May 30, 2018
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UK make-up sales in decline as Brits move towards skincare

May 30, 2018

Heavy make-up looks are on the way out as flawless ‘glass skin’ becomes the latest beauty craze in the UK, according to a report from The NPD Group, a global information company.

Photo: Biotherm

The latest research has revealed that, indeed, prestige make-up sales are in decline in the UK following two years of strong growth. Instead, Brits seem to be spending more on skincare to achieve a more natural look.

Data from the NPD revealed that prestige make-up sales fell by 2% in the 3-month period between January and March 2018, while prestige skincare sales rose by 6%. At £835m in 2017, the prestige make-up segment was still more valuable than the prestige skincare category (worth £594m last year), but skincare has been accelerating its growth over the last two years.

In fact, the UK skincare market increased by just 3% in 2016, but last year it reported growth of 6%. Contrastingly, the make-up market was going strong in 2016 with sales up 11%, but growth stalled last year at 6%.

“The increase in skincare sales and decline in make-up sales is a complex story. There was a post-Brexit boost in prestige beauty with global shoppers flocking to the UK to purchase designer beauty brands and make-up really benefitted from this trend. It’s also important to remember that there was a social media frenzy around contouring and pronounced, heavy make-up styles on Instagram popularised by Kim Kardashian,” said Helen Duxbury, senior account manager at NPD.


While the dramatic contouring effect was all the rage last year, this year Brits are gravitating towards glowing skin. Sales of bronzers have fallen by 5%, but highlighters and primers are emerging as new heroes.

Meanwhile, the K-Beauty trend for ‘glass skin’ is boosting the high-end skincare segment. First seen in the UK in 2017, the dewy and poreless complexion is achieved through a regime of skincare, rather than masking skin with make-up. As a result, the sale of anti-ageing skincare and moisturisers grew 10% in the UK in the 3-month period, whilst cleansers grew 2%, toners grew 15% and serum 12%.

Helen Duxbury, Senior Account Manager, NPD UK Beauty commented: “We have seen a definite shift in the purchasing behaviour of beauty consumers, who seem to be moving away from make-up products that create a defined, chiseled look to their make-up. The trend now is more towards natural enhancements and certainly the K-Beauty trend for ‘glass skin’ is increasing in popularity especially with the increase in sales of cleansers, toners and serums which are so crucial to this regime.”

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