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Color Cosmetics Sales Are Booming for Lips and Eyes — Nails, Not So Much

Nail polish sales dropped 10 percent in 2014.
A model at Chanel's spring 2015 show. Photo: Pascal le Segretain/Getty Images

A model at Chanel's spring 2015 show. Photo: Pascal le Segretain/Getty Images

The nail art boom just couldn't last. According to research from NPD Group released Monday on the state of the cosmetics industry, nail polish experienced a 10 percent decline in sales in 2014 after spending four years between 2009 and 2012 as the highest growth category.

That drop owes to the fact that people don't want color on their nails right now. On their faces, though — that's a completely different matter.

According to NPD, color cosmetics are winning when it comes to eyes and lips. Sales of lip color rose 13 percent to $417 million in 2014, driving growth in the lip product category overall.

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NPD beauty analyst Karen Grant says that consumers go to color when looking to change up their looks. Brands that respond to that demand quickly, swapping out their palettes in response to changing trends, are going to benefit handsomely.

The NPD also reaffirmed Monday what it had said back in July, which is that sales of brow products were the true winner last year. While eye shadow sales got a 9 percent bump in 2014, brow products grew 34 percent. Given the trend toward fuller brows, evangelized most potently by one Cara Delevingne, it's completely unsurprising. All in all, eye color products brought in $1.1 billion last year in the U.S.

Of course, the main thing to remember here is the fact that beauty trends are cyclical. Brow widths narrow and widen, arch and flatten, and eventually nail polish will be flying off the shelves again. It's just a matter of time.