Language, power of conviction, self-expression, the look has thousands of facets and eye make-up, thousands of aspects. "Eyes probably have the longest recorded history in make-up, all the elements have a role to play: the eye shape, eyebrows, eyelashes, the colour of iris are all factors that contribute to the specificity of make-up depending of countries," explained Florence Bernardin, General Manager of Information et Inspiration and Hélène Capgras, Director of Brain for Beauty at a conference organized in November 2011 by the CEW France Association on eye make-up in the world. And eye make-up very often involves using mascara, a product invented in its modern version at the beginning of the last century by TL Williams, a chemist by profession for his sister Maybel, which will give birth to Maybelline. We know what happened afterwards...
A round-the-world look at eyelash make-up habits.
Depending on regions, make-up habits are different and often find their roots in ancient traditions. "In India, kajal or kohl according to Ayurvedic tradition was used to fix dirt and dust, as a sunscreen or to refresh and brighten the eyes, it was both a make-up and a skincare product. Women used to prepare it themselves from ghee or clarified butter," explains Florence Bernardin. Nowadays, this tradition is found in India in the importance placed in the eye make-up. The products used (kohl and mascara) must enlarge the eyes and accentuate their expression, Almond shaped eyes are idealized.
In Japan, where the ideal is to have manga eyes, eyelashes should be XXXL but require, due to their scarcity and implantation, the use of specific mascara formulas. Recently, says Bernardin, "a new solution has been found for the make-up of the eyelashes of Japanese women with the very popular use of false eyelashes. Applied using an expert hand, they can be removed in the evening without using a make-up remover, are re-usable and offer an infinite variety of looks." However, mascaras are not outdone and are seeking to find a new dimension in Asia, in particular "by offering mini brushes to catch all the little lashes, by treating lashes with anti-aging serum effects or by becoming an identifiable and statuary object," she added.
In the U.S., a country where innovation is a sales driver for make-up products, claims are getting increasingly sophisticated. "There is a quest for perfection and eternal youth that is also noticeable at the level of eyelashes. In 2009, Latisse was the first brand to launch a product designed to promote the growth of eyelashes. Since then, have appeared on the market, booster mascaras, booster serums and now booster eyeliners" emphasised Capgras.
On the contrary, according to the study conducted by Bernardin and Capgras on behalf of CEW France, eye make-up remains secondary in Brazil. "To have accentuated eyes is extremely important, but eye make-up is recent and comes after the making up of the mouth and nails, Brazilian women are just beginning to use mascara," they added.
Figures that speak for themselves in a booming market
In Europe, the mascara market could weigh 800 million euros and represent 50% of the eye products market and about 15% of the total make-up segment. European women are over 54% to believe they cannot do without their mascara, while they are only 18% to say the same about their foundation product!
Even though it is hard to obtain an accurate estimate in volume of the global market of mascara, main players agree most often on the figure of around one billion units sold annually. While the ongoing success of this product could not be denied most manufacturers have announced plans to expand their production capacity.
"To meet the growing demand from our customers, we have increased this year by more than four the surface of our factory to reach 7000 m2 (75,000sq ft)," acknowledges Renato Ancorotti, the CEO of the Ancorotti Cosmetics company founded in 2009 and specializes in the formulation of eye make-up products. A growth also visible in the turnover of the company with a 30% leap between 2010 and 2012 estimates. "The mascara market is doing well and growth drivers still exist," underlined Ancorotti.
At Luxcos, the entity of IL Cosmetics specialized in mascara, results also confirm the strength of the market. "Sales for this product have increased by more than 40% between 2010 and 2011," confirmed Pauline Starck, Make-Up Business Developer.
This point of view is shared by Geka officials, one of the world leaders in complete packaging systems for cosmetics including mascara brushes. "We we are currently building a new unit to expand our capacity. Mascaras are enjoying a growing demand from our customers," confirms Pilar Gonzalez, Head of Marketing and Communication for Geka.
Albéa, a leading supplier of mascara brushes, who has been operating in this field for more than 30 years, is also increasing its production capacity by grouping two Italian production units on the same site. "We are planning to group two of our Italian based factories to increase our production capacity and thus absorb more growth. Mascara is a segment that represents 50% of our share in make-up and which is growing rapidly. We are heavily investing both in research and industrialization," added Aurélie Emond Creative and Innovation Marketing Director.
If one takes a look at the figures concerning supermarkets in France  , the eye make-up sector has increased in 2011/2012 by 1.9% obviously way behind the nail polish sector with 17% but nonetheless a very honourable performance compared to lipsticks with a drop of -4.7% or foundations with -3.7%. Finally, the recent study undertaken by Mintel  on make-up habits of teens (9-11 years old) and tweens (9-17years old), clients-to-be, shows that mascara is the second most used product after lip gloss. 33% of girls aged 9 to 17 say they wear mascara every day against 37% for lip gloss, 27% for eyeliner and only 16% for foundation.
Habits that augur good prospects for mascara which has not yet conquered all categories of people like men, for example!