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Make Up For Ever CEO Talks Strategy

The makeup artist brand is leveraging its heritage to spring forward.

PARIS — Two years after a major reboot began, Make Up For Ever sales are growing by double digits.

So how is this practically 40-year-old makeup artist brand, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, pummeling ahead, despite the rise of indie upstarts?

It’s digging deep into its makeup artist heritage, seeped in product innovation and education-sharing, according to Gabrielle Rodriguez, chief executive officer of Make Up For Ever.

Sometimes its strategy runs counter-current to other brands’, such as kicking off its reboot with the launch of Rouge Artist lipstick — right as most people were locking down at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Since we relaunched the brand with this Rouge Artist story, we are gaining shares everywhere,” Rodriguez said. “It means that our strategy is working.”

Make Up For Ever also built a collective of makeup artists, called the Pro Collective.

“We took that bold decision not to work with one single art director,” said Rodriguez, who instead opted to sign on 40 Make Up For Ever makeup artists from the world over, “and make them into the innovation engine of the company.”

Soon, that collective will be celebrated in a documentary, featuring all 40 members and called “Make Up For Ever Empowered Me,” set to be released in early March, with outtakes launching on social platforms and in points of sale.

The Pro Collective

“We are going to roll out these assets to tell the story of the brand, how we work and the people behind it,” Rodriguez said.

Pro Collective members work with the brand’s marketing team.

“It leads to amazing innovation,” said Rodriguez, “because they are so demanding.”

Makeup artists home in on things like perfect shade matching and new-fangled ways to use makeup.

“Dany Sanz invented face and body art,” Rodriguez said. “She’d been developing products adapted to that. That’s the starting story, also, of Make Up For Ever. [So] it’s very important to continue that tradition.”

In today’s competitive makeup market, the executive said it’s key to have ultra-high-quality products and to bring newness to the market.

“If we do something, it needs to be disruptive and different,” Rodriguez said.

So Make Up For Ever launched The Professionall Mascara that’s double-sided to give both lift and volume.

HD Skin, fluid foundation with “micro skin technology,” has been highly successful. Since its introduction in mid-February 2022, 1.5 million units of the foundation have been sold, and it ranks in the top one to five in markets it’s carried, according to Rodriguez.

Next up, starting on Feb. 16, is the international launch of HD Skin Powder, with a talc-free, clean formula that is said to cover and blur simultaneously.

HD Skin Powder foundation

By the end of this year, Make Up For Ever will launch an upgraded sell-out tool in order to be able to fine-tune consumers’ diagnosis before applying makeup. It mixes artificial intelligence and makeup artists’ know-how to read facial morphology.

Art remains fundamental to Make Up For Ever, whose founder was an artist by training.

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 “We are convinced that makeup can be pushed up to art,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a very big source of inspiration for us.”

To wit, the brand rolled out a face and body exhibition, called “Nature Reconnection,” featuring 30 pieces culled from students at the Make Up For Ever Academy. That was shown in numerous locales, including Shanghai, Paris and Japan.

“It’s art that can be shared with any generation,” Rodriguez said. “It’s really our soul.”

The next exhibition will be themed “Dreamland,” and be put up in April in Paris’ Jardin d’Acclimatation.

Geographically, Make Up For Ever ranks first among prestige makeup brands in the Middle East.

“We want to maintain that leadership, but we can grow further, as well, in Asia — in particular, in China,” said Rodriguez, adding that expansion in America is key, too.

 “We have a natural fit in particular with the U.S. market, because we are quite a diverse brand,” she said.

In 2022, except for in China where lockdowns continued, all of Make Up For Ever’s market’s sales grew by double digits.

Rodriguez would not discuss numbers, but industry sources estimate the brand generates about a half-billion euros in retail sales annually.

Make Up For Ever’s motto is “committed forever.”

“There is this idea of being responsible beauty and sustainable beauty,” she said. “We have a mission to share our idea that everyone can be beautiful, and that we need to respect each other.”

The brand works with France’s Secours Populaire association, assisting women in precarious situations and supports the LGBTQ community, especially in the U.S. and Europe.

Make Up For Ever also works with people with vitiligo.