The global eCommerce health and beauty industry experienced a significant gear change during the pandemic, as consumers avoided consumption of colour cosmetics in favour of hardworking, solution-focused skincare products, leaning into wellness and self care.
Alongside an influx of ‘natural’ and ‘clean’ product launches, this shift created a whole new dynamic to the way that D2C beauty brands communicate with customers - educational content, informative online shopping journeys, virtual advisors and social community have all become a necessary part of getting customer buy-in and proving your worth.
With the health and beauty eCommerce industry set to grow from $202.3 billion to $358.4 billion by 2026, and challenger brands showing 4 times faster growth than established players, it is a good time to pull focus on what gives these brands their edge in a highly crowded space.
Below we’ve pulled out 12 inspiring health and beauty brands that succeed in cutting through the noise, from immersive storytelling on-site, robust UX features or building meaningful customer connections through considered loyalty programs.
The Nue Co. has redefined the way we perceive vitamins and supplements, developing a product range that approaches health as a complete ecosystem - taking into account physical, mental, environmental and social wellbeing.
The brand’s intrinsic values are woven throughout every touchpoint of the site and buying journey. Starting with the homepage, The Nue Co. communicates USPs as well as product differentiators, giving visitors a clear understanding of how to navigate the rest of the site from the onset.
We particularly like how content is handled on PDPs, breaking down key product benefits and ‘how to use’ information into simplified grids and iconography. Engaging cursor interactions and animations across all pages are a highlight, as well as product packaging which mirrors the brand’s minimalist, apothecary aesthetic seamlessly.
The Nue Co. offers a nice consultation service that helps users build a tailored plan depending on their unique needs. This adds an important layer of personalisation, but also drives customer data collection allowing for tailored product targeting.
Each item can be bought as a one-off with a refillable container or via a subscription, and the journey to choosing the right option is clear and managed well. Most orders also qualify for free samples - a great route to introduce customers to new products, nurture relationships and encourage repeat purchase.
Last year the brand saw phenomenal growth with a 70% repeat purchase rate - we feel like this is definitely a brand to watch.
Snif is a genderless, premium, clean-fragrance brand offering a unique, fun way of finding the perfect personal fragrance with their ‘try before you buy’ model that gives users a 7 day trial before purchasing.
Snif’s product proposition and USPs are communicated immediately as the user lands on site, making it very clear what the brand offers and why users should continue their journey.
Pushing the boundaries of traditional UX, the sticky menu and cart on the page footer is a unique feature that works well for the brand’s site structure. The full-screen meganav is particularly strong and allows for good brand discovery by surfacing all key pages clearly. We also like how the data capture is integrated here.
All key site elements have been carefully considered and we love the fresh take on push-cart positioning, PDP template design as well as the use of animation with the free shipping scrolling ticker and reviews block on the homepage.
Overall the site does a great job in setting Snif apart from other fragrance brands, with the customer journey first focused on education and secondly guiding the user to purchase.
Hero Cosmetics was born in 2017 with the aim of helping men and women fight blemish prone skin through gentle, ingredient-led formulas and simple routines. Launching initially with one product, the brand has now expanded to a product range of over twenty.
The site is super functional, telling the brand story throughout by balancing science-led messaging with a clean-minimal aesthetic that avoids overwhelming users.
The rewards programme and community section is the real hero which goes beyond the traditional reward implementation. Users are encouraged to join the ‘Skin Squad’ where they can earn points via traditional methods like shopping, but also via activities that encourage users to engage in their community, including participating in forums or sharing content.
The ‘insider’ community element fuels greater interactivity with the brand and other customers, making users feel like contributors rather than siloed consumers (as is often the case with a traditional rewards programme). Specific features we like are the use of push notifications to highlight points, rewards and new discussion forums or polls to participate in, as well as the user dashboard which also shows other members' interactions. This rewards scheme is a real lesson for brands in how to engage with users on an authentic level and improve retention rates and brand advocacy.
Whilst not a conventional beauty brand, Cadence was created to provide sustainable, portable, functional and reusable packaging for beauty products, helping to make travelling with your favourite items both easy and eco-friendly.
The brand immediately establishes their authority with press callouts on the homepage, whilst video blocks highlighting the product concept provide great context that hooks you in to find out more. This is extremely important when getting customer buy-in for a niche product like this and the site is successful in creating desire through solution-focused content and product animations that create an immersive experience. This is particularly true for the ‘About us’ page, where the animations on scroll provide a fun and engaging way to learn about the brand’s mission.
The site demonstrates how a simple, functional product can be made exciting and create intrigue. The clever placement of CTAs funnel users through the shopping journey, whilst the site header provides clear navigation back to key areas of the site.
