PARIS (Reuters) - L'Oreal's chief executive gave a cautious outlook about China, the world's No. 2 beauty market, on Thursday even after the cosmetics maker reported first-quarter sales growth of more than 6% for the country.

The first-quarter performance in China was well above sector growth of 1%, Nicolas Hieronimus told analysts in a call after the French cosmetics giant that owns the Maybelline and Lancome brands released better-than-expected first-quarter sales.

Even so, he is not banking on any major improvement in consumer confidence.

"We plan with, I would say, a China that is not doing fantastic, and we make the most of the opportunities in Europe, in emerging (markets) and gaining share in North America," he said.

"And if China accelerates, it will be a positive news on our own expectations."

Demand for mass market products in China has accelerated during the quarter to a greater extent than in the United States, he said.

The make-up market has slowed the most in North America, although fragrance is doing "great", he said in the call.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton and Mimosa Spencer; Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Susan Fenton and Barbara Lewis)

By Dominique Patton and Mimosa Spencer