‘We have a responsibility’: L’Oréal ramps up COVID-19 response in UK and Ireland

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The beauty major has temporarily ceased production of its best-selling Garnier Micellar Water to make hand sanitisers (Getty Images)
The beauty major has temporarily ceased production of its best-selling Garnier Micellar Water to make hand sanitisers (Getty Images)

Related tags COVID-19 coronavirus L'oréal hand sanitisers Personal care Garnier

L’Oréal will donate personal care products and hand sanitisers to frontline hospital and retail staff in the UK and Ireland, building on its European solidarity plan amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

The international beauty major has partnered with UK charities In Kind Direct and Blue Light Card to donate 400,000 hygiene and care products, including body washes, hand creams, shampoos, conditioner and skin care products under a range of its flagship brands like L’Oréal Paris, Kiehl’s, Lancôme and Garnier.

L’Oréal will also donate 100,000 La Roche Posay-manufactured hand sanitisers to the NHS and the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) government agency, along with 300,000 Garnier hand sanitisers to retail staff in stores like Boots, Tesco and Asda.

The commitment builds on L’Oréal’s initial European ‘solidarity plan’ announced last month​ that pledged €1m to associations and promised a ramp-up in mass production of hydroalcoholic gels to plug shortages.

Garnier Micellar Water production halted to respond

Vismay Sharma, managing director of L’Oréal UK and Ireland, said the company felt a “strong sense of responsibility”​ to offer its support during this crisis.

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, Sharma said: “We have altered manufacturing at our plants to be able to produce these products. For instance, Garnier has halted production of its number-one bestselling product Micellar Water and created a brand new hydroalcoholic hand gel.”

She said the UK Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) had been working hard to engage government departments to allow biocidal hand sanitisers “a quicker route to market in these exceptional times”.

A collaborative beauty response to COVID-19?

Sharma said the entire beauty category had to get involved. “We have a responsibility to come together to help support the fight against this pandemic”.

“…The cosmetics industry has shown yet again that it is a force for good in stepping up the production of hygiene products, in particular hand sanitisers. While this is a time of global uncertainty, we are proud to play our part as the world comes together to combat this epidemic,” ​she said.

L'Oréal was also freezing payments for its "most vulnerable"​ very small and small-sized customers across its UK and Ireland distribution network, until businesses reopened. 

Numerous beauty majors and Indies had responded to the ongoing coronavirus crisis in recent weeks, with many ramping up production of hand sanitisers and pledging financial support to charities and associations supporting the vulnerable and key workers.  And recently, European trade association Cosmetics Europe set up an online COVID-19 response portal ‘Working Together’​ to raise the profile of the collaborative struggle against the ongoing pandemic.

John Chave, director-general of Cosmetics Europe, said at such an unprecedented time, collaboration was “extremely important”.​ Ethically, Chave said now was a time for beauty brands to pull together, forget competition, and collaboratively plug product shortages and support coronavirus response efforts.

“These are not normal times. It calls for a different mentality and way of working, and part of that is cooperation,”​ he said.

Dr. Emma Meredith, director-general of CTPA, agreed and said there was also scope to collaborate beyond beauty – with distillers, for example. And the CTPA’s online exchange portal had been launched​ to facilitate such partnerships, Meredith said.

“Only time will tell, but certainly the cosmetics industry is an innovative one and I’m sure that novel and successful projects forged in this difficult time will continue and be built upon in the future,”​ she said.


Global COVID-19 beauty response 

Globally, the beauty industry had responded in similar ways, though China remained ahead of the response curve. 

Take a listen to our Editor’s Cut podcast​ where the CosmeticDesign editors discuss the type of responses we’ve seen so far and talk about what market impact we might expect to see last as we navigate this ongoing crisis. You can also download it on Apple Podcasts​.

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