The Biggest Beauty Influencer Isn’t Who You Think It Is

New Global Study Looks at Beauty Standards, Ideals, and Routines

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab
Get in touch

August 26, 2019 — With all of the attention paid to online beauty influencers, beauty brands may be missing out on a key target: mothers.

Mothers, as well as friends, sisters, and other family members, wield the most influence on women’s beauty routines, according to a new Ipsos survey of 19,029 adults from 27 countries. Nearly half of women surveyed said their mother (49%), friends (48%), and sisters or other family (45%) are somewhat or very influential. This compares with only one in three who said that magazines and print media, online videos, and Instagram influenced their routines. In the U.S., the results were even more pronounced. Women were twice as likely to say that their mother and friends influence their beauty routine compared to Instagram. 

The survey also asked about beauty ideals and values. Beautiful people are seen as happy, kind and confident, which replicates the survey that led to Dove’s revolutionary “Real Beauty” campaign in 2004. 

Ipsos surveyed more than 19,000 men and women around the world asking them to rate the importance of 19 characteristics of beauty. As in 2004, intrinsic characteristics outranked physical characteristics such as appearance of skin, body weight and shape, facial appearance and sexiness. This question was asked about both female and male beauty, and the results were largely consistent for both genders.

But at a time when there are growing calls for a more inclusive sense of beauty, the study finds that very definite ideals still exist across nations and cultures. The survey also asked people to describe a beautiful man and woman in their country based on height, body type, eye and hair color. A plurality generally said “no opinion,” but among those who offered an opinion, a remarkably consistent picture emerged. 

Ipsos then commissioned artists in 12 of those countries to illustrate what a beautiful man and woman in their country would look like, based on the survey data. The results were published in Ipsos’ latest award-winning “What the Future” report, focused on the future of beauty. 

About the Study

These are the findings of a 27-country Ipsos survey conducted via Ipsos’s Global Advisor online survey platform between April 19th -May 3rd, 2019. The sample consists of 1000+ individuals in each of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland), France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and the United States, and 500+ in each of Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey.

Online surveys can be taken as representative of the general adult population under the age of 75 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. Online samples in Brazil, Chile, China (mainland), Colombia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa and Turkey are more urban, more educated and/or more affluent than the general population and the results should be viewed as reflecting the views of a more “connected” population.

Sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. The precision of the Ipsos online polls is measured using a Bayesian Credibility Interval. The credibility interval around percentages based on single-month data is of +/- 3.5 percentage points for markets where the monthly sample is 1,000+ and +/-4.8 points for markets where the monthly sample is 500+. Click here for more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals.

Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Matt Carmichael 
Vice President, U.S.
Editorial and Content Strategy
[email protected]

Read more on WTF Beauty

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab