Eugene Schueller: Founder of L’Oréal

Everyone has heard the leading cosmetics name of L’Oreal. Commercial after commercial advertises this brand of make-up and hair color formulas. Over 103 years old, this company grew from just three chemists to over a 2,000 strong work-force. How did this happen? Developing an innovative hair-color formula and naming it Oréale, Eugene Schueller began the history of L’Oréal which would transcend as the most widely known cosmetics name in history.

Born on March 20, 1881 in Paris, France, Eugene Schueller attended the Institut de Chimie Appliquée de Paris where he graduated in 1904 as a young, French chemist. In 1907, Mr. Schueller would utilize his chemist skills to invent the first chemical hair dye in his kitchen sink, called Oréale. Such a monumental discovery, as women could only dye their hair black or red with natural hair dye, he became a successful manufacturer and seller of his own product to Parisian hairdressers.

In 1909, Eugene registered his company, the “Société Française de Teintures Inoffensives pour Cheveux,” known today as L’Oréal. The guiding principles that would define this company were put in place from the start: research and innovation in the interest of beauty.

Euegen Schueller met Louise Madeleine Berthe in which he had a daughter named, Lilian Bettencourt, in 1927. However, Louise died just five years after her daughter’s birth. He later married Liliane’s British governess, though, and established his daughter as an apprentice to him as she would start at the age of 15 by mixing cosmetics and labeling bottles of shampoo.

Eugene Schueller’s daughter and principal shareholder of L’Oreal with a networth of $24.4 billion

In the 1930s and 1940s, stars such as Jean Harlow and Mae West increased the popularity of L’Oréal’s hair bleach, L’Oréal Blanc. In 1945, L’Oréal launched the first cold permanent wave product. Oréol. So innovative with his marketing tactics, Schueller was awarded an advertising Oscar in 1953. Schueller launched his own women’s magazine, Votre Beaute, and promoted his Dop, the first mass market shampoo, in hair lathering competitions at French circuses.

An old advertisement from Eugene Schueller

Unfortunately, Schueller died in 1957 at the age of 76. Francis Dalle succeeded him as chairman and CEO. The company continued to prosper, with acquisitions including Lancome in 1964, Helena Rubinstein in 1989, Garnier in 1978, Maybelline in 1996, Soft Sheen in 1998, and Carson in 2000. U.S. customers alone make up 30% of L’Oréal’s revenue.

Holding the industry’s highest research and development budget with the largest cosmetology laboratories in the world, Eugene Schueller not only created the first major hair cosmetics company in the world, generating millions turned into billions over the years, but his name is established as forever known in fashion history.

Written By: Francisco Del Toro

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