History of L'Oreal

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Ekaterina Estevez

The History of L’Oreal.
L’Oreal is a cosmetic giant that never stops to surprise competitors. It always contrived to satisfy a demanding taste of consumers. The company is well known for the research and development. According to Marc Vernon, “it has a twenty percent stake in the pharmaceutical company Sanofi /Synathélabo.” Liliane Bettencourt and her family own 51 percent of L’Oreal’s main holding company, Gesparal, with Nestlé owning the rest (Vernon). It is one of the largest companies in France and the largest global player in its sector. L’Oreal operates all over the world and owns various brands including Lancôme, Garnier, and Matrix. Eugene Schueller, a founder of L’Oreal, came from a poor background and had to work since his childhood helping the family. His grandfather was a shoemaker, his father a pastry cook, his mother a baker’s assistant. He was bright and his parents determined to give him a good education, whatever it might cost. M. Schueller made a deal with the head of the College Sainte-Croix de Neuilly, if he made part payment in cakes, he could just afford a place for his clever son (Brandon, 43). Good education and natural commercial aptitudes opened him many doors in the future. After two years as an instructor, he glimpsed a way of escape. According to Ruth Brandon, he found academic life “dusty”. It was very disappointing for him (Brandon, 46). A hairdresser came to the Pharmacie Central, where Eugene worked, and offered to pay fifty francs a month to someone who would help him find a safe and reliable artificial hair dye. Schueller eagerly volunteered. As Ruth Brandon explained in Ugly Beauty, - “He discovered that hair dyes were based upon four groups of substances: anilines, silver nitrate, pyrogallic acid and lead acetate. The first group was the most dangerous. Aniline derivatives are very soluble, going through many intermediate stages before forming the lacquers which give the hair its new color, and some of these derivatives are extremely caustic and may eventually enter the bloodstream, affecting the white cells and giving rise to chemical eczema. Anilines were, nevertheless, the most popular base for hair dyes, because they were easy to prepare. Their dangers were known, but as only 3 to 5 percent of users were adversely affected, they were less dangerous compounds, though still not altogether safe, but they turned the hair raven-black (Brandon 48).” Great hair dye first needed to face challenges before being invented and introduced to the public. Eugene decided to overcome these challenges and took enthusiastically the opportunity to become innovator in this field. However, nothing important comes easy and the greatest things rarely are results of a single attempt. His first product worked well on a dead hair in the lab, but proved useless in the salon, on live hair still attaches to a sensitive human scalp. He had therefore to begin all over again. But by 1907 he had his formula. All that remained was to sell it (Brandon 50). The hair dye he created was the first Shueller’ product for sale. It greatly assisted his development as a businessman. However, the World War II interrupted the hair-dye business, along with everything else, Schueller was overage, and at first the army refused to take him. Later it agreed to take him as a chemist, but he turned that down and was eventually inducted into the 31st Artillery at Le Mans, leaving L’Oreal in the hands of his wife, Berthe (Brandon, 55). He enjoyed the army’s adventurous life, and its lessons in organizations were useful to him later in business. He returned to find that Berthe had done an excellent job of managing the business. His absence did not hurt the company at all. On the contrary, L’Oreal was flourishing, and their apartment became far too small for the growing business. They moved once again, just around the corner, to rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, taking an entire floor at an...
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