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The beauty market is getting a makeover as recovery continues

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A customer tries on makeup in a department store.

People are splurging on some beauty products as reopenings continue and mask mandates are loosened. Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images

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Ulta Beauty reports earnings Thursday. There’s likely to be some talk about all the changes the pandemic brought to peoples’ grooming routines. With fewer people putting on makeup or styling their hair, sales in the U.S. prestige beauty market declined almost 20% last year, according to the NPD Group.

What can trends in spending about beauty products can tell us about life going back to normal? Call it what you want, maybe a post-pandemic “glow-up,” but “consumers are back out again, they’re traveling again, they’re seeing their family again,” said Larissa Jensen at the NPD Group. And they’re ready to look good and feel good doing it.

Jensen said the beauty market is rebounding strongly alongside business reopenings and loosening mask mandates. And it’s not all about appearances: Fragrance sales grew 45% in the first quarter.

“And what’s driving the growth in fragrance are these more luxury price points,” Jensen said.

People are splurging in some categories, but they’ve learned they can save in others. Sarah Jindal at Mintel says DIY beauty products are still in demand.

“Because we’ve realized that we can actually do these things,” Jindal said. “And some of us — I won’t name names — will still touch up their gray hair themselves at home in between [hair appointments].”

Sales are still strong for candles, bath products and beauty masks. Grooming trends aren’t just about going out. They’re also about what stuck with consumers while staying in.

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