Why do beauty news headlines sound similar?

If you follow beauty news outlets, you might notice many headlines sound similar. Digital publications write eye-catching, engaging, and highly clickable headlines for a very simple reason: they want you to read their story. Larger readerships, more clicks, and longer engagement times convert to more advertiser spending, higher Google rankings, and trust among readers. These are the bread and butter of digital publications.

Digital writers, editors, and publishers use analytics to see which of their headlines perform the best. Metrics like clicks or conversions can be used to measure this. Outlets also run A/B tests (also known as split tests), which involve writing two or more headlines for a single story to see which option is most popular. One randomised group of readers will see one, and another randomised group will see another. You might actually notice it happen on the odd occasion. If you read a headline on a homepage and revisit a website a few hours or a day later, you might notice the same story image with a different headline!

Like many digital topics, there’s endless theorising, experimentation, and discussion about which kinds of headlines tend to perform the best. But whatever approaches are generally deemed effective at the time is what you’ll see a lot of. Headlines with who/what/when/where/why/how, numbers, questions, specific keywords, and teasers tend to do better than abstract, vague, passive, or robotic-sounding headlines.

You’ll find most beauty news headlines fit into one or more of the following categories. They’re what outlets believe their readers will be interested in or what will help their stories perform well. If you clicked on any beauty news stories lately, the chances are a cleverly-written headline took you there!

Expert and educational

Sounds like: “Dermatologists say this [action/ingredient] is actually [good/bad] your skin.”
Also sounds like: “Why [product/ingredient/technique] will change your routine.”

What’s it about: This kind of story usually includes commentary or quotes from an expert in their field to explain a beauty topic. Education-focused stories offer value to readers by expanding their beauty knowledge. Stories range from broad and basic (which products you should have in your routine) to niche and more specific (why people with sensitive but oily skin should use glycolic acid in the evening).

First-person reviews

Sounds like: “I tried [product/regimen/treatment] and it’s changed my [skin/routine/outlook].”

What it’s about: These stories are mostly written by a publication’s staff writers, contributors, or editors. First-person reviews road-test a product, ingredient, or technique, offering the ‘I tried it so you didn’t have to’ style of beauty advice. It also gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the reviewer’s routine, building a sense of trust and relatability. Many beauty consumers rely on trustworthy reviews before making a purchase, so it’s a lucrative opportunity for brands to be included in these kinds of stories.


Sounds like: “How to [action] [concern/goal/product] [quickly/easily/affordably].”

What it’s about: Often presented as a step-by-step process, these tutorial-style stories are fantastic for answering readers’ questions. It’s common for people to Google-search ‘how to XYZ’, so stories directly speaking to popular search terms tend to perform well. These stories often utilise expert commentary for added credibility and value.

Shopping guides

Sounds like: “[Number] must-have products for [season/event/goal]”. Bonus: “Plus, they’re all under $[price]!”

What it’s about: Click-through shopping guides and galleries are helpful for rounding-up products of a similar theme. They’re helpful for readers, so they can take a quick look at multiple product options without having to visit different pages. It’s also a great chance for writers and editors to meet any PR or advertising obligations. These stories are usually pretty easy to pull together, compared to long articles – create a theme, find product details and imagery, write some editorial copy, and hit publish.

Trend updates

Sounds like: “There’s a new [ingredient/product/treatment], so we tried it.”
Also sounds like: “[Celebrity who’s on a press tour] reveals how they [get ready/look after themselves] – including the $[low price] product they can’t live without.”

What it’s about: This is all about keeping current and being across what’s expected to be popular. Stories about new releases, product innovations, collaborations, and generally ‘on-trend’ topics are appealing to readers who are engaged with beauty news. With so much content available, ‘exclusives’ are valuable to digital outlets. It gives them the right to publish a story before anyone else, making them ‘first on the scene.’

Amy Hadley

Amy Hadley is a beauty copywriter with a background in print journalism, digital media, public relations, and eCommerce. As someone contributing to the beauty industry, she encourages her clients to use words creatively, sincerely, and responsibly. This is to promote more honest and thoughtful communication in the beauty industry, and better serve its consumers.

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