Protective face masks have become part of the new normal throughout the U.S. Along the way, they have infiltrated apparel, makeup trends and holiday shopping lists. In fact, 31 percent of holiday shoppers plan to give masks as stocking stuffers or gifts this year, according to The NPD Group’s Annual Holiday Study.

In terms of how and where consumers are shopping for these masks, NPD’s Checkout data shows that e-commerce dominates dollar sales, but as stores reopened and more retailers entered the market with reusable options, e-commerce began to lose share. Warehouse clubs, specialty retailers and mass merchants have been the primary gainers in this shift – providing consumers with more shopping and product assortment options for the holiday season.

Impact on Beauty and Fashion

Covering the nose and lips, protective face masks place greater emphasis on the wearer’s eyes. Consequently, dollar sales of lip makeup declined faster than all other makeup products year-to-date through September versus last year. Compared to lip and face, eye makeup has seen the softest sales declines and gained market share. Under the mask, setting sprays, which may help consumers solve the problem of keeping makeup in place, grew by an average of 9 percent month-over-month.

“While protective face masks focus attention on the eyes we still want to keep the rest of our face looking good for when the mask comes off – not to mention keeping the mask itself free of smudges,” says Larissa Jensen, beauty industry advisor, The NPD Group. “Masks have created a shift in our beauty behavior and elevated the categories that address the consumer’s new set of needs.”  

Fashion that solves problems is what has won with consumers over the last few years. Jeans with stretch, leggings with pockets, activewear with moisture-wicking properties and the reemergence of belt bags are some examples of innovation that have piqued consumer interest.

“Beyond the protective face masks themselves, which have become the new fashion accessory in their own right, the fashion industry once again has an opportunity to employ innovation to address consumer needs that complement this latest addition to our wardrobe,” added Maria Rugolo, apparel industry analyst, The NPD Group. “If masks continue to be a more permanent part of society, at least for the near future, we expect to see continued innovation in how we carry these items. There could be a greater need for pockets, especially for men and a potential opportunity for cargo shorts and pants to come back into style. While no one knows how long masks will be part of consumers’ everyday lives, helping them navigate these times as easily as possible will go a long way.”

To read The NPD Group’s Annual Holiday Study, click here.