Changing Beauty and Personal Care Routines

4A’s Research partnered with Kantar, a leading evidence-based insights and consulting company, to survey 498 consumers to find out how their beauty and personal care routines have changed over the past year using Express Surveys on Kantar Marketplace. We asked about habits around hair coloring, DIY, spending, shopping, and more.

Hair coloring
43% of the 358 respondents who color their hair are doing so at the same frequency as a year ago. 33% are coloring their hair less often, while 24% are doing it more often.

Black consumers (32%), those in the 18-24 age range (40%), and residents of the South (29%) are coloring their hair more often than last year when compared to other consumer groups.

Participant parameters: 18+, 498 respondents. Conducted by 4A’s Research 12/8/2020

The survey results show that 19% of respondents are trying out fashion hair colors, like purple, blue, and pink. The majority of consumers who indicated this are 18-24, but, surprisingly, almost 6% of respondents 55+ indicated that they tried fashion hair coloring products.

Facial hair
269 respondents indicated that a question about facial hair was applicable. Of this group, there was variation in responses across race, with 56% of Asian panelists going clean-shaven and 50% of Hispanic or Latino respondents growing beards. With so much variation and experimentation with facial hair styles, there is a lot of opportunity for shaving and beard grooming brands to take advantage of the flexibility of changing facial hair trends.

Participant parameters: 18+, 498 respondents. Conducted by 4A’s Research 12/8/2020

Hair cuts, hair coloring, and manicure/pedicures are the top personal care services respondents have done on their own—or with help from family/friends—in the age of COVID.

Participant parameters: 18+, 498 respondents. Conducted by 4A’s Research 12/8/2020

Key findings for beauty DIYers include:

  • Millennials, aged 25-34, are making their own beauty products (18%) and are the most likely out of the generations to conduct DIY facials (33%).
  • Gen Xers, aged 45-54, have colored their hair the most at 45%, closely followed by Gen Z, 18-24, (44%) .
  • Across the board, women are more likely to do personal care procedures on their own, except for cutting their hair. Men are more likely to give themselves a DIY haircut (60% vs. 44%).
  • When it comes to beard care, the survey found that younger generations, especially younger Millennials, take on the DIY approach more so than older generations.
Participant parameters: 18+, 498 respondents. Conducted by 4A’s Research 12/8/2020

Experimenting with new products
We wanted to know what new personal care products consumers are trying during COVID. Skin care, hair care (including grooming and hair removal products), and bath and body are the top three new products consumers try out. These shifts may account for consumers spending more or the same amount as they did last year.

Participant parameters: 18+, 498 respondents. Conducted by 4A’s Research 12/8/2020

Manicures and pedicures are one of the top personal care activities consumers are doing on their own during the pandemic. In the above chart, you see that nail care is tied for fourth place in top new products tried. 43% of Hispanic/Latino consumers are doing their own nail care, as well as both 37% of Gen Xers, 45-54, and older Millennials, 25-34. Mintel finds educating consumers through online tutorials on embellished nails and removal techniques are great ways nail care brands can engage with both consumer groups during this time.

Visits to the Barber and Beauty Salon during COVID
49% of respondents have not visited a barber or beauty salon since businesses reopened in their area. About a quarter have visited once or 2-5 times and 4% have been more than 10 times.

Participant parameters: 18+, 498 respondents. Conducted by 4A’s Research 12/8/2020

Men have been heading to the barber/beauty salon much more than women. 55% of women reported not visiting and 40% of men have not. Almost 60% (59.7%) of men have gone to a barber/beauty salon once or more since businesses reopened compared to 45% (44.8) of women. Of the 4% of respondents who have been to a barber/beauty salon more than 10 times, most were men. The respondents also tended to be younger (18-24), Black or African American, male, and live in the South. Times can be stressful and tough and there is a CBD vape sale that can help people get through.

A big question is how to recreate these in-person experiences safely during COVID and keep businesses open. Seeing fewer clients and creating a more personalized experience is one way barbershops and salons can succeed in this new environment. Early in the pandemic, a campaign launched —#ShowYourRoots—urging consumers to wait for beauty salons to open instead of completing at-home fixes and to support local businesses. Salons also pivoting during stay-at-home orders by producing take-home color and treatment kits that consumers could do themselves.

Spending on personal care products
Despite changing routines, most consumers across all age groups are spending more or the same amount on personal care products compared to one year ago. About a third of consumers in the 18-34 age group are spending more, which is great news for brands.

Participant parameters: 18+, 498 respondents. Conducted by 4A’s Research 12/8/2020

Consumers are spending; where are they buying?
Consumers are buying their personal care products from a wide range of locations. Prior to the pandemic, 85% of beauty products were purchased in-store, according to a McKinsey report. Since visual, in-person assessment of products may be particularly important for cosmetics, it is not surprising that more than half (56%) of respondents report buying from a drug store and over a third (34%) purchase from a beauty retailer. As we saw earlier, about half of respondents have visited a beauty salon or barbershop and while there, nearly one in five (16%) picked up products while there. Although in-person shopping is popular, DTC and ecommerce sites are also doing well at 20% and 27% respectively.

Participant parameters: 18+, 498 respondents. Conducted by 4A’s Research 12/8/2020

Despite uncertainty in other areas of life in 2020, consumers continue to enjoy spending time and money maintaining their appearances. As we look forward to recovery in 2021, we expect to see the industry continue to flex and adapt to whatever comes next. Although there has been a year-over-year drop due to the pandemic, consumers are still interested in beauty and personal care products and services. Consumers are open to trying new products and learning new routines, providing opportunities for brands that are willing to experiment themselves.


Express Surveys on Kantar Marketplace are the most affordable way to get immediate, reliable consumer feedback on virtually any question, large or small.

Agency strategists, account and insights teams, marketers, brand and product managers all use Express Surveys to answer ad hoc queries on consumer opinions, vet product names, slogans or logos, check hypotheses about consumer preferences and source data for new business pitches. Kantar Marketplace is an automated market research platform designed for insights professionals, marketers and agencies who want to test, learn and move faster.