Dana Wood

About Dana Wood

A beauty journalist for 20+ years, Dana Wood has served as Beauty Director for BRIDES, Cookie and W magazines, has written for numerous national publications, and is an author and a blogger. She also spent several years in the Luxury Products Division of L’Oreal, as AVP Strategic Development. She recently relocated to Florida, and is embracing high-speed, expressway driving.

Overfranchising: When Category-Killers Just Can’t Stop Cannibalizing

overfranchisingMaybe you’re Maybelline.

And maybe, because you’re Maybelline, you produce one of the most beloved mascaras of all time. Yes, Great Lash is one for the ages, a perennial box-office champ for the last 44 years. In this era of here-today, gone-tomorrow product launches, that preppy pink and green tube of makeup magic is in a class by itself.

In the prestige arena, Lancôme has enjoyed a similarly mammoth success story. Though its Définicils High Definition Mascara is 20 years younger than Great Lash, urban legend has it that one is sold – somewhere, globally, from Boston to Beijing — every three minutes.

Clearly, these two brands have carved-out massive slices of the brutally competitive mascara pie, proffering products women the world over genuinely adore. [Read more…]

Beauty’s Buying Blitz: It’s the Early Aughts All Over Again

NYX Cosmetics at Yigal Azrouel Spring 2015 - BackstageIf it weren’t for the massive stack of 2015 promo calendars clogging our mailbox (thank you, Triple-A Termite Control and Super Shiny Carwash!), we’d bet our bottom dollar it was 2000 all over again.

At least this seems to be the case for the beauty business, which is currently on an acquisition spree, the likes of which we’ve not seen since the go-go early Aughts.

But before we dive into any serious tea-leaf reading, let’s recap the M&A landscape of the past year.

Acquisitions on Steroids

In 2014, L’Oréal Group snapped up a whopping six brands: three that are primarily skincare (Magic Holdings International, Decléor, Carita); two in hair (Niely Cosméticos, Carol’s Daughter); and one in makeup (NYX Cosmetics).

The Estée Lauder Companies, while less acquisitive, nonetheless swooped in with three third-quarter purchases, adding two fragrance brands to its portfolio (Le Labo and Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle) and one in skincare, Rodin Olio Lusso. [Read more…]

Vegan Is the New Black

dana_veganWhat’s more mainstream-American-beauty than Christie Brinkley? Christie Brinkley selling her upcoming face and body de-agers on HSN, that’s what. And for an extra dose of apple-pie wholesome, how about a Christie Brinkley beauty counter at Kohl’s?

But here’s what isn’t so by-the-book about Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare: just like the 60-year-old stunner herself, it’s 100 percent anti-animal cruelty. In fact, it’s vegan. As a decades-long vegetarian and staunch wildlife advocate who spearheads anti-poaching missions in Africa, Brinkley made damn sure her eight-SKU range doesn’t contain a trace of animal anything.

If this were 10 – even five – years ago, Brinkley’s product positioning might have been deemed a gamble. Yes, the line’s core raison d’être is anti-aging; vegan is only one chapter of the story she’s telling. But the fact that Brinkley will be able to riff about why eschewing animal ingredients and testing is important to her — on the massive platform that is HSN – speaks volumes about where the beauty industry is headed these days. [Read more…]

Coty Sinks In Its Claws

shutterstock_152473550When it comes to spending sprees, November 2010 was a doozy for Coty, Inc. In rapid succession, the New York-based, publicly held global powerhouse scooped up the German makeup company Dr. Scheller Cosmetics AG for an undisclosed amount; the touchy-feely Philosophy skincare brand from the Carlyle Group for an estimated $1 billion; and OPI, the pro nail care line famous for lacquers with cheeky names like “Skull & Glossbones” and “Wooden Shoe Like to Know,” for another (rumored) $1 billion.

At the time of those purchases, Coty, then a $3.6 billion entity, was billing itself as the world’s largest fragrance company. By rounding out its portfolio with these brands, the plan was to reduce its reliance on the recession-plagued perfume biz, carve off a bigger slice of Germany’s beauty pie, and inch toward its stated goal of $7 billion in revenue by 2015.

