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L’Oréal’s Nathalie Gerschtein Talks Human Magic, Connection

The executive's international experience — and purview — defines her work as North America's president of L'Oréal's consumer product division.

With a career spanning Europe, Asia and North America, Nathalie Gerschtein is a master at taking on new points of view.

“I knew I wanted an international career, I wanted to travel and work in different countries, and L’Oréal was definitely a way for me to accomplish that,” Gerschtein said of her career with beauty’s largest manufacturer. “I had a role in France, then I got the opportunity to take a regional role as the head of marketing for Garnier in Europe. I always felt very European, but it was very different because the retail environment, the culture, the state of the brand, the consumers in Spain, Italy, Great Britain and Finland — it’s day and night. That was super rich in terms of understanding different points of view and different businesses.”

Today, Gerschtein oversees L’Oréal’s consumer products division, as its president for North America. “Consumer Products Division is the number-one division, the U.S. is the number-one subsidiary [of L’Oréal],” she said. “You have to be very scrappy and very agile to be at the heart of the engine.”

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Overseeing such a vast portfolio has led Gerschtein to forge connections with her employees just as much as her consumers. “A few things have made me reflect a lot in the past few years: the social crisis in the U.S., the generational gap within our workforce, COVID-19 and accessibility. It made me think about those connections with our employees as well. It’s with our employees, our customers, our communities, the concept of unleashing human magic is something that is more and more obvious to me,” she said.

“We need to invest in genuinely connecting with each other and understanding each other. That includes both internally with the L’Oréal teams, but it’s also done externally with the brand love and trust that we are building,” she continued. “It gives us elevated purpose, and it’s also why we do what we do.”

Similarly, it’s consumers’ emotional connection to beauty that made it such an attractive industry for her. “Beauty has never been in a tricky situation. Frankly, beauty is a powerful force. It’s been here forever and it’s going to remain a driving force for everyone because it’s not frivolous, it’s about confidence, self-esteem and it enables self-expression,” she said. “Beauty has always been a dynamic category, and it’s going to remain a dynamic category. It’s true that people have interacted with beauty differently during the pandemic, but it’s not that they weren’t interacting with beauty, they were using different products.”

Gerschtein does see the tides turning back in makeup’s favor. “We’re seeing a big return to makeup: bolder colors, lipsticks, and not only because people are taking their masks off, but because they are tired of that dullness that has been their day-to-day,” she said.

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