The utilisation of video content and GIFs across PDPs helps to bring the products to life, alongside user generated content which adds an additional layer of credibility.
Another great example of how the brand builds trust and community is through the ‘Routines’ page which brings focus on their brand ambassadors and encourages users to connect via social channels.
Lastly, personalisation and bundling play a key part of the journey and both are handled really well. We particularly like the ability to customise colour and labels across all products, with the configuration displayed in real-time, creating a fun and interactive experience.
Branding itself as the “world’s best-smelling sunscreen”, Vacation redefines the experience of buying and wearing sun protection with its expertly crafted nostalgic scents and playful brand identity of “leisure enhancing sunscreen”.
Vacation is an exciting Shopify store that uses bold dynamic content to create an engaging and fun, yet clean shopping experience.
Starting with the homepage, the full-bleed video content, ‘Vibe Generator’ music mixer, lifestyle image gallery and animated interactions all provide an immersive experience that cleverly communicates brand identity, whilst keeping the product the central focus. We also like that there is a clear path to purchase hero products via an interactive section which hooks users in to explore further.
Storytelling is also weaved into PDPs through imagery and videos. We especially like how visual and written content such as an ingredients list is presented as the user scrolls. Another key feature that stands out is product upsells within the push cart which are both well presented and provide a good opportunity for increasing UPT and AOV in one click.
Vacation also utilises the power of PR callouts to showcase authority on their site, featuring auto-scrolling quotes from publications such as Vogue and Grazia in prominent locations of the homepage and PDP. Not one to miss a trick, Vacation have geniusly introduced a loyalty scheme named ‘Vacation Honorary Employees’ that gives users exclusive content and offers under the guise of a Vacation rep scheme.
Founded by celebrity hair stylist Jen Atkin in 2016, Ouai has quickly become a highly established hair and bodycare brand with a cult following due to its focus on developing effective natural formulas in unique scents that really work for everyone.
Ouai is another Shopify store that has a unique and fresh site design whilst remaining highly functional from a UX perspective. Less traditional features such as the left-aligned meganav, search and customer log-in placement on desktop, as well as the flipped sticky header that appears on the bottom of the screen on mobile are executed well. Similarly, the push-cart also appears on the left side of the screen for desktop and mobile; an approach not often taken but that works well here.
PDPs are particularly strong in terms of content, interactive elements and animations as the user progresses down the page. Written content such as product features, directions for use and scent information are presented in an engaging way, whilst the shoppable Instagram element is great for social proof and encourages users to explore other products in the collection.
The product finder quiz, whilst not unique, has been designed well with fun messaging and helps users find out whether Ouai products are right for them, whilst also recommending a dedicated product routine depending on individual hair goals.
Since its launch in 2018, The Inky List has seen high growth, storming the market with unfussy, ingredient-led formulas.
The site has been built to be highly user-centric and solution-focused like its products, with navigation focused on shopping by skin concern or skincare routine ‘step’.
PDPs are kept super clean whilst still providing all information needed to make a purchase. The use of product imagery and videos in particular represent the product really well, and links for live chat provides users with additional support in completing their purchase.
This site provides a great example of well executed social proof, from the #TheINKEYList shoppable Instagram section on product pages that pulls through UGC of specific products, to product reviews with detailed filtering for age, skin type and skin concern.
Another great feature is the ‘Recipe Builder’ for both skin and hair care products - a 5 step quiz that initially creates a ‘Starter Recipe’ bundle with dedicated products to start your journey. Users who create an online profile then have access to their own skin coach, skincare tracking and personalised recommendations via the ‘My INKEY’ dashboard. This provides a great way for the brand to remain engaged with their customers, nurturing retention and brand advocacy.
We also love how the brand promotes gender inclusivity through gender representation across the site and selling products as unisex and genderless.
Ilia Beauty is a highly acclaimed makeup brand that marries functionality with sustainability for all women.
The website provides a clean, functional and engaging user journey, with a direct route to buy as soon as the user lands on site. The quick ‘add to bag’ on the homepage with integrated shade selector is a nice feature, whilst the pop-out cart is also well thought out, allowing users to select free samples or minis and presenting additional best-selling items with clear product descriptions to facilitate one-click add to bag.
PDPs are well laid out with engaging video content of the product IRL and details like ‘Sasha’s tip’ from the brand founder provides a personal touch. UGC and reviews are handled really well through the ‘See it in real life’ section. There is also a traditional review section below with the option to filter on a granular level by 7 different variables, from age range to skin concern and undertone.
Like other brand examples, we love the ‘Find my shade’ tool which provides users with the option of taking a visual quiz or sending a selfie to an expert who will send back a colour match within 24 hours. This service cleverly bridges the gap between in-store and online personalised assistance well.
