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38 More Than Skin Deep Beauty Industry Statistics in the UK

Written by, Bojana Atanasovska

Updated April, 6, 2023

Youth and beauty are those ephemeral qualities that we seek to retain for as long as possible since they satiate a certain need for appeal, charm, and self-confidence. Well, the cosmetic industry was consolidated into a massive business sector during the 20th century to exploit that need to look beautiful and attractive.

We’ve collected the latest beauty industry statistics for the UK in the sections below to provide a detailed glimpse of this sector’s latest developments.

We are not making this stuff up!

Captivating Facts and Stats About the UK Beauty Market

  • The cosmetic industry in the UK was valued at a staggering £9.8 billion in 2017.
  • 58.3% of all cosmetic products sold in the UK in 2020 were toiletries.
  • Approximately 92,000 people were working in UK beauty-related industries in 2019.
  • Vaseline was the most popular beauty brand in the UK in Q3 2021.
  • In 2020, the fine female fragrance market flourished, approaching nearly £1 billion in market value.
  • Around 3.7 million UK consumers chose Boots No7’s makeup foundation, face powder and tinted moisturiser in 2020.
  • 31% of Brits subscribed to beauty boxes in 2019.
  • The subscription price for beauty boxes averaged £10.99 in 2019.
  • More than 50% of the UK’s hair and beauty businesses had an annual turnover of less than £99k in 2020.
  • The UK was a world leader in skin microbiome product launches in 2018.

General Cosmetics Statistics

1. The cosmetic industry in the UK was valued at a staggering £9.8 billion in 2017.


The beauty industry in the UK boomed in 2017 when it hit an all-time high value of £9.8 billion. However, this peak was followed by a three-year downward trend, with the market value dropping to £8.71 billion in 2020.

2. The UK placed third in Europe by cosmetics consumption value in 2019.


Based on the consumption value of cosmetic sales, the UK came third behind Germany and France with a value of €10.66 billion. Only France with €11.44 billion, and Germany with €14.04 billion were the bigger consumers. All in all, Western European countries consumed significantly more than those from Eastern Europe.

3. Per sales value, toiletries had a 29.5% share of the UK market in 2020.


Toiletries led the market for cosmetics in the UK in 2020, which had a market share of almost 30%. The sales value data also showed skincare placed high with a 25.4% market share, followed by fragrances (18.3%), haircare (14.3%), and colour cosmetics (12%).

4. 58.3% of all cosmetic products sold in the UK in 2020 were toiletries.


On the other hand, toiletries also took the top spot with close to 60% of all sold cosmetic products per sales volume. Second and third place went to skincare and haircare with more than 16% each. The remainder comprised colour cosmetics with 6% and fragrances with 2.5%.

5. In 2020, 582 small and medium enterprises operated in beauty care in the UK.

(Statista) (CTPA)

The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association revealed that almost 600 cosmetics-based SMEs conducted their business in the UK in 2020. In addition, Statista’s latest findings show that only Italy (with 814) had a larger number of SMEs operating in the cosmetics sector.

6. Approximately 92,000 people were working in UK beauty-related industries in 2019.


Beauty retailers across the UK retailers employed roughly 92,000 workers in specialised cosmetic and toiletry stores in 2019. Surprisingly, from 2008 through 2018, the number of reported employees in this sector was much lower: fluctuating between 30,000 (in 2009) and 44,000 (in 2018).

7. Vaseline was the most popular beauty brand in the UK in Q3 2021.


YouGov’s recent stats show that Vaseline is the most popular choice of cosmetics in the UK, with 75% of respondents claiming a positive experience with the brand’s products. However, while 83% of all female respondents liked Vaseline’s articles, men were more sceptical, with 66% of them sharing a positive attitude.

Following Vaseline are Dove, Boots, Nivea, and E45.

8. 13% of UK adults meant to or purchased a beauty advent calendar for Christmas 2019.


In recent years, advent calendars have been a Christmas gift hit, according to 2019’s YouGov research. Namely, 13% of UK consumers thought that a calendar with a different cosmetics item behind each ‘door’ is a wonderful Christmas gift.

Cosmetics Subsectors Statistics

9. In 2020, the beauty market value of eye shadows in the UK was estimated above £351 million.


However, the colour cosmetics subsector was led by face cosmetics in 2020, with a market value of over £386 million. The remaining categories of colour beauty products included lips with £145.4 million, nails with close to £150 million, and palettes/gift packs with £11.4 million.

10. Shampoo sales led the UK haircare segment in 2020 with a market value of £470.5 million.


CTPA’s latest findings show that shampoo products generated the largest market value in the UK hair and beauty industry for 2020 at over £470 million. Second place went to hair colourants with £324.5 million, followed closely by conditioners with £315.8.

