Color cosmetics boom shows no sign of slowing, says CEW panel

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Jenny Fine, editor of WWD Beauty Inc (left), Robert DeBaker of BECCA, Jamie Kern Lima of IT, Susanne Langmuir of Bite (image courtesy of JF Productions)
Jenny Fine, editor of WWD Beauty Inc (left), Robert DeBaker of BECCA, Jamie Kern Lima of IT, Susanne Langmuir of Bite (image courtesy of JF Productions)

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Company leaders from IT Cosmetics, Bite Beauty, and BECCA Cosmetics spoke in New York City on Tuesday evening at the organization’s final Beauty Insider event of the year. And according to the experts, the future of color is bright.

Even though it was election night and the returns that would determine the fate of a nation were to come in over the next several hours, CEW members, press, and industry allies packed the room at New York City’s Union League Club on Tuesday to hear from Jamie Kern Lima of IT, Susanne Langmuir of Bite, and Robert DeBaker of BECCA.

Some 80 beauty brands were in the room to hear the how, the why, and the what’s next of the color cosmetics category. “The enormous year over year growth in the makeup category is truly impressive given the increasingly competitive landscape,” ​Carlotta Jacobson, president of CEW, tells the press. “The key is how to sustain this growth.”


Brand differentiation is what has made each brand—IT, Bite, and BECCA—a success in the makeup category (which includes complexion and color products).

Differentiation is what makes IT stay focused on hero products that come out of extensive development and formulation efforts. It makes BECCA a brand for every shade of skin. And it makes Bite a company devoted to just lip color made with natural, organic, food-grade ingredients.

But beyond that, transparency, authenticity, and social media are crucial too. “We’ve always felt that our customer owns our brand,” ​Kern Lima said. “And our social stays true to that.” ​Plus, the company culture is strong at IT. Kern Lima thanked many of her IT colleagues (who were in attendance) for their work during the panel and even found a chance to encourage the other beauty pros in the audience to consider working for IT. The audience got a kick out of hearing Kern Lima mention several specific open positions at the company. 


Digital content has put beauty into the hands of everyone. “The amount of education online and on mobile phones inspires women of all ages,” ​remarked Kern Lima. Today “you can Google and learn” ​all about color and how to use and apply any product effectively, she noted.

DeBaker believes that generational consumer expectations are behind the momentum in the category. Younger consumers’ views on natural beauty and skin care as well as their understanding of wellness and that what goes in and on the body makes a difference in how you look in real life and in photos has helped advance the makeup category. He believes that these consumers are passionate not only about color but also about their internal heath and sun care.

What’s next

“The color boom is just getting started,” ​Kern Lima said. She knows that “customers are smart [and] expect more out of products” ​today. Going forward IT will stick with its current positioning, creating color-infused skin care, and leave artistry and other specialties to the brands that do those things best.

“Indie brands are a new breed of entrepreneurial beauty and that’s a trend,” ​which will grow the category believes Langmuir, who went on to assert that, “color is not slowing down.” ​She also noted that consumer demand for naturals and hybrid beauty isn’t going away and that as scientific advances make it possible to do more with naturals, chemists, formulators, and brands will be increasingly well equipped to meet that demand.

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