The Cara Delevingne Effect

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When it comes to US color cosmetics, it's all about "bold brows, defined lips and eyes, and bare faces."

Despite the category's trend-driven volatility, a new Mintel report predicts that the $10 billion category will have annual gains of 2% to 3% through 2020.

Bold Brows

According to a new report from Mintel, the trend for "bold, groomed brows," like those seen on trendsetter Cara Delevingne, is manifesting in 25% of American women using eyebrow pencils and about 20% wearing eyebrow makeup on a regular basis.

Mass and prestige eyebrow products are boosting color cosmetics' strongest category, eye makeup, which grew 4.3% between 2013 and 2015. According to Mintel, multi-outlet eyebrow cosmetic sales have almost doubled between 2010 and 2015.

Defined Eyes and Lips

About 62% of US women have reported regular eye makeup usage, according to Mintel. About 48% use mascara. Multi-outlet eyeliner sales have grown 5% since 2014, "with long-lasting results and precise application driving strong segment gains," notes Mintel.

About 55% of women use lip makeup regularly, according to Mintel. Lipstick (37% are users), lip gloss (29% are users) and lip liner are two of the key products driving the trend for bright and defined lips. For 47% of makeup users, long-wearing is crucial, while 48% prioritize moisturizing/hydration.

Bare Faces

For facial cosmetics, "less is more," according to Mintel. About 17% of US women wear BB cream regularly, highlighting the desire for lighter-weight products.

"As the largest category segment, accounting for nearly half of total sales (47 percent), women are opting for lighter-weight, skincare inspired facial make-up products to achieve the bare-faced look," notes Mintel.

Tech Retail Impact

US women are using social media, tutorials and apps to aid them in navigating the color cosmetic category. Brands and retailers are increasingly leveraging technology to connect with consumers and improve the shopping experience with added convenience and personalization.

Mintel explains:

For example, 215 of the category's core customer segment, women age 25-34, like or follow make-up brands on social media, with 17 percent often purchasing products they see promoted across social networks.

When it comes to online make-up tutorials, 17 percent of 25-34 year old females follow brands on YouTube so they can learn how to create make-up looks, compared to just 9 percent overall.


When it comes to advertising, consumers increasingly trust color cosmetic marketing that does not rely on airbrushed/Photoshopped imagery. 

About 41% of US women find manipulated imagery to be deceitful/artificial. About 26% believe the looks in ads are accomplished by products other than those being advertised. About 48% of US woman want to see fewer Photoshopped images in ads, while 43% want to see models that represent their age.

About 27% want to know how to recreate the looks in ads.

Mintel notes:

While make-up brands tend to focus on glamour in advertising, Mintel research highlights an opportunity for brands to be perceived as more relatable.