Australians have had a deep love affair with French beauty products for decades. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australia imported AUD$502 million worth of essential oils, fragrances and cosmetics from France in 2020.

The multi-million dollar reason why L’Oréal Australia is the nation’s number one beauty company and brands such as Chanel, Christian Dior and Clarins are permanently top of mind for Aussie beauty lovers.

We’re not alone in our addiction. France is the only leading economy in the world where cosmetics and beauty rank in the top 10 list of exports, so the dip in demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact.

The French Federation for Beauty Companies (FEBEA) reports that cosmetic and fragrance exports rebounded in 2021 to 16.5 billion euros (AUD$25.99 billion) – up 22.5 per cent on 2020 figures and 2.5 per cent on the 2019 pre-pandemic total.

China was the number one market for French beauty exports last year, surging 56 per cent over 2019 revenues to 1.9 billion euros (AUD$2.99 billion). Makeup was a key driver and one in three French-made lipsticks are now exported to China.

The US, the world’s largest single beauty market, was not far behind China with sales of 1.8 billion euros (AUD$2.83 billion). The strong recovery of the American fragrance market saw perfume sales increase by 66 per cent over 2020 levels.

French makeup and skincare exports reached 9 billion euros (AUD$14.17 billion) in 2021. Skincare accounted for the lion’s share of revenues at 7.5 billion euros (AUD$11.81 billion).

Fragrances represented 30.6 per cent of total French beauty exports, reaching 5.4 billion euros (AUD$8.5 billion).

The cosmetics industry is proving its impressive ability to bounce back from a health crisis, said Emmanuel Guichard, Delegate-General of the FEBEA. “Companies of all sizes played a part in these good export figures, large groups but also small companies which, thanks to their dynamism, are also champions of the Made in France label. Since the onset of the crisis, demand for more natural and environmentally-friendly products has increased and French companies have invested heavily in this space.”

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