This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 10/24/2018


Unit: USD millions
 2015201620172018 (Estimated)
Total Local Production11,06411,62212,32012,813
Total Exports4,1884,7595,0365,338
Total Imports1,9152,1682,3672,568
Imports from the US
Total Market Size13,01813,11117,59517,735
Exchange Rates0.900.900.961.05

Source: Cosmetica Italia – The Italian Association of Cosmetics Industries

In 2017, the Italian cosmetics market secured its place as the fourth largest market in Europe, comprising 12% of the total market volumes -- behind Germany ($16 million), UK (over $13,400 million) and France ($13,400 million) -- while ranking first in the number of SMEs in the industry.


The Italian beauty industry is sophisticated and highly developed: the sector employs 35,000 people and Italian cosmetic supply chain totals 200,000 employees across 123,000 companies. The total value of the cosmetics sector in Italy is $17.5 billion. Cosmetics consumption in Italy is currently valued at $12 billion with a growth rate of 1.7% in 2017. The Italian cosmetics market remains anti-cyclical and virtually immune to economic stagnation. On one hand, Italians have started put more trust in commerce, primarily due to the undeniability of cosmetic products and the growth of new selling channels, such as single-brand retail, e-commerce and direct sales. On the other hand, Italian beauty products are recognized all over the world, both in traditional and emerging markets, for innovation and quality. In 2017, almost 30% of Italian consumers indicated that they will consume more cosmetics in the coming year, despite the ongoing economic stagnation. This trend confirms the important role that cosmetics play for Italians, who typically choose these products based on quality rather than solely on price. According to the 2017 Beauty Report by Cosmetica Italia (the Italian Association of Cosmetic Industries), over 50% of consumers indicated that the crisis forced them to be more careful with cosmetics expenses, in line with the previous years.

Italy has a large domestic beauty and fragrances industry, which includes several multinational beauty companies. Cosmetica Italia, the Italian Association of Cosmetic industries, reports that the domestic consumption grew by 1.7% in 2017, reaching $12 billion. In 2017 Italy’s cosmetic industry turnover reached $12.3 million, registering an increase of 4% compared to the previous year with expected continued growth of 4% in 2018. Italian cosmetics exports continue to grow as well, increasing by 13% in 2017. The United States is the third largest export market, after Germany (11.4%) and France (13.0%), accounting for 8.9%, at a value of $384 million.


Leading Sub-Sectors

Although highly competitive, there is potential for growth in several sectors of the Italian cosmetics industry. Body care, hair, face, and hygiene products, and alcoholic perfumery continue to dominate the market and account for 74.8% of all cosmetics consumption. Cosmetica Italia reports that body care products comprise 17% of the total marketplace at a value of $1.7 billion.
Body care, body hygiene and hair products follow with the highest market shares of 16.9%, 12.4% and 11.9% respectively. The following sub-sectors by value are oral hygiene (7.7%), women’s perfumery (7.6%) and face make-up (4.9%). Women's fragrances consumption increased slightly by +1% and the total value of alcohol-based perfume products is more than $1.2 billion. Make-up products continue to be in high demand, including face products (+4.9%) at a value of $487 million and eye products (+4.4%) which amounted to $435 million. 

Best prospects include facial skin anti-aging creams and lotions, cosmeceuticals, innovative body and slimming treatments, raw materials, and naturally derived products. Experts see highest growth in products for periocular area and specific zones (+7.2%), lipsticks and lip glosses (+6.9%), and sunscreens and pigmenting products (+6.9%). Italian consumers are increasingly attuned to a "wellness culture" and products that are natural or contain natural active ingredients, derived from plan and vegetable extracts, remain popular. Substances such as aloe vera, lavender, and essential oils are used in the production of locally made products. Italy imports nearly all its cosmetic ingredients. For this reason, demand for raw materials will increase as Italy continues to sell its products abroad. 
Additionally, esthetic medicine has demonstrated an anti-cyclical market purchase pattern with an annual growth rate of higher than 10%. Positive trends will continue in the plastic surgery sector, which currently has a solid market share and is in constant expansion. Strong potential exists also for polyvalent creams, firming lotions, innovative products focused against skin impurities and/or directed to problem areas (e.g. anti-aging and anti-wrinkle creams, cellulite treatments, etc.), and primer products, which are still niche products but are spreading among Italian consumers. 

