With an increase of +10.8% in 2023, French exports of cosmetic products hit a new record at EUR 21.3 billion, compared to EUR 19.3 billion in 2022. This is the third consecutive year of double-digit increase (+18.8% in 2022 and +22.5% in 2021), after the accident linked to the pandemic in 2020 (-11.8% ).

Crossing the 20 billion euros mark is a clear symbol of the vitality of our industry. Despite the pandemic and the logistical hurdles that followed, our exports have doubled in 10 years,Emmanuel Guichard, General Delegate of FEBEA, told Premium Beauty News.

Fragrances, the powerhouse of French exports

Among the categories driving the growth of French exports, perfumes appear as the powerhouse of the sector. In 2023, sales outside France jumped by +10.5% to reach 7.1 billion euros, a figure that has doubled since 2019.

Makeup products and skin care products for the face also showed a good performance with an increase of +9.9% (EUR 11 billion), while hair products recorded the strongest growth (+15.8%).

One of the many assets of our sector is to be strong in most beauty categories,” emphasizes Emmanuel Guichard.

The European Union becomes the main growth driver

The year 2023 was marked by a sharp slowdown in two key markets for the French beauty industry: the United States and China.

Exports to the United States, the world’s leading buyer of cosmetics made in France, increased by +2.8% in 2023, compared to +26.7% in 2022. While one in five French perfume products is exported to the United States, exports in this category only grew by +1.9% (to reach 1.2 billion euros) in 2023. Exports of makeup and care of the face, growing by +5.3%, reached 1.1 billion euros in 2023.

China, which in 2020 became the number one customer for French beauty brands, continued its slow-down. In 2023, French exports to China increased by +1.7% to reach 1.99 billion euros.

In this context, the countries of the European Union have served as growth relays for the French cosmetics industry. The area represents 40.2% (EUR 8.6 billion) of total French exports in 2023, a figure up +20.8% compared to 2022.

In the Middle East, exports of French cosmetic products decreased by -2.9% due in particular to a sharp drop in exports to Saudi Arabia (-19%), partly offset by growth in the United Arab Emirates (+6%).

French exports of perfumes and cosmetic products - top 10 countries (source FEBEA)

The strong increase in our exports to the European Union is a good surprise compared to the trend of previous years. This shows that French companies are able to find new growth drivers and to reposition on new markets when the global context evolves,” added Emmanuel Guichard.

In total, more than 60% of French cosmetics production is exported. In 2023, the sector was the second contributor to the trade balance, behind aeronautics and ahead of wines and spirits. France remains the world’s leading exporter of cosmetic products.