The U.S. prestige beauty industry generated $16.1 billion in 2020, a 19 percent sales decline compared to the prior year, according to The NPD Group. By category, makeup sales were down 34 percent for the year, followed by skin care, which fell 11 percent, and fragrance, which dipped 8 percent. Hair grew 7 percent.  The top market share gainers for the year touched on all categories, including hair treatments and masks; fragrance candles; face exfoliators; body creams/lotions, cleansers, and oils; and nail care.

Here are the highlights and lowlights for prestige beauty in 2020:


Despite the tight race between makeup and skin care throughout the year, makeup ultimately maintained its position as the largest beauty category based on dollar sales for 2020; however, it has also been the most negatively impacted by the pandemic. Face remained the largest segment in makeup, though sales declined faster than the overall category. Some products increased market share, including setting spray/powder, tinted moisturizer, bronzer and concealer. Eye makeup gained share, while lip saw the steepest declines, a shift seen as a byproduct of mask wearing. Nail was the only segment of makeup to grow in 2020 as consumers took nail care into their own hands.

Skin Care

In skin care, the areas of growth were not enough to compensate for the declines across the largest areas of the market: face cream, face serum, and eye treatment. Most of skin care’s growth stemmed from body products including body creams/lotions, exfoliators, cleansers, serums, and devices. With clinics closed and elective surgeries placed on hold, consumers turned to at-home microdermabrasion and body sculpting-type products to achieve results.


Fragrance, while down for the year, declined at the slowest rate thanks to a second half rebound. Although brick-and-mortar remained challenged, the rate of decline decelerated to a great extent during the second half of the year, allowing the accelerated online growth to offset that loss. In terms of bright spots, parfum sales grew double digits for the year, as consumers show a greater affinity towards longer lasting scents. Parfums also tend to be more expensive, which further helped boost dollar volume for the category. In addition, home scents, which have been on the uptick for the last few years, saw accelerated growth in 2020 as consumers brought the meaning of comfort at home to another level.

“While online sales penetration grew across all categories as brick-and-mortar drove declines, the latter still remains beauty’s largest sales channel and a key factor in its recovery. Leveraging the strength of each channel, recognizing the opportunities of the changed beauty consumer, and owning this transformation are important action items for retailers, brands, and manufacturers as we enter the recovery phase,” said Larissa Jensen, NPD’s Beauty Industry Advisor.