Social Media Advertising For Cosmetics: Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest?

Ecommerce, Paid Media Advertising, Social Media

Ever since the dawn of the selfie, skincare brands and beauty products have been racking up followers and finding new customers on social media platforms. On Instagram, #skincare has over 75 million posts and counting.

With more opportunities than ever before to advertise on social media, brands face a challenging dilemma. Which social channel is the right place to advertise? When evaluating the best social channels for your brand, it’s important to not take things at face value and make sure to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each advertising platform. 

Before you decide where to advertise, it’s important to keep two key metrics in mind: Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and Lifetime Customer Value (LTV). These two measurements will ultimately determine if the social channel is effectively driving revenue and if it has a strong enough return on investment to make it worth the advertising costs. 

Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of advertising skincare, makeup, and other beauty products on three of the most popular social platforms: Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Advertising Skincare on Instagram 


Shoppable Posts: In recent years, Instagram has rolled out impressive new features for ecommerce brands. The best example of this is Shoppable posts, which allow customers to discover, browse, and buy your cosmetic products without ever leaving the Instagram app. Shoppable posts give your followers a streamlined ecommerce experience and make it easy for your followers to share and save their favorite products. And with Instagram Analytics, it’s easy to identify which of your Shoppable posts are performing best. As a result, you can easily pinpoint the top-selling products your brand has to offer!

Grow Brand Awareness: Instagram is the perfect place for your brand to grow its following with paid posts. The Instagram makeup community is passionate and vast, with thousands of beauty influencers, skincare evangelists, and trend watchers. There’s plenty of opportunities to grow your brand following whether you’re a small business or a big powerhouse in the beauty space. Don’t buy it? These stats don’t lie:

  • The average woman spends about $313 per month on their appearance including hair and makeup products.
  •  Instagram’s audience is 57 percent female and their largest age group is 25-34-year-olds, which are perfectly aligned with the skincare industry’s most avid customers.

With the right marketing and paid advertising strategy, several makeup and beauty brands were able to take their brand to new heights, going from a few thousand fans to becoming #Instafamous brands.

Advanced Targeting and Analytics: Backed by the insights of Facebook, Instagram’s advanced targeting options are a thing of beauty. You can target your ads based on user behavior, demographics, and interests. You can even get more granular with custom audiences, which are based on a list of customers that you upload directly, or lookalike audiences, which are based on people who have already visited your website, followed you on Instagram, or liked your posts.

Instagram’s reporting gives you a wealth of information you can use to make decisions about your advertising. You can see which time of day your users are active, which posts drive the most comments or engagements, and see who is interacting with your posts by age, gender, and location.


High Competition: Instagram’s popularity in the cosmetic and skincare industry make it a great place to advertise, however, it’s a double-edged sword. For one, with so many cosmetic brands competing for the same audience on Instagram, it can be difficult to break through if you don’t have splashy, eye-catching creative or the right targeting parameters. Another drawback: everything you post and advertise is visible to your competition. This means everything from your brand’s best taglines to stylistic choices can be easily copied or snatched up by your key competitors.

Limited Access If You’re New: If you are brand new to Instagram, you’ll need some patience and perseverance to get access to some of the platform’s key features. One of Instagram’s most popular features is Instagram Stories: dissolving posts that are only visible for 24 hours on a user’s feed. These extremely popular, quick posts are viewed by an estimated 500 million people every single day. Sharing stories with a “Swipe Up” link is an easy and effective way to drive people back to your website’s product pages. Unfortunately for smaller brands, you need upwards of 10,000 Instagram followers in order to get access to the Instagram Stories “Swipe Up” link. 

Organic Reach Declines: Once you’ve indicated to Instagram that you are a business interested in Instagram ads, you can say goodbye to your organic reach. There is clear evidence that Instagram decides to limit your organic reach in order to make you more willing to invest more in paid advertising. This forces you to increase your spend on Instagram ads in order to get your reach back. Instagram decides who sees your posts and controls the algorithm. So there’s not much advertisers can do to combat this trend, other than optimize their ads so they start seeing a higher ROI and more clicks for a lower cost. The good news is that with the right Instagram optimizations you can ensure your paid advertising reach exceeds your organic reach and drive more customers to your website.

Cosmetics Advertising on Facebook


Layered Targeting Options: Facebook’s audience insights and data is one of its main selling points. You can use Facebook remarketing to craft custom audiences and even target your previous website visitors with tailored ads showing them the products they were viewing. This can help people who abandoned their carts midway through the checkout process come back to complete their purchase. You can target people who are following your competitors or other beauty brands or based on their location or purchase behavior. Facebook also owns Instagram, so you have access to all of Instagram’s audience features like custom and lookalike audiences. These are just a few examples of the vast targeting options that are available on Facebook, there are thousands of possible audience combinations.

