n 1909, Eugène Paul Louis Schueller, a young French chemist of German descent,6 developed a hair dye formula called Auréale. Schueller formulated and manufactured his own products, which he then sold to Parisian hairdressers. On 31 July 1919, Schueller registered his company,7 the Société Française de Teintures Inoffensives pour Cheveux (Safe Hair Dye Company of France). The guiding principles of the company, which eventually became L’Oréal, were research and innovation in the field of beauty. In 1920, the company employed three chemists. By 1950, the team was 100 strong; that number reached 1,000 by 1984 and is nearly 20,000 today.
Schueller provided financial support and held meetings for La Cagoule at L’Oréal headquarters. La Cagoule was a violent French fascist-leaning and anti-communist group whose leader formed a political party Mouvement Social Révolutionnaire (MSR, Social Revolutionary Movement) which in Occupied France supported the Vichy collaboration with the Germans.8 L’Oréal hired several members of the group as executives after World War II, such as Jacques Corrèze, who served as CEO of the United States operation. This involvement was extensively researched by Michael Bar-Zohar in his book, Bitter Scent.
L’Oréal got its start in the hair-colour business, but the company soon branched out into other cleansing and beauty products. L’Oréal currently markets over 500 brands and thousands of individual products in all sectors of the beauty business: hair colour, permanents, hair styling, body and skin care, cleansers, makeup and fragrance. The company’s products are found in a wide variety of distribution channels, from hair salons and perfumeries to hyper – and supermarkets, health/beauty outlets, pharmacies and direct mail.
L’Oréal has six worldwide research and development centres: two in France: Aulnay and Chevilly; one in the U.S.: Clark, New Jersey; one in Japan: Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture; in 2005 one was established in Shanghai, China, and one in India. A future facility in the US will be in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.
From 1988 to 1989, L’Oréal controlled the film company Paravision, whose properties included the Filmation and De Laurentiis libraries. StudioCanal acquired the Paravision properties in 1994.
L’Oréal purchased Synthélabo in 1973 to pursue its ambitions in the pharmaceutical field. Synthélabo merged with Sanofi in 1999 to become Sanofi-Synthélabo. Sanofi-Synthélabo merged with Aventis in 2004 to become Sanofi-Aventis.
On 17 March 2006, L’Oréal purchased cosmetics company The Body Shop for £562 million.
L’Oréal’s advertising slogan is “Because I’m worth it”. In the mid 2000s, this was replaced by “Because you’re worth it”. In late 2009, the slogan was changed again to “Because we’re worth it” following motivation analysis and work into consumer psychology of Dr. Maxim Titorenko. The shift to “we” was made to create stronger consumer involvement in L’Oréal philosophy and lifestyle and provide more consumer satisfaction with L’Oréal products. L’Oréal also owns a Hair and Body products line for kids called L’Oréal Kids, the slogan for which is “Because we’re worth it too”.