Containers containing cosmetics
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In the United States, cosmetics are defined in the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.” Among the products included in this definition are perfumes, lipsticks, nail polish, eye shadows, cleansing shampoos and deodorants, as well as any substance intended for use as an ingredient in a cosmetic product. Products defined as over-the-counter products (OTCs) or drugs in the United States that are often regulated and marketed as cosmetics overseas include anti-aging, sunscreen and other skincare products and anti-perspirants. Soap, which is regulated by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) in the United States, may also be considered a cosmetic in many markets.

The U.S. cosmetics industry is a vibrant and fast evolving, with thousands of small and medium firms engaged in product and ingredient research and development, manufacturing, marketing, distribution and retail sales via traditional and online channels. 

For purposes of tracking U.S. personal care and cosmetics industry exports, ITA defines the industry based upon the harmonized tariff schedule (HTS) codes as prepared by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). The HTS codes used follow and do not include services:

  • 3301 Essential Oils
  • 3302 Fragrances and flavors used as an ingredient
  • 3303 Perfumes and Toilet Waters
  • 3304 Make Up, Skin and Nail Care
  • 3305 Hair Products
  • 3306 Dental Care
  • 3307 Deodorants, Shaving and Other Personal Care
  • 3401 Soap and Other Bathing Products
  • 6704 Wigs, Hair and Lash Extensions
  • 9615 Combs and Other Hair Styling and Hair Accessories
  • 9616 Cosmetic Applicators and Packaging 

Industry subsectors are as follows: Cosmetics ingredients, including Fragrances; Skin Care; Color cosmetics; Perfumes and toilet waters; Hair care; Depilatories; Pre-shave and post-shave preparations and Other toilet preparations; Appliances and Hair Extensions.

From 2017-2019, U.S. exports grew at two percent annually to reach $15.02 billion. The largest manufacturers of cosmetics are located in California, New Jersey, Florida and Texas. (Source: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Foreign Trade Division)