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Beauty Inc Awards: The 2022 Brands of the Year

The winners for Brand of the Year in the prestige and mass markets helped fuel the year's resurgence in makeup with products perfectly calibrated to meet consumers' evolving desires, while the wellness winner perfectly integrated health and beauty.

WWD Beauty Inc’s Brands of the Year didn’t just ride the resurgence of makeup — they helped create it. In the mass market, E.l.f. turned in one of the year’s top performances, posting exceptional results across the board. Likewise, MAC jumpstarted cosmetics sales in the prestige market with a combination of cutting-edge products and a revamped approach to the in-store experience. The honoree in the wellness category, meanwhile, has been a key architect of the ever-increasing intersection of health and beauty. Here, the 2022 Brands of the Year.

Brand of the Year 

Wellness: Goop 

When it comes to finding the intersection between beauty and wellness, Goop knows exactly where the G-spot is — and not just because its sexual health products have achieved cult status. Since its inception in 2008, Goop and founder Gwyneth Paltrow have been at the forefront of merging health, wellness and beauty, creating a vertically integrated empire that includes products, a print magazine, a Netflix deal, live events and more. And now that self care has become the gold standard for how people approach their inner and outer beauty, Goop is reaping the rewards. The brand has become a bona fide beauty sensation, sold at Sephora, Credo, Thirteen Lune, Mecca and more, with double-digit growth exceeding 70 percent. Its GoopGlow Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator is a longtime star, the brand’s top-selling product, which continues to post double-digit gains, while the launch of Cloudberry Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser earlier in the year notched up one of the highest repeat purchase rates of any product in the assortment. Meanwhile, the July launch of Dark Spot Exfoliating Sleep Milk was the most successful in the history of the brand. Paltrow threw a star-studded pajama party this summer to celebrate the launch, but when it comes to business, one thing is very clear: When it comes to knowing what consumers want in the realms of beauty and beauty, this team is wide awake. 

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Goop’s winning skin-care line-up. Shanley Kellis

Mass: E.l.f.

Its name may sound diminutive, but E.l.f. turned in one of the biggest performances of the year. The mass market beauty company posted its 15th annual quarter of growth in November, with results that significantly outpaced the market. To wit: Mass makeup grew 5 percent for the time period, per Nielsen. E.l.f. grew 27 percent. Skin care was up 15 percent overall. E.l.f. increased its skin care sales by 44 percent. Now the number four ranked color brand in mass, E.l.f. posted exceptional results across the board, and is the fastest-growing top five color cosmetics brand whose share increased 115 points versus a year ago, versus a 65 point increase for its nearest competitor. Why is E.l.f. winning? Its product innovation is second to none — with both Power Grip Primer, launched in January, and Halo Glow Liquid Filter, introduced in August, achieving star product status. Marketing-wise, the brand is a social media standout, an early player on BeReal and a top performer on TikTok. No wonder Gen Z can’t get enough. According to Piper Sandler’s Taking Stock with Teens 2022 report, E.l.f beat out brands like Maybelline New York, Tarte and L’Oréal Paris as the number-one makeup brand in the cohort. Another first: E.l.f was the first beauty company in the U.S. to achieve Fair Trade certification for a manufacturing facility, and Newsweek called the company one of America’s most loved workplaces. Hats off to the hardest working E.l.f.’s in beauty. 

e.l.f. SKIN - Holy Hydration! Skin Care Luxe Set
e.l.f. SKIN – Holy Hydration! Skin Care Luxe Set

Prestige: MAC

While makeup was hit hard during the pandemic, MAC suffered the double whammy of a category slowdown and the impact on its 700 freestanding stores worldwide. Which makes it rebound in 2022 all the more remarkable. And rebound it did. In a year in which makeup sales finally reached pre-pandemic levels, with increases in the double digits across categories, MAC was the biggest contributor to makeup growth in both the U.S. and Canada, and one of the largest in Europe. Credit its success to a transformation program that started just before COVID-19, one in which brand executives rethought everything from retail experience to product relevance. Among the changes: Amplifying innovation to harness prevailing trends like the skinification of makeup, emphasizing standout design (see MACStack Mascara with customizable brushes) and supporting advanced claims. The strategy also enabled MAC to increase its price point and offer consumers a more elevated experience, as represented in its revamped space at Macy’s Herald Square flagship, where people can shop either independently or with an artist. Since its opening on July 1, sales are up 54 percent. Look for the format to roll out worldwide. At the same time, MAC has doubled down on its key differentiators, particularly its inclusive ethos, tapping the expertise of its global leadership team (which spans Africa, Europe, China, India and the U.S.) to drive creativity. “We realized we needed a new desirability model,” said Philippe Pinatel, global president. “We’ve always been anchored in artistry connected with fashion and trend and this has stayed true,” he continued, “but now we come with elevated products and a completely new experience. When we do this, we win.”

MAC’s striking MACSTACK mascara.