If you’re a professional beauty photographer, Instagram represents both a huge opportunity and a massive challenge.

Unlike less competitive photography niches, like sports photography and interior photography, beauty photography is probably the most popular photography category on the app.

You will not only be up against professional beauty photographers from every corner of the globe, but also legions of talented amateurs taking snaps of themselves or other beautiful people.

With that in mind it is critical that you understand the real value of Instagram hashtags, and how you can use them to build an audience for your images.

What are Instagram hashtags and what do they do?

In a nutshell, Instagram hashtags are user-generated image keywords that assist the app and other users in sorting images into categories and making Instagram’s image database searchable.

This happens whether or not users understand what hashtags are, or how they work.

In fact, many Instagram users use the hashtags primarily as keywords to provide context and additional information about images they post to the app.

While this isn’t ‘wrong’, it won’t help much to make these images become more visible to the Instagram community if the user is unaware of how to select appropriate hashtags for their images.

In fact, many Instagram users make the common error of choosing a selection of the most popular Instagram hashtags in the mistaken belief that this will expose them to a massive audience.

To understand why this approach is ineffective, we need to dig into how Instagram searches work.

How Instagram hashtag searches work

Instagram has a search feature that allows you to search its database by hashtag, amongst other things.

When you run a hashtag search you will first be presented with a list of hashtags matching, or similar to, the one you have submitted.

When you select a hashtag from this list, it will open the search result for this hashtag. This search result is available in two views:

1. Top posts: this is the default search result view. It displays the posts with the most likes for the hashtag (comments are less important). The number of images in the gallery of the top post will depend on the popularity of the hashtag and can range from a couple of images for new or low popularity hashtags to hundreds for the most popular hashtags. On desktop, top posts are limited to 9 images.

2. Recent posts: these are available as a tab next to top posts. Tapping on recent posts will display tagged posts in reverse chronological order. Most recent to least recent.

You will get the same two views if you tap on a hashtag from another Instagram image.

How to use beauty photography Instagram hashtags

To become more visible on Instagram you’ll need to get your image into the top posts position or get it to remain visible in the recent posts section for as long as possible.

This is achieved by using highly relevant hashtags, which does three things:

1. The higher relevance of the hashtag increases the probability of generating engagement with your post, which then increases its visibility across all hashtags used.

2. This naturally targets less competitive hashtags, increasing your odds of appearing in the gallery of the top post.

3. By targeting less competitive hashtags, your post will be visible in the recent posts section of that hashtag for longer.

By contrast, if you don’t already have a big Instagram following and target a very popular hashtag your chances of appearing in the top posts are miniscule. Furthermore, your image may be buried by new content in the recent posts section within seconds.

To illustrate how even a small change in making a hashtag more specific makes a big difference, #beauty has north of 480 million posts, while the much more topical #beautyshoots has just over 20,000 posts.

How many post likes do I need to appear in the top posts?

The number of likes required to secure a top posts position for a hashtag is roughly proportional to the number of posts made using the hashtag.

You will typically need hundreds of likes to appear in the top posts for a very competitive hashtag (any hashtag with over a million posts), while a couple dozen will get you into the top posts for a less competitive hashtag.

How many Instagram hashtags should I use?

Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per image. However, if you use your full quota you’re going to confuse your audience and come across as try-hard.

Rather use however many hashtags as you need to clearly communicate what your image is about, making sure these are descriptive and not vague.

The most popular beauty photography hashtags for Instagram

Here are some of the most popular beauty photography hashtags on Instagram. bear in mind that the number of posts for all of these are increasing constantly.

HashtagPost number
#beauty 458,381,048
#beautymakeup 2,557,688
#beautyphotography 2,133,623
#beautyshoot 1,161,123
#beautyphotographer 707,553
#beautyportrait 422,283
#beautyretouch 406,116

Connect with clients on Cherrydeck

Building a strong following for your beauty photography is invaluable.

However, Instagram was not designed to help professional beauty photographers connect with clients and get work.

That’s where Cherrydeck has filled the gap.

We recognize the challenges that professional photographers face in the competitive digital environment and offer a platform designed to help photographers connect with potential clients.

Signing up to our busy platform is 100% free and it is quick and easy to create a profile for your beauty photography business.

Once you have signed up with Cherrydeck you’ll also have access to:

  • New commissions and collaborations made available on our platform.
  • Tools to boost your Instagram reach and following.
  • Discounts on software for creative professionals via our Partner Deals program.
  • The ability to present your events to our large creative community.

Visit Cherrydeck now to find out more.

Posted by:Cherrydeck Editorial

Our mission is to enable brands to source custom visual content at scale through our global creative community. Follow us on Instagram for the latest updates @cherrydeck