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Beauty sales growth slowed in Q1

Fragrance was the fastest-growing category, while makeup had the softest performance, per Circana.
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US beauty sales grew by more than $600 million in the first quarter, according to Circana data, marking slow but continued growth for the industry. Prestige beauty saw an uptick of 9% year over year, while mass beauty sales were up 2%.

Within prestige, fragrance was the fastest-growing category, rising 13%, and gift set sales rose 22%, while mass fragrance sales dipped 2%. Travel-size fragrance outpaced full-sized products, and while consumers spent less $$ on fragrances as they opted for mini versions of luxury scents, they bought more frequently, Circana noted—units sold increased at twice the rate of the prestige category overall.

  • Gen Alpha had a notable influence on the category: Prestige fragrance sales to higher income households (above $100,000) with children grew at twice the rate of households without kids. Overall, the average spend for buyers with kids was five times higher than for those without children.

Skincare sales grew 10% in prestige and 4% in mass, proving to be the fastest growing mass category, Circana noted. Spending in the category saw double-digit growth; consumers both spent more $$ and bought products more often. Body spray and face serum were the category’s top performers.

Prestige hair care sales notched 11% growth, with a cooler 1% boost for mass market products. Many hair wellness product subcategories—like scalp care and hair oils and serums—boasted double-digit growth. Salon brands led the pack, though celebrity brand sales soared 64%.

Across both prestige and mass, makeup had the softest performance, up 5% in prestige and down 5% in mass market brands. Lip products, however, enjoyed a glossy Q1, with sales up 26%, bolstered by the popularity of tinted balms and lip oils.

Zoom out: Larissa Jensen, Circana’s global beauty industry advisor, noted in a statement that the slowdown “is a reflection of an industry stabilizing after strong double-digit performance for the past two years.”

While in March, Ulta CEO Dave Kimbell warned of a beauty downturn, that may not be true for the whole category. Last month, LVMH reported strong results for its perfumes and cosmetics, as well as its Selective Retailing division, which includes Sephora, noting the beauty retailer saw “remarkable growth” in its first quarter.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.