If there were only one, it would be mascara. It is the one essential makeup product to all women, even the most inexperienced,” underlines Hélène Lefur, professional makeup artist and trainer. And sales statistics are here to prove it. “Of our whole catalogue, mascaras are the best-selling products in the 40 countries where we distribute our brand,” states Anne Delleur, President of Arcancil, the French expert brand for eye makeup, whose story is closely related to compact mascara. “This represents over 24% of market share in value, in France and on the international scale,” she adds.

A growing segment

The phenomenon is driven by the nude trend.The craze for a polished, natural complexion urges women to highlight the gaze that intensifies personality traits. Lashes, and eyebrows as well now, which constitute a booming segment on all markets, and are also worked with mascara, must be treated almost in an artistic manner,” explains Leïla Rochet-Podvin, Director of Cosmetics Inspiration & Creation, the consulting agency in beauty innovation. Consumers are guided by blogs and tutorials, and are getting familiar with more and more accurate application techniques. Mascara is one of the essential elements of this collection.

According to Euromonitor, worldwide sales increased by 4.6% between 2012 and 2013 (2.1% in Europe). Arcancil confirms this rise in all countries, except for Japan and Korea. “Yet, Asia is actually the continent that has been enhancing the impact of brushes on the market for about ten years, especially with colour brushes,” notes Florence Bernardin, Director of Information & Inspiration, and Cosmetic Market Analyst for Asia. “However, mascara is put under pressure by the boom of false eyelashes. They are very easy to put on for Asian women, and they offer many advantages. The real challenge for mascara is to obtain the same results in terms of effects and long wear”.

Volume first

Volume expectations remain the most significant, especially in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Asians prefer curves and separation for a fan effect. And the main suppliers share this view.

Our best-selling mascaras are those that claim more volume,” declares Pilar Gonzalez Gomez, of Geka, which has just launched RunwaySTAR, a brush fitted with five nubs to increase volume, and four-edged bristles at the tip for a push-up effect.

As for Albéa, the market leader confirms the volume effect represents “80% of the world’s demand on average, with variations depending on the region.” However, according to Aurélie Émond, Marketing Director for Cosmetic Rigid Packaging, “mascara has a special place in the kingdom of makeup: products get launched at a phenomenal rate, and promises for volume, length, thickness, curve, and all their combinations make women dream…” Hence the need to pay very close attention to every single product component, and to brushes in particular, which require real technical wizardry, though it remains too little-known. “Indeed, imagining or developing a new brush is always a technical challenge, whether it be made of fibres or plastic. The goal is to manage to create a perfect brush-formula-bottle trio.” At the last Cosmopack show in Bologna, Italy, the group unveiled My Style, a range of four fibre brushes adapted to the various effects of length, volume, definition, or curve wanted. “The brush is a vehicle for communication, it must express the mascara’s makeup promise,” Aurélie Émond insists.

As for colours, classic black remains the star on all markets, although it is being challenged by blue or purple in a few countries keen on colours, such as Brazil. Fluorescent or neon colours have a marginal impact, and target the younger ones for occasional uses.

The avenues for progress involve effects and finishes, whether sequined, shimmering, pearly, or tear, which the Japanese are crazy about. “There are many expectations, but the technological response is still disappointing,” Anne Delleur comments.

Eye care is the future

The demand for volume is getting mixed with expectations for eye care mascaras, already available on the natural segment, as can be seen with the 100% natural Organic wear CC Curl + Care mascara by Physicians Formula, which Leïla Rochet-Podvin found out in the United States.

To celebrate its 80th anniversary in 2015, Arcancil will relaunch their mythical compact mascara. The resolutely vintage Cake mascara will be enriched with a formula containing soothing, protective and repairing beeswax. “We are going to focus our launches on eye care over the next three years. It represents the future of mascara,” Anne Delleur concludes.