1909-1956 : The first steps, constructing a model

L’Oréal d’Or

© L'Oréal Archives/Jean-Claude, All rights reserved

L’Oréal d’Or

© L'Oréal Archives/Jean-Claude, All rights reserved

In 1909, Eugène Schueller, a young chemist with an entrepreneurial spirit, founded the company that was to become the L’Oréal group. It all began with one of the first hair dyes that he formulated, manufactured and sold to Parisian hairdressers. With this, the founder of the group forged the first link in what is still the DNA of L’Oréal: research and innovation in the service of beauty.

YEAR

1909

  • Partnership with

    © L'Oréal Archives

    The first issue of La Coiffure de Paris is published in October 1909, featuring contributions from doctors, writers and chemists. Eugène Schueller is part of the Editorial Team and heads the science column, breaking new ground with an article on hair coloring in which he is the first to recommend patch tests. Schueller buys the magazine in 1912.
  • The birth of L’Oréal

    © L'Oréal Archives

    Eugène Schueller graduates from France’s national chemical engineering school Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris in 1904 and goes on to create the company that will later become L’Oréal, Société Française des Teintures Inoffensives pour Cheveux, on 30th July 1909.
    As a young chemist in 1907, Schueller demonstrates his capacity for new ideas by creating his first hair dye formulae under the name Oréal, using a blend of harmless chemical compounds. The dyes are an outstanding breakthrough at the time, providing a subtle range of colors in contrast to other methods on the market, which use henna or mineral salts but produce a bright, somewhat artificial look. Schueller files for a patent (n°383920) on 24th March 1908.

1910

  • First demonstration room for hairdressers

    © L'Oréal Archives

    Through his determination and ambition, Eugène Schueller succeeds in convincing Paris hair stylists to use his dyes. Schueller is brimming with ideas for the new company and brings in representatives to sell his products throughout France. He also sets up a hair-coloring school on Rue du Louvre in Paris, which he personally oversees, using a former hair stylist from the Russian Court to demonstrate his ideas. Quickly grasping that his success is closely linked to that of hair stylists, he sets out to forge a special bond with the profession, which grows stronger over time.

1920

  • L’Oréal, a global business

    © L'Oréal Archives

    With the war finally over, a new age begins. Around the world, women are working, earning money, growing more concerned about their appearance and seeking ways to prevent grey hairs from revealing their age. Oréal hair dyes are a great success, even beyond the borders of France, breaking new ground in Italy in 1910, Austria in 1911 and the Netherlands in 1913, even reaching as far afield as the United States, Canada, the UK and Brazil.

1925

  • L’Oréal d’or

    © L'Oréal Archives

    A talented Jack-of-all-trades, Eugène Schueller continues to turn his hand to a host of endeavors, making celluloid, varnish and plastics (even setting up a company in Russia!). His successes in industry only serve to strengthen his belief that research and innovation form the cornerstone of growth and success. Schueller continues to innovate in the beauty industry, unveiling L’Oréal d’Or, a groundbreaking hair-lightening product creating golden tints and lending an even more natural look to blond hair.

1928

  • O’CAP, the start of hair care

    © L'Oréal Archives

    (O’Cap hair lotion: lather and wash without water). With people still washing their hair relatively infrequently, this foam hair wash, drawing its name from the French term for hair lotion, Eau Capillaire, puts shampoo on the market, reflecting the premises of an educational approach held dear by Eugène Schueller: a campaign to gradually make the French more aware of personal hygiene issues.
  • Buyout of Monsavon

    © L'Oréal Archives

    Eugène Schueller takes over the company Savons Français, which was founded in 1920. The company’s production site, located at Rue Martre in Clichy, would later become L’Oréal’s headquarters. Eugène Schueller begins to put plans to modernize the business into action, focusing on improving quality and restyling the advertising campaign of the famous Monsavon brand.

1929

  • Platinum blonds' secret: L’Oréal Blanc.

    © L'Oréal Archives

    Eugène Schueller is quick to realize the value of one of his first bleaching solutions, claiming: “This little bottle holds a huge industry! One day, millions of brunettes will want to be blonde.” The world of cinema was to prove him right. Hollywood stars, led by Jean Harlow—who headlined in the film “Platinum Blonde”—launched the new trend, with blond seen as the most seductive color of the time. L’Oréal Blanc bleaching powder was a huge success among top hair stylists, even giving rise to the “Platinum Blonde” club, formed by enthusiastic consumers!
  • Immediate results… with Imédia

    © L'Oréal Archives

    In a bid to offer ever more subtle, lasting hair colors, Eugène Schueller seeks to develop an organic coloring solution able to penetrate the hair fiber, drawing on a patent registered a few years previously for a group of fast-penetrating dyes known as paradiamines. Imédia enjoys sudden, dazzling success, enhanced by an innovative new packaging solution unveiled in 1931: while competitors market their products in large containers with a high risk of oxidization, Schueller breaks the mold by packaging Imédia products in individual doses to enhance safety and comfort for both hair stylists and end customers.

1931

  • The pioneer in advertising

    © L'Oréal Archives

    Not content to simply create new products, Eugène Schueller turns his talents to developing promotional events and inventing new advertising strategies. In 1931, he has the idea of draping a sheet over the face of a Parisian building to create a giant billboard for O’Cap hair lotion. In 1932, with radio advertising still in its early stages and commercials read from start to finish from the continuity studio, Schueller is the first to air a commercial that is sung rather than spoken. Thus the “jingle” was born.
    Schueller believed there were two types of advertising: publicité d’attaque, designed to raise interest, and publicité de rendement, designed to maximize sales.

1933

  • Dopal, the first soap-free shampoo

    © L'Oréal Archives

    Shampoo—taken from the Hindi word “champo”, meaning massage or to knead—has yet to become an everyday product. Not surprising given that shampoos made by hair stylists, using black soap boiled in water mixed with soda crystals, hold little appeal among consumers. L’Oréal finally gives those in the industry a real shampoo without soap (fatty alcohol sulphates) that is considerably gentler on the hair and sold in 1L bottles. Known as “Dopal”, the product range is still sold today as “Dop”.
  • A new foray in the press:

    © L'Oréal Archives

    To encourage women to focus more on care products at a time when the beauty and personal hygiene industry is helping women enjoy greater freedom, Eugène Schueller publishes Votre Beauté, the first monthly women’s health & beauty magazine. The chemist-cum-manufacturer adds a further string to his bow through his work as a publisher, journalist and layout artist, all the while seeking how best to meet women’s real expectations, lifestyles and needs. The result is a fresh approach to thinking about appearance.