As women get dressed up again, makeup is a natural accompaniment,” said Larissa Jensen, beauty industry advisor at NPD. “The recovery and creativity of the makeup category is leading sales gains for the prestige beauty industry in 2022. After a gloomy period shrouded by the pandemic, we are seeing a renaissance in makeup artistry, as consumers experiment with color again.

In fact, about 70% of makeup wearers in the U.S. have returned to previous routines or are wearing more makeup than they did last year, according to The NPD Group, and the use of several makeup products is on the rise.

Mascara and foundation lead the way

Findings from the 2022 “Makeup Attitudes and Usage Report” from NPD show that mascara is the most used makeup product overall, followed by foundation, eye shadow, eye liner, and lipstick.

In the U.S., sales revenue of the prestige makeup category grew by 22%, from January through May 2022, versus last year. That’s more than twice the rate of skincare, and faster than fragrance, according to Retail Tracking Service data from NPD.

Women report that they primarily wear makeup to enhance their appearance; however, Gen Z and Millennial women wear makeup mainly to boost their confidence. Across generations, almost 30% of women wear makeup because they say it brings them joy. “The pandemic shifted our definition of wellness, moving it beyond the physical to be more about mental health and well-being,” Jensen said. “Makeup products are satisfying an emotional need to look good and feel better about ourselves.

NPD’s data are comforted by figures recently released by Global Data, which found that 46% of US women have used more makeup in 2022 than during the pandemic:

Type of productUse more nowUse the same nowUse less now
Facial Skincare 13% 61% 26%
Body Skincare 14% 67% 19%
Hair Care Products 19% 63% 18%
Makeup 46% 42% 13%
Nail care 34% 53% 13%
Fragrance 33% 56% 11%

Contrasted situations around the world

A similar trend was observed in France where prestige makeup sales were up 8% during the week starting March 14, 2022 when the obligation to wear a mask in all public venues was lifted. While broader figures have not been released to date, there are reasons to be optimistic as most European countries have returned to growth and to an almost normal social life, and as tourists are flocking back to usual European summer destinations.

In China, however, the COVID-19 outbreak during the second half of March, led to regional lockdowns and an increase in mask use that caused prestige e-commerce beauty sales to decline 1% for the month. According to NPD, makeup and fragrance categories experienced respective declines of 6% and 4% in March 2022, compared to last year. While restrictions were maintained in April and part of May in some major cities, including Shanghai, the situation has improved at then end of May, just in time for the kick off of China’s 618 Shopping Festival.