The question of what role makeup plays in a world where most of us are confined to our homes or covering our faces with masks has been top of mind for brands for a year now. And while lower sales have reflected the answer to that question, no major brand has closed its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic—until today.
On February 24, beloved brand Becca Cosmetics announced on Instagram that it would be shutting down in September 2021. “The global pandemic has had an impact on everyone around the world on many levels,” the brand shared in a post. “It has also had a tremendous impact on so many businesses. At BECCA, an accumulation of challenges, together with the global impact of COVID-19, has sadly been more than our business can withstand, and we have had to make the heartbreaking decision to close down the BECCA brand at the end of September 2021.”
“We believe in you, and we believe that the beauty inside you is the light you share with the world,” the post continued. “We are confident that the spirit of BECCA will continue to live on through all of you. Please keep illuminating your true selves. Light your own paths and push your limits. Share positivity and light the way for others as you make an impact on this world. Own your light on your own terms.”
Becca was founded in 2001 but shot to popularity in the Instagram age thanks to its highlighters, which were a backbone among many bloggers’ looks. The brand was then acquired by Estée Lauder in 2016. This just goes to show that even backing from one of the largest beauty conglomerates in the world is no match for the consumer behavior shifts caused by the pandemic.
Becca Cosmetics is not alone in the hit it’s taken over the past year. The “Lipstick Index” usually dictates that sales of lipstick increase in times of economic downturn as consumers look for more affordable luxuries, but it’s almost impossible to count on that phenomenon in a time when our lips are barely seen in public.
Makeup sales reflect that fact. According to NPD Group, sales of all beauty products were down 25% in 2020 compared with the previous year. Per The Wall Street Journal, Ulta Beauty’s makeup sales have yet to recover to prepandemic levels, while Estée Lauder’s makeup sales fell 61% due to consumer preferences. Skin-care sales are also still lower than before the pandemic, but they aren’t taking nearly as much of a hit as color cosmetics, owing to the popularity of at-home gadgets like the NuFace, and people taking the time to indulge in skin care.
While Leonard Lauder, the current chairman of Estée Lauder Companies, actually coined the term “Lipstick Index,” the brand now has a new outlook. “The lipstick index has been substituted by the moisturizer index,” Fabrizio Freda, chief executive of Estée Lauder, said on a company earnings call, according to WSJ.
While the fate of the beauty industry remains unclear, one thing’s for sure: It’s time to pour one out for and stock up on Champagne Pop highlighter before it’s gone for good.
Bella Cacciatore is the beauty associate at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram at @bellacacciatore_.