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This is How People Really Shop For Beauty Products in 2017

See the (surprising!) results of our Fashionista reader survey.

The way that we actually shop for beauty products has arguably changed a lot over the last couple of years. From the rise of influencers to the onset of brands being swayed by trends like millennial pink, when it comes down to it, beauty brands are fighting a daily battle of looks over effectiveness.

Beauty is an especially personal category, so it stands to reason that everyone shops for makeup, skin-care and hair products in their own unique way. We were curious to hear from our favorite voices — you! — about the extent to which all of those 'grammers, vloggers and Insta-bait packaging makeovers influence your shopping habits. 

We surveyed 430 of our loyal Fashionista readers (thanks for all the help, guys!), and some of our findings were truly surprising. For example, for all the talk about the decline of department stores and the rise of e-commerce, according to our survey, 58 percent of people still prefer shopping at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, while only 42 percent would rather go the online route. When asked for what quality actually prompts you to purchase a beauty product, the overwhelming winner was its reviews, with 54 percent favoring doing the research on product reviews before dropping any cash. Brand recognition also pulled people in though, with 30 percent of respondents noting that brand familiarity can sway them to purchase. Surprisingly, packaging barely ranked as a deciding factor here, with only 9 percent of people stating that product packaging draws them in for a purchase.

As far as those product reviews go, it does seem to matter where they come from, as we know that they are coming from more and more sources these days. The majority of those surveyed agreed that a renowned hairstylist or makeup artist holds the most weight when reviewing a product, with 42.7 percent agreeing that an expert opinion is their most valued. Next in line, though, were YouTubers, with 34 percent of respondents answering that a vlogger's review is what influences their product purchases. And finally, Instagram influencers carried 19 percent of the purchasing clout, with celebrity influence at just 4 percent.

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What exactly is it that everyone is buying right now? Curiously, even though respondents were quick to claim that packaging wasn't a deciding factor, many of the all-time favorite brands they called out are the ones most well-known for hopping on the Instagram-friendly packaging bandwagon: Glossier, of course, was a frequent mention, as were K-beauty brands like COSRX and IOPE, which were each mentioned multiple times. Smashbox, RMS, Drunk Elephant, SkinCeuticals, NARS and the ever-trendy The Ordinary were also much-discussed. 

Favorite products of the moment also tended to be trendsetters, with Glossier's Cloud Paint and Too Cool For School's Hydrating Egg White Sheet Mask continuously coming up in conversation. Sunday Riley's coveted Good Genes also made the rounds, as did The Ordinary's Hyaluronic Acid. But, proving once and again that our readers are smart and really value products that work at the end of the day, COSRX's BHA Blackhead Power Liquid — a less-flashy, more practical item — was mentioned multiple times, with one reader saying, "This is the only thing on earth that works on sebaceous filaments, and it's so affordable."

So, while the way that we shop for beauty products is ever-evolving, it's clear that plenty of shoppers are still favoring formula quality and effectiveness over packaging — for now. But hey, there's nothing wrong with loving a pretty bottle, either. 

Please note: Occasionally, we use affiliate links on our site. This in no way affects our editorial decision-making.

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