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The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cosmetics and beauty care industry

The modern world is currently experiencing one of its most unusual and atypical years. In just a few months, the Covid-19 virus, responsible in its critical phase of a severe respiratory failure, has colonized the entire planet (over 60 million cases and about 1.4 million deaths) [1]. The restrictive measures imposed to slow down the spread of the virus have literally changed this health crisis into a global economic crisis [2]. All the activity branches have been affected, and even the beauty care industry, known as a resilient and innovative field, has seen its global landscape modified by the pandemic [3].

In 2020, the biggest dermo-cosmetic and beauty brands joined the international community in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and in order to address the public health authorities demand, they redirected their production towards “barrier products” such as hand sanitizers, soaps or face masks [4, 5]. Indeed, hand sanitizers sales for example have exploded and are expected to grow by 126% over the 2019-2025 period [6].

However, this sudden change in the primary vocation of the beauty industry, added to the realities of restrictive measures (e.g.: borders closure, social distancing, closing retail outlets), has negatively impacted the market:

- Material shortage (alcohol and emulsifiers used for sanitizers manufacturing);

- Disruption of the supply chain;

- Reduced sales of other non-essentials cosmetics (make-up, fragrances).

The result is an overall slowdown of the beauty market, with a drop of 2.5% in 2020, instead of the 5.5% constant growth rate expected last year [7, 8].

Some others fields like R&D innovation, natural cosmetics, online beauty sales and e-commerce, have nevertheless taken advantage of the pandemic to rebound [3]. Indeed, during the quarantine, the “natural or green care” trend increased among consumers and consequently accelerated the pre-existing race for sustainable natural cosmetics and innovative R&D processes.

The industry also perfectly adapted to the in-store sales drop (accounting for 85% of beauty purchases before the pandemic) by directly addressing consumers through online sales and e-commerce. Digital purchases have basically doubled during the lockdown, with the advantage of avoiding supply chain’s intermediaries (distributors, retail shops) and giving more chances to independents brands [8].

In short, the cosmetic industry is showing once more its adaptability and resilience through the Covid-19 crisis. The ever-increasing demand for sanitizers has helped to maintain a positive growth and the lockdown has speeded up the race for innovation and sustainability, proving that this field still has many years to go.



- 1. Feng He, Yu Deng, Weina Li, Coronavirus disease 2019: What we know? Journal of medical virology. 14 March 2020

- 2. Peterson K Ozili, Thankom Arun. Spillover of COVID-19: Impact on the Global Economy. Social Science Research Network. 30 Mar 2020

- 5.

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