Article by: Perry Romanowski

While having a good working knowledge of raw materials and formulations is important for being a great formulator, having a working knowledge of the cosmetic industry is just as important for your cosmetic chemist career. Today, we’ll take a look at the companies in the cosmetic industry and who owns some of the biggest brands.

Every year the trade magazines put together a list of the biggest cosmetic companies in the beauty industry. It’s a pretty handy list and if you are just starting or have been working for a while in cosmetics, you should be familiar with these companies. At the very least, you’ll know where there might be future employment opportunities. These companies hire lots of cosmetic chemists.

You can see the complete list of the Top 20 Global Beauty Companies as compiled by Beauty Packaging magazine.

Here is the quick list. They are ranked by yearly sales. After that I’ll write a little about the main companies and how that can be useful for cosmetic formulators looking for jobs. Note that these are the biggest companies worldwide and it considers only the beauty portion of the business. Some of these companies are much larger than reported here, but that is because they also have significant business in other industries like household or food.

Beauty Sales (US Billions)

  • 1. L’Oréal $27.2 billion
  • 2. Unilever $21.3 billion
  • 3. Estée Lauder Cos. $11.8 billion
  • 4. P&G $11.8 billion
  • 5. Coty $7.7 billion
  • 6. Shiseido $7.3 billion
  • 7. Beiersdorf $5.9 billion
  • 8. Johnson & Johnson $5.9 billion
  • 9. AmorePacific $5.6 billion
  • 10. Kao $5.3 billion
  • 11. LVMH $5.2 billion
  • 12. L Brands $4.6 billion (est.)
  • 13. Avon $4.1 billion
  • 14. Henkel $4 billion
  • 15, Mary Kay $3.5 billion
  • 16. Colgate-Palmolive $3 billion
  • 17. Chanel $2.8 billion (est.)
  • 18. Natura $2.4 billion
  • 19. Revlon $2.3 billion
  • 20. Kose $2.3 billion

Before we talk about the specific companies let’s discuss how this information will help you. Of course knowing the industry companies can be of trivial interest, it can also be quite useful to a cosmetic chemist in the following ways.

Knowing the biggest companies in cosmetics

First, it is useful in terms of competitive research. If you already have a job, it’s good to know which brands go with which company. This can help you compare formulas and determine what raw material blends they might be using. This could help you in your efforts to knock-off their formulas. You can also see where they are using the same basic formulas for different brands. A chemist who is more knowledgable about their competitors is more valuable to their company.

Next, knowing the industry players can help stimulate new product ideas. You can get a good idea where these companies are putting their development efforts. This can spark ideas on what areas you might want to pursue or even avoid.

Finally, you ultimately work for yourself and often you’ll be faced with finding a new employer. Knowing the cosmetic industry can be incredibly helpful when researching for interviews. If you want to stand out when interviewing for a cosmetic science job, it’s helpful to know something about the company. This list can quickly get you familiar with your potential employer. It can also help you learn about the company’s competition. The more you know about the industry, the better your chances of landing a job.

Alright, let’s give a little more detail of the top 10 biggest companies in the cosmetic industry. You may already or someday will be working for one of them. At the very least you will be competing against all of them. These companies often have the best technology and the best performing products. It’s great to learn from them by studying how they are putting together their formulas.

Largest companies in the cosmetic industry

Company number 10 – Kao corporation
This company headquartered in Japan has yearly beauty sales of $5.3 billion. It sells products in most all cosmetic categories including color cosmetics, skincare, facial and body cleansers and hair care. Popular brands from this company include Bioré, Jergens, John Frieda, and Goldwell. While based in Japan, they have a significant presence in Cincinnati if you were looking for a job in the US.

Company number 9 – Amore Pacific
This beauty company based in South Korea has yearly sales of $5.6 billion and has benefited from the K-beauty trend in recent years. They are rapidly growing with an almost 18% increase in 2017.  Among its most popular brands are Sulwhasoo, Laneige, Mamonde, Innisfree, Etude, Lolita Lempicka, Annick Goutal.

