The worldâ€™s largest cosmetics company, Lâ€™Oreal was started by Eugene Schueller, who worked parttime at his parentsâ€™ patisserie throughout his youth and while studying chemistry at the Sorbonne. He worked as an assistant pharmacist but was interested in hair dyes, and particularly the idea of making a long-lasting dye. In 1907 he applied for a patent for his dye and in 1908 started his own company. It was the right time for hair dye to take off: Hairstyles were changing drastically, with women wearing their hair shorter. Schueller also realized early on that he could sell his product by capitalizing on womenâ€™s fear of aging, with an early Lâ€™Oreal ad proclaiming, â€œI no longer age I dye with Lâ€™Orealâ€28 this also had the effect of lending an air of respectability to hair dyeing, as it had previously been considered the domain of â€œlooseâ€ women (sound familiar?).
In 1957, Schuellerâ€™s successors moved Lâ€™Oreal into the luxury and skincare sectors, acquiring the skin-care company Vichy and, ten years later, Lancome. Realizing it needed to expand its areas of expertise, Lâ€™Oreal created new laboratories for formulating skin-care products, makeup, and perfume. Today the company owns a huge roster of some of the best-known names in makeup, including the Body Shop, Helena Rubinstein, Lancome, Maybelline, Urban Decay, Shu Uemura, and YSL Beaute.