Revlon CEO Debra Perelman on how the “timelessness” of their brands matches the “currentness” of the moment


From advertising in Revlon magazine as a young girl to becoming the company’s first female CEO in 2018, Debra Perelman embodies the “emotional connection” consumers have with beauty.

“A big focus of mine has always been, ‘How do you use these iconic brands and products to really leverage this emotional connection we can have with the consumer?'” Perelman said on the Glossy Beauty Podcast. For Perelman, that emotional connection is rooted in her own flagship products like Revlon’s Super Lustrous lipstick, which she used as a teenager, and her grandmother’s perfume.

By maintaining the aspect of heritage while adapting to changes in the beauty industry and the world at large, “we can create beauty innovations to inspire consumer confidence and joy,” Perelman said.

While Revlon has focused on personal beauty and confidence throughout the brand’s history, the advent of Covid has the ideas of “[making] ensure that people are safe “and”[giving] back to the churches around us, ”she said.

Perelman facilitated Revlon’s adaptation to the pandemic by not only redesigning some of the company’s production lines to make hand sanitizer and donating to underserved communities, but also overseeing the administration of employees who managed Covid in their personal lives.

The pandemic also accelerated the desire for digitization within Revlon. “I focused on making quick decisions to further accelerate our digital transformation,” said Perelman. To achieve this, Perelman focused “on moving from an isolated organization to a much more collaborative organization,” with small “pods” or teams focused on e-commerce, product development, and marketing.

Additionally, Perelman emphasized her mission to transform Revlon’s oldest and best-known beauty brands, Revlon and Elizabeth Arden. The focus: diversity, inclusion and sustainability – not just for consumers, but also for Revlon employees behind the scenes.

“The future looks so bright for Revlon,” said Perelman, who is hoping to “go.” [the company] That is a little more positive than at the beginning. “

Below you will find further highlights from the conversation, which have been easily edited for the sake of clarity.

Commitment to sustainability
“If you look at Revlon today – not just Revlon but the other brands as well – we’ve exceeded our sustainability goals … If you look at the product portfolio, you can see this. It is very exciting that we were the first to come to the fair [market] with a certified seal from the Environmental Working Group, on our Revlon primers and recently also on our Almay eyeliners. We paved the way for: How far can you go in terms of sustainability when it comes to color cosmetics? We continue this in our Revlon Professional products, where our hair color is organic and vegan and the packaging uses 60% less plastic and 25% less paper. I can move on with American Crew where we have 100% TCRPT plastics. We are committed to the mass market where all of our displays will be recyclable with at least 30% recycled content by 2023. So we’re continuing this path of sustainability for Revlon and all of our brands that I think really resonates with consumers today; he or she seeks that as part of the purpose of brands. ”

Blurred boundaries between digital and physical markets
“As markets opened up, we realized that consumers wanted a retail experience. So today is really about an omnichannel experience. Retail is coming back; Retail is not dead as so many said in 2020. It is far from everything. We’re really excited to see the consumer come back to the stores and make us rethink the in-store and online consumer experience. It really means a true omni experience. [When] A few years ago there was talk of omnichannel, today things were no longer the way they are. Today you connect the consumer and have different experiences where they can interact digitally at the counter, and we do [with] Elizabeth Arden. You have digital shade finders and digital fragrance finders, and then when [the customer] goes online at, see they can have one-on-one virtual meetings to do the same. It is really important for us to continue to think the channels holistically when addressing the consumer. It is also interesting – and if you look at the stationary canal – how much these canals have started to blur. The boundaries between prestige and mass and the boundaries between mass and mass are blurring. ”

The women who forged the way
“It was utterly humbling… to be the first female CEO of Revlon and one of the few CEOs of major beauty companies today. I do not take lightly of being part of the legacy of such an iconic company with iconic and strong brands and being bound by them forever. I always want to remember that as I lead this company because I really stand on the shoulders of so many who have come before me. I know people and women often say this … that the way is forged by those who come before us. And there were many at Revlon who helped pave the way, including Kathy Dwyer at Revlon, who introduced Colorstay-protected technology, and my first boss under Almay, Vanessa Solomon [along with] other companies that had these incredible CEOs. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the indie brand entrepreneurs who are mostly female and who brought these incredible brands to market – either as stand-alone or as buyers – that also paved that path. So today I stand on all shoulders. ”

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