In Indonesia and Malaysia, beauty is big business during Eid al-Fitr

3 minute read

Medan, Indonesia – On any given day, Exanti, a beauty consultant for Indonesian cosmetics brand Wardah, wears what she calls a “full face” of makeup, including eyeshadow, eyeliner, foundation, concealer, blusher and lipstick.

But with the end of the fasting month of Ramadan fast approaching, Exanti is getting ready to give herself a makeover.


For her new look, Exanti is stocking up on cosmetics products, including simple eyeliner and nude lip gloss instead of the bright matte shades she usually wears.

“In Indonesia, the Eid al-Fitr celebration is a time for family gatherings and we always take a group family photo together to mark the occasion,” Exanti told Al Jazeera.

“My makeup will be completely different when I go home for the holidays. I want to look more natural and more glossy. I want my face to look fresh and clean.”

Exanti, who has noticed an uptick in customers in recent weeks coinciding with firms paying out their year-end bonuses, is not alone in her desire to refresh her look ahead of the holidays.

Beauty consultant Exanti said she has seen an uptick in customers shopping ahead of the holidays [Aisyah Llewellyn/Al Jazeera]
Beauty consultant Exanti has seen an uptick in customers shopping ahead of the holidays
For Indonesian consumers, the run-up to Eid is peak shopping season.

During Ramadan last year, skincare and makeup sales rose 20 percent compared with the pre-festival period, according to Indonesian market research firm Compas.

The total sales value of fast-moving consumer goods, which include cosmetics as well as packaged food and toiletries, reached 57.6 trillion rupiah ($3.6m) in 2023, up 1.03 percent from the previous year.

The sales boom is not confined to Indonesia.


Retail sales across Southeast Asia rose 47 percent during the first two weeks of Ramadan last year, according to a report by advertising company Criteo, with Malaysia experiencing the highest individual increase of 40 percent, followed by Singapore with 30 percent.

Apparel and accessories sales rose 30 percent, followed by food and beverage sales at 23 percent, and health and beauty products at 16 percent, according to Criteo.

Taranjeet Singh, Criteo’s managing director for enterprise for APAC, said the spike in sales of beauty products during the Ramadan period is an opportunity for retailers to diversify their sales portfolios and try different sales strategies.

“Given the varied economic landscape in Southeast Asia and heightened demand during Ramadan, it is necessary for marketers to revamp their strategies to effectively reach their audience,” Singh said following the publication of the 2023 report.

Beauty sales rise 20 percent in Indonesia during Ramadan and before the Eid holiday [Aisyah Llewellyn/Al Jazeera]
Beauty sales in Indonesia rose 20 percent during the Ramadan period last year 
Many Indonesian companies have turned to online sales to this end, hoping to bolster the earnings from their brick-and-mortar businesses.

Body Shop Indonesia and Wardah are among the beauty brands with a strong online presence, selling their wares through platforms such as the e-commerce site Shopee and the video app TikTok.

Both brands have promotions targeted specifically at shoppers during the holiday period – featuring titles such as “Ramadan sales” and “Eid-mazing offers” – and livestream throughout the day ahead of the holidays.


This year, Wardah, Indonesia’s largest skincare and cosmetics brand, is running a Ramadan campaign called “Continue Your Good Steps”.

“For Wardah, the month of Ramadan is a special time where we are reminded to deepen the values of goodness and togetherness. Apart from that, Ramadan is a time awaited by Muslims as a moment to increase feelings of gratitude and worship to get closer to Allah,” Novia Sukmawaty, the head of the brand’s beauty group said in a statement last month.

Wardah has also partnered with brand ambassadors to give talks online that tie into its Ramadan sales campaign.

“Wardah consistently carries out Ramadan campaigns which aim to help women, especially in Indonesia, to consistently carry out various initiatives and good deeds that have an impact or benefit for those around them,” Sukmawaty said.

In Medan, Ela, a salesperson at a branch of Body Shop Indonesia, said she believes it is important to “look pretty” for the holiday celebrations.


Unlike Exanti’s toned -down approach, though, Ela’s holiday look involves even more flamboyant makeup than usual.

Body Shop salesperson Ela is planning a flamboyant makeup look for the holidays including brightly coloured lipstick [Aisyah Llewellyn/Al Jazeera]
Body Shop salesperson Ela is planning a flamboyant makeup look for the holidays including, brightly coloured lipstick

Ela said many Body Shop Indonesia customers feel the same way.

“They start getting ready in the weeks ahead of the holiday by buying skincare to prepare their skin so that their makeup looks the best it can be,” Ela told Al Jazeera.

“The closer it gets to the holiday, then they start buying makeup.”

Ela said products like brightly coloured lipstick and blusher are especially popular during the festival period.

“During the holiday period, people often attend parties or family gatherings from morning until night, so they need their makeup to have staying power,” she said.

“We see a spike in sales of products that do that like foundation, face powder, eyebrow gel and matte lipsticks, as well as setting spray.”

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