Ad Formats: Facebook has a vast array of advertising formats and placements for every device, demographic, and medium. This includes image ads, carousel ads (multiple images you can click through), video ads, Instagram Story ads, and collection ads where you can showcase a group of products. You also have access to Facebook’s popular chat platform: Messenger. With Facebook Messenger ads you can chat directly with your customers and increase engagement and brand loyalty.


Older Audience: If you’re interested in targeting Millennials, Baby Boomers and older generations, Facebook is the place to be for your brand. However, there’s clear evidence that younger audiences are not on Facebook. If you’re looking for engagement from Gen Z, you might want to consider advertising on Tik Tok, Snapchat, or Instagram.

Facebook Users are Wary of Ads: People go on Facebook primarily to participate in Facebook groups, see what their family, friends, and neighbors are up to and comment on photos. It’s a known trend that Facebook users typically shy away from branded content and ignore any post that looks like an advertisement. And in recent years, the Facebook algorithm was updated to prefer posts from family and friends.

Advertising Makeup on Pinterest


More Engaged Users: Pinterest users use this platform to save ideas, discover new products, and explore new trends but they are also eager to buy now. The stats show that Pinterest pinners are typically more engaged and ready to buy than other social media users:

  • 50 percent of people buy products after they see a Promoted Pin.
  • 90 percent of weekly Pinners make purchase decisions on Pinterest. 

If you’re looking to boost e-commerce sales, generate awareness, or drive conversions, Pinterest is a great place to start.

Streamlined User Experience: Similar to Instagram’s Shoppable posts, Pinterest has rolled out Buyable Pins which make it easy to showcase products, and provide a streamlined shopping experience. Pinterest users can click on a Pin, add the products they are interested in to their cart, and quickly and securely make purchases without ever leaving Pinterest. Another bonus for advertisers: product rich pins now feature automatic pricing and inventory updates. So if you have a popular product that’s low in stock, users browsing on Pinterest will be more motivated to buy now since they can see that there’s a limited amount left. It’s a great way to showcase products that are on sale or that are selling out quickly to encourage customers to act now.


Big Time Investment: Pinterest brands need to invest a lot of time into content creation in order to keep up with the competition.  The average Pinterest for Business account will need to share between 5 and 30 pins per day to get their boards noticed. You can invest in a social scheduling tool to schedule these posts in advance and create a content calendar, but Pinterest is still a significant time investment to stay relevant and get engagement on your content. This is why we recommend focusing your efforts on Pinterest advertising, as there is little revenue benefit from an organic Pinterest strategy. It’s clear that with the right advertising strategy investing in Pinterest ads will drive more sales, increase your brand’s revenue, and ultimately be a better way to spend your time.

More Expensive: Pinterest is more competitive and pricier than other social platforms with a $30 average cost per hundred impressions (or CPM) compared to Instagram’s $9 and Facebook’s $8.60. As a result, the CAC might be a little higher on Pinterest, but the quality of the audience based on the data you presented above likely means you’ll get a much better ROI, so it’ll be worth it. You need to have a bigger budget and be willing to pay more per view and per click in order to succeed on Pinterest. However, with the right marketing strategy you might find more success on Pinterest than you do on Facebook or Instagram.

Need Great Imagery: Pinterest is an entirely visual platform. Long story short: if you don’t have great images, you are not going to get conversions. Pinterest ads need eye-catching, sleek, captivating creative in order to stand out from the crowded feeds of Pinterest users where they can scroll past hundreds of pins per hour. Even if you write the best Pinterest captions or have the best products ever, that won’t matter if your creative is not appealing or attention-grabbing.

Cosmetic Advertising: Key Takeaways

Now that we’ve explored each channel in-depth, it’s time to decide which channel(s) is best for your brand. As you’re making your decision about which social channels to advertise on, it’s helpful to take a step back and think about your audience, your brand, and your goals.

Revisit your brand personas or spend some time thinking about which channels your audience uses the most and where they are spending the majority of their time online. Think about your brand’s story, what benefits and value propositions can you highlight to stand out from the competition? And finally, re-evaluate your goals.

Do you want to drive brand awareness or grow e-commerce sales? What are your key goals for CAC and LTV and what are you willing to invest in each platform to reach those goals? Before you start advertising, set clearly defined, measurable goals so you know your parameters for success.

Not sure how to do all that stuff? It’s what we specialize in, so let us do all the hard work for you. Let’s talk!

About the Author

Leila Lavey

Leila Lavey is a Senior Digital Strategist on Intuitive Digital's Paid Media Team. Leila is passionate about building strategic PPC and paid social campaigns that drive meaningful results for our partners. Leila is always looking for ways to optimize and improve performance.

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