US prestige beauty sales reached US$4.3 billion in the last quarter despite a significant drop in makeup sales.

Releasing the NPD Group’s latest report on the prestige beauty market, beauty industry analyst Larissa Jensen said total sales (makeup, skincare, fragrance and hair) were two percent higher in the April-June quarter this year than in the same period last year.

Makeup sales in the April-June quarter reached $1.79 billion (4 percent less than in the same period last year); skincare sales reached $1.4 billion (7 percent more than last year); fragrance sales reached $834 million (2 percent more); and hair sales reached $217 million (21 percent more).

“Total beauty performance in the second quarter was positive across most categories, with hair and skincare posting the strongest gains,” said Jensen.

“Makeup was the only outlier, continuing to post declines that began during the first quarter of 2019.”

She said the “continued decline in makeup, and softening performance in fragrance” meant it was becoming increasingly important for the beauty industry “to identify trends leading to areas of growth”.

Other report highlights include:


  • The consumer’s preference for a natural look continues to impact sales, with positive performance in tinted moisturiser and lip gloss as well as steady performance from concealer and eyebrow makeup.
  • Primers and setting sprays have been growth drivers in the makeup category (up 78 percent and 6 percent, respectively). In short, areas of growth tend to be related to the extra steps and finishing touches, versus the core makeup categories.
  • False eyelashes continued their positive growth trend, up 18 percent, a bright spot in an otherwise challenged makeup category.


  • One skincare area showing signs of maturity is facial masks, which are in decline. Consumer interest in masks may be waning due to the number of skincare brands delivering advanced technology in core products and a potential desire to simplify their routines.
  • Targeted treatments comprise many of the fastest growth segments in skincare, with growth in brighteners, acne treatments and exfoliators all up over 15 percent.

Jensen said NPD expected the prestige beauty market to “experience growth across most categories” in this half of the 2019 although “the makeup category will likely continue to struggle through the end of the year”.

“As category performances ebb and flow, brands should consider that reacting to changes quickly will make their path to success easier,” she said.

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