by facilitating a global marketplace. It has eliminated the geographical limitations on product availability, allowing consumers worldwide to access and purchase beauty products that were previously out of reach, without the need for intermediaries like traveling relatives.

How Does Social Media Influence Our Definition of Beauty?

Social media plays a pivotal role in shaping our beauty ideals by serving as a source of inspiration for personal beauty routines. A notable shift towards inclusivity is seen in the proliferation of unfiltered and unedited images, which has been observed to foster a more positive self-image among internet users.

How Do Media and Society Affect Our Beauty Perceptions?

Media and societal influences significantly shape our perceptions of beauty through the propagation of certain "ideal" standards across various platforms. This pervasive influence often marginalizes individuals who do not conform to these established norms, highlighting the profound impact of media and societal expectations on personal perceptions of beauty.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.