While it would be hard to argue which was the splashier score— Philosophy or OPI, both of which are wildly beloved by consumers— the latter allowed Coty to not only tap an entirely new distribution channel, but also expand its foothold in the supernova that was nails circa 2010. [Read more…]

MAC: All Things to All People…Even If That Maybe Isn’t The Best Idea Right Now

MACUpfront disclaimer #1: MAC is one of the best beauty brands of all time.

Now that that’s firmly out of the way, let’s commit a little heresy and posit that maybe, just maybe – and this is solely one industry-watcher’s opinion, Makeup Artist Cosmetics, founded in Toronto in 1984 by two guys both named Frank (Toskan and Angelo), snatched up by the Estée Lauder Companies in 1998 for a cool $60 million, has lost sight of its North Star.

How do you know a colossal cosmetics company, one that cut its teeth with professional makeup artists and deployed 6’7” drag superstar RuPaul as its very first spokesperson, may be veering off track? When it announces its hot new collaboration with…Brooke Shields.

Upfront disclaimer #2. Brooke Shields is incredibly beautiful and an American institution. [Read more…]

For Moroccanoil, Imitation Is the Most Litigious Form of Flattery

DanaWood1In all likelihood, only Novak Djokovic logs more court time than the corporate counsels of beauty brands in possession of a true rarity; an original idea. Breaking ground in a new category of product? Be prepared to spend your days fending off a slew of increasingly shameless copycats.

Flashback to 2006: An obscure “hair oil” – created not by an A-list coiffeur, but by under-the-radar Montreal salon owner Carmen Tal – starts trickling into the public consciousness. It’s derived from the nuts of argan trees, which are indigenous to Morocco, and is laced with hair-soothing fatty acids. Sure, argan oil is good for other stuff, like preventing heart attacks. But who cares about that when it can deliver livelier, lusher locks? [Read more…]

Forget Bentley. The new name in prestige is…Ford?

The Robin Report - The New Prestige is "Ford" not BentleyBefore he left the planet, when he wanted to make the point that he considered something seriously chi-chi, Andy Warhol would describe it as “up-there.” And, as I recently scrolled, ever so slowly, through the stunning Tom Ford Beauty website, I couldn’t help repeating the Pop Art God’s ultimate thumbs-up catchphrase: “This stuff is up-there,” I marveled to me, myself and I. “Truly, genuinely up-there.”

Of course, I already knew it was up-there; unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s nearly impossible to miss the collective oohing and aahing over Ford’s niche-luxe scents, and, as of Fall 2011, his 132-sku cosmetics collection and tightly edited – but serious – range of skincare. Launched under the auspices of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., and the stewardship of group president John Demsey, the buzz has been deafening.

In great part, the hoopla over the newish beauty brand – his first Signature fragrance, Black Orchid, hit the market in 2006 – stems from the global obsession with Tom Ford himself. Yes, there are designers of equal fascination and rock star status (Karl Lagerfeld and Marc Jacobs topping that list), but none has controlled his image, nor fiercely guarded his commitment to luxury, in quite the way Ford has. [Read more…]

Beauty A.D.D.: Losing Focus in the Department Store

On a Monday evening this past September, I had a bit of time to kill before a press event celebrating the launch of Dr. Fredric Brandt’s new radio show on Sirius XM. And because I’m beauty-obsessed (both personally and professionally), I decided to scoot into Macy’s Herald Square for a quick lap around the beauty department before heading uptown to pay my respects to “The Baron of Botox.”

Who knows, I thought, maybe I’ll treat myself to a little something.

But within seconds of hitting the main floor, I felt overwhelmed, my head swiveling back and forth à la Linda Blair in The Exorcist, between the Marc Jacobs handbags, the tantalizing costume jewelry, the miracle crèmes and the perfumes. Upping the A.D.D. ante? Karl Lagerfeld opining from a video monitor plunked in the middle of the aisle separating the bags from the beauty. In the endless loop, the German design god riffed on his much buzzed-about eponymous collection for Macy’s, a few items of which were also on display, mere feet from the $25 prestige mascara. [Read more…]

Message to Big Beauty Marketers: Pick A Lane and Stick With It

In the mid-1990s, when Lancôme had l’audacité to nudge long-time spokesmodel Isabella Rossellini out the back door after a 14-year run because she refused to share the limelight with Spanish stunner Inés Sastre, I wasn’t one of the many beauty editors (or women, for that matter) who got all rant-y and rave-y about it.

