Trend Report: The Return of The Lip Gloss

By Kexin

May 4, 2018

Beauty is no doubt a strong field. The $445 billion industry has a colossal market, from both women and men of all demographics while other industries are struggling to maintain their relevance in the market and experiencing slow sales due to a stagnant uptake of new products.

The beauty industry, on the other hand, did not break a sweat in sustaining a healthy increase in sales. Take American chain beauty store, Ulta, for example. The total amount of Ulta stores have reached a grand total of 765, a triple increase from 2007. In just the third quarter of that year, Ulta delivered successful results: a 30 percent profit increase and a 21 percent revenue growth.

But if there is just one beauty category that every cosmetics brand should focus on now, it would be this: Lip products. Shannon Romanowski, beauty and personal care analyst at Mintel, said: “Lip cosmetics have the highest overall reported use among color cosmetics. Lip balm, lipstick, and lip gloss all have similar rates of penetration, suggesting that many women rely on a suite of lip products depending on the occasion or desired look.”

So now the question is….

When Did the World Start Paying Attention to Lip Products?

An article from Mintel documents that nearly nine out of ten women (87%) are lipstick users. Despite the minor dip in sales from 2011-2013, the lip cosmetics industry saw a steady and strong increase from 2014 onward. It is also estimated that the lipstick sector is expected to reach a revenue of $8.6 billion by 2019.

But how did this whole hurrah for the lip cosmetics industry began?

Matte Over Everything At First

Kylie Matte Lip Kit Promotional Photo

Source : Kylie Cosmetics Instagram

There is no denying that for the past few years, liquid lipstick has been THE arsenal in every girl’s makeup bag. Some might attribute the matte lipstick fad to pop culture icon, Kylie Jenner, who single-handedly stirred up massive controversy over her pout alone via her social media accounts.

She then created a sales opportunity by releasing her own cosmetics line, Kylie Cosmetics, which over 100 million of her Instagram followers scrambled to own.The matte lipsticks were the crème de la crème of Kylie Cosmetics, selling out almost immediately after its launch. This definitely sparked something within cosmetics brands – taking cues from social media, especially Instagram, to determine the latest fad in the makeup world.

From Matte to Gloss

Similar to fashion, the cosmetics industry is no stranger to fickle changes in trends. The revival of the early 2000’s trend could have contributed to a comeback of the lip gloss. “The more matte the better” may have been every lipstick enthusiast’s mantra back in 2016, but times are changing as more people are preferring lip glosses over matte lipsticks, even on the runway.

Fenty Beauty

Source: Fenty Beauty

As such, beauty brands are jumping on the bandwagon to secure a spot in the market. Who could forget the notable launch of Fenty Beauty, which included two lip glosses, causing all makeup enthusiasts to trade in matte lips for a pretty sheen instead. Sales for the Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb did exceptionally well, going out of stock at least 8 times within 3 months since its release.

Strategy for Lip Gloss on Sephora


To further prove the rising popularity of lip glosses, we’ll take a look at the trending patterns in the lip gloss category from cosmetics retail haven, Sephora, listed as the top specialty beauty retailer in the world, according to Euromonitor International. The massive French beauty retailer has 19 stores in Malaysia alone and has launched a mobile application that allows consumers to browse through and make purchases on the application, making it that much easier for makeup enthusiasts to do their shopping.

The table above shows the performance of the lip gloss category from Sephora within the time frame of October 1st 2017 to April 30th 2018. Despite the minimal discounts offered, this category still bore a notable sellout rate of 54.2%.

Which Types of Lip Glosses Are Trending Now?

As we all know, lip glosses are messy and tricky to apply which could have resulted in its expiration date a few years back. However, they have come a long way since the early 2000’s, with modern technology and modification to perfect its formula.

Now, consumers are more selective due to the extensive range of lip products cosmetic brands have to offer so it takes more than just sparkles and shimmer to drive sales. Sephora seemed to have done a good job in figuring out what earns a lip gloss its “bestseller” status.

Treatment Gloss

Treatment Gloss Sephora

From left to right: Too Faced, IT Cosmetics, Makeup Forever


These best-selling lip glosses from Sephora have one thing in common, hydration. The complete opposite of matte lipsticks, these lip glosses not only offer a healthy glimmer on your lips, they also serve as a form of treatment. This adheres to the popularity of multipurpose products in the market which simplifies one’s cosmetics kit. Lip glosses, such as the ones shown above containing oils or hydrating serums went out-of-stock multiple times at Sephora, a clear indication that hydrating and treatment-like lip glosses were a fan favourite.

Special Effects

Lip Topper Gloss Treatment

From left to right: Urban Decay, Becca Cosmetics, Fenty Beauty


The future is now, or so it seems. Holographic or iridescent finishes are all the rage in the fashion world so it is only expected that this trend would eventually translate well in the makeup arena. Many cosmetic brands have followed suit and released their own version of sparkly and duochrome lip glosses (also known as lip toppers), making up for the lack of this product over the past few years.


Colour Lip Gloss Sephora

From left to right: Makeup Forever, Urban Decay, Marc Jacobs Beauty


Back in the early 2000’s, lip glosses were often plain coloured, thick, messy and often associated with juvenile users. Since then, lip glosses have come a long way and are now formulated differently to suit consumer needs. Makeup brands have released a new wave of lip glosses with extensive shades, something that would have been difficult to locate in the cosmetics market a few years ago. For example, the best-selling lip glosses from Sephora above came in various hues, especially on the darker spectrum, giving consumers both pigmented colour and shine.

Where Does This Leave Us?

Emily Gaynor from Teen Vogue thinks that “there’s no better time to go for the gloss.” Although matte lips are not completely obsolete, it is rather apparent consumers are gradually opting for other variations of lip cosmetics. Mario Dedivanovic, a celebrity makeup artist with an impressive clientele in the likes of Kim Kardashian and Chrissy Teigen seemed to think that matte lipsticks will fade out of the spotlight eventually. “I do think we are moving away from the matte lip,” he said.

The beauty industry is riding waves today and it is worthwhile to keep a watchful eye so you don’t get washed ashore. Conveniently, retail data helps solidify interpretations towards cosmetic trends so current demands can be detected and easily met within a much shorter time frame.

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The data above was obtained from Omnilytics, real-time market data platform. The numbers and statistics may vary, as the platform is updated every day. The time period of the information taken was between 1st October, 2017 to 30th April, 2018.