Company number 8 – Johnson & Johnson
Although they are primarily a pharmaceutical company J&J had beauty product sales of over $5.9 billion. This includes products for baby care, skin care and oral products. It’s most famous brands include Johnson’s Baby, Neutrogena, Aveeno, and Listerine. The company is located in New Jersey, USA.

Company number 7 – Beiersdorf
This German based company had sales of over $5.9 billion in 2017. They have a wide range of personal care products including skincare and body care brands. Some of their most important include Nivea, Eucerin, Labello, Florena, and La Prairie.

Company number 6 – Shiseido
Another Japanese based company makes our top ten list with sales of just over $7.3 billion. This company makes all types of personal care products including skincare, fragrance, hair care, sun care, body care and makeup. Some of its popular brands include Shiseido, Za, Senka, Anessa, Sea Breeze, Nars, and Bare Essentials.

Company number 5 – Coty
This is a New York based company who built up their beauty business through acquisitions in recent years. In 2017, they had sales of $7.7 billion. They are a big player in Fragrance (#1), professional hair care (#2) and color cosmetics (#3).  They bought a number of brands from P&G and now own brands such as Adidas, Clairol, CoverGirl, David Beckham, Katy Perry, Max Factor, Rimmel, Sally Hansen and Wella. They also own luxury brands such as Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Chloé, Gucci, Hugo Boss, and Philosophy.

Company number 4 – Proctor and Gamble
Now we’re starting to get into the bigger numbers. This huge company had annual beauty product sales of over $11.8 billion which is down significantly from the $20 billion plus of years ago. But they sold a bunch of brands to Coty to become more efficient. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA they still hold dominant positions in the skin care and hair care. They sold off most of their color cosmetic products. They spend the most money on advertising so it’s not surprising that they have a number of well known brands including Aussie, Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Ivory, Olay, Old Spice, Pantene, Safeguard, Secret, Crest, Oral-B, Scope, Art of Shaving and more.

Company number 3 – Estee Lauder
This New York based company has annual sales of about $11.8 billion. They have a number of prestige brands in the main cosmetic categories including color cosmetics, skin care, hair care and fragrances. Their well-known brands include Estée Lauder, Bobbi Brown, La Mer, MAC, Smashbox, Clinique, Origins, Ojon and more. If you work on more expensive beauty products the products from this company are good ones to emulate.

Company number 2 – Unilever
The second largest company in the beauty business is located in London. It has annual sales of $21.3 billion and much like P&G has a number of well-known mass market brands. They sell products in every cosmetic industry category and have some of the best selling in them. Popular Unilever brands include Axe/Lynx, Dove, Lifebuoy, Pond’s, Close-Up, TRESemmé, Suave, Sunsilk, and Vaseline. This is the company that purchased my former company, Alberto Culver. Fortunately, I was gone before they shut it down.

Alright, and the number 1 beauty company in the cosmetic industry is…L’Oreal.
L’Oreal has annual beauty product sales of over $27.2 billion dollars. They are based in France and sell products in color cosmetics, skincare, hair care, sun care, and fragrances. Their most important brands linclude L’Oréal Paris, Garnier, Maybelline New York, and Softsheen. They also sell luxury brands like Lancôme, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, and Kiehl’s. They have professional hair care products such as Kérastase, Redken, Matrix, and Pureology. Finally, they also own beauty product distributors such as The Body Shop. You don’t get to generate nearly $30 billion in sales without having a number of streams of revenue!

So there you have it, all the biggest beauty companies in the world. Make it a point to learn about them as you may find yourself working for or with them at some point in your career.

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About the Author

Perry Romanowski

Perry has been formulating cosmetic products and inventing solutions to solve consumer problems since the early 1990’s. Additionally, he has written and edited numerous articles and books, taught continuing education classes for industry scientists, and developed successful websites. His latest book is Beginning Cosmetic Chemistry 3rd Edition published by Allured.

91 comments

  1. Nora

    When was this article published?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      A couple years ago. But the companies are still mostly accurate & the same.

      1. Nora

        Please could you give the exact date so I can use it as a reference in an essay. Thanks

  2. Maryam Ahosseini

    hi..i am looking for a cosmetic brand to be imported to Iran as a great market for cosmetic and CHC products,, i am inclined to start a business in Iran,,i would really appreciate any ones comments to help me in this regard.

