The Hustle

As in-store sales lose gas, makeup goes SaaS

After COVID-19 hit, makeup sales took a dive. But tech is helping many brands bounce back.


January 11, 2021

In 2001, Leonard Lauder coined the term “lipstick index” to describe the resiliency of cosmetic sales during tough times. But he never considered our lips might be hidden under masks.

During the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns, demand for lipstick and foundation sank 70%+.

Now, Perfect Corp. — and its augmented beauty app YouCam — is raising a $50m Series C to reimagine the process of buying and trying on makeup during a pandemic.

Because it’s hard to buy makeup when you can’t try it on

Per a McKinsey report, in-store shopping made up 85% of cosmetic sales pre-pandemic. With outlets closed, 30% of the $500B beauty market was simply shut down.

With people staying home, the industry was expected to see a 20-30% dip in 2020 revenues.

For its part, Taiwan-based Perfect Corp. is doing everything it can to replicate the in-store experience.

The YouCam Makeup app boasts 40m+ monthly active users

These folks use the app’s AR tech to try on samples from 300 brands, including Estée Lauder and L’Oréal. Heavy hitters like Google, YouTube, and Snapchat also use the AR tech in their products.

Aside from augmented makeup, the company offers:

Bottom line: Expect the cosmetic industry to have a whole new look going forward.

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