Cleansers, moisturisers, serums, exfoliants, toners, hydrating masks, rejuvenating creams… skincare products are on the rise and making people into billionaires, but who are the industry’s biggest players?

The global skincare industry is a booming market, generating revenues of US$164b in 2022 and estimated to reach US$189b by 2025. This growth is being driven by a number of factors, such as an increasing focus on anti-ageing and preventative care, and the growing popularity of social media and influencer marketing

It’s not just influencers, though. Celebrities have also used their fame to leverage sales of their own cosmetic brands, raking in big bucks in the process. There’s no guarantee of success – Lady Gaga’s Haus Beauty didn’t fly when launched in 2019, and is currently undergoing a revamp – but it worked well for Jessica Alba’s Honest Company ($HNST), Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics, of which Coty ($COTY) owns 51%, and perhaps most successfully of all, for Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty.

Co-owned by LVMH ($LVMUY), the venture made the singer a billionaire and is one of the reasons she hasn’t released an album in six years. The rumours about an upcoming new tour seem to have been dismissed, making some RiRi fans wish Fenty never came to be.

Many companies are bringing in top dollar in less glamorous areas of skincare. Johnson & Johnson’s ($JNJ) Neutrogena, for example, sold 18.44m acne treatment products in 2022 in the U.S. alone. One of the compounds most used in acne remedies, retinol (a form of vitamin A), is vital to the cosmetic industry. Its market is estimated to be worth US$1.38b, with BASF ($BASFY) being a leading player in its production. 

Interestingly, retinol is usually synthesised from beta-carotene and beta-ionone, which are abundant in carrots. That’s not to say you should go full Bugs Bunny in search of smoother skin: there are several adverse effects from excessive vitamin A consumption. But it’s kind of ironic that, while beauty creams fetch as much as US$380 for a small tub and become harder and harder to afford, you can find one of their most needed raw materials at the local grocery store for just a few bucks a kilo.

Top image: Unsplash


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