11. Toothpaste products had the highest market value in the toiletry subsector in 2020.


When it came to toiletries as part of the cosmetic industry, toothpaste generated the biggest value with almost £538 million. Deodorants and antiperspirants came second with £526.4 million, while liquid soap with over £432 million and shower and body wash with nearly £379 million followed in third and fourth place.

12. In 2020, the fine female fragrance market flourished, approaching nearly £1 billion in market value.


Having generated almost £945 million in 2020, the UK fragrance subsector was led by fine female fragrances. On the other hand, the second most valued fragrance products were fine male fragrances with a market value of nearly £554 million.

13. Non-medicated face care products dominated the UK skincare subsector in 2020.


Face care cosmetics lead the beauty care market in the UK in 2020 with a value estimated at over £1 billion—almost double that of the second most valued product type: prestige skincare with gift packs at over £537.5 million.

Cosmetics Brands Statistics

14. Around 3.7 million UK consumers chose Boots No7’s makeup foundation, face powder and tinted moisturiser in 2020.


While Boots No7’s British cosmetics were most popular, Rimmel and Max Factor also produced top-notch popular foundation, moisturiser, and face powder articles as they had the second and third largest number of users in 2020.

15. Boots No7 was the most popular brand of highlighters and blushers in the UK in 2020.


Almost 2.1 million UK customers purchased Boots No7 blushers and highlighters in 2020, significantly more than the second and third most popular choices: Rimmel with 1.57 million and Maybelline with 1.46 million.

16. 3.8 million UK consumers used Boots No7 lipstick and lipgloss products in 2020.


The best of the best lipstick manufacturers in the UK for 2020 was Boots with its No7 brand, as they outsold Rimmel (3.31 million) by almost 500,000 users. Maybelline came in third place with almost 3.1 million users.

17. Over 4.6 million UK consumers chose Rimmel as their preferred brand of eye makeup in 2020.


While Rimmel was the UK’s most popular eye makeup brand in 2020, Maybelline followed closely with almost 4.48 million and Boots No7 with nearly 4.3 million. The next closest was Avon, with nearly 2.7 million.

18. As of June 2021, Kylie Cosmetics is Instagram’s most popular beauty brand.


With over 25 million Instagram followers, Kylie Cosmetics is one of the most popular beauty brands in the world. Other companies that skillfully utilise Instagram’s visual platform to promote themselves include Anastasia Beverly Hills with 20 million followers and Benefit Cosmetics with over 10 million supporters.

Beauty Subscription Box Statistics

19. 31% of Brits subscribed to beauty boxes in 2019.


Whistl’s 2019 research on beauty subscription boxes in the UK revealed that almost one-third of Brits had purchased beauty boxes in 2019. Moreover, subscription boxes were more popular with women, 45% of which said they used a subscription box service; whereas, 30% of male respondents bought into this modern craze.

20. 58% of respondents between 25 and 31 years used subscription boxes.


The same Whistl research revealed that the younger demographics are more likely to get beauty care boxes in the UK. For instance, 51% of the 18 to 24 year-olds and 58% of those between 25–31 years of age paid for a subscription box. However, the acceptance rate progressively dropped to 17% with seniors older than 65 years of age.

21. Subscription box users typically prefer to receive them monthly.


When it comes to the regularity of box deliveries, 58% of consumers subscribed to monthly schemes, while 23% of respondents chose weekly subscriptions. The least preferred options were bi-monthly with 8% and less frequently with 11%.

22. The subscription price for beauty boxes averaged £10.99 in 2019.


While the beauty box subscriptions cost Brits almost £11 on average, the use of these services increased based on household income: while Londoners were most eager to get subscription boxes with 45%, Northern Ireland had the lowest adoption rate with 19%.

23. Spending on health and beauty box subscriptions is expected to grow by 203.3% between 2017 and 2022.

(IMRG) (Royal Mail)

According to Royal Mail’s 2019 report, the beauty box industry in the UK is expected to experience extreme growth by 2023. While the health and beauty box market is set to grow over 200%, spending on male grooming boxes is forecast to increase by an incredible 328.6% and reach 2 million subscribers.

Trade Statistics

24. The value of imported and exported cosmetics from/to the UK declined in 2020.


In 2020, the UK recorded a year-on-year decrease in cosmetics import and export trade by 8% and 7%, respectively. The total import trade value was estimated at almost £3.8 billion, with the export at over £3.5 billion.

The largest dip in the beauty market trade (with 12%) was registered in the export to the Extra EU countries, and the import from the EU27 countries with 9%.

25. In 2020, the United States was the UK’s main non-EU export and import partner. 


The United States, Switzerland, China, Hong Kong and UAE are the top five countries outside the EU where the UK exports its products. As a curiosity, in 2020, the value of exports decreased slightly with every country except China, which increased the value of imported British cosmetics from £50.8 million to £90.8 million.

Similarly, the US, China, Switzerland, Canada and Turkey are the leading five countries that import cosmetic goods to the UK. China, yet again, noticed an increase in product value compared to 2019, from £335.7 million to £350.7 million.

