Suzanne Grayson knows a thing or two about lipstick. And, her knowledge extends well beyond shade selection: Grayson can explain the difference between creamy, tacky, moist and buttery lipstick textures as easily as she can recite the first cosmetics company to use silicones in their lipstick formula. (It’s Revlon, by the way, for ColorStay.)
This story first appeared in the September 27, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
That’s why Grayson, a well-known beauty industry consultant, along with Craig Arpino, director of research and development at private label cosmetics giant Kolmar Laboratories, will co-host, “Anatomy of a Lipstick,” a 3-hour seminar on Oct. 15 from 1-4 p.m. at this year’s HBA Global Expo. The seminar, which in HBA Global jargon is known as a master class because of its in-depth, hands-on educational element, is among 23 marketing sessions and eight product and development sessions to be offered to the Expo’s nearly 16,000 expected attendees.
The purpose for “Anatomy of a Lipstick” is to educate newer members of the beauty industry on lipstick trends, shades and ingredients over the past 40 years. It also aims to teach them how to develop a successful lipstick formula and shade range for a specific target market. “Younger people have no clue as to what is in the guts of a product,” she said. “They have no sense of history of products and it’s that history that really makes a difference” when making new lipsticks.
Grayson and Arpino will also stress the importance of formula development and textural terms. “The problem is that there is no training going on. I was trained at Revlon, whose strength was the great ability to create great products. Other people copied Revlon and at one point, the head of every large cosmetics company’s R&D department came from Revlon.”
Grayson, who selected the topic for the session, explained that lipstick is one of beauty’s three biggest categories — the other two are foundation and mascara. But lipstick she said, “is the signature of a company in terms of color awareness. There are lots of elements companies have to tackle in terms of training people — one of them being the six aspects of lipstick texture. These days, a product manager is usually a giggly girl just out of school. That’s what’s in charge of development! [They] need to know what goes into a lipstick, the characteristics a consumer wants and how to balance all those characteristics.”
Part of the presentation will include an analysis of L’Oréal’s Endless Lipstick formula and shade range. “We are going to look at what it is versus what it might be,” said Grayson, explaining that since Endless courts a more mature customer, its shade selection skews darker.
It costs $150 to attend “Anatomy of a Lipstick.” The program will be limited to 100 attendees since each will be supplied with a box of spring 2003 lipstick samples to touch and feel as each lipstick type is explained. “This is not just a show-and-tell. This will be a hands-on experience,” Grayson said.
According to Grayson, creating the perfect lipstick is all about compromise. “Formula, shade, texture…some features limit others. It’s a trade-off,” she noted. “For example, half the world uses a [pearl] formula. Trying to make that formula long lasting can be a challenge. That’s why R&D has to know what they want and how to express those wants. Otherwise, it’s just going to be submission after submission, which can be time-consuming, and you wind up with a sub-optimal product.”
As to what 2003 will offer, “my forecast is that, in terms of formula, improving wear of lipsticks will be the golden goose,” Grayson said.