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We Asked Industry Insiders Exactly Why Beauty Prices Are Rising So Much

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Main image – Nabitang/Stocksy

If you partake in the beauty industry, even on a tangential level, you’ll have noticed a rapid uptick in prices in recent months.

And it’s not just in one sphere – prices seem to be rising exponentially across the board, often anywhere from around 10% upwards. From a trip to the nail salon to buying an ‘affordable’ serum, it almost seems as though it’s impossible to engage in the beauty industry on a budget right now.

 


The Ordinary faces backlash

Beauty lovers all over the world have been noticing rising costs, with a particularly angry mob gathering on The Ordinary’s Facebook page following a series of price hikes.

For those not in the know, The Ordinary is known for high-quality and ingredient-led skincare at an affordable price. But since the brand was bought by Estee Lauder in 2022, the affordability of the brand has been called into question by fans angry at recent price rises.

One user of their Facebook page joked, “I was wondering when ‘Estee Louder’ would make their appearance! And just like that the prices are going up! Such a pity…”

However, in an email to its customers at the end of last year, The Ordinary sought to explain that rather than corporate greed, this was an issue of meeting their own rising business costs to ensure the brand’s longevity. Put simply, the brand argues that passing on some of their own increased costs is the best way to keep them producing the products their fans have come to love.

The email explained, “Though it’s never easy to see a brand changing its prices, we know that reviewing our prices to align with the global economy will allow us to create long-term sustainability for our brand, without compromising our values.

 

The Ordinary

 

What’s happening at The Ordinary seems to be only a microcosm of what’s happening all across the beauty industry – and honestly, the world, though. The cost of living crisis has been well-documented, but aside from people struggling to eat and heat, it’s also impacting people’s beauty spending.

Of course, alongside noticing the soaring cost of being a beauty lover, it’s also worth considering why. Whether it’s the cost of raw ingredients, packaging, and human labour costs going up, marketing costs rising for companies, or (the most satisfying but also least nuanced answer) simple rising profits, it would be helpful to know why our products seem to be costing more.

So we’ve spoken to business experts and beauty brand owners to discuss what’s really behind the rise. We’re also looking to the future of the industry – are prices set to continue to skyrocket to infinity? And, if so, what does that really mean for the average beauty consumer? Is there any future in buying beauty, or should we all just give up now? Kidding – kind of…

 


‘A mixture of factors’

Shara Gabaldon, the founder and CEO of Luxe Beauty & Body Co., explains, “As someone deeply involved in the beauty industry, I understand the frustration many people feel about rising beauty product prices. It’s not just a small issue—it’s a big change happening for several reasons.” She views these price hikes as something of a perfect storm, explaining that ‘it’s a mix of factors making things more expensive’. 

Alexis Pfropper, licensed esthetician and the founder and owner of Asthetik Skincare, says she has ‘witnessed firsthand the impact of rising beauty prices from both sides- on both consumers and businesses’. She draws attention to these unprecedentedly high prices, adding: “It’s concerning to see how prices have escalated across the industry, affecting brands and their loyal customers alike.”

 

Image – Studiofirma/Stocksy

 

The founder and CCO of Pure Glow, Lauren Rampello Becotte, offers that the industry ‘is navigating a complex landscape of rising costs that extend beyond just the direct costs of goods sold’. Giving some first-hand experience of pricing as a beauty brand, she reveals that: “Since our inception in 2015, Pure Glow has only adjusted our pricing once, at the start of this year, reflecting our commitment to maintaining affordability amidst these challenges.”

 


Rising raw materials, and more

Gabaldon draws attention to the rising costs of raw materials. “One big reason for these higher prices is that the stuff that goes into making beauty products, like special ingredients or packaging, is getting more expensive.”

Pfropper agrees, drawing particular attention to two popular ‘skingredients’. “We’ve observed significant increases in the prices of essential skincare ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and retinol.” And that’s not the only hidden cost of raw materials. Galbarldon explains: “Getting those products from the factory to the store (or your doorstep) costs more because of shipping.”

 

Image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy

 

Another issue facing the beauty industry is the cost of labour. Gabaldon explains that ‘the people who work to make these products need to be paid fairly. With wages going up in many places, companies have to pay more to their workers, and that means higher prices for us.’

Rampello Becotte offers a more detailed economic breakdown of her costs while running a beauty business. “We’re also managing rising expenses in other areas essential to our operation, such as insurance, software, and particularly labour costs.

In Massachusetts, where we’re based, the minimum wage has seen a significant hike, moving from $9.00 in 2015 to $15.00 in 2024, marking a 67% increase. This adjustment has a considerable impact on our budget, emphasising the broader economic factors at play within our business operations.”

On top of these manufacturing costs, advertising is a huge expense for beauty brands. Galbraldon adds: “Brands need to spend money to make sure you know about their products, especially with social media influencers and online ads being so important nowadays. All that spending adds up and gets passed on to consumers.”

Pfropper claims that these marketing expenses are highly stressful for brands to manage, explaining: “Companies are facing mounting pressures from marketing expenses, further contributing to the overall price surge.”

The negative feelings associated with hiking prices are shared by consumers and brands alike, claims Pfropper. “Consumer sentiment, as evidenced by the discontent expressed on platforms like The Ordinary’s Facebook page, underscores the frustration felt by many. People are increasingly vocal about their dissatisfaction with inflated beauty prices, highlighting the need for transparency and affordability within the industry.”

 


Support from some corners

In spite of the initial furore on The Ordinary’s Facebook announcement, it does seem that people understand that the rising cost of living will be impacting the costs of running a beauty business. It’s just unfortunate for consumers that they must bear the brunt of their own cost of living issues alongside spending more to cover for brand’s profit margins, too!

One supportive fan writes, “Supply Chain folks like me completely understand. It has been quite challenging to keep prices low due to increased transportation and raw material costs. Don’t judge if you don’t understand. At least they are giving the consumer a heads-up!”

Another agrees, “All prices have gone up.. food.. gas.. cost of living. It’s up everywhere. So I think it’s okay if their prices are up. Stop blaming the big company. Do you not expect that they pay their staff well?”

 


Future price hikes

So, are beauty prices going to keep going up? Galbraldon offers us the answer we don’t want to hear. “Unfortunately, it looks that way. With challenges in getting products from factories to stores and with prices going up for lots of things, it’s likely we’ll see more price hikes.”

From a brand owner’s perspective, Rampello Becotte adds, “Looking ahead, we anticipate that the beauty industry may continue to face price adjustments due to these external cost pressures. However, our primary goal remains to strike a balance between offering accessible luxury and maintaining the high standards of service our clients expect.”

Pfropper offers a more balanced look to the future, claiming that ‘the trajectory of beauty prices is uncertain’. She confirms, “Factors such as economic fluctuations, geopolitical tensions, and environmental challenges could further exacerbate cost pressures in the future. Therefore, it’s important for both consumers and industry players to remain vigilant and advocate for fair pricing practices.”

 

Meet the experts

Shara Gabaldon is the Founder and CEO of Luxe Beauty & Body Co. 

 

Alexis Pfropper is a licensed aesthetician and the founder+owner of Asthetik Skincare.

 

Lauren Rampello Becotte is the  Founder and CCO of Pure Glow.

 

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Freelance Beauty Writer

Annie Walton Doyle is a journalist based in Manchester, UK. For over ten years, she's worked within the beauty industry, writing for publications like Bustle and Hello Giggles about skincare, makeup, fragrance, and more. When not writing, she enjoys knitting, weird books, nature, and mysteries.

Expertise: Makeup, nails
Education: Goldsmiths, University of London
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