Estée Lauder Companies has confirmed its minority investment in ‘clean’ beauty start-up Code Mint.
The move marks the beauty giant’s first investment in a Chinese brand.
Code Mint is said to have attracted the attention of ELC’s New Incubation Ventures (NIV) business, according to China-based financial publication Yicai, citing sources at the US multinational’s China branch.
NIV was set up by the beauty giant in 2021 to identify and grow new-generation prestige beauty brands from across the globe.
Code Mint launched at the start of 2021 and is owned by Hangzhou Jianfa Meixue, a company founded by internet celebrity Grace Chow (Yangqing Zhou).
The brand’s hero products include a cleansing balm with grape extracts, an amino acid cleanser and its caffeine-laced Iced Americano Sheet Mask.
It previously received angel investment from prominent South Korean beauty OEM Cosmax, which also manufactures Code Mint products.
But rumours of Lauder investment in Code Mint have been circulating for several months.
A February 2023 report by Chinese beauty industry publication Chaileedo, said that Chow had ‘a while ago’ shared details of Estée Lauder’s investment via social media, as well as videos of her trip to the company’s headquarters in New York.
Meanwhile, WWD, citing market sources, said the deal was closed around two years ago.
Chow has more than 11 million followers on Weibo and 2.2 million followers on Instagram.
She rose to prominence as a cast member of Chinese fashion reality TV show Fourtry.
Cosmetics Business has reached out to Estée Lauder Companies for comment.