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As skin care takes precedence, beauty brands struggle to sell face cosmetics

With health and hygiene products taking priority, and people largely staying home or wearing masks when they venture out, facial products have remained unused. Consumers aren’t buying more, for now, and this has hit the facial cosmetics segment of the beauty industry hard, with one top brand saying it has seen sales of such products plunge 90 percent

December 21, 2020 / 04:48 PM IST
Answer: Make-Up
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Answer: Make-Up (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Some day when it looks back, the cosmetics industry, which has been laid low by Covid just as much as other industries have, will know when things started changing for the better. Very likely, it will be the time when women went back to their old ways, purchasing facial cosmetics without a second thought.

As things stand today, when it comes to cosmetics, health and hygiene products dominate the purchases of consumers, and facial cosmetics have become a discretionary purchase figuring very low on the shopping list as they do in times of crises.

Aside from the fact that many women aren’t stepping out much, anti-Covid masks make the use of face cosmetics irrelevant, brand experts say, adding that this has hit demand for foundations, compacts, and highlighters.

Sharp decline

“This year we have seen an almost 90 percent drop in demand for our face beauty products such as highlighters, compact powder, foundation compared to 2019,” said the CEO of a well-known beauty brand, on condition of anonymity.


“Women are not venturing out as they used to earlier so the demand for face cosmetics has gone down tremendously, and secondly, no one does make-up at home, so these categories will continue to take a hit,” said N. Chandramouli, CEO of TRA Research, a consumer analytics and brand insights company.

“Usage of face cosmetics has stalled across the country. Sixty-eight percent of Indian women used face cosmetics in 2019,” added Tanya Rajani, Beauty & Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, a market research firm.

In India, beauty brands such as Lakme, Maybelline, MAC and Loreal, among others, are known for selling facial cosmetics.

Pre-Covid, the Indian beauty market, valued at $6.5 billion in 2017, was expected to exceed $20 billion by 2025. However, with the global pandemic severely impacting the Indian economy and consumer spending, this will impact more discretionary sub-sectors in beauty such as face cosmetics, say brand experts.

Almost half of Indian women use loose powder as facial cosmetics and less than a third use compact powder.

“Facial cosmetics will suffer from ‘next normal’ lifestyles, such as wearing masks or spending more time at home, which will impact the use of products from the face category,” Rajani added, noting that health and hygiene are still the top priority for consumers and dominate their expenses.

Skincare to the fore

If not cosmetics then what?

While facial care has taken the backseat, Skincare has gotten a boost. Consumers in the 18-34 years age group are using BB/CC creams, which are lighter in texture and claim to provide skincare benefits for daily occasions, casual outings and even in the home, brand experts said.

BB cream stands for blemish balm, basically a make-up formulated with skincare benefits. Products marketed as BB creams are generally designed to serve as a foundation, moisturiser and sunscreen all at once. CC cream stands for colour correcting cream or complexion corrector cream.

Brand experts also feel, maskne — acne from mask wearing  — will set in, and consumers will look for skincare products that do not cause these breakouts.

Himadri Buch
first published: Dec 21, 2020 04:48 pm

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