Sunday, August 30, 2015

Who owns who? Corporate ownership of global makeup brands

Welcome to my research into corporate ownership of global makeup brands! I have been working on this post for quite awhile - I became interested tracing the corporate ownership chains of color cosmetics brands by researching similar formulas of brands owned by the same corporate umbrella and it snowballed into a huge project.

Why does it matter? My philosophy is that customers and consumers deserve to be informed and that being more informed leads to better decision making. If you have been curious about why certain brands have formulas similar to other brands or how brands change over time, this list will hopefully add some illumination to your buying decisions.

A few notes: 
  1. This post is focused on cosmetics brands, but many corporate owners also hold skincare, haircare, and fragrance brands in their portfolios. Feel free to click through the links I posted and see what other brands a company has in its portfolio!
  2. Most major fashion houses who have cosmetics lines have separated corporate ownership of their cosmetics line, fashion/accessories lines, and their fragrance licenses. Confusing, I know. 
  3. If I left out a brand you are curious about, please leave me a comment and I will do my best to add it!
This list is (to the best of my research) a demonstration of who owns well known global makeup brands. I think a few of them will surprise you! Get a cup of coffee and a snack, this is a long one.

Part 1: The Global Makeup Gorillas

Makeup brands owned by L'Oreal Paris
L'Oreal is a public company headquartered in Paris, France (OR: EN) and is the largest global beauty company by revenue in 2014. 

L'Oreal owned makeup brands include: Shu Uemura, Lancome, Maybelline, Giorgio Armani, NYX, Urban Decay, Yves Saint Laurent, and It Cosmetics. Other brands of note in their portfolio include: Kiehl's, Ralph Lauren fragrance, Clarisonic, Viktor & Rolf fragrance, Garnier, Essie, La Roche-Posay, SkinCeuticals, and The Body Shop.

Makeup brands owned by Coty
Coty is a public company headquartered in New York City, USA (NYSE: COTY) and is newly arrived to global cosmetics gorilla status. In 2014, Coty was number 12 on the largest global cosmetics company list, but has very recently acquired the entire Proctor & Gamble (formerly the 3rd largest) beauty portfolio and Bourjois.

Coty owned makeup brands include: Rimmel London, New York Color (NYC), Covergirl (P&G), Max Factor (P&G), and Bourjois. Other notable brands in their portfolio include: Philosophy, Marc Jacobs fragrance, Chloe fragrance, Sally Hansen, OPI, Calvin Klein fragrance, and ghd hair.

Makeup brands owned by Estee Lauder
Estee Lauder is a public company headquartered in New York City, USA (NYSE: EL) and is the 4th largest global beauty company by revenue in 2014.

Estee Lauder owned makeup brands include: MAC, Aerin, Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford Beauty, Clinique, Smashbox, Tory Burch cosmetics, Prescriptives, Too Faced, and Becca.  Other brands of note in their portfolio include: Aveda, Bumble and Bumble, Glamglow, Jo Malone fragrance, La Mer skin, Tommy Hilfiger fragrance.

Makeup brands owned by Shiseido 
Shiseido is a public company headquartered in Toyko, Japan (4911:JP) and is the 5th largest global beauty company by revenue in 2014.

Shiseido owned makeup brands include: NARS, Bare Minerals, Buxom, Cle de Peau, Majolica Majorca, and Serge Lutens. Other notable brands in their portfolio include Issey Miyake fragrance and Elie Saab fragrance.

Makeup brands owned by LVMH 
Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) is a public company headquartered in Paris, France (MC:PAR) and rounds out the global makeup behemoth category ranked 11th globally by revenue in 2014. A few interesting items of note with LVMH - first, Christian Dior chairman Bernard Arnault is the CEO of LVMH and Christian Dior owns substantive shares in LVMH. Second, Sephora brand collaborations have been spun off from Sephora as Kendo Beauty Group but remain in the LVMH portfolio.

LVMH owned makeup brands include: Sephora, Benefit, Givenchy, Guerlain, Fresh, Makeup Forever, Dior, Marc Jacobs beauty, Bite Beatuy, and Kat Von D. Other brands held in their portfolio include: Elizabeth and James fragrance, Ole Henriksen, Formula X, Sephora collaborations with Disney and Hello Kitty, and Kenzo fragrance.

