The Cream That Started It All
Helena showed a remarkably shrewd skill for marketing. She called her cream Creme Valaze (note the decidedly aristocratic ring to the name more of Helena’s branding nous), and it supposedly contained herbs from the Carpathian Mountains in Eastern Europe. She claimed that the pricey cream had been formulated in Europe by one Dr. Lykusky and had been shipped to Australia. No record of a Dr. Lykusky has ever been found, and though his name featured heavily when she first began advertising the cream, it soon disappeared as Helena herself assumed the role of venerable cosmetic scientist. But according to Rubinstein biographer Michele Fitoussi, shortly before her death, Helena handed her secretary an old piece of
yellowing paper that she had rediscovered in her files the formula for her original cream.
Her secretary expected to see a list of all the exotic ingredients she had alluded to over the past seventy years. Instead, in Helena’s careful handwriting it simply said: mineral oil, vegetable oil, wax. The wax was lanolin, a substance secreted from sheep, which was in abundance in Australia. Lanolin didn’t smell too good, so Helena had perfumed the cream with the more appealing aromas of pine bark, water lilies, and lavender.
Though it cost ten pennies to make, when her financial backer suggested she sell her cream for one shilling a pot, Helena allegedly balked, replying, Are you crazy? Women won’t buy anything that cheap! When it comes to improving their appearance, they need to have the impression they’re treating themselves to something exceptional . . . Let’s sell it for seven shillings and seven pence!
Rubinstein was one of the first beauty pioneers to discuss different types of skin such as oily, dry, and combination allowing consumers to customize their beauty routine as seen in this 1935 pamphlet.
Her products and salons in London and later Paris thrived, but with the onset of World War I, she moved to New York with her family, and in 1915 she opened the first of many salons in the United States. On remembering first seeing the women of New York, Helena is reported to have said, I recognized that the US could be my life’s work.13 Thankfully unaware that she thought them in such drastic need of her help, the well-heeled ladies of New York loved her range of products and impeccably marketed treatments. In 1928 just before the stock market crash she sold her US business for the then eye-watering sum of $7.3 million (more than $90 million today), but after mishandling and the Depression, the company was worth a fraction of the original price. So in typical fashion, she bought it back at a hugely reduced rate, and proceeded to grow it to an even bigger and more successful company.
Rubinstein never actually retired, working right up until her death in 1965, by which point the cosmetics empire she had built spanned the world. Her company was left to her son Roy, who eventually sold it to Colgate-Palmolive, and is now owned by L’Oreal. As a brand, Helena Rubinstein may be less prominent than it used to be, but Helena’s achievements shouldn’t be forgotten. Her own typically no-nonsense take was that if I hadn’t done it, someone else would have, but the New York Times has described her as probably the greatest female entrepreneur of all time.
10 Best Makeup Ideas For Hazel Eyes Photo Gallery
Maybe You Like Them Too
- Tampons Are Handy For Active Women Who Refuse To Compromise Their Workouts During Their Period
- No Bake Snack Bars With Cheerios
- It’S Hard To Resist A Frozen Treat On A Scorching Day, So We’ve Reviewed The Latest Crop Of ‘Healthier’ Ice Creams And Lollies To Find Out How Virtuous They Rea
- Secrets of The Skincare Gurus
- LIGHTS CAMERA ACTION