There’s no slowing down sales of prestige beauty products in U.S. department stores. In March, total prestige beauty sales increased 15% to $945.9 million, according to The NPD Group. The record breaking sales figure comes on the heels of a strong February, when total prestige beauty sales grew 11 percent to $777.7 million.

In March, skincare experienced the highest gain in dollar sales (23%) among the three top beauty categories. Compared to March 2011, makeup increased 12% and fragrance increased 9%.

While it would seem to be a dichotomy to see such spending in the face of mixed economic reports and low consumer confidence, Karen Grant, Vice President and Global Industry Analyst for The NPD Group’s Beauty sector, attributes the gains to consumers investing in beauty where they see both the financial and emotional return on investment.

“Prestige beauty shoppers are more likely to say they buy beauty products to make them feel better about themselves. Couple that sentiment with a more dynamic retail climate of increased online and in-store engagement, product offerings that continue to expand in reach to a wider range of consumer needs and preferences, and average prices under $50 for most prestige beauty items and you have a powerful and winning formula,” Karen said.

Sales of total prestige beauty for the first quarter of 2012, grew to $2.3 billion, an increase of 14% versus a year ago. Looking at individual categories’ year-to-date dollar performances, skincare increased 19%, makeup increased 10% and fragrance posted an 11% increase.