What Is the Cosmetics Industry?

Daniel Liden

The cosmetics industry is composed of businesses that produce and market cosmetic products, or products intended for personal care and for improving physical appearance. It is a highly profitable industry because cosmetic products are widely used in many countries around the world by men and women of almost all ages. Products for skin care, such as moisturizers and acne creams, and hair-care products, such as shampoos and conditioners, are among the most prevalent products manufactured and sold by the cosmetics industry. Fragrance products such as cologne and perfume and color cosmetics such as lipstick and other forms of makeup are also significant parts of the industry. Many of the products in the cosmetics industry, particularly beauty products, are supported by robust advertising campaigns that make use of many different media forms.

Models may be used in cosmetic ads.
Models may be used in cosmetic ads.

Skin care products, which range from basic moisturizers to vitamin-filled antiaging creams, are one of the major elements of the cosmetics industry. Sunscreen and tanning ointments are also grouped into this category. These products are widely used by both men and women of many different age groups.

Perfumes and colognes are made by the cosmetics industry.
Perfumes and colognes are made by the cosmetics industry.

Hair care products and fragrances are also marketed toward both men and women and, because of their prevalence, are also profitable and important parts of the cosmetics industry. Many men and women of all ages use two or more hair products on a daily basis. Fragrances such as perfumes and colognes, while not used quite as often, are still an important part of the industry and quite profitable.

Within the cosmetics industry, cruelty-free cosmetics are rated just as effective—if not more so—than those that rely on animal testing.
Within the cosmetics industry, cruelty-free cosmetics are rated just as effective—if not more so—than those that rely on animal testing.

Beauty products such as makeup intended to emphasize and increase physical attractiveness while hiding and correcting imperfections make up another substantial part of the cosmetics industry. These products are generally marketed primarily toward women, as women use such products far more than men do. Regardless, this still is one of the largest and most important sectors of the cosmetics industry. Many people use several different beauty products on a daily basis and may use other more expensive, specialized products for special occasions.

A woman applying lipstick, one type of cosmetic.
A woman applying lipstick, one type of cosmetic.

The cosmetics industry is supported by a great deal of marketing that can, at times, cause controversy. While some marketing campaigns are simply intended to spread knowledge about cosmetic products, many rely on perfect-looking models to produce feelings of insecurity in people. People who are insecure about their physical appearances generally are more likely spend money on cosmetic products to make themselves feel more attractive. Such advertising strategies, though effective, are thought by some to contribute to issues such as low self-esteem and eating disorders.

A woman applying mascara, a type of cosmetic.
A woman applying mascara, a type of cosmetic.

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