A brand that needs no introduction, Fenty Beauty has gone from strength to strength promoting skin inclusivity since it launched in 2017. Whilst not a new Shopify store, it still proves to be an exciting one, with its recent addition of the Fenty Skincare range, accessed via the navigation toggle in the header.
All elements of the site are visually strong, utilising the power of imagery, video and colour for storytelling and creating a clear understanding of brand identity. In particular, the brand feels authentic to Rihanna through the tone of voice across all content.
Fenty Beauty has adopted a real customer focused approach to the site with the easy navigation, strong representation of products through large bold imagery and ‘How To’ guides. User generated content is integrated seamlessly onto the homepage, PLPs and PDPs, providing a key trust signal, with customers encouraged to directly upload photos of themselves wearing products.
There are also a number of smart tools available that provide an enhanced personalised service including the ‘Shade Finder’ (a 4 step quiz to help users find the perfect foundation colour), as well as ‘Virtual Try-on’. On site experiences such as these are becoming increasingly important for beauty brands to mirror the in-store journey and Fenty Beauty is leading the way in how to do it well.
This clean skincare brand has gone viral on TikTok for its highly affordable, straight talking (no BS) and ingredient focused products.
Versed has created a clean and paired back site with a simple UI that complements its no nonsense brand values. The brand has been incredibly clever in creating bold aesthetically pleasing packaging in rich pastel shades with minimalist typography, enabling the product to take centre stage.
The ‘Skin Decoder’ quiz and ‘Good Skin’ blog validates the brands authority and delivers true skincare education to its users in a digestible way. The Versed loyalty programme ‘Good Skin Squad’ is simple yet effective, tiering customers based on spend and enabling points redemption via cash rewards, samples or products. This is a great way to encourage repeat purchase and build a loyal customer community.
Founded in 2017, Trinny London is one of the highest growth direct to consumer start-ups in Europe.
The brand proposition is clear throughout the site - simplified skincare and make-up that focuses on quality ingredients for skin of all ages, with “Rethink your routine” being the core message.
We particularly like how bundling is handled on the ‘Stacks & sets’ PLP and PDPs, from messaging around pricing to the shade selector for makeup items. Overall, PLPs such as ‘Skincare’ are well structured and visually engaging. Feature highlights are the clean visual sub-navigation, product tags and the UGC block with customer stories which is especially effective for new product ranges to build user trust. Blog content is also pulled into top-level PLPs, giving users quick access to educational tools and additional guidance in choosing the right product.
The ‘Match2Me’ personalisation tool is featured at key stages in the shopping journey and allows users to easily input their physical characteristics such as eye and hair colour to generate a curated list of products best suited to them. An important and noteworthy part of the site is the ‘Trinny Tribe’ - a huge community of brand advocates that has access to exclusive content such as live events, discussion forums and advice from founder Trinny Woodall. There are currently over 70 thousand members across the world, accessed via a private Facebook page for each region. This is another great example of community building and engagement to empower brand advocacy and fuel retention.
Another no-nonsense brand for skincare essentials, Go-to Skincare focuses on cruelty-free products for sensitive skin and provides clear benefits to users.
The brand identity and values are super clear from the onset, communicated through tone of voice, imagery and colour palette. This is true for the women’s, men’s and kids collections which can be easily toggled in the site header. We like how the roll-over imagery on PLPs showcases a mixture of product texture, reviews or GIFs, whilst PDPs are highly engaging and informative with a mixture of iconography, video content and imagery to highlight product benefits, ingredients and ‘how-to-guides’. The positioning of product upsells within the product info panel is also a nice feature that works really well.
Go-to skincare’s ‘The Repair Shop’ page is a great example of how a brand has built a curated landing page for one of their hero products. It builds interest around the product, highlighting how it can best fit into a customers skincare routine and used in conjunction with other items in the range. The FAQs section also works well on content heavy pages like this, as well as the sticky ‘Add to bag’ element.
Another good feature is the blog which is filled with great educational resources, expert tips and advice from the founder as well as regularly published real-life customer stories.
So what are the key takeaways from these inspiring health and beauty brands?
Keep your brand identity clear and weave it through every element of your site to guide users through their purchasing journey.
Ensure your product takes centre stage, giving users a clear route to product discovery if new to the site and to purchase if they are a repeat customer.
Assert yourself as an authority in your industry with educational pieces and press call-outs. This is especially important for an industry with many scam brands and inauthentic companies.
Utilise the power of community through loyalty schemes that have depth and go beyond point collection. Creating a space where your customers become brand advocates will build a stronger relationship between a brand and their customers.
If you’re a health and beauty brand and want support in maximising your online store, then get in touch at [email protected]