  3. Rocking_og

    Hi Perry, Please how can one get a good cosmetic manufacturer because I want to start a cosmetic line. Thanks

  4. Pingback:Cosmetics Market in USA |

  5. Shiva

    Hi there. I’m writing to you from Iran, you may heard of it . I was wondering do you know anything about belita cosmetic company in Blarus? They are being sold in my country and almost expensive but I am not sure about it. Many people using them and they say that they are satisfied. But I guess not using stuff which you are not familiar with is better than using them.
    Can you help me? Please. Thank you.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Hello – I’m not familiar with the brand. However, I doubt they are much different than other brands. Most technology in the cosmetic industry is pretty standard.

  6. Pingback:Kylie Cosmetics- My first assignment at business school. – L'enfant De Juillet.

  7. salima

    hi I was wondering how a chemical engineer might enter beauty industry?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      See our posts on cosmetic careers

  8. Don

    I own a mid size cosmetics company and would like to have my product distributed in the US by a major industry distributor/wholesaler. What are a few top names? or are independent sales reps the way to go?

    1. Afam

      Africa , Nigeria is a big market for cosmetics and our company are big distributors in that area

  9. Doreen udeh

    Unilever products are good but there are others that are also good too!!! don’t u think… i really need a scholarship to study at The London college of Fashion to pursue my dreams of being a Cosmetic Chemist

  10. Fatima

    Hi. Do you know the bests powder cosmetic manufacturer in the world?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      That depends on what you mean by the word “Best”

  11. MELISSA WEIS

    I know Victoria Secret has stopped their beauty line. Who manufactured the products when they were selling though? I am hoping to purchase similar instant bronze spray by a cosmetic company that uses same manufacturer.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I’m not sure.

      1. sherin

        Hi Perry
        Seems you are an expert. How can you get your cosmetic products in the US? is partnership the best way or what do you advise?

        1. Perry Romanowski

          That depends on the type of products you are selling. Your best bet is to probably hire a regulatory consultant who can work specifically on your project.

        2. kajal anand

          Hi Sherin, In today’s time joint ventures are the best options. This will enable you to add & share the experiences of each other and move ahead faster. If you are looking for one such partner in cosmetics then we could co-work on such business as we are manufacturer of herbal hair and skin care cosmetics in Mumbai, India. You can write to us at debon@debonherbals.com

  12. robert Zarrilli

    Where does Revlon fall in this group and are they considered a player in the industry

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Revlon is a big company and important industry player for color cosmetics.

  13. Lisa Devers

    Hi

    I’m completing an assignment for university on the challenges a cosmetics company would face when entering the Indian market.

    I wondered if you could help point me in the direction of any information that might be relevant, with credible sources? Anything at all would be much appreciated.

    Kind regards,

    Lisa

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Sorry, I don’t know much about the Indian cosmetic market.

    2. burhan salar

      hi,

      indian market is a huge potential market. it is very easy to attract target segment, if the 4Ps`, ie, Product, Price, Place, Promotion are focused properly. International brands like Lakme, Loreal, unilever, so on and so forth enjoys great demands and turnover, here. this segment is also price driven. if want to know more, v can have a word on facebook.

      name is burhan salar, india

    3. RB

      We manage design and rollout for several beauty companies – both Indian and global including Unilever, L’OReal and P&G. Please contact me and I will share whatever information possible.. info@renamretail.com

  14. farhan hamayun

    Dear,

    We are planning to start new business in Cosmetics here in saudi arabia but not like a shop i would like to be a distributor of any brand which brand you recommend and i you refer some one i would appreciate it.

    1. WAEYTENS

      Dear,

      Nature.cos, the leader in the organic cosmetics sector on the French market with 3,500 points of sale in France, backed by 12 years of experience in organic, offers powerful brands with guaranteed profitability. Our philosophy is simple: professional quality, ethical commitment, eco-responsibility and innovation. Nature.cos owns 2 make-up brands and 1 skincare brand. If you’re interested, feel free to contact me directly.

