Prestige make-up records double-digit growth as sector starts to bounce back

UK sales of prestige mascara, brow products, tinted moisturiser and setting spray reported double digit growth in the first half of 2021 helping to boost the make-up sector, which has been heavily impacted by changing behaviours and buying habits caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

It seems the focus for consumers has been on the eye area, with sales of prestige mascara soaring 20% in the first half of 2021 compared to this period in 2020, a report by market analyst The NPD Group found. 

Plus, in Q1 and Q2 of this year, mascara accounted for just under half (43%) of all eye make-up volume sales compared to 36% of those in the first half of 2019, with innovation and existing lines cited as main driving gains. 

Tinted moisturisers have also seen a resurgence, with sales increasing 19% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, as consumers opt for the natural look. Plus, customers are also seeking out make-up products that have skincare benefits, with 94% of all tinted moisturisers sold in this period containing SPF. 

Not to mention that eight of the top 10 face make-up launches in the first half of the year contained skincare benefits such as moisturising/hydrating properties or specific ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, the report found. 

With changes to work patterns – for example, hybrid working – and social behaviours, plus some people continuing to wear face coverings when in public places, consumers have been wearing less make-up, causing it to be the slowest category in prestige beauty to recover from the pandemic. 

The NPD Group also cited other challenges, such as testers on counters only recently being reintroduced and the shift to online retail, for the category’s struggles. For example, bricks and mortar sales of prestige make-up declined 66% in the first half of 2021 compared to 2019, while online sales have increased 15% in the same period. 

The total UK prestige make-up market was valued at £200 million in the first half of 2021, which is a decline of 4% on the same period in 2020, and a decrease of 48% compared to the same period in 2019, the report found. 

“The make-up market has changed dramatically since the pandemic. How and how often people wear make-up has also changed. Many people continue to work from home (or in a hybrid model) and people are socialising less, and as a result, the natural look has become more popular,” said Emma Fishwick, account manager at NPD UK Beauty. 

“Combine this with continued mask wearing, the absence of defined trends like strobing and contouring, and consumer reluctance to spend (compared to pre-pandemic), make-up sales have naturally been affected.” 

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