L’Oréal has added to its caché of West Coast beauty brands by acquiring Laguna Hills, Calif.-based Sayuki Custom Cosmetics.
A spokesman for L’Oréal confirmed the acquisition Thursday, but did not provide further comment or disclose terms of the deal. Sayuki joins a growing list of West Coast pick-ups for L’Oréal that includes NYX Cosmetics, Clarisonic, Urban Decay and Baxter of California.
“We had other makeup companies that contacted us before them, but I felt that they were the right people to take it in the right direction because they are so innovative,” said Sayuki founder Tracy Sayuki Wells. Wells will remain a consultant to L’Oréal for two-and-a-half years, as will her father and business partner, Larry Igarashi.
Under the control of its new parent, Sayuki might not follow a path similar to brands acquired by L’Oréal that the company has continued to build. Sayuki’s main differentiator is a skin-color-matching technology that could be leveraged by other properties in L’Oréal’s portfolio. It’s unclear if L’Oréal will continue to sell products under the name Sayuki, and Wells declined to elaborate on what the future holds for the brand in L’Oréal’s hands.
Wells, 38, a 17-year veteran of the cosmetics industry who worked behind the counter for the likes of Chanel and Benefit Cosmetics, came up with the idea for Sayuki’s color matching system while helping a makeup customer. “It hit me like a lightning bolt,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what if you could actually scan human skin and duplicate it in minutes at the counter like the paint companies do with paint?’ We have laptops and iPhones nowadays, but we have been doing foundation matching in the beauty industry the same way for years, and we needed to step it up with new technology.”
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Sayuki and Igarashi developed a scanning device that assesses a customer’s skin color quickly and that information is used to blend a foundation, concealer or tinted moisturizer tailored to that precise skin color. Customers can also choose the type of coverage they want — for instance, full, medium or sheer — and put in ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, sea kelp or diamond powder. Sayuki’s products are made with a peristaltic pump that takes two-and-a-half minutes to finish a formula.
“The technology is crazy in how it can literally match any skin color in the world,” said Wells. “We have had thousands and thousands of people that we have scanned and not one is the same. It is like a fingerprint.” Once customers are color-matched by Sayuki, the brand gives them identification cards so they can buy their customized products again online or at counter.
Sayuki opened a freestanding store at the Laguna Hills Mall in 2012. A year later, the brand entered select Barneys New York locations. Beyond Barneys, the brand had spread to a few Bloomingdale’s, Holt Renfrew and Neiman Marcus doors. It appears that Sayuki has exited those retailers as Web searches of them netted no results for the brand. Sayuki, however, is retaining its store at the Laguna Hills Mall.