Fragrance was 2021’s big winner, according to The NPD Group, outperforming all other beauty categories during the 12 months with a 49 percent jump in sales versus 2020. The fragrance category registered double-digit growth against both 2020 and 2019, as consumers looked to treat themselves. Sales of perfumes, colognes, and other fragrance juices increased by 61 percent, year over year, as sales of candles, reed diffusers, and other home scents grew by more than 20 percent. The fourth quarter accounted for 45 percent of fragrance category sales revenue in 2021, growing by 35 percent during the critical holiday selling season.

For the year, sales of hair products grew 47 percent, makeup grew 23 percent, and skin care sales increased 18 percent.  Sales of fragrance, hair care and skin care in 2021 surpassed 2019 levels. The U.S. prestige beauty industry generated $22 billion in 2021, a 30 percent increase in dollar sales versus 2020.

In 2021, the beauty industry saw continued growth from items that have emerged as big sellers during the pandemic, including perfumes, scented candles, facial exfoliators, nail care, and hair care products. At the same time, makeup foundation, hair styling products, and other segments of the market started to recover as consumers began returning to workplaces, events, and other social activities.

“The beauty industry is unique in its ability to instill self-confidence and change the way people feel,” said Larissa Jensen, Beauty Industry Advisor at NPD. “These timeless abilities keep our industry relevant and important in the minds of our consumers — regardless of circumstances or lifestyle changes. As was the case across the retail world, the beauty market faced hurdles in 2020 but proved its resiliency in 2021.”

In the spirit of consumers putting their best face forward to re-enter society, face makeup product sales, including foundation, primer, and tinted moisturizer, grew double digits, as did makeup-setting sprays and removers.

The makeup category benefited from a return to consumer interest in makeup artistry, with additional growth observed for cream and stick blushes and other products prevalently used in YouTube videos and other social media. To top that off, brands born from makeup artists and social influencers had the highest revenue gains among all makeup brand types.

Within the hair category, hairsprays, gels, mousses, and other styling products returned to growth in 2021, with hair-styling product sales up 45 percent, versus 2020. The hair styling segment is expected to rise another 15 percent in 2022. Growth will continue through 2024, as people continue to return to more social activities in the months and years ahead, according to new findings from the Future of Hair Report from NPD.

Core skin care product sales, including facial cleansers, creams, and serums, grew between 15 percent and 24 percent, versus 2020. Sales of targeted products, such as eye and lip treatments, also increased. Clinical skin care brands contributed the highest revenue gains to the category. In 2021, clinical surpassed natural as the largest brand type in skincare, based on revenue.

“As we move through 2022, the beauty companies that will thrive are those that harness the industry’s unique ability to spread joy, while also recognizing the opportunities of a changed consumer and retail environment,” added Larissa. “We can expect more change to unfold in 2022, but, along with these changes, new opportunities for the beauty industry will present themselves.”

CEW will be presenting its annual State of the Beauty Industry Report 2022 event February 9 (virtual) bringing together NPD, Mintel, Nielsen, Sparks and Honey, Spate and Google to present key learnings from 2021 and a 2022 forecast on how to best navigate the year. To learn more and register, please click here.