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Discovering beauty industry trends using Yelp data

Photo of The Color Cove on Yelp; women-owned salon in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The global beauty industry market is valued at an astounding $511 billion (Common Thread Collective, 2021)—and it’s only continuing to grow. Yelp data shows that even in the face of the pandemic, nearly 21,000 businesses in the “Beauty & Spa” category opened in the first six months of 2021. This includes everything from sugaring to medical spas and piercings to barbers (see the full list).

As we watched those numbers climb, we also took a deep dive into Yelp data—like search volume and customer behavior—to help identify trends in the industry. Here’s what we found.

Consumer interest: low seasonality impact

When it comes to consumer interest on Yelp, most beauty categories don’t follow seasonal trends. Demand is very steady for all categories without experiencing any surges or major declines (outside of the 2020 pandemic periods when local regulations/national guidelines shut down many personal care/beauty businesses).

The one outlier? The nail salon. Nail salons are the only beauty category that has seasonal demand patterns based on consumer interest. Typically, they see a summer spike (May-August) with another small spike around the holiday season (December).

Tip: For the most part, potential customers are on the hunt for beauty-related businesses year round. Make sure your Yelp Page is complete and accurate—from your special/holiday hours to updated photos and captions.

Search volume: return of the mullet

We saw increased Yelp search volume for the following phrases in June, making them some of our top summer beauty trends.

  • Shag/mullet haircut
    Up 64% from June 2020 and 154% from June 2019
  • Money pieces for hair
    Up 1,453% from June 2020 and 260,540% from June 2019
  • Facial waxing
    Up 66% from June 2020 and 58% from June 2019
  • Lymph drainage (and lymph massage)
    Up 84% from June 2020 and 331% from June 2019

We also saw searches for “BIPOC-owned” increase month-over-month in June this year—up 38% from May 2021 and 64% from April 2021.

Tip: Make sure you’ve selected your specialty services on your Yelp Page. You can choose an unlimited number of services based on your business categories, and this ensures you’ll appear in consumer searches for specific services, like some of the those listed above. Read more on how to set this up, as well as four other Yelp Page necessities.

You can also add specific attributes to your page—like women-owned, Black-owned, Asian-owned, Latinx-owned, and/or LGBTQ-owned—so that customers can seek you out specifically.

Photo of Sojourn De Nails on Yelp; women- and Asian-owned nail salon in Houston

Frequent mentions in reviews

To get a sense of trending topics in Yelp reviews, we identified specific phrases and measured their frequency in the reviews of beauty-related businesses.

We found that 5-star businesses had a higher volume of the following phrases compared to 1-star businesses:

  • Face masks and mouth coverings
  • Beverages (both non-alcoholic and alcoholic such as water, tea, and champagne)
  • Online appointment booking
  • Aromatherapy or essential oil diffusers

On the flip side, we found that 1-star businesses had a higher volume of the following phrases compared to 5-star businesses:

  • Rude employees
  • Uncomfortable furniture
  • Being overcharged or price list not matching requested payment 

Tip: These review sentiments cover the beauty industry as a whole and can be used as learnings by a wide range of beauty-related business types, but you can also take a deep dive into your own reviews to see what customers love (and what they don’t). See this step-by-step guide for analyzing your reviews—allowing you to identify what’s working well and what you may be able to improve.

Looking for more? Check out these insights from beauty industry business owners about what they wish they knew when they were first starting out.


New business openings
Openings are determined by counting new businesses listed on Yelp, which are added by either business owners or Yelp users. Openings are adjusted year over year (2021 vs. 2020) and / or year over two-years (2021 vs 2019), meaning openings are relative to the same period of time in the period two years prior for the same category and geographic location. This adjustment corrects for both seasonality and the baseline level of Yelp coverage in any given category and geography

Consumer interest by business category
We measure consumer interest in terms of U.S. counts of a few of the many actions people take to connect with businesses on Yelp: viewing business pages, posting photos, or writing reviews. Consumer interest for each category is based on the changes in the category’s share of all consumer actions in its root category.

Search text volume
To gather an understanding of trending topics related to beauty services on Yelp, the data science team identified trends within review text by measuring the frequency of the phrase mentioned in reviews per million words since 2019.

We compare the frequency of phrases related to the trends to all beauty services category searches for each month since 2019. To understand how this search volume changed over time, we then compared search volumes in recent periods to previous periods to evaluate month-to-month changes as well as year-over-year changes. Both searches where consumers directly type a search into the search bar and where consumers click on a suggested term or phrase are included. The June 2020 stats are year-over-year comparisons between June 2021 and June 2020. The June 2019 stats are year-over-year comparisons between June 2021 and June 2019.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.

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