L’Oréal at 100
Global beauty giant celebrates 100 years
of scientific success and business acumen.
ROM MASS-MARKET moisturizers to single-process color at the salon to upscale eau de toilettes, the L’Oréal stable has scope and depth that’s hard to match. It is quite possible that
at least one product from the global beauty giant’s expansive array of brands is being used
at least once a day by nearly every woman in the in the U.S.—if not the world.
All those applications and spritzes add up: the company’s consolidated net sales have
risen from $16.9 billion (€ 13. 6 billion) in 2004 to $25.8 billion (€ 17. 5 billion) last year—an
impressive gain for a 100-year-old firm that sprouted from a two-bedroom Paris apartment
in the early part of the 20th century.
Today, L’Oréal boasts some of the most recognized and successful companies in beauty
and personal care—Lancôme, Maybelline, Garnier, The Body Shop and SoftSheen-
Carson—as well as players that enjoy coveted spots and steadfast reputations in their select categories—Redken, Kiehl’s, Shu Uemura and Yves Saint Laurent Beauté.
How It All Began
The company that would become L’Oréal can be traced back to 1907, when Eugène Schueller, a young
French chemist, created the first synthetic hair dye and began selling them under the name
“L’Aureale,” inspired by the L’Aureole, a fashionable hair style of the time. A few months later, he
renamed his dye L’Oréal. In 1908 he registered his company—The Societe Francaise de Teintures
Inoffensives pour Cheveux—which was headquartered in his two bedroom apartment in rue d’Alger;
the dining room was used as the demonstration area and the bedroom the laboratory. And like most
entrepreneurs, Mr. Schueller did it all—manufacturing products at
night, making sales calls to hairdressers in the morning and delivering product in the afternoon.
His hard work paid off a year later in 1909 as he gained the backing of an accountant from Epernay. The loan enabled him to move
the company—which he renamed L’Oréal—to a four-bedroom
apartment on the rue du Louvre and hire his first employee.
It wasn’t long before his company became an international entity. By 1910, L’Oréal products were sold in Austria and Italy, and by
1914, Hungary, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and
L’Oréal’s science then...