HomeThe story of cosmeticsAre cosmetic products really necessary to our lives?

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We recognise that the positive influence of our industry’s products on the individual’s self-esteem is far more than just a feeling. The importance of being able to keep ourselves clean, protected and able to choose how we present ourselves to others cannot be underestimated.

Did you brush your teeth this morning, or take a shower? If you were lucky enough to wake up to sunshine, suncream might have been part of your routine this morning. Perhaps you used a deodorant, a moisturiser, beard oil, mascara, lipstick or a spritz of your favourite fragrance to help you feel ready to face the day.

Thanks to research undertaken by CTPA in collaboration with strategic insight company, Opinium*, alongside two decades worth of independent research, we are able to confidently answer the question. Yes, cosmetic products absolutely are necessary to our lives. 

More than a feeling...

The outcomes of our independent research, undertaken between February and March 2022, show that looking good and feeling self-confident correlate strongly with using cosmetics.

The research found that about nine in ten (88%) of Brits think positive mental health is the most important factor to boost self-esteem, followed by getting enough sleep (87%), using toiletries for cleanliness and hygiene (84%), maintaining a healthy weight (83%) and eating a healthy diet (81%).

The research found that cosmetics and personal care products play a vital role in supporting our self-esteem. Over half (53%) of Brits consider that cosmetics and personal care products are very or fairly important in supporting their self-esteem, this view is also shared by four in ten (41%) of men. 


What products were ranked as most essential to our lives?


Has the pandemic affected how we feel?

Unfortunately for all of us, it does appear that the COVID-19 pandemic has somewhat corroded our confidence, even if cosmetic products are helping us to regain it.

Today, 29% of UK adults report having ‘high’ self-esteem, compared with a confident 37% nearly a decade ago (2013).  In fact, since CTPA first started its research, we’ve never seen so many people say their self-esteem is ‘low’: 25% of us compared with just 7% in 2004, with today’s figure rising to 29% where women are concerned.

Looking at the factors people cite as ‘very important’ in building up self-esteem, we can start to see why self-esteem levels might be so low. Having a supportive family (53%), a rewarding job (35%) and being financially successful (34%) are all cited among the most important factors for building self-esteem - and each one of these has been challenged to the extreme in the last two years. Many were furloughed or had to work differently during the pandemic, which could help explain why COVID negatively impacted our self-esteem as a nation.  Prolonged periods of isolation from our personal networks undoubtedly took their toll on feeling supported.

Directly supporting this, well over a third of us (39%) feel that the pandemic has impacted our self-esteem negatively, with nearly half of women saying they feel this way (45%).

Being clean and hygienic doesn't just make us feel good, important though this is, it also helps prevent serious illnesses. COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the importance of soaps and hand sanitisers for the health of us as individuals but also collectively as a global population. A 2021 Cochrane review reported that handwashing with soap can reduce the risk of diarrhoea and acute respiratory illness by around 30%. 

Do European citizens feel the same?

Cosmetics Europe, the European personal care association, carried out its own research in 2022** showing that cosmetics and personal care products are highly valued and thought of as essential to the lives of European citizens.

The key take-outs from this research were:


  • A European consumer uses, on average, over 7 different cosmetic products daily and almost 13 different products weekly.
  • Cosmetics and personal care products are highly valued by European consumers. 72% of them perceive cosmetics and personal care products as important or very important in their daily lives.
  • 71% of European consumers consider personal care and cosmetic products as important or very important in improving their quality of life.
  • 70% of European consumers see personal care and cosmetic products as important or very important for building up their self-esteem.
  • 62% of European consumers believe cosmetics and personal care products are important or very important in how they are seen by others, and equally 62%, for how they themselves interact with others.


Cosmetics and personal care products are essential to our lives.

The evidence from research conducted by both Cosmetics Europe and CTPA shows just how important using cosmetics and personal care products is in positively boosting our mental health and self-esteem.




*CTPA market research with Opinium polled 2,000 UK adults between 25 February and 1 March 2022. See more information about this research in CTPA's Annual Report 2021, More Than A Feeling...

**European Consumer Perception Study 2022 was conducted on behalf of Cosmetics Europe by Ifop in March 2022. Over 6000 consumers across ten European countries, i.e. Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and UK, were interviewed via an online questionnaire. Respondents were representative of each country’s gender and age group distribution. 

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