In the association's Western Europe Market Overview Report, figures show that Retail Sales Prices (RSP) of cosmetics and toiletries in the 15 EU member states, together with Norway and Switzerland, grew by 4 per cent to reach €62.7bn, reinforcing its position as the world's leading market. The figures reflect well against market growth in other European industry segments, where the average figure across the EU was 2.7 per cent in 2006. It also reflects a significant rise on the previous year, when tougher economic conditions in Europe as a whole meant that sales rose by just 1 per cent. The association underlined how this emphasised the sensitivity of the industry to economic conditions, conditions which have now improved markedly, notably in two of the EU's largest markets - France and Germany. The overview underlines the fact that Western Europe now accounts for 29 per cent of the global market share for cosmetics and toiletries. This figure is actually shrinking in the face of fast growth in developing markets such as Eastern Europe and Latin America. On a country-by-country basis, it is Germany, the largest market in Europe, that is continuing to surge ahead, bucking a long period of stagnancy to record sales growth of 4 per cent in RSP terms, to €11.7bn. However, the strongest performance went to the UK, where RSP rose 6 per cent to reach €10bn, a marked rise on the performance in 2005, when, like in Germany, RSP only rose by 1 per cent. Growth rates in the UK, meant that the market eclipsed Spain as the strongest performer of the top five countries. Spain still put in an excellent performance however, achieving RSP growth of 5 per cent, to reach a market value of €7.4bn. Ireland also came in for a special mention, as it is being tipped as one of the markets with the most potential for grow further. This is because Ireland currently has a relatively low per capita expenditure on cosmetic and toiletry products - €133, putting it in the bottom three in Europe - whereas GDP grew at the fastest rate in Europe during 2006, 9 per cent. On a market category basis, decorative, or colour cosmetics led the way when it came to growth, with gains of 6 per cent, to reach an RSP of €7.7bn. However, this category still comes second to skin care, which recorded an RSP figure of €16bn. In both of these categories, gains were reflected by the fact that consumers want increasingly sophisticated and functional products, with both colour cosmetics and skin care products increasingly incorporating sunscreens. In particular, hefty gains were experienced in the UK skin care market, where RSP was up 13 per cent in Euros. In skin care and colour cosmetics the increase in prices is reflected by the fact that consumers are 'trading up' - choosing products that are better formulated or of better quality and consequently more expensive. As anti-aging products continue to be the driving force of growth in the segment, sun care is fast catching up, reaching an estimated value of €2bn across Western Europe in 2006. This is reflected by the fact that products are also becoming increasingly sophisticated and, as a consequence, more expensive. Slightly less sparkling was the performance of the hair care segment, which only saw RSP growth of 2 per cent, to reach €14.9bn. However, this is still an upturn on the figure for 2005 and reflects efforts by manufacturers to simplify ranges and add value. Finally, toiletries saw healthy RSP growth of 4 per cent to reach €14.7bn, while fragrances grew by 5 per cent to reach €9.3bn.