In a year filled with the unexpected, one constant has been my skincare routine. But just the other day, I applied fragrance for the first time after many months, and am also dabbling in makeup more often lately. I’m not going out or doing anything special, so why am I revisiting these old routines? Maybe it’s the change of season, maybe I miss it, or maybe it’s because it represents some sense of normalcy.

Of course, I’m not alone in dramatically changing my beauty routine during this pandemic. When it comes to makeup usage, just over 7-in-10 women have reported wearing makeup less often this year.* While this may come as no surprise, the effects are being felt through the prestige makeup sales results. In the eight weeks from July 5 to August 29, average week-over-week sales for total beauty were up +2%, while makeup sales were flat, according to NPD. If this trend continues, it will be hard to move the needle in a positive direction for an already beleaguered category. Even with the possibility of a holiday boost over the next few months, makeup will likely end 2020 about one-third smaller than it was in 2019.

By contrast, close to 80% of skincare users have not changed their skincare routine during the pandemic.**  The same could not be said for the consumer shopping habits in skincare, which changed dramatically. Looking at NPD’s weekly sales data by channel, there was an almost immediate shift in skincare sales from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce. While all beauty categories experienced the swing to e-commerce, skincare’s online dollar sales often exceeded the dollars sold in brick-and-mortar stores while doors were open. This dynamic was nonexistent in makeup or fragrance sales; once stores began to reopen in June and July, sales volume shifted back to be primarily from physical stores for these two categories. 

What will happen as daily activities return to some sense of normalcy? The good news for makeup is that over 80% of women say they will return to their regular makeup usage.* But normalcy can be elusive, especially this year. As consumers seek to create their own normal, some—including me—may find themselves returning to, and finding familiar comfort, in their former beauty routines.


*Source: The NPD Group/ Makeup
Consumer Report, May 2020

**Source: The NPD Group/ Facial
Skincare Consumer Report, June 2020