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Skin care was almost recession proof

March 23, 2010 at 12:52 PM

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., March 23 (UPI) -- Skin care products have become an odd bellwether of the U.S. economy -- the last to fall and the first to rise among beauty products, a research group said.

When the economy soured two years ago, sales of perfumes and makeup were in decline. But it took until 2009 for skin care products to lose their sales luster, market research firm NPD Group said.

Making up 30 percent of the prestige beauty industry market, annual sales of skin care -- everything from moisturizers to anti-wrinkle creams -- dropped 4 percent to $2.49 billion last year. But skin care products began a comeback late in the year, as "the only beauty category to see growth in the fourth quarter," NPD said.

Makeup sales, 39 percent of the market, fell 5 percent to $3.16 billion last year. Sales of fragrances, 30 percent of the market, fell 10 percent to $2.48 billion.

"2009 was indeed a very challenging year for the beauty industry," said Karen Grant, vice president and global industry analyst at The NPD Group in a statement.

While 2010 also promises to be challenging, "the other absolute reality is that consumers -- as many as three in five women -- tell NPD they are buying beauty products because 'they make me feel confident,'" she said.

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