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When it comes to buying beauty products, twentysomething women are undeterred by cost, basing purchase decisions instead on what works.

That finding, unearthed in Mademoiselle's 1994 Beauty Study, contradicts conventional beauty industry wisdom that twentysomethings are price sensitive because of tough economic conditions and lower earning expectations.

In fact, 95% of respondents said if a beauty product performs, then price isn't an issue. That number is up from 82% in 1991, when the Conde Nast Publications monthly conducted its last beauty survey.

And unlike older consumers, this age group doesn't put off buying until a special sale or offer comes along, with two out of three respondents noting they buy their favorite products when they feel like it.

The study also contradicted another common belief that women remain unconcerned about their skin until the first signs of aging.

Nine out of 10 of Mademoiselle's group of twentysomethings said they worry about the effects of sun damage and stress; more than 75% believe they can delay the first wrinkle with proper skincare. To keep age in abeyance, 84% began using a moisturizer before age 25 and 46% before age 19.

Unlike their mothers, respondents also said their opinions of beauty products aren't drawn from image and status, but performance and reputation based on research. As a result, 70% said they know which brands they will buy before entering a store, and when they like a brand, 95% are loyal to it. The study recommends marketers do more sampling to increase brand loyalty.

Another part of the beauty generation gap is how cosmetics are used. Other generations turned to cosmetics to make themselves more attractive to others, but these younger consumers said they use cosmetics to feel better about themselves, with 84% citing that as the reason they wear cosmetics.

Other product attributes that attract these women include claims that the product is dermatologist tested or environmentally safe; contains natural ingredients or no animal-derived ingredients; is available in sensitive skin formulas; and comes in packaging made from recycled materials.

The national survey of 1,000 women ages 18 to 29 was conducted last September through mailed questionnaires to 2,000 women, yielding a 48% response rate. The survey itself was based on 350 questions that Mademoiselle solicited from beauty marketers.

Leah Rickard coordinates Research News.

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