L'Oreal Centenary

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L’Oreal Centenary

Happy Birthday, L’Oreal!

One hundred years after its inception,  the French cosmetics giant has a global footprint, a basket overflowing with great brands and most importantly, generations of faithful, happy customers who buy L’Oreal products for every imaginable beauty need. And to think it all began in a tiny, Parisian apartment...

The man behind L’Oreal was Eugène Schueller, a youthful French chemist.  In 1907, he developed Auréole, the world’s first synthetic hair colour. His was a one-man show – preparing his dye at night, pitching his product on the phone all morning and making deliveries to local hairdressers in the evening!
Schueller’s experiment in marrying beauty and science took off in the years after 1909, when he registered his business as the Société Française de Teintures Inoffensives pour Cheveux ("The Safe Hair Dye Company of France"). Later, he renamed it L’Oreal.  Before World War I, L’Oreal was selling across Europe and Russia; in 1920, America was added to the roster of nations. Soon, L'Oreal expanded into other beauty aids – cleansers, skin and body care, styling products and fragrances.

R & D has always been the company’s strong foundation.  But Schueller understood that even the best-formulated cosmetics wouldn’t sell unless they came with the promise of a special appeal.  Down the years, L’Oreal’s researchers worked to deliver just this.

  • In 1925 came the world’s first hair colour with golden highlights, L’Oreal D’Or, investing an ordinary woman with a star’s glamour.
  • In 1935, beach holidays were the rage in France – and so was tanned skin.  L’Oreal launched Ambre Solaire, the world’s first tanning oil.  Later, responding to health concerns about overexposure, there came Biotherm’s anti-wrinkle sun cream, followed by the company’s patented UV filter, Mexoryl SX.
  • In the 1950’s came Elnett, the hugely popular hairspray that was light and added sheen to hair.
  • L’Oreal ‘s acquired brand Maybelline launched one of its most popular products in 1971, Great Lash Mascara, still one of the world’s highest-selling cosmetics.  Another winner: Voluminous Volume Building Mascara.
  • Continued research in their original product, hair colour, led to the 2009 launch of  Excellence To-Go which works in 10 minutes and for good measure, protects delicate hair as well.
  • In 2000 and 2006 respectively, L’Oreal acquired Kiehl’s and The Body Shop, thereby entering the increasingly important sphere of natural beauty care products which emphasize environmental-friendly practices and non-animal testing methods.

Along with its wide reach through hair salons, supermarkets and direct mail, L’Oreal’s superb communications strategy has meant that there’s hardly a woman who buys cosmetics who hasn’t heard of or used a L’Oreal product, from Garnier, Softsheen and Vichy to Lancome, Helena Rubenstein and Cacharel.  A hundred years later, L’Oreal’s iconic tag line – “Because you’re worth it!” – continues to draw those in search of beauty’s Holy Grail.

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