      1. maryam ahosseini

        hi dear,i am maryam from iran,i am inclined to commence a cosmetic business in Iran by importing wellknown and reliable brands. would you kindly let me know your contact and site address to gather some information.thanks a lot

  15. unknown

    Isnt shiseido the fourth

    1. Perry Romanowski

      This data changes over time.

  16. Rolah

    Hello, I’m looking for company that produces cosmetics in South Korea, as by custom formulation. Do you have any tips as to where I should look? It’s proven to be hard to find them just using google.

    Thank you in advance,
    Rolah

    1. unknown

      Try Etude House!!

    2. rose

      hi dr.rolah
      pls contact me at rose@cycoordi.com. we are based in korea and source cosmetics for private lables

  17. Barbara Turner

    Hello, do you have suggestions or references for how I would become a raw materials supplier (shea butter) for major cosmetic companies?

    1. ik agyeman

      can supply unrefined shea butter and virgin coconut oil from GHANA

  18. ajaz

    hi dear perry. i hope u r fine. i m from pakistan and searching the name of cosmetic company.but i want the international name. please help me.thanks

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I’m not sure I can help you unless you clarify your question.

  19. ade azeez

    HELLO Perry, Please how do I go about starting my own make up line. My biggest issue is figuring out where the starting point is? How do I find information on good cosmetic laboratory and manufacturers to go with
    please kindly reply. thanks

  20. susan ducote

    Im interested in selling high end cosmetics from my home. can you advise me on where to look and what I should do? Thanks

  21. ziad sahoury

    I would like to be a distributed independent sales for detergent and cleaning products for JORDAN market. If any body interested to work with us please advise?

  22. Stacey

    I would like to be a distributed isndependent sales like Mary Kay or Avon but mainly deal with make up sales hat perhaps also includes some makeup samples of what I am selling for a different company then those two I mentioned of quality products… Any suggestion everyone is Mary Kay Avon artistry and Mac …

    1. Camille English

      Have you considered Noevir. Skin Care that is100% natural to the skin. Big difference between natural and natural the skin. Rocks and sand is natural. Not natural to the skin, but natural.

  23. Aner

    Hi Mr Perry
    I would like to aske u about Jean Carino makeup

    1. Perry Romanowski

      What do you want to know about it? I’m unfamiliar with the brand.

  24. Patrick Kirsch

    Whhh

    Perry, what is that on your shoulder?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      A rubber chicken of course.

  25. Marcos Valenca

    Hi, Perry:

    I tend to see skin and anti-aging cosmetics as baloney. I think they make people believe their products work by charging a lot of money, then people reason if this stuff costs this much, it must work. Am I right?

    If there are good skin and anti-aging products, which are the top three best companies that produce them?

    Are all fragrances made with synthetic ingredients or are there still perfumes made out of natural ingredients?

    Thank you,
    Marcos Valenca.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      You’re right about skin products. The top technology is probably Olay but other products work well too. There is just no reason to spend more money than you would on an Olay product.

      No all fragrances are not made with synthetic ingredients. Most of them are a blend of things obtained from nature and synthetic copies of those molecules.

      1. amanda davies

        Out of curiosity, Where do you think Avon ranks on skin care technology?

        1. amanda davies

          Sorry one other question for skin care … what are your thoughts on the recent use of using oils as a skin cleanser/moisturizer. Is this a new or recycled idea?

          1. Perry Romanowski

            Yes, a recycled idea. Ponds cold cream was an oil cleanser and that’s been around for years.

        2. Perry Romanowski

          They have good products which work about as well as Olay.

    2. Arpit

      Hi Marcos, there are many companies that produces cosmetics products which target populations that require anti-aging ingredients. Also, it depends on what people understand by anti-aging products. Please look into Mintel for published market trends and brands for more information on these products.
      Anti-aging products does work (based in the tests that companies performs on volunteers using specific instruments, anti-aging can be related to reduction of fine line, pore size on skin, hydration level, regeneration ability of skin etc.) Most of the mechanism includes preventing skin to stress (by various means which reduces changes in skin elasticity). For more information, you can refer to companies like BASF, Mibelle manufacturing anti-aging ingredinets. (Most of these companies are registered on In-cosmetics website).

