Skin health trend drives the new foundation boom


By Guy Montague-Jones, 13-May-2009

Foundation sales have leapt up over the past year prompting industry commentators to embrace foundation instead of lipstick as the ultimate recession beater.

Estee Lauder chairman Lenard Lauder coined the term “lipstick index” to capture how women turn to cosmetics as an inexpensive treat in times of economic crisis.

Foundation trumps lipstick

But this time round the market data suggests women are shelving the lipstick in favor of foundation. In the UK sales in the lip market grew 2.5 per cent last year whereas foundation sales were up 15 per cent, according to market research firm Nielsen.

Even troubled Prime Minister Gordon Brown is indulging in foundation. The PM left his make-up bag in a taxi this week and journalists got a glimpse at his cosmetics collection, discovering Clinique Superbalanced Make-up for oily skin and Clinique M Cover concealer.

Foundation sales are also rising the US, where high profile speakers at the WWD Beauty Forum in New York agreed last month that it’s now all about the “foundation index”.

Latest trends in foundation market

So what is behind the growing sales of foundation? Nica Lewis, head consultant for cosmetic research at Mintel, told that foundation offers more than just a pick-me-up.

Lewis said women have started to view foundation as a necessary addition to their make-up bags because it now offers them more than ever before.


Instead of simply masking blemishes, foundation is being marketed as a necessary tool in the defense of skin health.

Reflecting this idea is the rapid development in recent years of foundations that contain antioxidants or position themselves as anti-ageing products.

Between 2006 and 2008 the number of new foundations containing antioxidants has doubled year-on-year, according to Mintel’s GNDP Product Database.

Scanning new global launches in the beauty market the Mintel tool uncovered 112 new antioxidant filled foundations in 2006 and 406 two years later.

“Those products that yield longer term results related skin health are growing in numbers and popularity,” said Lewis.

Jane Williamson, joint founder of UK beauty brand Taxi London, agreed that foundation sales were on the rise and that the market has undergone a shift of focus in recent years.

Williamson told that foundations perceived to be healthy and natural such as mineral products or formulations free from certain synthetic ingredients were selling the fastest.

As for foundations that offer specific skin health benefits she said these were a niche but fast growing area of the market.


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