The Beauty Index 2021

From avocado face masks to bare-faced zoom calls and DIY hair cuts, 2020 was an altogether strange year for beauty (and everything else). With department stores and beauty salons shut across the UK, it’s no surprise that when our home remedies and DIY products failed, we headed online to snap up our favourite beauty products.

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An illustration of different beauty products.

The Beauty Index 2021 by money.co.uk has analysed Google search data for over 6,500 products across 20 different categories to reveal which specific beauty products the UK public has been searching for the most.

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The skincare and cosmetics industry has boomed over recent years with hundreds of brands, products and formulas flooding the market. With popularity, price and cruelty-free credentials often playing a crucial role in helping us decide which products we put on our skin, we have split out the Beauty Index to reveal the most searched in each.

Popularity: Most searched for beauty products in the UK

The #1 most searched for beauty product

Topping the list of the most searched for beauty products is Pixi Beauty’s Glow Tonic. Hailed as a beauty hero by Vogue, this exfoliating and brightening toner appears to be a hit with both experts and consumers. Costing £18 from Boots (250ml), this toner swept up over a third (37%) of all searches for toners in 2020.

The most highly contested beauty product – concealer

With just 1,200 searches between the first and second place concealers in our research, this category is by the far the most tightly contested. Battling for the top spot as the UK’s most searched for concealer are Maybelline’s Fit Me Concealer and NARS’ Radiant Creamy Concealer. Together the two concealers received 98,600 searches – over a quarter of all UK searches for concealers. However, despite the similarity in searches they differ considerably in price with Maybelline’s Fit Me Concealer costing just £5.99 in comparison to NARS’ Radiant Creamy Concealer which costs £24.

Top 10 per category

Use the interactive table below to see the 10 most searched for products by category and their prices.

Price: Most searched for budget beauty products

A 2020 study found that for almost three quarters of British women, price is the most important factor when choosing a particular cosmetic product. With this in mind, we have revealed the top 20 most searched for beauty products costing £10 or less.

Unlike the overall top 20 products, The Ordinary is the clear winner when it comes to budget beauty products. Known for their simple, high-quality packaging and clinical technologies, the Canadian brand tops the list of most searched budget products for face masks, face oils, foundation, makeup remover, and toner.

Cruelty-free: The most searched for beauty products which are not tested on animals

The product and the market where the brand is sold will decide whether it can be classified as cruelty-free. Below you’ll find the most searched for beauty products that are classified by PETA as cruelty-free*.

With recent research suggesting that the average UK household spends 1.92% of their budget on hair and beauty products, it’s no surprise that the industry is booming. With new products and emerging brands from across the world on the market, you may find yourself looking for the next best beauty products on an unfamiliar website. Before purchasing from a new website, it is always worth checking if the website is legitimate

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Methodology

*Cruelty-free status was checked using PETA’s Beauty without Bunnies search engine. For brands which were not listed we checked the brand’s website FAQs. Some of the brands are classed as cruelty-free by PETA but their parent companies may not be. 

We scraped all the brands, product names and prices from 20 cosmetics categories on Boots.com, Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty to create our seed list of beauty products. We then used Google Adwords to retrieve all available search volume data for 2020 (as of 18 December 2020).

Some products were available across multiple websites and therefore we used the cheapest price for our tables.

Where single products (excluding palettes) appeared in multiple categories on the retailers' websites, for example MAC’s Strobe Cream appeared under Primers and Highlighters, we consulted the specific brand’s website to find their classification. For products which are classified as ‘multi-use’ by the brand we have included these within multiple categories.