      For fragrances, some of them are distilled but companies find it more cheap to synthesis these fragrance molecules. (Check this company’s website for more information: Givaudan

  26. Alice Harvell

    Hello Perry, I am a distributor for a new cosmetic product called Dermalol MD. Made for men and women, safe for sensitive skin and zero side effects. Drastically reduces wrinkles and firms skin INSTANTLY. Yes, while you watch it happen! Any suggestions on how to place this unknown, unique product in front of the general public? Or, possibly, retailers? Thank you.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Color me skeptical, but if you could actually reduce wrinkles instantly you shouldn’t have any problem selling the product. I would record a video and put it up on Youtube.

  27. ibrahim nutt

    i m drawing up a business plan for school to start up my own cosmetic company any info about the process is needed… thank you for info on sales

  28. reg

    Where is there a “makeup” school that I can attend in the Boston area or at least in Massachusetts where I can get an intense and in depth knowledge, hands on experience about “makeup” only (applying it, skin tones, ALL shades, face shapes, serums, brushes and their uses, etc, etc).
    Thank you!

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I’m not familiar with this type of school. Our website is focused more on creating cosmetics not applying them.

  29. Nyrin

    Does anyone knows someone who is capable to be answer most of question about cosmetic animal testing?

  30. Quinntavais

    What is the top 4 commonly used cosmetic product?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Skin products, Hair care products, Color cosmetics and Fine Fragrances

  31. Ramli

    Anyone can tell me the most popular and effective cosmetic used by most women/ladies.?

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Shampoo is pretty popular.

      1. sally hodges

        Soap is not a cosmetic. It is classified under a different product catagory. Since shampoo is soap, it is not a cosmetic. However, hair dyes and hair altering products, such as mousse and gel, are considered to be cosmetics.

        The most popular cosmetics are skin care products.

        1. Perry Romanowski

          You are mistaken if you believe shampoo is soap. It is not. See the FDA.gov website for more information.

    2. Martisa-Beauty Blogger

      One of the best foundations I have ever used is Avon’s Ideal Flawless Loose Powder! It is lightweight, lasts a long time. has great coverage, and looks as if you are wearing nothing! I love it You can wear it over your cream or liquid foundation or you can just wear it! When I wear it over another foundation I don’t need any concealer and I have a dark scar on my face! If you feel you need concealer but want something light apply your concealer 1st, then apply some tinted moisturizer, and lastly apply the loose powder lightly! I wore this for 10 hours while working and sweating I dabbed the sweat off and still looked great! Just go to Avon.com

  32. Jo Ann Morris

    Question ~ Not a comment. I am trying to find the name of a cosmetic that uses a script type A in their Logo. Can you help. Thought it might be ArtMatic. The A they use is almost like the one for which I am looking, but not exactly. Could they have changed their or does anyone know of another company that using a A similar to theirs?

  33. lastdon

    i want to use this opportunity to pass the information that we distribute light after for cosmetics. contact us with the above email when needed.
    Thanks

  34. Phyllis Gregory

    I had an idea for a face cream but I don’t know if it would work. I have been told about a type of jellyfish that is known as an immortal jellyfish & I was talking to someone & said wouldn’t it be cool if we could extract some cells out of this jellyfish & replicate what it can do which is regenerate our own cells so we women can look young get rid of wrinkles for a long time. let me know what you think .

    1. Perry Romanowski

      An interesting idea but technology is not nearly advanced enough in cosmetics (or medicine) to be able to apply these cells to human skin cells.

  35. Pingback:7 Non Formulating Skills Every Cosmetic Chemist Needs to Develop

  36. Wencie Gordon

    I was wondering if a more recent article or statistics following up on what was reported back in 2009; titled “Top 20 Global Beauty Companies” and linked to the Beauty Packaging website is available. I’m very interested in how the cosmetic firms have faired over the past four years.

    Thank you

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I don’t have any specific numbers but there has been small but steady growth in the industry. (+4%)

  37. Narendra nath Mandal

    East or west unilever is the best.

  38. elina

    thanks i really loved this website. It told me all of the cosmetic companies. I needed this info for my science project on cosmetics.!!

    Sincerely, Elina

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