Thanks to social media, a product’s photogenic level is now a key consideration at the start of the development process, influencing color, texture, application and more. Here, some of the key aesthetic trends that help boost a product’s social media presence.

Light & Color

Deeply pigmented products, metallics that play with light and iridescent and rainbow hues are popular Insta-baits. Farsali’s Rose Gold Elixir is a gold-flecked moisturizing oil that has captured the imagination of Instagram and beauty vloggers alike—the brand has 1.4 million Instagram followers—thanks to its pure 24K gold flecks. The gold foil of Wander Beauty’s Baggage Claim Gold Eye Masks are tailor-made for an eye-catching selfie, as is Lime Crime’s Diamond Dew liquid eyeshadow, in glittery shades and dew-shaped packaging. Black Moon Cosmetics has a holographic crescent moon design, holographic highlighters and Cosmic Eyedust—eyeshadow in liquid form. Lush, with its four million Instagram followers in North America, inspires a cult social media following with its #bathart featuring deeply colorful, best-selling bath bombs. When Frank Body launched its Shimmer Scrub last summer, there was a 50,000-person wait list hankering after the exfoliating scrub in the holographic pouch infused with glitter particles that leaves skin with a shimmering glow.

Sensorial Textures

Brands, especially skin care brands, are showcasing product texture, by bringing products up close to the screen so as to be almost touchable. A recent Instagram post by Farsali, alongside an open jar, notes, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Indeed, Farsali’s Jelly Beam, both an illuminator and highlighter with a gel consistency, is frequently seen up close and catching the light when applied. With its millennial pink formula and smooth, shiny texture, Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask (often spotted alongside slices of juicy watermelon) is housed in an equally touchable-looking glass jar resembling an ice cube.

Special Application Processes

Showing a product in use by way of medical droppers, with or without a sponge, is especially popular on Instagram tutorials, making beauty routines a social sharing moment. Barry M Liquid Chrome Highlighter Drops is designed to illuminate the face, brighten features and accentuate bone structure. The product is portioned out using a little dropper, one shimmery drop at a time, and reflects the light in a subtle glowing manner. It is applied directly to the face or dropped into foundation. Farsali Unicorn Essence Antioxidant Serum + Primer (formerly known as Unicorn Tears) can be seen artfully dribbling down cheeks on countless Instagram pages thanks to its bright pink shimmering serum made of a superfruit complex of acai, blueberry and goji berry.

Special Effects

Products that foam and play with iridescence and sparkle are special effects that can’t be ignored. GlamGlow’s #GlitterMask GravityMud Firming Treatment contains all the skin softening and firming benefits of the original Gravity Mud Firming Treatment plus “glitter to take it to the next level.” The holographic sparkle treatment contains licorice and marshmallow leaf to help skin look more defined. Too Faced’s Glow Job Radiance-Boosting Glitter Face Mask is infused with real gold to exfoliate and brighten the skin.

Fun Packaging

K-beauty brands, such Dr. Jart+ Shake & Shot Rubber Masks, are particularly suited to Instagram thanks to their fun and whimsical packaging. Other innovative packaging that beautifies Instagram pages include Winky Lux’s Flower Balm, a lip stain made with real chrysanthemum, and Storybook Cosmetics What’s in a Name Rose Brushes, gorgeous rose brushes with green rose stem metal handles.


Just like negative space draws the eye, an effortless and minimalist approach also makes a strong impact in a crowded social media arena. Brands such as Glossier and Herbivore Botanicals have mastered the art of minimalist-looking products for beauty lovers who gravitate towards streamlined routines.

The Connected Consumer is a feature series focusing on digital as it touches the beauty consumer. In November 2018, CEW will host its second annual The Connected Consumer Conference, presenting speakers from the most relevant brands, retailers and forecasting agencies discussing the latest trends in digital and social media.