Part 2: Major Makeup Players 

Milani and Jordana are a unique case on this list - they have distinct corporate structures but are commonly controlled. Jordana was founded by Solomon Bijou and Milani Cosmetics was founded by his children. Brother and sister Laurie Minc and Ralph Bijou own Milani and Jordana.

Amore Pacific, headquartered in Seoul, is a global cosmetics powerhouse (#14 by revenue in 2014) becoming more familiar to western audiences. Amore Pacific makeup brands include Laneige, Innisfree, Etude House, and Sulwhasoo. Amore Pacific is working hard to break into the western market - notable examples are Laneige being sold at Target in the US and partnering with Dior to bring more cushion products to the western market.

Revlon, based in New York City, owns Almay. Revlon also holds Sinful Colors and Ultima II.

Kose, based in Tokyo, owns Tarte, Paul & Joe, and Anna Sui. Kose owns Albion Co which partially serves as a holding company for brands and as a distributor. Kose, as Albion Co, also distributes Rimmel in parts of Asia.

Kao, headquartered in Tokyo, is a large global beauty corporation (10th largest by revenue in 2014) and owns Kanebo. Kao holds relatively little makeup in its portfolio, but owns quite a few skincare brands like Biore, Jergens, and Curel.

Johnson & Johnson, similar to Kao, has a large global beauty portfolio (8th largest by revenue in 2014) with one standout makeup brand - Neutrogena. Johnson & Johnson also owns Aveeno, skin ID, and Lubriderm.

Markwins International, headquartered in Los Angeles, owns Wet N Wild, Black Radiance, and Physician's Formula. Their portfolio also includes Lip Smacker, Bonne Bell, and licenses play makeup sets for Barbie, Frozen, and Minnie Mouse.

Clorox owns Burt's Bees.  I personally think it is a little odd because Burt's Bees is Clorox's only beauty brand, but what do I know?

Part 3: Private Equity Players

In this section, I have included investments and purchases of makeup brands by private equity firms and private investor groups. Some of the original owners of these brands retain a minority share of the company.
  • General Atlantic very recently added Too Faced to their portfolio. Note: Too Faced was acquired by Estee Lauder in November 2016, making this a very good return on investment for General Atlantic. The transaction is expected to close by the beginning of 2017.  
  • North Castle Partners holds Palladio in their portfolio along with Elizabeth Arden Red Door spa. 
  • Lion Capital holds Perricone MD in their portfolio. 
  • TPR Holdings has a large beauty portfolio, including Mally Beauty, Cargo Cosmetics, Nonie Creme Colour Prevails. TPR Holdings also has Oscar Blandi and other beauty brands. 
  •  Tengram Capital Partners holds Laura Geller in its portfolio along with Deva Curl and NEST fragrance. 
  •  San Francisco Equity Partners holds Japoneseque in its portfolio alongside Yes To.
  •  Patriarch Partners holds Jane Cosmetics and Stila in their portfolio.
  •  Encore Consumer Capital has entered into a "partnership" with LORAC. I am not sure what percentage stake Encore holds or if this is a true acquisition.
  •  Catterton Partners holds Cover FX, as well as other consumer brands like StriVectin and Frederic Fekkai.
There has also been notable activity recently with private equity firms investing in minority (non-controlling) positions in cosmetics companies. Examples include Castanea Partners' minority interest in First Aid Beauty and Alliance Consumer Growth's minority interest in NudeStix.

Part 4: Independent & Privately Owned Makeup Brands

In the course of my research, I also tried to find independent cosmetics brands. The definition of what it means to be an independent makeup brand means is unclear, but in this case I am showing brands that are singly owned, i.e. not owned in a portfolio of other brands under a parent company.
Chanel is a clear outlier on this list, given that it is a massive global beauty powerhouse (#9 by revenue in 2014).

Shiro Cosmetics, Fyrinnae, and Sugarpill are also outliers, in that they fall under the conventional definition of what it means to be an "indie" company. There are a bunch of indie makeup companies out there, but I included these three because they have established themselves with niche products over many years of excellent work.

