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Inside the CEW 2020 Beauty Awards

The several-day virtual event named Awards winners in 48 categories.

Despite the year’s specific burdens on the beauty industry, the CEW 2020 Beauty Awards proved the show must go on — even when done virtually over several days.

The awards, which started on Nov. 12, were the most recent CEW event to take place online, following the Women’s Leadership Awards in October. The organization took advantage of the digital forum’s potential, setting the stage for the awards themselves with broader industry context. Starting the ceremony was a trend presentation from the NPD Group, which homed in on areas of growth in an otherwise difficult year for sales. Larissa Jensen, vice president of beauty at NPD, introduced the trends with data on prestige beauty’s landscape, including that the market has lost $3 billion in sales, year-to-date. 

According to Jensen, every category faced double-digit declines in 2020. Even hair, the only category to still show growth, lost 13 percentage points in a performance, going from 16 percent growth in 2019 to 3 percent in 2020. Makeup lost seven share points, with skin care gaining five share points, and fragrance and hair each grabbing one share point.

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Many of the industry’s points of growth were due to the at-home spa trend, Jensen said. Clinical brands grew 5 percent, and facial devices grew 9 percent. Nail care grew 20 percent, and hair color grew 46 percent. Home scents also rose 9 percent.

Jensen likened the performance of leisurewear to the boost in calming and soothing products. “In beauty, cozy means calm, and nothing is quite as calming as CBD,” Jensen said, noting that makeup with CBD grew over 100 percent, and skin care with CBD grew 73 percent. 

Tracking similar growth was blue light makeup, growing more than 100 percent, and skin care with blue light protection grew 77 percent. Other protective products for face increased, like sunscreen, which rose 12 percent.

Color cosmetics weren’t all losses. National Lipstick Day, in July, gave the category a 60 percent boost, for the week of July 25.

Clean beauty gained share across categories. Clean hair care was up one sharepoint, clean makeup was up 0.2 sharepoints, and clean skin care grew 0.4 sharepoints. Cruelty-free and vegan brands grew 3.4 and 1.2 sharepoints, respectively, and advocacy brands rose 1.7 share points.

The second day of the awards focused less on sales, and more on winner announcements. Hosted by writer and actress Jill Kargman, the two-hour webinar saw a variety of hosts and industry leaders unveiling the award winners. 

“In this s–t show year, putting on this red lipstick makes me feel so much better, so thank you for bringing some glamour and self care,” Kargman joked. The awards, which featured 48 categories and 49 honorees, ran the gamut from mass to prestige, highlighting both independent and corporate businesses.

To CEW president Carlotta Jacobson, the awards’ mission — to give an inside look at innovation to those outside the industry — is more relevant than ever. “There’s a multitude of influencers, and what we had was the actual, real beauty experts. Our membership that could judge better than anyone else whether something was really a good product,” she said. “It’s more relevant today because of what the consumer’s looking for, which is authority and credibility, and that’s what we feel we’re providing.”

The winners included industry staples such as L’Oréal Paris and Estée Lauder, alongside smaller brands like Glossier, Beautycounter and Summer Fridays. The Best Sellers awards for both mass and prestige went to TRESemmé Pro Pure and Too Faced Born This Way, The Natural Nudes Eyeshadow Palette, respectively.

Jacobson said meeting the moment is always a priority for CEW, category-wise. “For example, when we did sexual wellness, it shows a company’s investment in a cultural solution and it’s become a very important area, as is sustainability,” she said. “For a lot of these categories, we look at NPD, and we look at things that are growing, especially those that will grow even further,” she added.

Product categories weren’t the only way CEW kept up with the times. Bringing the event online meant fighting harder for participants’ engagement, Jacobson said, who found a content-driven approach most effective. Starting on Nov. 16, CEW also hosted virtual roundtables with the winners. “We found that we could not translate a live event to a digital event, that they were too different experiences. It’s a different type of relevancy, so we added more content and context to it,” Jacobson said. “One thing about going digital: you can add more.”

Giving background to beauty consumers’ ever-shifting habits was key to framing the awards, and Jacobson had her own thoughts on where she saw consumer behavior moving. “Consumers are now looking at beauty as more of a care for themselves,” she said. “It’s not necessarily indulgent, and they’re more in touch with what they need.”

