And lip color appears to be the driving force behind the segment with a sales increase of 11 percent to $92.1m, year-to-date, January through April 2011.
According to the latest report from market research firm NPD, the segment as a whole, which includes lip color, lip liner, lip gloss and lip applicators, grew by seven percent to $185.2m in US department stores compared to the same period last year.
"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. Coming out of the recession, it seems that the consumers thirst for color and play was reawakened," said Karen Grant, vice president and senior global industry analyst, The NPD Group.
Lip color is getting its groove back
"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," added Grant.
After almost a decade of declining sales, lip color began to show growth again last year, and since February 2010, lip color has experienced 15 months of steady dollar growth, with seven of those months posting double-digit increases, including April this year (+30 percent).
Annual results in 2010 saw lip color post an eight percent unit increase, the first increase in the segment since 2002, and lip color has seen a four percent unit increase on last year’s figures to 9.8m.
The top selling lip color brand this year from the January-April results was Mac Lipstick, followed by Lancome L’Absolu Rouge and Clinique Long Last Soft Shine Lipstick.
Estee Lauder’s Pure Color Lipstick and Chanel’s Rouge Coco Shine products completed the top five.