cosmetics industry
Article by: Perry Romanowski

In college, science majors spend their time learning complicated subjects like Calculus, Physics and Chemistry. Figuring out stuff like differential equations and bond angles of electron orbitals there isn’t much time or brain power left to learn the more mundane things taught in business classes.cosmetics industry

But when you get out of school, business subjects are important and you’ve got to take time to learn them. To be the most well-rounded and effective cosmetic chemist, you need to know about the markets for which you’ll be creating products. In this post, we’ll review the overall cosmetic industry to give you a basic understanding of where the money is and what products make the most.

Worldwide Cosmetic Market

If you look at the entire worldwide cosmetic industry, sales reach about $170 Billion dollars a year. It’s distributed pretty uniformly around the world with ~$40 billion in the Americas, ~$60 billion in Europe, ~$60 billion in Australia & Asia, and another $10 billion in Africa. The Western world spends a bit more per person but India and Asia are quickly catching up.

5 Primary Cosmetic Segments

So now that you know where all the money is spent, it’s helpful to know what people are spending their money on. The cosmetic industry (aka beauty industry or personal care industry) can be broken down into 5 segments. Sales are distributed roughly by the %’s given.

1. Hair Care – 20%
2. Skin Care – 27%
3. Fragrance – 10%
4. Make-up – 20%
5. Other – 23%

Market researchers like to break these up into even more segments but these 5 cover everything.

Hair Care Market

About 20% of all cosmetic products sold are for the hair. Shampoos make up the vast majority of this market since almost everyone uses shampoo. Other significant market segments include conditioners, styling products, hair color, and relaxers. Currently, the biggest players in this category are Procter & Gamble (Pantene) and L’Oreal.

Skin Care Market

The range of products that are offered for the skin care market are much more diverse than the hair care market. Skin care makes up about 27% of the total cosmetic industry and includes skin moisturizers, cleansers, facial products, anti-acne, and anti-aging products. Of all the cosmetics, skin care products can be some of the most expensive with 2 ounces of product routinely selling for >$200. Women do not mind spending big bucks to keep their skin looking young.

The biggest companies in this market include Procter & Gamble (Olay) and Unilever (Vaseline).

Make-up Market

The color cosmetic market represents about 15% of the cosmetic industry and includes anything from lipstick to nail polish. Included are things like blush, eyeshadow, foundation, etc. The array of products is vast and the number of color variations are practically infinite. You can spend a lot of time as a cosmetic chemist working on new shades of familiar products. The market is highly segmented so there isn’t really one dominant player. Maybelline an Clinique are just a couple of significant brands.

Fine Fragrance

This market segment has really taken a hit in the last few years but it still makes up about 10% of the cosmetic industry so some companies are still making money. This is the highest profit segment of the cosmetic industry but consumers are fickle. Only a few brands (like Chanel #5) can last for a long time. Fine fragrances come and go like fashion and companies have to continue to reformulate just to compete.


The “other” category represents 23% of the cosmetic industry and is made up of things like toothpaste, deodorants, sunscreens, depilatories, and other personal care products not yet mentioned. Actually, many of these products could fall under one of the categories already mentioned but the industry likes to keep them separated whenever they do stories on the various markets. The dominant companies are many of the same already mentioned, P&G, L’Oreal, and Unilever.

While the cosmetic industry is considered a “mature” industry (that means business people don’t expect much significant growth) it is a pretty reliable industry. No matter what, people want to smell and look good so even when the economy hits a recession people will still buy soap. The recent economic conditions demonstrate, they do buy less, but they do keep buying.



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    When you mention the slower growth in market growth of cosmetics during a recession, you are misinformed. In fact, it is known as the “lipstick effect” that during a recession makeup products are sold in bigger quantities as subconsciously women want to be more attractive in order to attract the rare wealthy men. Apart from that, this article was useful.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      There was slower growth during the recession. Look up the numbers. The lipstick effect may be a thing but it doesn’t always work during all economic conditions.

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    Having a great interest in the cosmetic industry, as an industrial chemist. Looking at doing something different in my country Nigeria, I’m actually taken aback when you made a statement that the cosmetic industry is a “mature” industry, does it mean there is no opportunity for someone like me in the Nigeria market?

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      When I say “mature” I mean in terms of new technology. That does not apply to new marketing angles of which there is still lots of opportunity in the cosmetic industry.

  9. Avatar
    Alex O.


    I’m researching to see if there is a market for fish protein powder to be used in various cosmetics like skin care and hair care. Fish protein powder has many vitamins, minerals, and is loaded with protein. Do you think there is a market for fish protein powder in the cosmetics industry? Also, can you point me in the right direction to do further research on this topic?

    Thank you very much,
    Alex O.

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      There is a market for proteins, vitamins, and minerals so maybe. Unfortunately, there is also a movement by companies away from animal derived ingredients so I don’t know how much interest you’ll get. You might post this topic on our forum and see what other people thing. http://chemistscorner.comcosmeticsciencetalk

      1. Avatar

        UNFORTUNATELY Companies are moving away from animal based products… UNFORTUNATELY? Sorry but that is a good thing.. what BS. We are raping this planet, Asia especially, acting like everything in it will last forever. I hope everyone involved in wanting to expand our human use of animal products suffers and epic fail.

        1. Avatar
          Perry Romanowski

          I think you misunderstood my point. The unfortunate part is that meat processing plants have a lot of left-over material that used to be put to better use but which is now just discarded and wasted. When a native American killed a buffalo they would use every part of the animal. When we kill animals we used to do this but no longer. That seems unfortunate.

