Sales of prestige beauty products fell 17 percent to $3.7 billion in the third quarter of 2020.

The decline was led by a sharp drop in cosmetics, which fell 31 percent in sales to $1.4 billion. Sales of skin care also fell, at a rate of 11 percent, to $1.3 billion. Fragrance sales inched up 1 percent to $826.2 million; sales of hair care grew 11 percent to $232.5 million.

According to Larissa Jensen, Beauty Industry Advisor, The NPD Group, “We are seeing two stories unfold for beauty – one of stagnation and the other of recovery. Though it remains a powerful force in the industry, the needle has yet to move in a positive direction for makeup, as 70 percent of consumers scaled back their usage of the category this year. Alternately, the shifting consumer priorities toward self-care and treating themselves to little luxuries has helped both skin care and fragrance to enter a phase of recovery. Hair continues to grow in this stormy year, with double-digit gains across most areas of the market.”

Highlights from the quarter include:

  • Makeup sales declined across almost all segments compared to the same period last year, with the exception of nail products (up 13 percent) including nail color, base/top coats, nail care, and nail tools and accessories.
  • Body products led the gains for skin care, which saw a 17 percent gains for category leaders including cleansers, creams/lotions, and exfoliators. Both body and facial exfoliators sold well, up 48 percent and up 15 percent, respectively. Sales of hand soaps* grew by 134 percent.
  • Higher concentration fragrances offering a longer lasting scent such as parfums and eau de parfums grew for the quarter, as did fragrance gift sets. Home scents grew by 21 percent, driven by candles.
  • Hair product sales rose by 11 percent, with all areas of the category growing except for hair styling. Hair masks, hair color, and other hair care including primers and treatments were among the fastest-growing areas of the market.