Cosmetics Business reveals the top 5 colour cosmetics trends of 2023 in new report

By Jo Allen | Published: 4-Sep-2023

As consumers snap up prestige brands and experiment more freely with make-up, new trends are emerging

This article was originally published in the Colour Cosmetics Trend Report. Receive your copy here

From fashion giants Prada and Paco Rabanne entering the world of make-up, to the rapid growth reported by prestige stalwarts, including LVMH and Hermès, premium colour cosmetics has dazzled in 2023 as the most dynamic beauty category.

This is despite the price increases and high rates of inflation that have stretched many consumers’ budgets this year – or more accurately, because of it.

Market analyst Circana cites the “treat mindset” that is tied to shoppers’ desire to indulge in small luxuries during economic uncertainty, which is prevailing in 2023.

Instead of trading down – as has been seen in categories such as food and beverage – in make-up, the trend is to trade up to premium brands.

Circana’s latest results show just how far the prestige market has benefited from this shift.

Across Europe during the year ending May 2023, make-up sales grew by 21% in value, and while price increases certainly played a role, unit sales also grew by 11%, revealing that consumers are in fact buying more make-up.

In the US, sales were up 18%, and make-up usage has increased by three percentage points in the past year.

Consumers have been snapping up Fenty Beauty’s Hella Thicc mascara and Dior’s Addict Lip Maximizer and Forever Skin Correct foundation this year, according to LVMH.

For Estée Lauder Companies, MAC and Clinique have performed strongly. MAC has benefited from increased sales of its hero products including Ruby Woo lipstick and recent face, lip and eye product launches.

Nevertheless, mass market make-up has still fared well. In the US, mass sales grew 9% during the first half of the year according to Circana, and by 7.2% in the UK according to Kantar data for the year to 25 June 2023, with strong performances from brands including Maybelline New York and e.l.f. Beauty.

2023 has also seen strong trends in lip make-up, with lip gloss sales surging ahead of lipstick, and boosted by innovation in formats such as lip oil, lip glass and balms.

And face make-up has been boosted both by the resurgence of blush and sales of highlighters and concealers.

Consumers are predicted to continue to increase their spending on make-up through to 2027, according to McKinsey, while they shop across more price points and experiment with different brands.

Just 37% of US make-up users buy the same make-up every time they replenish their supply, says Mintel.

“It’s safe to assume that the rest are constantly on the lookout for something better, meaning brands should take offensive approaches to winning over new customers and keeping old ones,” says Joan Li, Senior Analyst of Beauty and Personal Care at Mintel.

And she adds: “Value in the consumer mindset is multidimensional, meaning consumers are motivated beyond just efficacy and sticker price.”

Here, Cosmetics Business gives a taster of five of the latest colour cosmetics trends impacting the industry right now.

Trends will be revealed in detail throughout September exclusively to subscribers, so don't miss out and subscribe.

Trend 1: The resurgence of blush

Consumers are crushing on blush. Viral placement techniques and innovative textures have lifted the cosmetics staple from backseat beauty product to a leading source of make-up trends.

Application techniques such as the ‘W’ method, where blush is drawn across the nose and cheeks for a natural glow, as well as trends like sunburnt blush, sheer-bold blush and purple blush, have taken off (#PurpleBlush has over 80.2m views on TikTok), while formats liquid blush and blush sticks have won consumers over.

The result is that blush is experiencing an unprecedented revival, as experimentation drives sales skyward.

Trend 2:  How premium make-up is beating dupes

As affordable swaps for designer brands when money is tight, make-up dupes offer a compelling proposition.

Given that the rising cost of living has hit consumers hard in 2023, it makes perfect sense that consumers would be trading down from prestige to mass market products and dupes. But in make-up, this hasn’t happened.

“You might intuitively think that prestige colour would not do quite as well during tough times, because people will look to save money by buying cheaper products, but in cosmetics, we’re not seeing that, even though a premium cosmetics product costs, on average, almost £12 more than a mass product,” says Matt Maxwell, Strategic Insight Director at Kantar.

This trend explores how high end brands have managed to win over make-up consumers – even those who think that dupes can perform just as well.

Trend 3:  Colour-changing make-up

A beauty trend that ticks the boxes of both nostalgia and personalisation is bound to be a winner, and colour-changing make-up is 2023’s answer to both.

Colour-changing make-up is not a new phenomenon, but while make-up that morphs into a unique shade once applied to the wearer’s lips or complexion has hovered in the background through the 80s and 90s, it has only recently emerged as a major make-up trend.

Cosmetics Business explores the unprecedented demand that brands across the spectrum are finding with this trend, why it's perfect for the TikTok make-up community, and how experimental innovation will develop it further.

Trend 4: Lip gloss is winning, but can it ever be as cult as lipstick?

Lip gloss is sticking around this decade.

Having risen as one of the biggest make- up trends of the 2020s, the glossy lip look has been nurtured by new formats such as lip oils, viral products like Fenty’s Gloss Bomb and Dior’s Lip Glow Oil, and developments that have banished the less popular attributes – such as tackiness and gloopiness – of lip glosses of the early 2000s.

And the latest figures show that sales of lipgloss are skyrocketing over lipstick. But as a product that tends to fade in and out of favour as beauty trends change, can it ever achieve the same cult status and permanent fixture in consumers’ make-up bags?

Trend 5:  Gen Z: Rewriting the make-up rulebook

Pick a handful of the latest TikTok make-up trends – #CoquetteBeauty, #LatteMakeup and the 90s nostalgic #GrungeMakeup, for example – and they appear to have very little in common.

No single look dominates, and that’s precisely the point, because for Gen Z (who still account for 60% of TikTok users), that’s not how make-up trends work any more.

“The need isn’t to conform to one specific trend, this generation wants options to lean into at any moment for any mood,” says Robin Shandler, Vice President Innovation at e.l.f. Beauty.

“We are even seeing things like ‘cold girl make-up’ or ‘I’m sad make-up’ or ‘tomato girl make-up’,” adds Fiona Chan, founder of Youthforia, “It’s very feeling-based and takes into account how that feeling or situation translates into a look.”

Here, Cosmetics Business explores how Gen Z's experimental use of make-up is changing the course of cosmetics trends.

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