          In an ideal world we would all be vegetarians and this wouldn’t even be an issue. We don’t live in that world.

        2. Avatar

          Stella, I agree with you and thats why i am planning to diversify the products on organically
          based make use of herbs and plants there is a lot for you just say hello and you are done so syed.ali.amjad on gee male you understand i guess web site says i am repeating a message but i dont

          1. Avatar

            just checking to see if my messgage get through

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            what do you meant by clicking where to ?

  10. Avatar
    eng.Sanaa Magdy

    I’m a chemical engineer , i’m looking for a good book about cosmetics science and industry “A copy for free”, i’m in badly need of it! any body could help me ?

  11. Avatar

    HI Perry . Im currently studying for BEng Nanotechnology. Will i have any job opportunities in cosmetic industry in future? 🙂

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Yes, you could use that background to work in the cosmetic industry.

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    I have bachelor degree in chemistry and biochemistry from Egypt , I have lived in new Jersey U.S.A
    Please can you tell me how can I get a job as cosmetic chemist

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      See our section on cosmetic chemist careers

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    Hello Perry,

    I’m so wonder with some makeup brands. They sell their product at $1. How much they get profit with the price so cheap. I would like to know the average cost for makeup as eyeliner and lipstick, if u could tell me.

    Thank you

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I could only guess but if they sell it for $1, they make anywhere from 30 – 50 cents a unit.

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    I would like to cite your market figures above in a written paper I am preparing for business school. Can you please shed some light on which sources you have used to get your figures as well as clearly state which year do the figures relate to?

    By reading the comments I see that the figures were as of 2008, then 2010, but the article is written 2014? It might be a good idea to add the year (“as of”) in the article itself.

    Thank you
    Best regards,

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Thanks Jane. The article was originally written in 2010 then republished in 2014. Sorry, this information is not the kind of thing that is usually available for free so I can’t always update these things.

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    Would you know where I can get a breakdown of lipstick sales by state for USA?
    Thank you, DD

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      That’s specialty information for which companies like IRI or Mintel charge money. You can try to do a Google search and see if you can find old data. Or check C&T or

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    Jason Vandenbrink

    It’s incredible what an appearance oriented world we live in. And yet there is still so much obesity. I always get a kick out of women who spend a fortune on makeup, clothing, hair products, etc. and still remain over weight.

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    Nguyen Thi Thu Tra

    Can you tell me about the cycle of cosmetic chemist industry? I’m researching about it to write an essay so I need some exactly data, please help me!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      I don’t know what you mean. Cosmetic chemists usually get degrees in science at a university then get hired into the industry.

      1. Avatar
        Nguyen Thi Thu Tra

        I’m sorry, I have a mistake. I want to know about the cycle of cosmetic chemical industry?

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    Hi perry!
    Your information was so helpful.
    I am a pharmacy bachelor’s degree holder from India and presently residing in New York. Well, I am planning to start my career here and thought Pharmaceutics with specialization in COSMETIC SCIENCE will be a good option.
    But I am confused with the job opportunities in New York city or in Long Island where I stay..Mostly find them in New Jersey.
    If there are no job oppotunities near by , will it be appropriate to still go for the same? Please help me with this I am so confused!

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    Hi Perry, when was this article written? Was wondering how up to date it is, thank you!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      The article was written in 2010

      1. Avatar

        thank you! 🙂

  33. Avatar

    Hi Perry – Do you by chance have a more recent figure for global sales in the cosmetic industry that you would be willing to share? Also, if you have it dissected by region, that would be so helpful. Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      Hello – No, this is the most recent data I have. I don’t really have a way of collecting this data so I only post when I stumble on it.

  34. Avatar
    Tamojit Dey

    Great information about the cosmetics industry..Well, let me introduce myself as Tamojit Dey, a freelance researcher for various markets. For any research help you can contact me at
    Will be happy to help you understand every possible market.
    Tamojit Dey

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    anti aging skin

    I simply couldn’t depart your site prior to suggesting that I actually enjoyed the standard info an individual supply on your visitors? Is going to be again continuously to check out new posts

  38. Avatar
    Tan Darryl

    Would you by any chance have any information regarding the global cosmetic industry sales for 2005-2011?

    1. Avatar

      Tan. The latest data I have is from 2008 and that is posted in this article.

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    Brandie Ford

    I am in the embryonic stages of building my brand and I have much market research to do. I am wondering if you can provide the earings of my direct independant cosmetic competition
    I have tried in vain to find the information for my investors.if you can help in any way I would be ever grateful.

    1. Avatar

      Sorry, we do not have that type of specific information.

  42. Avatar
    Mamata Pal

    How does Chanel work in India on franchising or licensing?
    plz let me know as I am doing a project on Growth strategy of Chanel in India.

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    Bill Bryan

    Dear Sir/Madam:

    We desperately need market research concerning skin care revenues for USA for 2010 and forecasts for 2011-2016 or so.

    Specifically, we need information for anti-aging products.

    Need is urgent for developing business plan.

    Please respond ASAP.

    Thank you so much,
    Bill Bryan

    1. Avatar

      me and my associates are working on this how do i collaborate get contacted so i just give you syed.ali.amjad on gee male thanks

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  50. Avatar

    please where can i found a market segmentation of uniliver products.thanks

  51. Avatar
    megha jain

    Emeralde International Institute of Hair and Beauty

  52. Avatar

    cn u tell me the universities in india frm where i cn pursue the course for cosmetic formulator.

  53. Avatar
    megha jain

    please tell me abt the companies and thier job profiles in india and specially delhi…

  54. Avatar

    plesse , tell me about the starting package for cosmetic chemist in india…….

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