PC Goes to Warsaw! A View of the Polish Cosmetics Industry

From the moment I stepped back into NYC last week the #1 question I’ve been asked is What we’re you doing in Poland?? Well besides instagraming and tweeting up a storm… (Thanks for noticing); HBA Global invited a handful of bloggers and buyers – I’m talking Felicia from This That Beauty, Danielle from The Style and Beauty Doctor, Heather from Beauty Unbiased, Alice of Miss Alice An, Rachel from Birchbox and me! — to attend the inaugural Polska Cosmetics conference and Beauty Forum Expo to learn more about the beauty industry in Poland.

{Team Poland: Danielle, Rachel, me and Felicia at dinner!}

I’ll be honest, prior to landing in Warsaw my knowledge of their industry was limited to – isn’t that where Inglot is from? Yes, it is! However after spending almost a week in that beautiful city, I learned so much!

For starters… how are these for some fun facts?

  • Helena Rubenstein was the first manufacturer to offer a sun-protecting cream and who popularized mascara and color face powders, was born and set up her first cosmetics company in Cracow, Poland.
  • Max Factor, also born in Poland… His real name, Maksymilian Fakorowicz.
  • The very 1st alcohol based perfume in history, “The Queen of Hungary’s Water” was created in the 14th Century thanks to it’s Polish namesake, Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary.
  • During the economic transformation post 1989, foreign companies such as Avon, Proctor & Gamble, and Colgate Palmolive invested in new factories in Poland.
  • Poland and Lithuania are the only countries in Europe where cosmetology is taught at a university level.
  • Poland is the 6th largest cosmetics producer in Europe.

Considering Poland is located in the center of Europe and is a member of the European Union coupled with their world-class research and development facilities, low employment costs, and high experience and flexibility within the industry opens them up to a world of possibilities (literally). And that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

In a 3 year effort to expose and grow the cosmetic and beauty industry, the European Union and Polish Ministry of Economy have co-financed The Promotion Programme; which will support the Polish national pavilion to appear at the most important world cosmetics fairs as well as go on numerous foreign trade missions, and host foreign contractors and journalists, like myself to help gain exposure and grow their industry. Advertising initiatives will also be an instrumental part of the program.

{Our very own Felicia from This That Beauty and Rachel of Birchbox on The Polish Cosmetics Industry from the Global Perspective discussion panel}

As I toured the expo and listed to the presentations at the conference I noticed Poland was very prevalent in the anti-aging as well as natural skincare sector. I also made a very American assumption that they dominated in mass products, until I learned that their number one priority is quality not packaging! In the US often times (if not always) we pay more for packaging then the actual formulations and it’s something we weigh a lot of importance on in the Prestige market. However, much like the US, there’s a lot of opportunity in men’s skincare as there’s an increase trend of men investing in a regimen. It’s nice to know men globally are taking aging more seriously! 

At the Beauty Forum and Spa Expo, tons of brands caught my eye! For color, Paese and Joko are two color lines that are now on my radar. Paese had an impressive shade range for their product line. Their matte eye shadows really stood out, especially in Cashmere (pictured below), which is their top seller. 

Joko Cosmetics, which has been around for the past 20 years also has an impressive product line. The brand is owned by beauty mogul, MiraculumSA, which has 14 cosmetics brands in their portfolio and has been around is over 100 years! MiraculumSA was generous enough to give us a bag full of packet samples so I look forward to reporting back on some favorites.

Skincare brands dominated the expo, many of which carried consumer and professional spa lines. Heather from Beauty Unbiased and I walked the isles sampling different brands. We were both impressed with Organique, a paraben free skincare line that takes a holistic approach to skincare and whose products are  based on natural, vegetable components. We sampled their shea butter cream, which was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! It could literally turn any rough skin into butter. The formula was thick upon application and then absorbed right into our hands.

Verona, which is the one of the leading producers of cosmetics, body care, hair color, hair products and perfumes is distributed to more then 60 countries including Europe, Asia and Africa. The only products I had a chance to try was from their Olive Oil line, which if they make sell in the US, they officially have a new customer.

Clarena, which unfortunately didn’t have samples, pointed us to their Caviar & DNA Serum and Caviar Cream, which are the brands top sellers. La Prairie was the first skincare line to introduce me to the power of caviar in skincare and its amazing anti-aging properties. To date their caviar line is the only one I’ve tried, but at an upward cost of $200 per product in the collection, I’m always in the market a competitor!

{Just a couple of Americans, vibrating off the calories from lunch}

Even though it’s not technically a polish brand, Heather and I couldn’t resist trying the Dream Healther, a vibrating weight loss machine by the Yasumi. All it takes is 15-20 minutes a day!

We were also introduced to Radical, which is known for their anti-hair loss treatment. Packing enough hair for a small army, this isn’t an area of the industry I’m well versed in. However, walking those isles and seeing all the different types of products and machine, it’s clear how advanced the Polish market is in their development facilities and market potential.

We also had the best tour guide in all of Poland (I’m biased), Anna Garbaczewska, CEO of the first boutique brand to create a f the first luxurious 4skincare and fragrance brand Synesis. Anna gave us a scented candle “From Chopin…”, which is on my nightstand and makes me feel like a little bit of Poland is with me. I didn’t know this, but Chopin was actually Polish and when he died in France, his sister wanted his body returned but the Russians wouldn’t allow it, so she had his heart put in a jar and smuggled back in! It’s now buried in a building in Warsaw. Crazy, right?

Next up… trying all of these amazing products and reporting back! I want to thank Polska Cosmetics for their amazing warmth and incredible hospitality as well as my fellow bloggers who made this one of the most fun and memorable trips. We were fortunate enough to get plenty of time to walk the city streets and shop, see the sights, and even take in a few museums. I’ll be sure to have a few more posts up soon from the streets of Warsaw.

The Promotion Programme, which launched this year, will be carried out through 2015 in Poland, Italy, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, UAE, China, Brazil and USA. Having been apart of it in it’s 1st year, I’m excited to track their progress and hopefully see more of the brands I met with in the states.

To learn more about the Polish cosmetics industry and The Promotion Programme visit www.polishcosmetics.pl