Beauty is back and L’Oréal is here for it. With mandates being lifted and pre-pandemic social interaction returning to consumers’ lives, the mass beauty category is blossoming, said Nathalie Gerschtein, President, L’Oréal Consumer Products Division USA. In fact, Nathalie reports that mass makeup sales are up — even compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Nathalie Gerschtein
Nathalie Gerschtein

According to Nathalie, the mass spending swell can be largely attributed to investments in technology, digital commerce, and content made throughout the pandemic. As a result, today’s beauty shopper is savvier and more connected than ever before, and she’s seeking accessible products that allow her to play with color, and improve her skin with nourishing protective skin care formulas.

Here, Beauty News sat down with the CEW Beauty Creators Awards Ambassador to chat beauty democratization, consumer trends, and why she’s so excited about a 175-year-old natural skin care brand recently acquired by the beauty behemoth.

Beauty News: What are you prioritizing for the first half of 2022?

Nathalie Gerschtein: Through all the challenges over the last couple of years, our team’s greatest learning and achievement has come from focusing our energy on people. In 2022, I’m focusing on the power and possibilities we all have when we focus on genuine, empathetic connections with others. I see connections like these as the cornerstone to unleashing human magic, which is a key aspect of our U.S. Consumer Products Division’s (CPD) strategic framework for 2022 and something that’s important to me.

Furthermore, at CPD, we’re striving to democratize the best of beauty for all. Our path to serving the beauty needs of our incredibly diverse American community, while nurturing a diverse and inclusive culture at CPD, is a key priority in 2022 and beyond.

BN: Among the different categories within CPD, which has seen the most robust growth and why?

NG: Makeup is booming. As people start going back out, going into the office, and having more in-person celebrations, they’re gravitating toward products that help them look and feel their best. There has always been a playful, indulgent side to makeup that we’re seeing people embrace more — both as a way to celebrate the return of in-person events and activities, and as a way to treat themselves after a period of stress and uncertainty. In a broader sense, we’re also seeing a huge increase in spending on mass cosmetics — it’s actually up from pre-pandemic levels! This is largely because of the new digital buying journey, where someone sees a make-up trend on TikTok and then orders the product online after virtually trying it on or goes into a physical store to buy it.

We’ve seen the investment we’ve made in digital pay off when it comes to e-commerce for cosmetics, both in terms of the technology itself and our partnerships and content.

BN: Which brands within CPD should we keep an eye on for spring/summer?

NG: I’m excited about all the brands in the CPD portfolio, but if I had to choose one it’s Thayers Natural Remedies. Our natural heritage brand Thayer’s is celebrating its 175th birthday this year. For a fresh, clean start every morning, I’ve recently added the new Thayer’s face wash to my skin care routine. The ingredients are the real deal, too — it contains 5 percent aloe vera and hyaluronic acid. It’s also fragrance-free, oil-free, sulfate-free, and allergy-tested. Pair it with the iconic Thayer’s Facial Toner for extra freshness, especially during the warm summer months.

BN: What trends in beauty do you most identify with as a beauty consumer?

NG: There are so many, but the one that I’m most excited about right now is the resurgence of lipstick — the most dynamic of the makeup categories. I’ve been a lipstick lover my whole life; it stems from my mum, who always had a fresh tube of lipstick in her purse. And with the evolution of mask mandates, lipstick is coming back in a big way. For me, it’s an easy way to make myself feel more confident and it allows me to express myself.

BN: How are you approaching re-entering and attending industry events at this point in time?

NG: We’re ready. So much of the work we do in beauty is tied to seeing people in person, so we’re thrilled about it. I was recently up in Boston for the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting as part of my board membership with DermTech and I came away so inspired and energized from all the conversations I had. It’s great to be back in the community, connecting with other industry leaders, and learning what’s new.

BN: Have you noticed any new trends relevant to the current post-pandemic zeitgeist that you see potentially affecting the beauty industry or new product creation?

NG: Even with growth in the cosmetics space as people start going out more, skin care is holding strong. During the pandemic, many women reevaluated their relationship with their skin. In their minds, taking care of their skin boosts their self-confidence, which is connected to how they see and treat themselves holistically. We’re seeing a lot of interest in products like our Garnier Micellar Water and L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Hyaluronic Acid Serum that protects and nurtures skin, beyond just providing the basics. As people move into post-pandemic life, we expect this trend to continue.

I think the digital pivots we made during the pandemic are here to stay when it comes to consumer shopping habits, but I’m also looking forward to a resurgence of brick and mortar. It’s not just about the functional benefits of being able to test things out and color match — there are also a ton of emotional benefits, like sensory product experiences and moments of discovery, that we’ll start to see more of this year now that it’s an option again.

BN: Last year Essie was awarded a Beauty Creators Awards. What was it like for the team to realize this recognition?

NG: It was fantastic. Everyone’s had a tough few years, professionally and personally. Our team had to break the autopilot and bring a novel approach to respond to the rapid shift in our business. It was really nice to see the Essie team acknowledged for all their hard work — talk about a team that created some human magic. I’m so proud of them.

BN: Why do you think it’s important for a brand to enter CEW’s Beauty Creators Awards and to seek peer recognition?

NG: I think there are really three key reasons: visibility, brand growth, and brand love. Firstly, it helps your team and brand become more well-known in the industry. I mentioned it earlier, but connection is so important. Creating those relationships really matters. We’ve seen real growth from some of our past recognitions, especially for specific products or brands. Modern consumers are very discerning, and they want to know that they’re not only getting the best product, but that they’re buying from a company that shares their values. Awards and recognition are a great way to do that.

Last but certainly not least is brand love — where the magic happens. Recognition proves there is already brand love, which helps inspire even more brand love. It’s an amazing cycle that’s really impacted the industry and consumers’ perceptions of L’Oréal. We’re grateful for organizations like CEW for making this happen.

BN: What is your advice for a brand that may be deliberating entering?

NG: Combat your inner voice that’s filled with doubt or hesitation — just go for it. We can be so hesitant to put ourselves or our work forward for recognition because we don’t think we’re good enough, or we’re trying to be humble. Our inner voice tells us not to go for it, or we’re too busy to apply, or that we don’t want to inconvenience anyone by asking them to help. Remember, you are worth it. You should be optimistic and brave when it comes to these types of opportunities because anything is possible. And at the end of day, even if you don’t win, you always learn and get to meet so many amazing people along the way.

It’s not too late to enter products into this year’s CEW Beauty Creators Awards—an annual program honoring outstanding product innovation and the teams that create them. Please visit cew.org to enter products by the April 27 deadline. You can’t win if you don’t enter.