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The Past 20 Years in Beauty, By The Numbers

WWD Beauty Inc tallied the beauty industry's exponential growth from 2001 to 2021.

The numbers, as they say, never lie. 

Compare beauty business stats of 20 years ago to the stats of today, and a picture of a very dynamic — and equally resilient —global industry emerges.

In 2001, the first year of Beauty Inc (then “WWD Beauty Biz,” prestige beauty sales totaled $7 billion in the U.S., per numbers from the NPD Group. In today’s terms, that’s less than a quarter of L’Oréal’s global beauty sales in 2020, the number-one beauty manufacturers then and now.

Category-by-category, makeup and skin care sales have almost tripled in the U.S, and the retail scene is also very different. Globally, the rise of China has had a transformational impact on the industry. 


The WWD Beauty Inc Top 100 Beauty Manufacturers, 2001:

Combined sales of the top 101* companies: $93 billion

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  1. L’Oréal Group, $11.99 billion, 23 brands.
  2. Procter & Gamble, $8.8 billion, 19 brands.
  3. Unilever PLC, $6.39 billion, 22 brands.
  4. Shiseido Co. Ltd., $4.65 billion, 27 brands.
  5. The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., $4.6 billion, 16 brands.

The smallest company on the list:
#101. Escada Beaute: $46 million

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Companies By Country

U.S.: 37

France: 17

Italy, Germany: 10

Japan: 9

U.K., Switzerland: 3

The WWD Beauty Inc Top 100 Beauty Manufacturers, 2020:

Combined sales of the top 100 companies: $212.59 billion

  1. L’Oréal, $31.95 billion, 35 brands.
  2. Unilever, $22.17 billion, 31 brands.
  3. The Estée Lauder Cos., $14.2 billion, 34 brands.
  4. Procter & Gamble, $14 billion, 19 brands.
  5. Shiseido Co. Ltd., $8.39 billion, 26 brands.

The smallest company on the list:

#100. Clea Cosmetics Co. Ltd.: $185 million

Companies By Country:

U.S.: 31

France: 14

Japan: 12

German, U.K., Switzerland, China: 4

*Due to a tie there were 101 companies on the list in 2001, rather than the customary 100.

U.S. Prestige Beauty Sales: 2001

All beauty: $7 billion
Makeup: $2.3 billion
Skin care: $1.8 billion
Fragrance: $2.9 billion


U.S. Prestige Beauty Sales: 2019*

All beauty: $18.8 billion
Makeup: $7.6 billion
Skin care: $5.9 billion
Fragrance: $4.5 billion

Source: The NPD Group

*Because of the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 numbers aren’t as reflective as the historic growth rates over the last 20 years, so 2019 figures are used for comparison.

Sephora: 2001

50 stores in 19 states

Employees: 1,163

Top brands:

  • Sephora Collection
  • Stila Cosmetics
  • Benefit
  • Lorac
  • Urban Decay

Sephora, 2021:
452 stores in 45 states (not including Sephora at Kohl’s or Sephora inside JCPenney)

Employees: 13,011

  • Sephora Collection
  • Fenty
  • Olaplex
  • Drunk Elephant
  • Charlotte Tilbury

Happy Birthday to You, Too!

Here, a list of brands launched in 2001:

Kevyn Aucoin

Essence Cosmetics

Oyin Handmade




Industry Titans With Multiple Beauty Inc Covers:

Jean-Paul Agon, former chief executive officer and current chairman, L’Oréal

Bobbi Brown, entrepreneur

Fabrizio Freda, chief executive officer, The Estée Lauder Cos.

Iman, supermodel and entrepreneur

Alex Keith, CEO, P&G Beauty

Lindsay Owen-Jones, former chairman and CEO, L’Oréal

Masahiko Uotani, CEO, Shiseido

For more from, see:

Prestige Beauty Grew 11 Percent in Q1, Per NPD Group

L’Oréal USA Receives Intersectional Equity Certification