Color Me Uninterested: 25% of Women Wearing Less Makeup

Whether it’s more women working at home, a trend toward more natural looks or just the general "casual-ization" of America, sales of cosmetics continue to decline.

The NPD Group recently released its annual report on the prestige beauty industry. And while there are healthy gains in skin-pampering products, makeup sales continue to fall. In 2019, total sales reached $18.8 billion, more or less flat compared to the previous year, according to the Port Washington, New York-based market research company.

While sales of skincare products climbed 5%, fragrance rose 2% and hair jumped 16%, makeup — the largest category, at $7.6 billion — fell 7%.

In the report, developed in conjunction with CivicScience, about 25% of women say they are wearing less makeup than they used to. Of those, 58% are daily exercisers, and 52% say when they do buy beauty purchases, they choose environmentally sound products.



“’Natural’ is a big buzz word in many industries, especially beauty — in terms of product ingredients as well as consumers looking to achieve a more natural look. How makeup responds to this movement will be key to its revival,” says Larissa Jensen, vice president and beauty industry advisor, The NPD Group.

She predicts the pendulum will start swinging back to a more made-up look in the next one to two years.

Sales of skincare products rose to $5.9 billion for the year, and products touted as natural were contributors to that growth. Natural brands account for about 30% of total skincare, with sales climbing 14% in the last year.

Fragrance sales climbed to $4.5 billion, driven by the growth in stronger concentrations, with perfumes rising 49% and eau de parfums up 9%.

Companies with plenty of anti-aging and anti-wrinkle potions in their portfolios are riding the trend. Last week, L’Oréal said its L’Oréal Paris division had its strongest annual growth since 2007, propelled by Revitalift Filler with hyaluronic acid in skincare, which it rolled out all over the world in both ampoule and serum format. Garnier also performed well, thanks to its Tissue Masks and Micellar Cleansing Water.

La Roche-Posay recorded double-digit growth in L’Oréal’s active cosmetics division (“developed and endorsed by health professionals -- dermatologists, pediatricians, cosmetic doctors,” according to the company's website). And the SkinCeuticals line is growing in all zones, with sales tripling in the U.S. and China.

Still, overall, L’Oréal sales in North America slipped about 1%, dragged down by the less-makeup trend.

At Estee Lauder, fiscal second-quarter sales grew 15% to $4.62 billion, while net earnings rose to $557 million from $573 million in the comparable period. Sales of skincare products shot up 27% to $2.2 billion, while its makeup sales bucked the trend and rose 6% to $1.7 billion. But the company says cosmetic sales in North American continue to struggle.

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