26. The biggest EU export destination for beauty UK cosmetics in 2020 was the Irish Republic.


The Irish prefer purchasing from the UK cosmetic brands list before all, as evident by their import trade value of over £467 million. On the other hand, Brits themselves favoured importing high-quality French products with a trade value of almost £740 million.

27. At £1.81 billion, skincare products had the highest import value of all cosmetics in 2019.


The cosmetics segment with the second-highest import value in 2019 was perfume with £865 million. On the other hand, imports of oral-care products placed last with £227.7 million.

Cosmetics Sales Statistics

28. The United Kingdom had 1690 perfume and cosmetics wholesale enterprises in 2018.


Recent ten-year research showed that the number of wholesalers selling cosmetics in the UK has been increasing steadily since 2010. While the number recorded then was 964, it grew to almost 1700 in 2018.

29. Тoiletries and cosmetic retail sales in the UK culminated in February 2019 with a weekly index number of 116.4.


From 2016 to 2021, cosmetics and toiletries retail sales increased dramatically, reaching a high in 2019. However, due to the pandemic circumstances, the market recorded several sales value fluctuations between March 2020 and May 2021, when the number stood at 104.5.

30. The turnover of UK’s beauty retailers amounted to £5,344 million in 2019.


A survey conducted with around 74,000 businesses from 2008 to 2019 showed an increase in the income generated by cosmetics and makeup sales in the UK. From the £2.7 billion produced in 2008, the total turnover increased to over £5.3 billion in 2019.

31. In 2019, over 1,600 specialised stores were selling imported and British cosmetics in the UK.


The latest beauty industry statistics in the UK also revealed the number of cosmetics retail stores operating within the country. While between 2008 and 2012, the number of cosmetics retail stores dropped from 889 to 799, it steadily increased to 1,606 by 2020.

32. In 2020, Brits aged 50 to 64 had the highest weekly personal care expenditure.


While Britons over 75 spent £8.20 weekly on self-care products, all younger age groups spent a larger amount ranging from £11.7 to £15.4. Moreover, expenditure for hair products, cosmetics, and related electrical appliances accounted for 0.8% of the weekly family spending on average.

Hairdressing, Barbering and Beauty Sector Statistics

33. In 2020, the UK hairdressing, barbering and beauty industry had over 288.000 employees.


The vast majority of workers in the hairdressing, barbering and beauty sector (88%) were female hairdressers—amounting to over 253,000. Moreover, 60% of those working as hairstylists and barbers and 65% of all beauty employees were self-employed.

34. The number of hairdressing and barbering apprentices in the UK surged by 30% year-on-year in 2019/2020.


While in 2018/2019, 10 000 people started hairdressing and barbering training, that number declined by 30% in 2019/2020. Moreover, half of the people employed in the beauty and hair industries are in their twenties and thirties.

35. More than 50% of the UK’s hair and beauty businesses had an annual turnover of less than £99k in 2020.


One of the more important hairdressing and beauty facts is that from almost 45,000 hair and beauty companies in the UK in 2020, over a half registered an annual turnover below £99,000. Furthermore, the number of hair and beauty firms has increased by 1000 since 2019.

Skincare Statistics

36. The UK was a world leader in skin microbiome product launches in 2018.


With over 40% of all skin microbiome products launched by cosmetic companies in the UK in 2018, the country was a global leader in developing products that cater to the skin’s unique ecosystem. The United States and France, with 25% and 15%, respectively, were also significant players in this cosmetics segment.

37. Prestige and luxury facial skincare launches have been on the rise in recent years.


Mintel’s 2018 research revealed that around 71% of all launches by British cosmetics and makeup brands were for prestige and luxury products that year, an increase from the 54% recorded in 2008. Conversely, budget skincare merchandise declined from 14% in 2008 to 10% in 2018.

38. Non-medicated face care goods overcame the £1 billion market value milestone in 2020.


In 2020, non-medicated facial goods were undoubtedly the first choice for skincare products in the UK. Luxury skincare and gift boxes placed second with over £537 million, followed by body creams and lotion (more than £200 million) and sunscreens (almost £167 million).

Before You Get Your Beauty Sleep

The above beauty industry statistics for the UK indicate impactful changes are afoot incited by the increasing environmental awareness of the 21st century. On the face of it, consumers are driving sustainable cosmetics markets that offer pure organic products. Consumer safety and sustainability come into consideration too, since organic beauty products are safer and do not depend on non-renewable resources.

Hopefully, these stats and facts will help you make the right decision regarding identifying and choosing the best British cosmetics out there.


Bojana is my name and writing is my game. I am a content writer from Bitola who is always interested in the latest research in almost all areas of life. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a perfectionist character, both of which help me find the most accurate data and information available. Although I have my head stuck in studies and reports most of the time, I still have a bit of free time during which I enjoy knitting and watching classic 90’s Disney movies.