The way I saw it – which is allegedly the way the French beauty behemoth saw it, too – Rossellini had enjoyed a fabulous stint, one that millions of model-actor hyphenates would’ve killed for. So why not let the young whippersnapper Sastre pop up in an ad every now and then? Why feel threatened? And, more importantly, why throw the baby out with the rose-scented bath water?

Cut to 2011, and the Lancôme spokesmodel roster looks like the front row at the Oscars. There’s Kate Winslet! And Julia Roberts! Wait – is that Penelope Cruz I spy in a Trésor ad? Why, yes! Yes it is. [Read more…]

Whose Fragrance Am I Wearing? Why, My Own, Of Course!

Custom beauty products are poised to rear their lovely heads again

Whose fragrance am I wearing?On paper, it sounds like the ultimate beauty experience: To plop down in a swivel chair at a cosmetics counter, or be ushered into a well-appointed cabine in the back of some gorgeous perfume shop, and have a just-for-you foundation or “signature” scent whipped up right in front of your very eyes. Really, what could be more luxe, more satisfying for a full-fledged beauty junkie?

But if it’s so great, why has custom-blending come and gone over the years? Why does even a big old Estée Lauder-backed (EL) custom brand like Prescriptives fade into the ether?

Certainly not from a lack of interest on the part of consumers – love, actually, in my case. At the risk of revealing my age, I’ve been hanging around the beauty editor block long enough to have ridden several waves of custom-blending. I’ve had a fragrance created for me by a little line called Memoire Liquide; an entire collection of matching foundation, tinted moisturizer and concealer blended by Prescriptives; a much-beloved purplish blush concocted by the now-defunct Visage Beauté when Revlon owned it for five minutes in the early 90s; and incredibly chic red lipstick personally whipped up for me by Trae Bodge Napierala, one of the founders of Three Custom Color Specialists.

[Read more…]

Working 9 to… 9?!

Publicists in the Digital Age Get No Beauty Sleep

Ten years ago, the young women who would eventually band together and form the public relations firm DNA, planting their flag in the ‘burbs in Rye, NY, were hard-charging Manhattan beauty publicists, toiling for the big-league agencies. Though they worked hard, there was a basic framework around their days. Hitting the office at 9-ish, they dove into a round of press release-writing, calling magazines to pitch the latest miracle crème or hotshot hairstylist, and wooing the marquée-name editors over fancy lunches at the happening restaurant du jour. Save for the occasional evening press event, they could pretty much call it quits by 6.

Circa 2011, their day-to-day is very different, and not because they went the entrepreneurial route. Business is booming (roughly 30 accounts across all sectors of the beauty and wellness markets), so it’s not as if the founding partners – Dana Epstein and Lauren Kahn – are lying awake at night worrying whether they’ll make payroll.

[Read more…]

All I Ever Wanted Was Green Skin

To semi-paraphrase Gordon Gekko, when it comes to an ever broader swath of the skincare market, green is good.

At least that’s the assumption an industry-watcher could make when scanning the 2011 list of finalists for the much-coveted Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) Beauty Insider’s Choice Awards. In category after category, products featuring a preponderance of natural ingredients were in it to win it when the august governing body would reveal all during its annual power lunch at New York’s Waldorf Astoria in late May. Ranging from up and comers like Yes To and Korres to behemoths like Origins and Burt’s Bees, the green-leaners would have a prime seat at the table.

All I Ever Wanted Was Green SkinAnd as further indication that the natural faction is here to stay, CEW even added a new prize this year, the Eco Beauty Award. “It’s a response to the growing importance to consumers of products’ environmental impact on the planet,” says CEW president Carlotta Jacobson, noting that it was Givaudan, the world’s leading fragrance house and a major proponent of sustainability in scent creation, that approached CEW with the idea.

[Read more…]