Lip color sales are becoming more vibrant.

This story first appeared in the June 13, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The NPD Group Inc. reports the total prestige lip segment gained 7 percent to $185.2 million in U.S. department stores, and gained 4 percent in units to 9.8 million, from January through April. Lip color was the biggest bright spot, increasing 11 percent to $92.1 million in the same time period — after almost a decade of decline, according to NPD.

Last year’s annual results were the first time since 2002 that lip color saw an increase, gaining 8 percent.

Year-to-date, the top selling lip-color brand through April was MAC, followed by Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge, Clinique Long Last Soft Shine Lipstick, Estée Lauder Pure Color Lipstick and Chanel Rouge Coco Shine.

“What is particularly noteworthy of the trend in lip color is that we are seeing these significant increases in sales at a time when overall usage of lip color appeared to be dropping off,” stated Karen Grant, NPD’s vice president and senior global industry analyst. “Coming out of the recession, it seems that the consumers thirst for color and play was reawakened. In 2010, we saw the preference for rich as well as retro colors, and in 2011 we are seeing new neutrals come to the fore. As the fashion industry increasingly features bold as well as understated lip statements on the runway and in advertisements, lip color appears to be getting its groove back.”

The lip segment, as measured by NPD, includes color, liner, gloss and applicators.

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