Blush sales exploding due to TikTok ‘underpainting’ trend – Business Insider

Blush sales exploding due to TikTok ‘underpainting’ trend – Business Insider

  • Blush sales are blowing up thanks to a TikTok trend called “underpainting,” according to NPD Group.
  • But it’s part of a larger trend of people wanting to experiment with fun and vibrant makeup.
  • It’s led to increased sales of eye makeup and a jump in online makeup sales across the board.

After nearly two years of living through a pandemic, beauty enthusiasts are craving new ways to express themselves — and it’s leading to soaring makeup sales.

Blush sales are exploding. Eye makeup sales have gotten a boost. And the beauty industry across the board is seeing a newfound interest in colorful, vibrant cosmetics. The surges are colliding with makeup trends circulating on TikTok, leading to a much-needed boost for an industry hit hard by the pandemic. 

Market research firm NPD Group reported this month that blush sales are up 39% in the US in 2021. Sales of cream and stick blush specifically have more than doubled since 2020 and have grown since 2019 as well.

Natallia Bambiza, a makeup category analyst for beauty at NPD Group, said in a blog post that the newfound popularity of one of the world’s earliest forms of makeup can be attributed to a technique circulating on TikTok called “underpainting.” 

Underpainting involves first putting on cream blush and then layering foundation and concealer on top of it, which is the opposite way most people typically do their makeup. The method is an old trick used by makeup artists to provide “a much more natural effect,” makeup artist Jamie Greenberg told Allure’s Erica La Sala, but it also requires a lot of product — hence the exploding sales.


Like many other industries, the cosmetics world had a challenging 2020. NPD Group data showed that sales of high-end makeup in particular dropped 34% in 2020, with certain categories getting hit harder than others.

Sales of lip products like lipstick and gloss plummeted as masks became the norm and continued to drop in early 2021 — total sales of lip products were down 24% in the first quarter of the year, according to NPD Group data, although when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted mask recommendations in May, the category got a boost. 

But the cosmetics industry, like the rest of us during the pandemic, has adapted. Lipstick may be difficult to wear under masks, but eye makeup is fair game. Data analytics firm Kantar found that sales of eye makeup surged 204% year-over-year from April to June 2020, a trend that has continued in 2021: Online sales of eye makeup are up 47% this year compared to 2019, according to 1010data cited by The New York Times’ Rachel Strugatz. 

In fact, cosmetics sales have been increasing across the board this year as beauty enthusiasts reach for more vibrant and colorful makeup to combat months of grim headlines and isolation due to the pandemic. Online makeup sales have jumped 29% in 2021 compared to 2019, according to 1010data cited by The Times. Makeup companies like e.l.f. and Mac reported seeing renewed interest in colorful, bold, or shimmery makeup, especially among Gen Z, and the end of the “no makeup makeup” look that’s been popular since as far back as the early 1990s.