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCC), Anastasia Beverly Hills, Josie Maran, Illamasqua, Inglot, RMS Beauty, BeautyBlender, Natasha Denona, Besame, Milk Makeup, Makeup Geek and Hourglass are all cosmetics brands that are independent of the large beauty conglomerates. I expect to continue seeing the pattern of M&A reducing the size of this list over the coming year! Given the recent purchases of NYX, It Cosmetics, Becca, and Too Faced, I bet that ABH, Hourglass, and Makeup Geek have all been approached with an offer of some type.
Notes: Josie Maran: I have read a few articles online saying that LVMH owns Josie Maran, but I haven't seen that substantiated by business news outlets, so I'm not sure. If you have a source for this acquisition, please leave a comment or send me an email. Inglot: Inglot is a Polish company, but their national franchises have some autonomy. Several national franchises have complex ownership, like holding company Edcon with South Africa's Inglot franchise rights. 

Odd tidbits:
  • Koh Gen Do is not independent and was acquired by a Japanese company 10+ years ago. If you can find an English language news source for this acquisition, please send me a link! 
  • Kiko Milano is owned / managed by Antonio Percassi. His group also owns substantial real estate, a football club, and engages in significant retail partnership globally. 
  • Dove, Caress, Axe, and many more brands are owned by Unilever. They are a giant in consumer products, but don't actually participate in color cosmetics much. Just a quick shout-out! 
Recent updates:
  • January 2016 -  LORAC has entered a "partnership" with Encore Consumer Capital, a private equity firm
  • June 2016 - Shiseido purchased Gurwitch Products, owner of Laura Mercier
  • June 2016 - Revlon purchased Elizabeth Arden
  • July 2016 - L'Oreal purchased It Cosmetics
  • September 2016 - ELF Beauty, majority stake owned by TPG, went public with an IPO
  • October 2016 - Estee Lauder purchased Becca
  • November 2016 - Estee Lauder purchased Too Faced
Thanks for making it all the way to the end! Please leave me a comment if you have a question about your favorite brand or you have an update to share!


  1. This was really interesting!

    1. Very helpful, thanks!

  2. i came here from the makeup addiction reddit. this is so awesome! it combines two of my favorite things: makeup and business. I also really like how varied the sizes of the graphics. Such a riveting read! How long did research take?

    1. Thanks Alex! The research took quite a while, but I think I am going to be a better shopper for knowing it :)

  3. this is awesome research! a great way to strengthen this post would be to add in dates/years of corporate changeovers and a note about where you sourced that info (even if it's just a link back or a footnote)

    1. Great idea! Thanks for the suggestion.

  4. Awesome research! It's so strange to see how so many huge brands are actually owned by the same huge company.

  5. What about milani?

    1. Thanks for the comment, I did cover Milani in my post in more detail but it (and Jordana) is owned by Laurie Minc and Ralph Bijou.

  6. This is such an interesting post! I have never seen anything like this but I love it because I'm nosey, haha.

  7. Just did a a post on whether to splurge or save on dupes! Understanding the business side of makeup is so important. I did direct my readers to this post (and your page in general!). Well done! Prob the most comprehensive and recent post on this content! Thanks :) Obviously a lot of work went into this.

  8. I loved this! Thank you so much for this amazing post. Super informative!

  9. Hi very helpful post ... I just needed some clarification about becca cosmetics ,OCC , anastasia Beverly Hills and Laura geller and Kat VON D being independent companies . Thank you .

  10. Hi - very interesting read,thanks! I can't seem to find info on MUA cosmetics and the owners, can you assist?

  11. Replies
    1. Private company its ran /owned by Petra

  12. hi there. great job; and i apologise for commenting on something so old to you, but i know that L'Oréal is owned by an enormous american über-corporation, but i forget which.

    is that something you can learn, and post?

  13. Great post! I suggest digging into Seed Beauty because of the popularity of Colourpop and Kylie. I love that the company is owned and run, including manufacturing inhouse in LA.

  14. Replies
    1. I was on my way to ask the same...Clarins??

  15. Clarins is a private, family owned company. You can
    check the history on Wikipedia.....

  16. Thanks. Awesome information. Would love to see how it looks with Unilever, P&G, Avon, Mary Kay...

  17. Thanks. would love to see unilever, p&g, Avon, mary kay

  18. Thanks for sharing your research. This is such an interesting read esp for a makeup enthusiast like me :-)

  19. I adored this post. It was so knowledgeable and well written. Thanks for the quality content :)


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