Beauty remains top of mind for consumers — and a retail category leader – for the first half of 2023. According to data firm Circana, US prestige beauty sales reached $14 billion for the period ended June 30, a 15% increase versus the year prior. Comparatively, mass beauty sales generated $28 billion, a 9% jump.

“Beauty continues to be the darling of retail through the first half of 2023, maintaining its position as the only industry to grow based on units sold across the general merchandise and consumer packaged goods categories Circana tracks,” says Larissa Jensen, Beauty Industry Advisor at Circana. “The beauty industry is hitting the right notes, meeting consumers’ emotional needs through new and existing products, which is especially welcomed at a time when spending power continues to be squeezed.”

Some highlights by category for the first half of 2023:

  • Makeup was the fastest growing category within prestige with sales up 18%, outpacing sales at mass at twice the rate. Sales of lipstick were driven by the Lipstick Index, a widely accepted economic factor that indicates when consumers feel unsure about the economy, sales of lipsticks rise. Case in point: lip makeup was the fastest-growing segment across both prestige and mass outlets. Circana also identified that makeup usage increased by 3 percentage points in the past year and has surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
  • Within skin care, face serum, body spray, and facial cleansers were the top gainers in the prestige skin care market. Fueled by new launch activity, clinical brands brought in the majority of the prestige skin care sales gains. Overall facial skin care usage in the U.S. remains flat compared to last year. Another trend is that consumers are turning to product hybrids, namely ones that address more than one need, i.e., skin concerns and provide makeup coverage. In addition, 67% of consumers feel that skin care brands at drug stores or mass merchandisers are as good as higher priced department store brands, a sentiment which is up from last year.
  • Gift sets, higher concentration fragrances, and mini sizes are outperforming the overall prestige fragrance market. Sales of fragrance gift sets grew by 26%, or twice the rate of the market. Eau de parfums and parfums were the only formats to experience year-over-year increases in units sold. Minis (fragrance sizes under one ounce) accounted for 38% of total fragrance juices sold.
  • Prestige hair care sales continue to grow at a faster clip than mass hair care sales (though mass hair care sales far outweigh prestige sales), with online capturing about half of sales. Furthermore, hair is the category with the highest average price increase in the prestige beauty market, growing at three-times the rate of the overall industry. Styling was the fastest-growing segment in prestige hair for the first half of the year.