Kerry Washington x Neutrogena

Neutrogena is upping its makeup game with some help from Kerry Washington.

The Johnson & Johnson-owned brand is launching a makeup collaboration with the actress exclusively at Ulta Beauty. Two palettes — the Kerry Washington x Neutrogena Essential Eye and Essential Cheek — are set to launch on ultabeauty.com on Sunday, and roll out to stores later this month.

Washington has served as a spokesperson and creative consultant for the brand since 2013, advising on key launches such as the blockbuster Hydroboost franchise. This is the first time she’ll have her name on a product. Prices range from $9.99 for the cheek palette to $12.99 for the eye palette. 

For Neutrogena, the collaboration is a result of the brand’s increased focus on the makeup side of its business. Last year, the company launched Hydroboost makeup as an extension of its hyaluronic-acid-infused skin-care line. Products such as the Hydrating Concealer and Hydrating Lip Tint drove significant double-digit growth for the brand. In the lipstick category, Neutrogena’s sales grew 54 percent year-over-year in 2017, according to IRI data.

“There’s an overall renewed focus on makeup as a growth driver for the organization,” said Jennifer Gomez, makeup leader for Neutrogena. “This collaboration is one of our first forays into color innovation.”

Washington worked closely with Neutrogena on shade selection and product naming. The palettes are designed to be a versatile array of neutrals that help achieve a natural look on a variety of skin tones.

“I thought it would be great to create something that takes the complexity out of makeup,” Washington said. “Something that is a little fun and a little glam, but is an essential kit for what you really need no matter where you’re going.”

Shade diversity is something that Washington has been vocal about in her work in the beauty industry. Aside from the Neutrogena role — where she is said to have helped the brand expand its shade range — she has collaborated with OPI on a nail polish range that included versatile nude shades meant to work on any skin tone.

“Obviously, everyone is going to look different using these colors, and not every color is going to work for every single person,” the actress said. “I tried to create a world where you could really play. What’s a bronzer for somebody might be a blush for someone, and a highlighter for somebody might be an eye shadow. You can really play around with these tools.”

Washington is impressed with the beauty industry’s advancements in shade selection, but still thinks there’s more work to do. “No one is doing it 100 percent perfectly, but everybody is trying to figure out how to live in their space, and that is so powerful,” she noted. “I think the important thing is everyone is moving in the right direction.”

She named shades in the collection after qualities she feels are important: confidence, for example. “I tried to name the colors after qualities I think make us feel beautiful in the world, because beauty is so much about what’s going on on the inside.”

The Washington collaboration is something of a test for Neutrogena as the brand becomes a bit more experimental with its makeup business. Placing the collaboration exclusively at Ulta was a way for the brand to reach a more beauty-involved customer. Gomez noted Neutrogena’s e-commerce business is also growing.

“What we love about Kerry is that she’s a diehard beauty enthusiast. She’s curious and loves to experiment and really embodies our consumer,” Gomez said. “She was passionate about creating a line that represents quality. Our products are multitasking, they have a built-in primer. Palettes are so easy — she wanted to make it accessible to everyone.”

Gomez noted Neutrogena will continue to focus on makeup with “good-for-you” ingredients as its point of difference in the crowded mass makeup category. “It’s a curated collection — we’re never going to have 1,000 [stockkeeping units],” she said. “When I think about Neutrogena makeup I want it to be more than something that just sits pretty on the face, it multitasks and leaves skin better than we found it.”

She mentioned the brand is looking into different skin-care ingredients to infuse into future makeup products. The latest launch aside from Washington’s collaboration is a plumping, hyaluronic-acid-infused mascara in the Hydroboost range. “We’ll continue to innovate around clinically proven skin boosters like hyaluronic acid,” Gomez said. “We really want to create these foundational elements like SPF and moisture, even salicylic acid…we want to work with skin boosters to have great makeup and also do something really good for your skin.”

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