Experts are seeing strong growth in e-commerce, new door-to-door channels, and the purchase of cosmetics through GDO. The large-scale retail trade is experiencing slower growth as consumers look to other outlets. Within this distribution channel sales amounted to $4.9 billion, covering over 41% of all cosmetics consumption in Italy. In this sector, hyper-super markets cover 44% of the total sales. The main advantage of this channel is that it satisfies a broad segment of consumers.

Although less dynamic than in past years, pharmacy retail channels remain one of the most important avenues for purchasing cosmetics. Analysts expect this channel to register growth in the next few months. Perfumery channels and specialty stores have seen sales contract since 2012. Sales within this channel value $2.3 billion in Italy and cover 20% of total consumption.
The direct sales channel (door-to-door and e-commerce) registered 8.7% growth in 2017. Within this channel, which accounts for over 8% of total cosmetics consumption in Italy, sales amounted to $952 million: door-to-door sales were equal to $553 million, whereas e-commerce channel registered $398 million sales. The herbalist shop market represents 0.9% of all distribution channels with a market value of $518 million. Growing demand highlights the increasing interest among Italian consumers in natural and organic products. 


Italy is a key export market for U.S. cosmetics and personal care products. In 2017, U.S. cosmetics exports to Italy totaled $79.4 million. There are ample opportunities for U.S. exporters in the Italian cosmetics market. American companies should be prepared to heavily invest in promoting their products and brands. U.S. firms need to be able to effectively promote their image and appeal to Italian tastes and fashion preferences. Packaging is also a key component: products should be packaged in a well-presented and eye-catching fashion.

The most significant imports are make-up and skin care products, comprising 30% of demand, followed by perfumes and toilet water at 14%. Italy imports nearly all cosmetics ingredients and demand for raw materials will continue to increase. There is also significant demand for natural ingredients such as aloe vera, lavender, and essential oils, but the market is more competitive for these inputs as many can be sourced locally. During the first three months of 2018, total cosmetic and personal care product imports to Italy from the US increased by 17.5%.

To sell cosmetics products in Italy a U.S. company must have an Italian representative (subsidiary/representative, agent/distributor or importer) whose company is properly registered in Italy. All ingredients used in cosmetics products are subject to stringent European and Italian regulations guaranteeing consumer protection. In November 2009, the EU adopted a new cosmetics regulation, 1223/2009, which replaced 76/768/EEC; this law entered into effect on July 11, 2013. This change simplified the earlier directive, enhancing the safety of cosmetics products and strengthening market surveillance. Specifically, to be placed on the EU market, all products must have a designated "responsible person" (e.g. a manufacturer or an importer) who is responsible for EU regulation compliance. The "responsible person" ensures that a Cosmetic Product Safety Report is conducted for each product (including those already on the market). Additionally, cosmetic products sold in the EU must be produced according to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), which are outlined in EN ISO 22716:2007.

For additional information on Cosmetics Legislation in the European Union please visit:

Trade Show:
Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna:  March 16 – 19, 2018, Bologna, Italy. Cosmoprof is the world’s leading trade show in the beauty sector. The 2016 edition has surpassed past records with over 2,510 exhibitors, 70% of which came from 51 different countries and over 250.000 visitors. The U.S. was the third most represented foreign country with over 170 exhibitors.

Web Resources

Cosmetica Italia – Italian Association of Cosmetic Industries
Via Accademia, 33
20131 Milan
Tel.: +39 02 2817731
Ministero della Salute - Ministry of Health
Directorate General for Cosmetics and Toiletries
Viale Giorgio Ribotta, 5
00144 Rome
Tel.: +39 06 59943199
U.S. Commercial Service Contact:
Elisa Martucci, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Embassy Rome
Tel: +39 06 4674 2252
E-mail: Website

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Italy Consumer Goods Trade Development and Promotion