The beauty industry is booming, there is no denying that. With new brands and products popping up every day it feels like we have more choices now than we ever have before, but that’s not entirely true.
So many of the brands we see in stores like Sephora, Ulta, and Target are owned by the same companies. Here are the seven companies that own the beauty industry:
L’Oreal is one of the largest and oldest beauty companies around! The Paris-based company started in 1909 distributing hair dyes to local stylists. Through a string of acquisitions, they came to own a huge corner of the beauty market, including many of the brands it “competes” with at the drugstore.
Brands that L’Oreal currently owns include: The Body Shop, Biotherm, Carol’s Daughter, Clarisonic, DermaBlend, Essie, Garnier, Giorgio Armani, IT Cosmetics, Kerastase, Kiehl’s, La Roche Posay, Lancome, Maybelline, NYX, Pureology, Ralph Lauren, Redkin, Sanoflore, Shu Uemura, SkinCeuticals, Urban Decay, Vichy, Yves Saint Laurent
Estée Lauder (the brand’s founder) was one of the first true Girl Bosses in beauty. She started her career by making face creams in her kitchen as a high school student before starting the company with her husband in 1946. The brand exploded when her products started being sold in Saks Fifth Avenue and the rest is history. While many brands (most recently) have been failing to adjust to new market trends, Estée Lauder is thriving, This is due in part to acquiring many millennial-friendly brands to stay relevant. The company’s largest acquisition, $1.45B for Too Faced in 2016, expanded Estée Lauder’s presence in stores like Sephora and Ulta. But many of the brands Estée Lauder oversees were actually created internally (like Clinique and Origins) as opposed to being acquired.
Estée Lauder currently owns: Aveda, BECCA Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, Bumble and Bumble, Clinique, Darphin, DKNY, Donna Karan, Estée Lauder, GlamGlow, Jo Malone, La Mer, M∙A∙C, Michael Kors, Origins, Prescriptives, Smashbox, Tom Ford, Too Faced Cosmetics, Tory Burch
When it comes to luxury beauty products, LVMH is one of the biggest names in the game. In 1987 this company was born when Louis Vuitton merged with Moët & Chandon and Hennessy. They currently own some of the world’s most notable luxury brands including Acqua di Parma, Benefit Cosmetics, Christian Dior Beauty, Fendi Perfumes, Fresh. Givenchy Perfums, Guerlain, Kenzo Parfums, Make Up For Ever, Marc Jacobs Beauty, NUDE, Parfums Christian Dior, Parfums Givenchy, Sephora (store’s namesake cosmetic line,) and most recently Rihanna’s wildly popular Fenty Beauty.
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson was started in 1888 by three brothers in New Jersey. They are best known for their baby products, but it was major acquisitions of brands like Neutrogena in 1994 and Aveeno in 1999 that put Johnson & Johnson on the beauty map! They currently own Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Johnson’s Baby, Lubriderm, Neutrogena, and Rogaine.
Proctor & Gamble
Proctor & Gamble was started by candle-maker William Procter and soap-maker James Gamble. It started out as a business to fill the Civil War Union army with candles and soap but now owns most of the brands you can find at your local Target or Walmart. It is the world’s largest consumer products company but has recently begun trimming down its portfolio in order to focus on the brands that bring in the majority of its revenue. Brands they currently own include; Art of Shaving, Clairol, CoverGirl, Crest, Dolce & Gabbana, Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Ivory, Max Factor, Natural Instincts, Olay, Old Spice, Pantene, Secret, SK-II, Tampax, and Wella.
Unilever is a European-based company that has products in just about every market from food, to cleaning supplies, to beauty. They own household name brands like Vaseline, Suave, and Dove, but have also recently started to acquire small, trendy beauty brands in order to compete. Recent acquisitions include Schmidt’s Naturals, Sundial, and Carver Korea and are directly geared towards attracting millennial and international consumers.
Shiseido is a Japanese beauty conglomerate that also happens to be it’s own skincare brand too! Many of the brands owned by Shiseido are not available in the United States. They include Majolica Majorca, Ettusais, Maquillage, and Aqualabel. However, they are no strangers to international expansion, and also include many Sephora favorite brands like BareMinerals, Nars Cosmetics, and Laura Mercier (which they acquired in 2016 for $260M).
Despite being one of the oldest companies in the world (they started as a pharmacy in 1872) what sets Shiseido apart from its competitors is its embrace of new technology. They work with tech startups in order to help enhance the customer’s in-store experience.
While it may seem like there are more beauty brands than ever, that’s not entirely true. Many of the brands you see in Sephora, Ulta, and Target are all owned by the same company. Even those that are competitors like Maybelline and L’Oreal. If purchasing products from a company whose morals line up with yours is something that matters to you, research the brand before making a purchase.