By  on September 5, 2014

California is nicknamed the Golden State, but for beauty brands, a better moniker might be the Green State. Beauty conglomerates and private equity firms are pouring cash into California at an unprecedented rate. L’Oréal is perhaps the state’s biggest beauty sugar daddy. In less than two years, it bought three Southern California brands: NYX, Baxter of California and Urban Decay. But it’s hardly alone. The Estée Lauder Cos. nabbed Smashbox, Coty Inc. snapped up OPI Products Inc., Henkel AG added Sexy Hair Concepts earlier this year and the list goes on.

What’s behind the great innovation machine that is California? “It’s in the water. It’s in the sunshine. It’s in the creativity,” quips Mona Monaghan-Kelliher, who recently moved from New York to L.A. to become chief marketing officer of Milani. Vennette Ho, managing director at Financo, says, “The West Coast is a huge center of innovation for the beauty industry, and is its own little microcosm in terms of talent.” In particular for beauty, California’s pole position in digital technology, celebrity culture, the health and wellness movement and as the gateway to Asia makes it fertile ground for beauty upstarts.

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