You know when you meet a person whose name just fits them? When your last name is “Fair,” you’ve got a lot to live up to. But Tina Fair, President of the L’Oréal Dermatological Beauty Division North America (LDB), seems to have nailed it.
“As a leader, it’s crucial to recognize that success is not an individual sport, but rather a collective effort. You must be willing to surround yourself with people who share your vision and values and who can provide different perspectives and expertise,” Tina says. “It’s essential to foster a culture of feedback where team members feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback — it’s a valuable opportunity for continuous learning and improvement.”
Her approach has paid off in big gains — both in her own career and in the LDB division she now leads, which houses L’Oréal’s most science-based, dermatologist-recommended skin care brands: La Roche-Posay, Vichy, SkinCeuticals, CeraVe, and Skinbetter Science.
Before overseeing LBD, Tina held various management roles at SkinCeuticals, which was then “the biggest brand in the division and driving the growth.” In just under three years at LDB’s helm, she’s already made a major impact.
She led the acquisition of Skinbetter Science last year, and helped turbocharge the rise of La Roche-Posay among U.S. dermatologists. “My leadership style encourages risk taking by creating an environment where failure is seen as a learning opportunity rather than a setback,” Tina says. “This [type of] culture has been essential in supporting the growth of LDB.”
She also ferried in a new division name, from Active Cosmetics Division to L’Oréal Dermatological Beauty Division. “When you think about the name ‘Active Cosmetics,’ it didn’t tell the story of who we really are, and didn’t resonate with our doctors,” Tina says.
The power of a name, again. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet…but a beauty division? It needs something that resonates at first read. The name change represents the division’s mission — to pioneer health and beauty and bring sustainable and life-changing dermatological solutions to all — and generates an immediate “ah, yes, I get it” among its most important influencers: dermatologists.
When the division was first created, the Active Cosmetics name tracked. The focus was Europe, with popular pharmacy brands La Roche-Posay and Vichy. “Active” represents science and ingredients, and “cosmetics,” in French, is a more encompassing term for makeup, skin, and hair.
“When you talk about dermatological skin care, you think about efficacy, science, research, trust,” Tina says. Combining its five current brands under the name L’Oréal Dermatological Beauty “brings all of those core components together, which positions us to be leaders in medical skin care.”
The division expanded in 2005 with the acquisition of SkinCeuticals, and just five years ago began exploding globally, particularly in China and North America, after acquiring CeraVe in 2017. Born in the U.S. and also built on dermatologist recommendations, CeraVe created synergies for the division’s other brands, particularly La Roche-Posay.
Though a beauty editor favorite with a cult classic sunscreen in Europe, La Roche-Posay hadn’t quite become a household name in the U.S. “It had been the best kept secret in the division,” says Penelope Giraud, General Manager of the brand. When CeraVe joined L’Oréal, it brought with it a large team of reps that presented its products to doctors. This partnership suddenly gave La Roche-Posay a reach it hadn’t had before. “The number of dermatologists recommending the brand has more than doubled,” says Penelope. “La Roche-Posay is now recommended by 90,000 dermatologists worldwide.”
Derm love isn’t the only reason La Roche-Posay was 2022’s fastest-growing skin care brand and, in Q1 of 2023, brought on one-third more influencers than at the same time last year. “People are looking for a brand with a purpose, and it’s a strongly purpose-driven brand,” Penelope says.
Indeed, La Roche-Posay has a history in wound-healing via its Thermal Center in France, where 8,000 patients are treated — including for the skin side effects of skin cancer — with a proprietary thermal water complex. Bringing North American doctors to the center has helped them see first-hand the deep experience La Roche-Posay has in medical skin care. (By the by, La Roche-Posay has 700 clinical studies backing its efficacy.)
TikTok’s interest in dermatologists-as-influencers hasn’t hurt, either. “It’s definitely supported our brand advocacy, because we’re always ensuring that when we talk about health and beauty, it’s coming from a doctor’s voice or science or research,” says Tina. To wit, La Roche-Posay’s Cicaplast Balm B5 recently went viral. Although designed as a wound-healing salve, “it’s also a tool you can use for anything,” says Penelope, citing a wide range of benefits from moisturizing dry skin to treating diaper rash to — in the case of TikTok — accelerating the healing process of acne.
La Roche-Posay has been at the forefront of other hot topics that are just now taking off in pop culture, such as the skin microbiome. This year, they’re investing in a T.V. campaign around Toleriane, a product line that helps balance the microbiome with more than 50% thermal water and prebiotics.
They’re also amping up efforts around skin cancer. Through a partnership with the American Cancer Society that began last September, the brand is helping fund Hope Lodges, where patients can stay while getting treatment away from home, and providing product education to nurses, who “are often at the forefront of this,” Penelope says. Through their “oncology squad,” a group of people who have undergone treatment themselves, La Roche-Posay learns what patients need in terms of the skin side effects of radiation and chemo. For example, “when you get radiation that’s too intense, sometimes you cannot even touch your skin,” says Penelope. In this case, La Roche-Posay’s thermal water mist — which has been rigorously tested to ensure safety and efficacy — soothes without touch.
Another core mission of La Roche-Posay that’s been taken on by the L’Oréal Dermatological Beauty Division as a whole is sun safety. Last year, La Roche-Posay served as the U.S. Open’s first sunscreen sponsor, handing out 500,000 samples, and they’re relaunching free skin checks with dermatologists around the country. The brand is also part of a division-wide program, working with melanoma researchers, called Sun Heroes. “We started to show up together, under one umbrella, at B2B conferences and events,” says Tina. “We have one site that talks to all of our doctors.”
This helps with other LDB initiatives, including advancing the knowledge and science of skin tones by funding research with the Skin of Color Society, and partnering with Howard University to offer fellowships to students of color for the university’s dermatology program. There is a vast underrepresentation of doctors of color in dermatology, which, says Tina, “can lead to misdiagnosis.”
With Tina, Penelope, and other women in senior positions, the L’Oréal Dermatological Beauty Division matches its words to actions. “Promoting and supporting women in leadership roles sends a powerful message to other female employees that they have equal opportunities for advancement and recognition — that they can also aspire to reach the C-suite,” says Tina. “I believe that women coming up through the organization need female leadership to role model a different approach of leadership.”
Tina — who, pre-LDB and SkinCeuticals, was VP, Marketing for Maybelline and also worked at Garnier — remembers a time earlier in her career when she had only male leaders. She tried to learn and emulate their approach, but “it didn’t fit my natural abilities as a leader. Diverse leadership teams, including gender diversity, lead to better decision-making, increased innovation, and improved financial performance,” she says. “Women have distinct and natural leadership abilities that create an environment of collaboration and empathy.”
Collaboration and empathy. They’re core values at LDB. And though the division’s brands have scads of synergy, it doesn’t mean they’ll share everything. Key ingredient complexes will be kept proprietary — or, as Tina puts it, “sacred” — to individual brands. CE Ferulic, for example, is patented and can only be used by SkinCeuticals, while CeraVe maintains its ceramide complex, and Skinbetter science, the AlphaRet alpha-hydroxy-acid-retinol blend that made it famous. “It’s very important we keep those core technologies that bring efficacy and what the brand is known for within that brand,” Tina explains.
This gives each brand a unique selling proposition not just for consumers, but for the 70,000 healthcare professionals the division’s 300 reps call on. “At the end of the day, we were born from dermatologists and rooted with doctors,” says Tina of the division. “It’s such a part of the success model to have the trust of all these doctors — from dermatologists to pediatricians to oncologists to pharmacists to plastic surgeons. This has been the backbone of the investment and growth of the brands.”