Where politics and beauty meet

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics design Cosmetics

Where politics, the Trump White House, and the beauty business meet
New leadership took over the United States not two months ago, and already executive orders, emerging policy platforms, and the pandemonium of an experiment in business-tycoon-as-government-official have warranted a new level of coverage in a cosmetics and personal care trade publication like Cosmetics Design.

Here, is a look back the first several weeks of the new administration and its intersection with an industry.


Even before Trump and his team took office, Cosmetics Design readers expected business to change. Survey results show that beauty industry pros fully anticipate ingredient prices going up​ under the new administration.

The Cosmetics Design survey shows that 53% of this publication's readers expect personal care and beauty product ingredient prices to be higher during Trump’s time in office.  One reader elaborated on this concern saying that “the cosmetic industry sources ingredients and components from around the world. He [Trump] will work to close our borders and make trade more difficult and costly. He will change treaties and laws already established that facilitate good business practices. This is a disaster for all industries.”


Last summer when then-President Barak Obama hosted The United State of Women Summit​ in Washington D.C., two leading global beauty business companies voluntarily singed the Equal Pay Pledge. Both L’Oréal and Johnson & Johnson signed on, to essentially make every effort to ensure that women and men are equally compensated for equal work.

Before 2016 came to an end, four more beauty industry giants agreed that equal pay for equal work is not only just but is also essential ​to this industry’s continued success. Estée Lauder, Nestlé, Colgate, and The Honest Company signed the Equal Pay Pledge in December 2016.

“As a Company founded by a pioneering entrepreneur, Mrs. Estée Lauder, we are proud to continue her legacy of empowering women, supporting families and promoting equality,” ​acknowledged the Estée Lauder company at that time.

Since the election, industry insiders have told Cosmetics Design that women’s rights in the workplace are a top concern. “It's unfortunate that every time I see a salary survey there is still a substantial gap between what women and men earn at every level.  While many companies are being proactive about promoting women into high-status roles, we're still not being compensated fairly,” ​says one cosmetic product development professional (who asked to remain anonymous).

“A dedication to women's rights has to come from the top and has to be visible. Women, after all, are our number one consumer and consumers are ever more becoming loyal to brands that share their values,” ​this person added.


In the weeks since January 20th, when Trump and his colleagues took over the White House, beauty industry execs have visited D.C., international trade has become uncertain, environmental policy is up for grabs, human rights hang in the balance, and exactly which personal care, beauty, spa, or fragrance products will do well in the marketplace going forward is in flux.

Two industry executives are among the instrumental business leaders set to meet with Trump on a regular basis, presumably to inform policy that will improve business—so far as it includes cosmetics and personal care—in this country. The first such meeting was “productive” ​as J&J CEO Alex Gorsky put it and a discussion of “the critical issues of job creation, corporate tax and regulatory reform,” as Cosmetics Design reported​ in January.

The US has long-enjoyed amicable trade relationships with countries worldwide. Going forward this may not be the case. After a single, simple phone call, relations with Australia are much less reliable than usual. As this publication asked in a recent headline, countries and corporations are left wondering, Will cosmetics and personal care ingredient trade…come undone in the age of Trump?

It wasn’t long after the election that big beauty reached out to Trump and to leaders around the world, in an effort to ensure that the wellbeing of the environment as we know it would be well manged by government policy. In an open letter, calling on leaders to support the Paris Climate Agreement,​ companies including L’Oréal and Unilever asked for an assurance that a low-carbon economy would be a priority and that global temperature rise would be kept to a minimum.

The letter doesn’t appear to have had much of an effect thus far​.

As fate would have it, beauty is on track to be a casualty of the Trump effect​. Rising levels of consumer uncertainly and stress in conjunction with institutionalized income disparity is having an impact already. Where brands position themselves in the marketplace and how they engage with consumers is changing in response to the new political climate.

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