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NOW READING Gen Z vs. Millennial Beauty: It’s All About Skincare, Diversity, and the Digital Age

Gen Z vs. Millennial Beauty: It’s All About Skincare, Diversity, and the Digital Age

Remember when you were a teen? What did your beauty routine look like? One thing’s probably for sure: It pales in comparison to the elaborate beauty routines of Gen Zers today. How the new generation of beauty trendsetters are shaping what ends up on all of our vanities.


If you’re a millennial, I want you to think back to your teenage years. What was your skincare routine like? I’ll detail mine, from what I remember.




1. Wash face with Noxzema or Neutrogena Acne Wash (the grapefruit one).

2. That’s it.




1. Maybe??? Wash face with Noxzema or Neutrogena Acne Wash.

2. If I had a pimple, I’d put toothpaste on it before I went to bed.

3. Sometimes, I’d use the Neutrogena oil free moisturizer. Sometimes.


And even though I was definitely way more beauty obsessed than my peers (I had nearly every single M.A.C eyeshadow by the time I was 18), skincare was not my forte. But was it really any of ours? Back then, all the beauty focus was on makeup — if you had acne, you could just cover it up using a concealer. If your skin was dull or dry, you’d just use a liquid foundation. I had a copy of the iconic Bobbi Brown Teenage Beauty Book and there was one six-page chapter about skincare. But the information was pretty basic and generic — don’t forget to wash your face, use an SPF 15 (?!?!!), don’t drink or smoke, and make sure to drink eight glasses of water a day. And honestly, I didn’t care about that. I wanted more information about makeup!





But now, Gen Z is running things, especially in the beauty and skincare world. Beauty startups and companies are realizing the power (and extra money) Gen Zers have and are shifting their marketing to appeal to the younger generation. Unlike us millennials, who had to use our janky one-use cameras for special occasions (which we’d develop and then cut out the photos to place on our binders), Gen Zers are faced with the unique experience of growing up in a digital age, where they are expected to not only document every waking moment of their lives but look good doing it. Millennial Marketing said it best:


“Growing up in the age of social media and selfies, Gen Z obsesses more over their appearance than previous generations. … Teens know they can be photographed anytime, anywhere, and they expect those images to end up online. With their carefully curated personal identities so public on social media, they are hyper-conscious of the way they present themselves.”


Enter the rise of Gen Z beauty.


In the past couple of years, we’ve seen brands launch with their sights set on Gen Zers. Think Millie Bobby Brown’s Florence by Mills skincare line, Fourth Ray Beauty by Colourpop, C’est Moi, Kylie Cosmetics, Evenprime, Higher Education … the list goes on and on. And not only that, major prestige brands have tapped Gen Z stars like Zendaya (Lancôme), Kaia Gerber (YSL Beauty), and Yara Shahidi (Bobbi Brown) as brand ambassadors, eschewing the older actresses and models that these brands normally choose. And these companies have one thing in common — they know that their target audience is way more skincare savvy than previous generations and, in turn, are actually focused on safe, non-toxic, sometimes organic ingredients that deliver results.



gen z beauty
Yara Shahidi for Bobbi Brown



Gen Zers are also concerned with the environment, race, LGBTQ people, climate change, politics, and animal rights, and they want to buy products from brands whose values align with their own. One of the main reasons Fenty Beauty has managed to be so successful is that from the beginning, they made sure all shades and types of people were represented in both their marketing and products. They don’t sell their products in China, which means they won’t test on animals (China requires animal testing on all products sold there). And Fenty Beauty’s social media team has their eyes on the pulse of trends relevant to millennials and Gen Zers alike — think ASMR videos with Amandla Stenberg or tapping TikTok legend Rosa for a series of Twitter videos.



