Masks off, lipstick on: Hourglass makeup sales grows 109% in Korea after mask mandate lifts

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Hourglass Cosmetics has experienced a year-on-year growth of 109% in South Korea. [Hourglass Cosmetics]
Hourglass Cosmetics has experienced a year-on-year growth of 109% in South Korea. [Hourglass Cosmetics]

Related tags Sales Makeup Colour cosmetics COVID-19

Hourglass Cosmetics has experienced a year-on-year growth of 109% in South Korea after it scrapped its face mask mandate for most indoor public places.

The Unilever-owned luxury beauty brand is distributed by Shinsegae International, a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle retailer from South Korea.

The latter reported that in January, Hourglass sales increased by 109% year on year (YoY) just as local authorities lifted its mask mandate for the majority of indoor public places on January 30.

The impact on makeup sales was immediate, with Hourglass sales jumping by 146% from January 28 to Feb 1.

During this period, the brand saw a major reshuffle in its product rankings with the purchase of complexion and lip makeup increasing significantly.

Highlighters, blushers, lip balms and concealers climbed up the top 10 rankings after three years of eyeliner and eye shadow domination.

Shinsegae’s reported that the top-selling product was the brand’s Phantom Volumising Glossy Balm, which was not popular in the last three years given its glossy texture. The company believes that the lip product is gaining traction for its ability to enhance the appearance of the lips.

Additionally, Hourglass’ Ambient Palette and Vanish Airbrush Concealer also recorded sales increases.

Shinsegae said it was expecting makeup sales to continue increasing moving forward.

“With the lifting of the mask-wearing obligation, sales of colour cosmetics are noticeably increasing. We plan to launch a variety of new products and focus on marketing.”

In December 2022, Shinsegae announced that it had acquired the domestic exclusive sales rights of makeup brand Laura Mercier, adding to its portfolio of brands such as Hourglass, Malin+Goetz, Byredo, and Diptyque.

The company said that would grow the business “aggressively”​ and it was planning to reinforce the brand in South Korea by developing its online, offline, and duty-free channels.

Base bounces back

Shinsegae highlighted that its own brands, Yunjac and Vidivici also benefited from the lift of the mask mandate.

Yunjac recorded a 71.6% sales increase in January, which it attributed to sales of its primer, Skin Perfecting Protective Base Prep, which grew by 617% YoY.

In January, it topped sales in the make-up category on Shinsegae’s e-commerce platform S.I. VILLAGE and has maintained its position through February.

The popularity of the product also helped to boost holiday sales for the brand, said the firm.

“The Base Prep is receiving a rapid response, not only in Korea but also on Tmall Global, a leading online mall in China, maintaining the top 10 ranking in the base category. We plan to nurture it as a second hero product.”

Vidivici’s Skin Illumination primer has also found favour recently. In response to its popularity, the brand launched a cushion format of the same product,

According to the firm, both products were currently ranked among the top five products on S.I. Village in the makeup category.

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