Shipping - Article | 3-min. read

How Customers Shop Online for Health and Beauty Products

Health and beauty retailers are seeing a trend toward online sales: 18% of total U.S. spending on beauty and personal-care products occurs online, to a price tag totaling $12 billion.1 These items—which include makeup, razors and contacts—are small personal necessities, meaning the orders are inexpensive to ship and get repeated consistently.

By understanding who is buying what in the health and beauty categories, which types of businesses they turn to for these products, and how often they shop, you can confidently plan to start or enhance your online store presence. Read on to see how three of the biggest health and beauty categories are performing online, and how you can leverage their growth to help your business.

Skin care, cosmetics and hair care

This is the largest category for online sales: It saw a boost in web sales of almost 29% last year.1 This growth can be attributed to the availability of specialized products online that can’t be found at drugstores, as well as the convenience of ordering online.

Who is shopping online?

Makeup and skin care sites are especially appealing to younger shoppers.

Millennial (24%) and Gen-Z (14%) shoppers account for the largest group of buyers.1

Where online are they shopping?

These products are being bought from a variety of sites online.

26% web sales growth for brand and manufacturer websites1
19% web sales growth for online-only merchants1
18.4% web sales growth for brick-and-mortar retail chain websites1

Men’s hair care is also a growing market.

Online-only subscription shaving services are booming, and men’s personal-care items are top sellers on popular online marketplaces.1

Vitamins and supplements

The personal nature of vitamins and health supplements makes them strong candidates for online success. In the last year, web sales grew by 20%, powered mostly by online-only retailers.1

Who is shopping online?

The bulk of purchasing power lies with men and women ages 35 and up.


Where online are they shopping?

Most of the category’s growth (43%) came from one online-only merchant that has led web sales for years.1

Brick-and-mortar vitamin and supplement stores are also beginning to use online marketplaces as an additional branch of their store.

They list the same prices and run the same promotions in-store and online, which allows the company to find revenue wherever customers are buying.1

Contacts and eyewear

This category sees frequent shopping. Customers reorder contacts regularly and are often looking for new frames for eyeglasses. This helped lead to its 15% web sales growth last year.1

Who is shopping online?

A majority (63.7%) of online buyers are between the ages of 25 and 54.1


Where online are they shopping?

Consumers helped an eyeglasses retailer that started online-only and offered free at-home try-ons grow its web sales by 30%.1

After rebranding, which included improved free-shipping offers and reordering processes, an online-only contacts retailer also saw web sales grow—by 145%.1

Key Takeaway

The online market for health and beauty products continues to grow. Customers flock to online shops because of quick and efficient shipping, as well as the ease of reordering or subscribing to products online. Take advantage of this growth to develop an optimal experience for your customers online and watch your business boom.

1“2017 Internet Retailer Health Beauty Report,” Vertical Web Media LLC, 2017.

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