Corrections & Clarifications: An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote to Michelle Lee, editor-in-chief of Allure, and has since been corrected.
As face masks come off, many people are putting makeup back on.
Mask restrictions have lifted in many parts of the country, though some places, including Los Angeles County, the most populated county in the USA, are reinstating them because of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Discarding masks in many settings is reason enough for some consumers to don colorful lipsticks and sparkly eyeshadow.
Kelsey-Marie Mohammed, 30, a content creator from New York City, started spending more on makeup as restrictions lifted, returning to wearing red lipstick and purchasing beauty products from Sephora such as eyeshadow, colorful eye pencils, blush and more.
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"What was once not a necessity for me, has now become a necessity," Mohammed told USA TODAY. "Since more people are getting vaccinated and restrictions are lifting, beauty products have become a must for me because I am motivated to play with my makeup looks and finally take my mask down."
Her interest in a revamped look has led to higher spending.
"I feel like since I didn't spend much during the pandemic, it's time for a refresh, and I really want to invest in higher-end products that will make me feel good when applying/wearing and add a bit of luxury to my life," Mohammed said.
Terran Cross, 29, a registered dental assistant from Natchitoches, Louisiana, said that on her last shopping trip, she spent about $200 on makeup, doubling her typical $80 to $100.
"It’s so refreshing to feel 'pretty' again," she told USA TODAY. "When I feel pretty, my days are better, my mood is very pleasant, and I just feel good overall. Sometimes the reflection in the mirror will inspire those positive thoughts and affirmations."
According to Klarna's 2021 Reopening Insights Report, which surveyed more than 6,292 shoppers ages 18 and up in June 2021, nearly three out of four shoppers planned to spend more on makeup as they discard their masks.
"With more opportunities to get out and gather in person, nearly three-quarters (74%) of shoppers plan to spend more money on makeup than they did throughout lockdown," the report reads.
Phil Rist, executive vice president of Prosper Insights and Analytics, confirmed the spending-on-appearance trend.
"As offices open back up and entertainment venues open back up, spending on ‘looking good’ is increasing above pre-pandemic levels," Rist told USA TODAY.
Prosper's monthly U.S. survey of more than 7,500 adults shows the 90-day spending outlook for health and beauty products is up year over year.
Mia Weinand, spokesperson for the National Retail Federation, highlighted that the June Prosper survey, which the NRF partners on, shows that shoppers' intent to make health and beauty purchases has been on the rise since the start of the year and "is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels."
TikTok trends inspire desire for new makeup
Mohammed said some of the products she buys come from trends she's noticed on social media.
"I'm obsessed with experimenting with color on my eyes now and rhinestones for my eyelids and face," she said, noting that new love came from Gen Z TikTok videos posted during the pandemic.
Meredith Renee Wilshere, 24, a content specialist from New York, is expanding her palette as restrictions lift.
"I am for sure buying more cosmetics – especially in categories that I didn't think I needed or even wore before," she said, pointing to colorful eyeshadow and bold lipsticks. "I've even considered false lashes. When I go out, I want to show out and have more dramatic makeup looks than before, and my Sephora and Ulta receipts have showed that."
Some are buying more after not shopping for makeup for some time. Linda Shortman tweeted that although she "did not miss" the products she ran out of during the pandemic, she's spending on cosmetics again.
"Have not worn makeup for over a year," Shortman wrote. "Now have to remind myself that people will see my face."
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'The Allure Store' opens first location
Allure, a publication that specializes in beauty, opened a brick-and-mortar Allure Store this month in New York City's SoHo neighborhood.
Michelle Lee, editor-in-chief, told USA TODAY that people come to Allure for help with what to buy as they're getting ready to step out into the world again.
Allure has noticed strong beauty sales across the industry, Lee said.
That trend predates the pandemic. In 2020, a McKinsey report considering how the beauty industry might evolve during the pandemic shows an increase in beauty industry sales over the 15 years prior.
"Now that lockdown restrictions are easing, people are really eager to get out and do things – and as a result, foot traffic for beauty retailers is way up," Lee said.
Ulta coming to Target, Sephora to Kohl's
Target is focusing on a new beauty initiative. At more than 100 locations and online in August, the company plans to roll out "Ulta Beauty at Target," according to a statement from the company Wednesday. The company expects the experiential shops to reach 800 stores in the coming years.
"Ulta Beauty at Target reflects our commitment to drive the industry forward and keep our guests meaningfully engaged,” said Kecia Steelman, chief operating officer at Ulta Beauty.
On an earnings call in May, Macy's chairman and CEO Jeff Gennette said the company plans to focus more on beauty.
"With immersive categories, beauty is one category where we are doubling down. We are building out experiences that will enhance our makeup, skin care and fragrance businesses, including virtual try-on," Gennette said.
Kohl's announced a partnership with Sephora in December, and the two companies unveiled the first 200 "Sephora at Kohl's" locations this year. The companies plan to bring the "immersive in-store beauty experience" to the first stores by fall, and Kohl's plans to start selling Sephora's products online. By 2023, there could be more than 850 "Sephora at Kohl's" locations.
Not to be outdone, JCPenney announced plans this week for JCPenney Beauty, which will launch in select stores and online in October. The retailer, which emerged from bankruptcy in December 2020, said the in-store and online experience will reflect "customers’ beauty wants and needs, no matter their age, gender, race, skin tone, hair type, beauty regime, or budget."
A nationwide store rollout will begin in fall 2022, and the expansion will continue through 2023.
Contributing: Kelly Tyko
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mask off, makeup on: Target, Kohl's ramp up beauty with Ulta, Sephora