Lockdown – 1 month in – How is the beauty industry holding up?

by | Apr 20, 2020

British Beauty Council CEO, Millie Kendall MBE shares her thoughts on the current landscape of beauty, and what has been happening in the industry over the last month.

What has been interesting is how nimble our industry is and how we are almost shape shifting.

The most obvious moves have been from vanity to wellness and offline to online.

Unfortunately as salons have shut we are having to do some home grooming, and I would say this for me has meant a renewed appreciation for hairdressers and beauty therapists/aestheticians.

We are seeing a rise in Home Fragrance, Essential Oils, Home Hair Colour, Eyebrow and Home Waxing kits as well as Nail products, which had previously been in decline over the past few years but have since Covid-19 have seen a 24% increase.

Figures from NPD Group show that online UK sales of premium nail products jumped by 12% in the week beginning 16 March – when the public were asked to stay home. The following week, after non-essential businesses were required to close, saw a further rise. Sales that week were 24% ahead of the same week in 2019. Brands such as Chanel, Dior, and YSL saw a jump in their nail colour sales. Premium Beauty News report that sales of base coats/topcoats increased 102%, sales of colour enamel increased 18% and sales of nail care increased 13%.During this phase of lockdown, pink, red and beige were the top three most popular shades.

It looks like eye make-up products are seeing some growth (although make-up has been experiencing a decline in general). Mainly because of how we are working and FaceTime and Zoom being our current method of communication. Our eyes are taking centre stage. Eyebrow home-tinting and care has seen an increase.

I have checked in with a few of our members and patrons. Here are some further stories of the shift in beauty sales.

Our patron The Hut Group have shared some information from Lookfantastic. Customers are moving online for beauty in unprecedented numbers – lookfantastic alone has seen a 200%+ increase in new customers (year on year), visits to site are up 79% (yoy)

Customers are buying more – average order value has increased 13%

Significant changes in the way customers are learning about and discovering beauty – we’ve seen higher engagement with our editorial content and more customers finding us via content. Email engagement is much higher with both open rates, click through and conversion all up – customers have more time to read the content and engage with the brands in new ways (e.g. via social channels etc.)

Influencers and initiatives e.g. #teamfantastic with the British Beauty Council are democratising beauty and building a stronger sense of community than every before

We are seeing strong sales of high performing brands  e.g. Estee Lauder, Kerastase, REN, MAC, NARS etc.  AND we see high demand for ‘at home’ solutions that give salon perfect finishes ranging from Christophe Robin Temporary Colour Gels, styling tools e.g. Beauty Works, Olaplex, tanning e.g. Tan Luxe and Isle of Paradise and we see a rise in wellbeing products such as ESPA candles and body oils.

Google searches for beauty categories like hair, skin and makeup declined week-over-week between Feb. 23 and March 15, but have since picked up. Searches around skin care were up 75.7 percent week-over-week as of March 29, while makeup was up 73.6 percent and skin was up 48.2 percent, according to Spate data.

Josh Wood, the U.K.-based colorist and Redken’s Global Color Creative Director and Executive Board Member of the British Beauty Council who launched his eponymous hair color and care line in the United Kingdom in 2018, has noticed a similar uptick in sales and engagement. To keep up with the demand, Wood has expanded his one-on-one color consultant team from three to nine people.

Current most popular customer service queries:

  • How to maintain highlights/salon colour at home?
  • Base shade matching (people’s biggest current concern is knowing what colour is right for them)
  • How to maintain colour for those who do not want to use permanent colour
  • How to properly use at home hair colour products (application)

What is most interesting is the question about maintaining salon colour at home which is new for Josh Wood Colour and indicates that there is a new group of customers considering home hair colour.


  • 8 x lift in customer service (live chat/email/VC/Video recordings) compared to average the rest of this year. Huge demand for support/assistance in this climate
  • Demand for at home hair products are 20 times higher in 2nd half of March following the increased restriction on social distancing, when compared with first half of March
  • Growth in demand across the whole range, not just permanent kits but glosses, root covers, masks and care
  • 13 x lift in new customers in the three weeks since lock down compared to the three weeks prior to lockdown
  • ‘At Home Colour Video Consultations’ with the expert colourists are available and are open to anyone to help with shade matching / tips / product advice
  • Since launching Josh Wood Colour’s first at home hair colour accessories kit (bowl, brush and sectioning clips), this has become one of the top selling products

Cult Beauty are saying that anything with the word ‘treatment’ has seen a sales uplift, especially masks (face, hair, spot, nail), glamorous make up is understandably not the order of the day, but complexion category is doing extremely well.

Of course anything hands is really shifting, washes obviously, they have sold more hand creams in the last month than the last 2 years!

According to WWD facial devices and skin care, specifically those that can mimic the effects of Botox and other in office dermatological treatments, have also seen a dramatic increase.

Organic tampon brand Flo have told us that since the 16th of March (1 week before the official lockdown) and until today they have seen

  • 49% increase in total online sales
  • 19% increase in the number of subscriptions
  • 192% increase in the number of one-off purchases
  • 155% increase in the conversion rate (from Add to Cart to Purchase)
  • 23% increase in the number of visits to our website through users’ mobile phones and 12% increase via desktop

And trend forecaster Pretty Analytics have noticed some interesting insights from affiliate platform Skimlinks. In the past 30 days, they’ve seen commissions earned by publishers rise by 62%. They’ve also listed the top 10 fastest growing sectors and skincare is number one with a 183% increase! All beauty sectors feature in the top 20 fastest growing which is telling info on current consumer buying habits.

The Organic Pharmacy has seen a tenfold increase for the demand in our Ester C and triple digit growth for immune boosting herbs. 550% increase in sales for Ester C. Their customers are 35-55 and predominantly London-based but online they have seen an increase in millennial customers since lockdown.

Please feel free to share any information you or your company are experiencing as a result of COVID-19, it is important as a community to share experiences. Email joinme@britishbeautycouncil.com

And finally thank you on behalf of the wider hair and beauty community for your resilience during this unprecedented time.

Millie x

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