@fentybeautyRosa had to show the ##FENTYBEAUTYHOUSE how it’s done 😂😂 @adamrayokay thanks for stopping by!!♬ original sound – fentybeauty


And the icing on the cake is that there are truly no rules for beauty with Gen Z. We millennials had the Bobbi Brown Beauty Book telling us to not apply oil so we don’t look shiny, and shiny doesn’t look good in real life (I think recent trends will tell us otherwise), but Gen Zers are more willing to experiment with their looks. Think everything about Euphoria, colorful eyeshadows, unicorn hair and wigs, bold lips, the list goes on. All of that translates to way more dolla dolla bills for beauty brands. According to, Gen Z spends more money on beauty than apparel, a huge turn from previous generations.






So are you a Gen Zer or a millennial (or other??)? Let us know because it’s time for a giveaway!


All you have to do is comment below and tell us whether you’re a Gen Zer or millennial, and what your experience in beauty growing up has been like!


The first 25 commenters will receive a coupon code for a free box of Laneige Perfect Renew Regenerating Masks* in your next order!


*U.S. orders only. Beauty Advisors and employees not eligible


Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.




I am a Gen Zer born in 1997, but I relate to millennials. This brought me back to my days back in middle school and high school where I would just use Aveeno's moisturizing bar. That was my holy grail back in the day. I had no idea about toners or moisturizers. I would get all my beauty information from reading magazines. Now there's make up and skin care videos everywhere!


I love this article because I am part of Gen Z and it is so strange how I grew up in a world where technology was everywhere and I remember always having my makeup done because I never knew when my photo was going to be taken. I also love the fact that I grew up in a time where makeup is truly an art. Gen Z really doesn't care to experiment and be creative with makeup and that's what I truly love about my generation.


I absolutely love this article!


Its crazy to see the difference in the generations when it comes to skincare and also their makeup routines. they are learning about all so much earlier than we did.


So true. Noxzema was LIIIFE back in the day. A lot of it was really the commercials.


As a Gen Zer with a Millennial mom, it's surprising seeing so many other millennials express the lack of steps in their old skincare routines. Growing up, my mom was heavily influenced by Korean culture (she grew up in Flushing, Queens in the 90s) and therefore I've always been used to her having a plethora of skincare products rather than make up. I think this has a lot to do with culture, something Beauty Tap actually points out with Asian skincare routines typically having multiple steps that really focus on your base skin before you add any make up. Something... Read more


Hey sis, I'm a millennial mom! I wish I had as much access to information about makeup and grooming techniques that the Gen Z's have now. My mom didn't really allow me to wear makeup till around my senior year, class of 2007. Her idea of makeup was eyeliner and sheer gloss. We were a conservative family from Houston, TX. My makeup guidance can from the G.O.A.T Iman's book The Beauty of Color. The foreword was written by the iconic Salma Hayek. I would try to recreate those tips and out of the box looks. This lead to... Read more


Yessss the lord knows i used to only wash my face with the neutrogena grapefruit wash and their soap bar!! Man now look how far i came! Now i aim for way more gentle cleansers and have added a whole routine! And i think im on the cusp of gen z and millennials?? Whatever 1999 is lol


I’m definitely a millennial but I must say I have a little gen-z mixed in me! Early on in my beauty career I did not bother with knowing the ins and outs of skin and why it is so important to take care of what’s underneath. Now, you can catch me always trying to give tips and advice on what our bodies need to stay healthy. Especially are largest organ, THIS SKIN HONEY! This article is absolutely right! Beauty is moving into the digital age and we are all lucky to be apart of such a beautiful movement. Stay healthy... Read more


Technically, I'm Gen X, but since I'm at the early end of the spectrum, I'm probably a Baby Boomer (yikes!). Teenage skincare wasn't that much different for me, Sheryll. Noxzema was a requirement for us all (and I wouldn't use it on my face today to save my life). Infomercials put me on a path toward a routine (thank you, Victoria Principal of Principal Secret), and then I just started piecing a routine together one thing at a time until I found Jude Chao cocopark , Kerry, and the rest of the Snailcast gang.... Read more


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