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These Are The Most Popular Instagram Photo Ideas in The Beauty Sector

Hélène Heath
October 16, 2018
Last Updated On

Looking for new photo ideas to populate your brand's Instagram feed? Beauty brands, take heed. Whether you're in a creative funk or want to switch things up, this one's all about what types of shots are resonating in your sector. 👄

makeup brush
What beauty queens be loving.

Being a brand on Instagram is tough stuff, and those that are successful on the channel put in a lot of work to make it look effortless. Real talk: even the best of them can get stumped. Off days happen to everyone, and absolutely nobody is immune to that dreaded creative blockage—great Instagram photo ideas can dry up even with a whole department that has your back. And because Instagram is one of the most effective ways to reach your tribe, you want to know how to attain the highest level of performance with every asset you post.

When a platform boasts one billion daily users, there's a lot at stake. Getting it right is super vital, but it's far from an obvious task because the medium is in constant evolution. This intrinsically means that users are always expecting something fresh and relevant—they're unforgiving, while also quite demanding.

Take the beauty sector, for example. There's a niche for every cranny of the industry, whether it's heavy or natural makeup, skincare, haircare, tools, you name it. The category is thriving on all social channels because it lends itself to its visual sensibility. Users love seeing beauty products in action, no matter the micro-segment, and are highly engaged on platforms like Instagram and YouTube.

But this popularity adds a degree of difficulty to visibility and discovery. Cutting through the noise is incredibly challenging and how to best do it begins and ends with your creative assets. Is the quality there? Do they tell the story of your brand? Are they in line with your strategy? And finally, are they what people want to see?

Content trends are ephemeral and forever evolving. That goes for what's applicable to general image composition fads as well as industry-specific ones. We recently learned that adding citrus to a frame generally does well across Instagram, no matter the category. And seeing as beauty is one of the biggest and most hyped on Insta, we went on a mission to find what images resonated the most with audiences throughout the sector.

We analyzed photos from the past six months belonging to the industry's top brands, looking at accounts with both the highest following and engagement rates. We identified what composition trends stood out according to their recurrence and engagement. From there, we narrowed down eight types of images that most often reached sought-after heights.

Here they are, in no particular order.

Lip Service

Bulbous lips mid-application? Makeup aficionados are all about it.

lip application instagram photo ideas beauty sector
@toofaced | @limecrimemakeup@colourpopcosmetics

Bathroom Chronicles

Call it an extension of the #shelfie culture, products on display in the water closet are all the rage, especially in the skincare niche.

skincare shelfie instagram photo ideas beauty sector

Line 'Em Up

A whole product range lined up military style receives critical acclaim every time. Like a beauty battalion.

lipstick arrangement instagram photo ideas beauty sector

Product on Texture

Showcasing that pigmented texture makes for super dynamic product shots that resonate particularly well with makeup fans. Not to mention that it's oddly satisfying in some way, anyone else?

product arrangement instagram photo ideas beauty sector

Creative Swatching

A good old fashioned swipe on the arm is no longer good enough for swatching product for the 'Gram. There are all sorts of cool ways to showcase pigmented goods, and those creative methods receive lots of love.

makesup swatching instagram photo ideas beauty sector

Spill & Sample

How to get a perfect sense for a liquid product's color and texture? Spill it or squeeze it! This makes for—you guessed it—a super fun shot. The more creative the pour, the better.

product texture instagram photo ideas beauty sector


Mounds of endless beautifully packaged products are playful and eye-catching. These piles furnish a frame quite nicely, and we'd go as far as saying that the abundance makes for quintessential beauty porn.

close up product instagram photo ideas beauty sector
@drunkelephant@marcbeauty on @sephora@kiehls

Solo Palette

Sometimes less is more, and makeup enthusiasts are really keen on shots that feature just a single colorful palette. It's a simple way to put the spotlight on a multitasking item, which fans are all about.

palette instagram photo ideas beauty sector

There are thousands and thousands of beauty brands on Instagram, but not all of them are creating assets that are earning them high engagement. While you obviously shouldn't be posting the same thing all the time, it remains important to know what sorts of visuals could be added to your roster to boost your numbers.

So whether you're in a content rut or just looking to switch things up, one of the above hot Instagram photo ideas can help you gain or keep your momentum.

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