74% of beauty consumers agree that makeup products from affordable brands work just as well as products from premium brands

September 28, 2023
  • 41% of those who believe affordable and premium products are comparable in efficacy also say they prefer to buy premium makeup, no matter the price.
  • 43% of male makeup users ages 18-44 are applying makeup more often than a year ago; 42% of women aged 18-34 wear makeup less often due to skin health concerns.
  • 67% of makeup users ages 18-34 say they are paying more attention to ingredients used in makeup products than a year ago.

According to new Mintel research, three-quarters (74%) of makeup users agree that affordable makeup products work just as well as premium ones, suggesting a makeup culture favorable toward ‘dupes.’ With this rise in popularity of ‘dupes,’ a third of makeup consumers ages 18-24 (33%) and 25-34 (35%) say they have purchased a makeup ‘dupe’ because of something they saw on social media. 

‘Dupes’ aside, 41% of those who believe affordable and premium products are comparable in efficacy also say they prefer to buy premium makeup, no matter the price. Mintel research reveals that more US makeup users report higher than average willingness to spend on makeup products than lower than average willingness to spend, reflecting a nuanced conception of value and a critical opportunity for cosmetics brands moving forward.

After rebounding with 9% growth in retail sales in 2022, the color cosmetics market continues to exhibit strong growth; however, inflation accounts for much of this. By the end of 2023, total retail sales of the US color cosmetics market are estimated to increase by 10% and exceed $13.6 billion. With many consumers returning to pre-pandemic, in-person activities, demand for innovation—especially in the facial and lip cosmetic segments—is expected to boost total market sales this year. Over the next five years, however, the market is expected to level off, growing 9% to reach $14.9 billion by 2028.

Joan Li, Senior Beauty and Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, said:

“In today’s cost-conscious environment, value is the name of the game. Persistently low consumer confidence continues to drive cost-conscious shopping behaviors, including the popularity of dupes, with social media playing a big role. This is especially true among younger consumer groups, which are more likely to be influenced by and take inspiration from social media. While the ‘lipstick effect’—in which color cosmetics are viewed as an affordable luxury during times of financial uncertainty—protected the category from high inflation’s threat to discretionary spending, looking ahead, the color cosmetics market is expected to level off. Our research forwcasts that growth will slow due to headwinds from continued trade-down behaviors, the mainstay of work-from-home and hybrid lifestyles, and competing growth in beauty-adjacent categories like ingestibles and skincare.”

Makeup usage declines but men represent a growth area  

Mintel data reveals that 35% of makeup users are applying less makeup than a year ago compared to 25% who are using more makeup, indicating an overall decline in engagement in the category. The most popular reason for decreased usage is fewer out-of-home occasions (37%), followed by loss of interest (32%). Breaking down these reasons by age, however, it becomes clear that reasons for wearing makeup less frequently are overwhelmingly driven by older individuals, particularly women 55+. These women cite leaving the house less frequently than a year ago (48%), followed by a loss of interest (39%) as the reasons why they are wearing makeup less often.

Interestingly, men represent the primary growth behind those who are applying makeup more often, as 43% of men ages 18-44 say they are using makeup more often than a year ago. Two in five (41%) say they are applying makeup more often to relax or de-stress, which is double the number of women (22%) who cite relaxation as a reason they are applying makeup more often. Just one in five (21%) makeup users say they are spending more money on products than a year ago, including 27% of men and 19% of women. 

“Our research shows that men’s appearance concerns are focused on complexion and blemishes, which leads them to prefer facial cosmetics over other segments. Makeup’s emotional and mental draw for men suggests that when reaching this audience, brands should balance external benefits, such as appearance, with internal benefits, such as self-care. Brands in this space could also find success by highlighting the soothing sensation of makeup application, particularly with facial products, as men are most likely to gravitate toward that subcategory,” continued Li. 

Highlight younger, skin-conscious consumers

Two in five (42%) women ages 18-34 who use makeup products say they wear makeup less often than last year due to skin health concerns. The following top reason for wearing makeup less often is having less time (39%). However, 67% of makeup users ages 18-34 say they are paying more attention to ingredients used in makeup products than a year ago. 

“Given that there were fewer out-of-home occasions to inspire color cosmetics use, 18-34-year-old Americans may continue the habit of using makeup on an every-other-day or weekly basis, demonstrating a ‘flexitarian’ approach that is perceived to be more convenient and healthier for the skin. As the health and wellness industry expands to include emotional well-being and skin health, consumers will increasingly challenge beauty brands to clearly communicate the roles brands play within the evolving industry,” concluded Li.

Additional research on US consumer attitudes toward color cosmetics and interviews with the analyst are available upon request from the Mintel Press Office. For those interested in purchasing the full report, please visit the Mintel Store.

Joan Li
Joan Li

Beauty & Personal Care Analyst

Contact Press Office
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