Here, the winners of the CEW 2020 Beauty Awards.

Acne Treatment
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

Anti-Aging: Mass
L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum

Anti-Aging: Prestige
Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

This Works Morning Expert Wakeup Drops

Bath and Body: Mass
Cetaphil Intensive Healing Lotion with Ceramides

Bath and Body: Prestige
First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub with 10% AHA

Beauty Wellness Supplements
Briogeo Hair Care B.Well Vegan Omega 3, 6, 9 + Biotin Supplements for Healthy Hair

Best Seller: Mass
TRESemmé Pro Pure

Best Seller: Prestige
Too Faced Born This Way, The Natural Nudes Eye Shadow Palette

Saint Jane Beauty Luxury Beauty Serum

Cleanser & Scrub
Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup Melting Butter Cleanser

Eye Product: Mass
L’Oréal Paris Infallible Flash Cat Eye Waterproof Brush Tip Liquid Eyeliner

Eye Product: Prestige
It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Salon Volume Lift Mascara

Eye Treatment
Shiseido Americas Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Eye Cream

Face Masks
Summer Fridays R+R Mask

Face Product: Mass
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Illuminator

Face Product: Prestige
Estée Lauder Double Wear Radiant Concealer

Hair Accessories
Slip Silk Pillowcase Scrunchies

Hair Shampoo/Hair Conditioner
Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Triple Detox Shampoo

Hair Care/Styling
Drybar Jump Start Quick Dry Blowout Serum

Hair Tools
Drybar Baby Brush Crush Heated Straightening Brush

Iconic Consumers’ Choice Beauty Award: Mass
Essie Wicked

Iconic Consumers’ Choice Beauty Award: Prestige
SK-II Pitera Essence

Indie Brand Beauty Award
The Ordinary

Indie Hair
Virtue Labs Healing Oil

Indie Makeup Beauty Award
Huda Beauty Mercury Retrograde Palette

Indie Skincare Beauty Award
Glossier Futuredew

Lip Product Mass
Burt’s Bees Matte Sticks

Lip Product Prestige
Nars Cosmetics Lipstick

Lip Treatment
Fresh Sugar Mint Rush Freshening Lip Treatment

Makeup Tools
Simplehuman Sensor Mirror Hi-Fi

Men’s Grooming
Dove Men + Care Active Fresh Body and Face Wash

Men’s Scent
Dior Sauvage Parfum

Moisturizer Mass Face
Olay Retinol24 Night Moisturizer

Moisturizer Prestige Face
La Mer The Neck and Décolleté Concentrate

Nail Product
Essie Air Dry

Rising Influencer Award
Ohuprettythings, @ohuprettythings

Sexual Wellness
Kopari Beauty Love Melt

Skincare Tools
NuFace FIX Line Smoothing Device

Sun Product
Supergoop! Poof Part Powder SPF 45

Unisex Fragrance
Diptyque Eau de Menthe Eau de Parfum

Women’s Scent Mass
Adidas Sport UNLSH

Women’s Scent Prestige
Aerin Aegea Blossom Eau de Parfum

Mission-Based Brands for Established Brands
Unilever Personal Care — Dove

Mission-Based Brands for Small Businesses
Rahua by Amazon Beauty

QVC 2020 Beauty Quest
Farmhouse Fresh

Supplier Award: Ingredients and Formulations
Ashland Inc. Mineral Based Sun Stick SPF 50

Sustainability Excellence Award

The event’s sponsors included Firmenich, QVC, Arcade Beauty, Voyant Beauty, WWD, WWD Beauty Inc, Financo, CVS Pharmacy, Satisfyer, YouCam Makeup, RPG, Sheencolor USA, Nielsen, Anisa International, Rpr Marketing Communications, Cosmoprof North America, NYSCC, P&G Beauty, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Consultancy Media, Suite K, Pims,, The NPD Group and Ernst & Young.

For more from, see:

CEW at 65: Inspiration in Action

NPD Q3 Numbers Show Signs of U.S. Prestige Beauty Recovery

U.S. Consumers Start to Spend on Discretionary Categories Such as Apparel, Beauty: NPD