The world’s largest cosmetics company, L’Oreal was started by Eugene Schueller, who worked parttime at his parents’ 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 women’s fear of aging, with an early L’Oreal ad proclaiming, âœI no longer age I dye with L’Orealâ28 this also had the effect of lending an air of respectability to hair dyeing, as it had previously been considered the domain of âœlooseâ women (sound familiar?).
In 1957, Schueller’s successors moved L’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, L’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.