React Memo

Level up your React development skills with React Memo. This article explains when to use React.memo() to optimize component rendering, how it works under the hood, and best practices to achieve a faster and more responsive React application.

Table of Contents

Introducing React.memo()

React.memo() is a powerful tool that acts as a performance booster for your React components. Think of it as giving your component a good memory. It allows a component to remember its previously rendered result and cleverly skip re-rendering if the same props are used again. This prevents unnecessary updates, leading to a much snappier and smoother user experience, especially when dealing with components that have complex rendering logic or involve heavy calculations.

Optimizing Performance with React.memo()

In React, performance optimization is key for a smooth user experience. React.memo() comes to the rescue as a higher-order component (HOC) that tackles unnecessary re-renders. It utilizes a technique called memoization to optimize component updates.


Memoization involves remembering the results of a function call for a specific set of arguments and reusing them instead of re-computing the function every time. React.memo() applies this concept to components.

Memoizing a Simple Component Example

import React, { memo } from 'react';

const ListItem = ({ item }) => {
    return (
            {} - {item.price}

export default memo(ListItem); // Wrap ListItem with memo


  • Line 1: Imports the React library and the memo function from the ‘react’ package. memo is used for performance optimization.
  • Line 3: Declares a functional component ListItem that takes a prop called item.
    • The item prop is expected to be an object with at least two properties: name and price.
  • Line 4-8: Returns a list item (<li>) element that displays the name and price properties of the item prop.
  • Line 11: Wraps the ListItem component with memo to memoize it. This prevents unnecessary re-renders if the props have not changed, improving performance.

Key Points

  • React.memo() creates a memoized version of the wrapped component.
  • Memoization helps prevent the component from re-rendering if its props haven’t changed.
  • This reduces unnecessary re-renders and improves overall application performance.

By strategically using React.memo(), you can target specific components and prevent them from re-rendering unless their props truly change, leading to a more optimized and responsive React application.

React.memo(): Caching and Selective Re-renders

React.memo() is a powerful tool for optimizing performance by preventing unnecessary re-renders in React components. Here’s how it works:

Caching and Comparison

  • React.memo() creates a memoized version of the wrapped component.
  • When the component is rendered for the first time or whenever its props change, the rendered output is cached.
  • On subsequent renders, React.memo() compares the current props with the props that caused the previous render.
  • If the props are shallowly equal (meaning top-level values match), it reuses the cached output, skipping a re-render.

Shallow Comparison

  • By default, React.memo() performs a shallow comparison of props. This means it compares the references of prop values, not necessarily their deep content.
  • If your props contain complex objects or arrays, you should implement a custom comparison function to ensure accurate equality checks.

Memoized Component with Shallow Comparison Example

import React from 'react';

const UserProfile = ({ user }) => {
    return (

export default React.memo(UserProfile);


  • Line 3: Defines a functional component named UserProfile that receives a prop called user. The user prop is expected to contain name and email properties.
  • Line 12: Wraps the UserProfile component with React.memo, a higher-order component. React.memo performs a shallow comparison of the props in each render to determine if the component needs to re-render. If the props (in this case, the user object) haven’t changed, React skips re-rendering this component, improving performance, especially in cases with frequent updates.

Understanding React Re-renders

In the heart of React lies the concept of re-renders. Whenever data within your application changes, React intelligently detects those changes and updates the components to ensure the user interface (UI) stays in sync. This could be a change in a component’s state, new data arriving from its parent component through props, or even the parent component itself updating. Detecting and responding to these changes is how React keeps your UI dynamic and responsive, reflecting the current state of your application.

Understanding Re-renders in React

React’s core principle is keeping the UI in sync with your application’s data. To achieve this, components re-render themselves whenever specific conditions are met. Here’s a breakdown of the key triggers for component re-renders:

Triggers for Re-renders

  1. State Changes
    React automatically triggers a re-render when a component’s internal state is updated using useState or similar methods. The component re-evaluates its output based on the new state value.
  2. Prop Updates
    React detects the change and triggers a re-render if a component receives new props (data passed from a parent component). The component re-executes with the updated props, potentially leading to changes in the UI.
  3. Parent Re-renders
    Child components are re-rendered by default when a parent component re-renders, even if their props haven’t changed directly. This ensures the entire component tree reflects the updated state of the parent.

Counter with State and Prop Example

import React, { useState } from 'react';

function Counter({ initialCount }) {
    const [count, setCount] = useState(initialCount);

    const handleClick = () => {
        setCount(prevCount => prevCount + 1);

    return (
            <h2>Count: {count}</h2>
            <button onClick={handleClick}>Increment</button>

export default Counter;


  • Line 4: Declares a functional component named Counter that accepts a prop called initialCount.
  • Line 6-7: Defines a function handleClick that updates the state using the setCount function. It uses the functional form of setCount to access the previous state and increment it by 1.
  • Line 12: Displays the current value of the count state variable within an <h2> element.
  • Line 13: Renders a button with an onClick event handler that triggers the handleClick function when clicked.

Re-render Triggers in this Example

  • Clicking the button triggers a state change (count is updated), causing a re-render (updated count is displayed).
  • If the initialCount prop from a parent component changes, the Counter component will re-render with the new initial value.
  • If the parent component renders Counter re-renders (even if initialCount doesn’t change), Counter will also re-render due to the parent’s update.

Re-renders and Performance

While re-renders are essential for keeping React’s UI up-to-date, frequent and unnecessary re-renders can negatively impact your application’s performance. This is especially true for complex components with heavy rendering logic or those manipulating large amounts of data.

