Prestige skin care is poised for a comeback, according to the latest figures from the NPD Group.

The category grew 6 percent for the second quarter to $1.4 billion in the U.S., outpacing makeup, which grew 4 percent to $2 billion. Fragrance grew 1 percent, to $868.5 million, with growth in men’s fragrance outpacing women’s. Nail was also up slightly, with base and top coats up 13 percent, nail care up 6 percent and color up 1 percent. Overall, the prestige beauty category grew 4 percent year-over-year, according to NPD.

In skin care, naturals are taking over.

“Natural brands now capture the largest share of dollar volume within the prestige skin-care space,” said Larissa Jensen, executive director and beauty industry analyst at NPD. “From the perspective of Generation Z…[it’s] the number-one thing that they’re looking for in their beauty products, is products made from natural ingredients.”

Initiatives like Target’s decision to expand its assortment of natural beauty products have far-reaching implications, Jensen noted. “It’s going to get bigger, and it’s going to incentivize these bigger brands to find alternative ingredients that are more natural and pure and may have some of the same efficacy as these other ingredients that may be more negative.”

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Clinical brands are ranking second behind natural in skin, Jensen noted.

Masks, which make up about 4 percent of the category, are growing at double-digits, she said. “It’s part of what’s given a shot of energy to the skin-care category is these fun, innovative formats within masks specifically,” Jensen said. It’s a very low entry price point, it’s easy for people to experiment with them and they’re very Instagrammable.”

Sales of cleansers, also available at entry price points, are strong too. “What’s really driving it is fun, innovative formulas,” Jensen said. “It’s a halo effect of K-beauty, which is still doing well.”

Perhaps more importantly is a turnaround in facial moisturizers — the largest subcategory of skin care, Jensen noted. “In the past, a lot of the growth had been coming from these smaller areas [like masks], which had a lot of growth but not enough to offset the losses coming from bigger categories,” she said. The uptick in moisturizer sales is coming from “new products coming into the market” she noted — and most of them “do have antiaging properties.”

Makeup doesn’t have the same amount of newness, at least in the department store and specialty retail channels that NPD tracks, which put a damper on growth.

“Within newness in makeup there is a softening,” Jensen said. “There are declines in launches.” Palettes, however “are still on fire,” she noted.

There are also things like the Kylie Lip Kit — sold online — that NPD doesn’t track (Kylie Cosmetics posted an estimated $300 million in sales for 2016, according to industry sources).

“There’s a lot of activity and a lot of brands coming into the marketplace,” Jensen said. “There’s a lot more proliferation, there’s a lot more products out there to choose from, and consumers are shopping across all channels.”

While bricks-and-mortar still holds most of the wallet share when it comes to makeup, online sales are rising. “Bricks-and-mortar has been slowing down for the [makeup] category,” Jensen said. “Consumers are more open to purchasing online and trying new things…You’ve got a little bit of a safety net when you’ve got reviews and consumer input and influencers saying, ‘this is a product you need to have.'”

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