Performance Impact of Re-renders

  • Each re-render involves re-evaluating a component’s function, potentially performing calculations and DOM manipulations.
  • Frequent re-renders can overload the browser, leading to sluggishness, lag, and a poor user experience.
  • Complex components with extensive rendering logic can increase performance issues with unnecessary re-renders.

Potentially Expensive Component Example

import React from 'react';

function calculateDiscount(price) {
    return price * 0.8;

const ProductList = React.memo(({ products }) => {
    return (
            { => (
                <li key={}>

export default ProductList;


  • Line 3-5: Defines a function calculateDiscount that calculates 80% of the price, representing a 20% discount.
  • Line 7: Uses React.memo for the ProductList component to prevent unnecessary re-renders. React.memo only re-renders the component if the props have changed.
    • Line 8-18: Returns a list (<ul>) of products. Each product is wrapped in a <li> tag with a unique key prop, the product’s name in a <h2> tag, the description in a <p> tag, and the discounted price displayed inside a <div>.
      • Line 10-16: Maps over the products array passed as props, rendering an <li> element for each product. It’s important for performance and to avoid errors in lists to include a unique key prop for each child in a list.
  • Line 21: Exports ProductList as the default export, allowing it to be imported and used in other parts of the application.

Performance Concerns

  • If products is a large array, each re-render of ProductList will involve re-running the loop and potentially expensive calculations for every product, even if only a small part of the data has changed.
  • This can significantly impact performance, especially as the number of products grows.

When to Use React.memo()

React.memo() shines in specific scenarios where preventing unnecessary re-renders can significantly improve performance. Here’s a breakdown of ideal use cases for memoization:

Beneficial Scenarios

  1. Frequent Re-renders with Same Props
    Components that re-render frequently, even if their props haven’t changed, are prime candidates for memoization. React.memo() can prevent these redundant re-renders, boosting performance.
  2. Computationally Expensive Rendering Logic
    Memoization can be highly beneficial if a component’s rendering logic involves complex calculations or manipulations. By caching the output for specific props, you can avoid re-running these expensive calculations every time, leading to a smoother experience.

Memoizing a List Item with Expensive Calculation Example

import React, { memo } from 'react';

const ProductListItem = memo(({ product }) => {
    const discount = calculateDiscount(product.price); // Expensive calculation

    return (
            <p>Price: ${product.price}</p>
            <p>Discount: ${discount}</p>

function calculateDiscount(price) {
    // Simulates complex discount calculation logic (e.g., loops, conditions)
    return price * 0.8;

export default ProductListItem;


  • Line 3: Defines ProductListItem, a functional component that receives a product object as a prop and is wrapped with memo to enhance performance.
    • Wrapping with memo ensures that ProductListItem only re-renders when the product prop changes, which is beneficial for expensive calculations or components in large lists.
  • Line 4: Calculates the discounted price by calling calculateDiscount with the product’s original price. This is marked as an expensive operation to highlight the benefit of memoization.
  • Lines 6-11: Renders the product’s information within a list item (<li>), including the name, original price, and discounted price.
  • Lines 15-17: Declares calculateDiscount, a function simulating a complex calculation to determine the product’s discounted price, returning 80% of the original price.

When to Avoid React.memo()

While React.memo() is a valuable optimization tool, it’s crucial to use it strategically. In some cases, the overhead introduced by memoization can outweigh the potential performance benefits. Here’s when to be cautious:

Unnecessary Overhead Scenarios

  1. Simple Components with Minimal Rendering Cost
    For very simple components with straightforward rendering logic, the comparison process involved in memoization might create more overhead than the actual rendering itself.
  2. Components with Frequently Changing Props
    If a component’s props change frequently, the memoization cache won’t be effective. The component constantly checks for changes, negating performance gains from skipping re-renders.

Simple Text Display with Frequent Prop Updates) Example

import React, { memo } from 'react';

const Message = memo(({ message }) => (

export default Message;


  • Line 3-5: Defines a memoized functional component Message that receives message as a prop and returns a paragraph element (<p>) displaying that message.
    • The component is wrapped with memo, indicating that React should only re-render this component if the message prop changes.

Key Points

  • Avoid React.memo() for simple components with low rendering cost.
  • Components with frequently changing props might not benefit from memoization.
  • The overhead of memoization checks can outweigh the benefit of skipping re-renders in these scenarios.

By understanding when React.memo() might introduce unnecessary overhead, you can optimize your React application effectively and ensure a smooth user experience.

Fine-Tuning Memoization with Custom Comparison Functions

By default, React.memo() performs a shallow comparison of props to determine when to re-render a component. This works well for simple props, but what if your props contain complex objects or arrays? Here’s where custom comparison functions come in.

Custom Comparisons for Deep Equality

  • React.memo() allows you to provide a custom comparison function as the second argument.
  • This function receives the previous props (prevProps) and the current props (nextProps) of the component.
  • By implementing your comparison logic within the function, you can control exactly when memoization occurs based on deeper property equality checks.

Memoizing with Deep Object Comparison Example

import React, { memo } from 'react';

const ProductDetails = ({ product }) => {
    // Simulates rendering logic (e.g., console.log)

    return (
            <p>Description: {product.description}</p>

const areEqual = (prevProps, nextProps) => {
    return === &&
        prevProps.product.description === nextProps.product.description;

export default memo(ProductDetails, areEqual); // Custom comparison


  • Lines 3-12: Defines a ProductDetails component that displays product details.
  • Lines 14-17: Defines a custom comparison function areEqual that checks for deep equality of product name and description.
  • Line 19: Wraps ProductDetails with memo(), passing areEqual for custom comparison.

Key Points

  • Custom comparison functions allow for deep comparisons of props beyond shallow equality.
  • This is useful for components with complex prop objects or arrays.
  • Implement your comparison logic within the function to control memoization behavior.