Podcast: Episode 11, L'Oréal

Audio episode, the L'Oréal group


The L'Oreal group:

  • world's leading cosmetics group
  • created in 1909 by the French Eugène Schueller
  • 4 product segments:
    • les marques luxe : Lancôme, Kiehl's, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Biotherm, Helena Rubinstein, Shu Uemura, IT cosmetics, Urban Decay, Ralph Lauren, Mugler, Viktor & Rolf, Valentino, Azzaro, Diesel, Atelier Cologne, Prada, Cacharel, Yuesai
    • les marques grande distribution : L'Oréal, Garnier, Maybelline, NYX, 3CE, Essie, Dark and Lovely, Mixa, Mg, Niely
    • check them "active" : La Roche Posay, Vichy, CeraVe, SkinCeuticals, Decléor
    • professional brands: L'Oréal Professionnel, Kérastase, Redken, Matrix, Pureology
  • beautiful cultural diversity with brands from Europe, America, China, Japan, Korea, Brazil, India and Africa

Episode Notes


Hello, you are listening to episode 11 of Les Sous de la Cosmétique, the Podcast which reveals and explains to you with clarity and sincerity the world of cosmetics. I am Julie Magand Castel, chemical biologist and cosmetologist specializing in natural cosmetics and today we are going to talk about the L'Oréal group, its history and the brands that make it up.

L'Oréal is today the largest cosmetics group in the world. This French group was created in 1909 by Eugène Schueller. At that time Eugène had graduated from the Institute of Applied Chemistry in Paris 5 years earlier and had already applied for a patent for a hair dye 2 years earlier. He marketed this dye under the name of Auréal, therefore without the L' that we know from the brand today and with a slightly different spelling. He had named the company after the name of a fashionable hairstyle at that time, which was called aureole, it consisted in bringing volume in front to make a kind of crown effect.

The initial goal of L'Oréal was then to market curtains that were harmless to the hair. Eugène's business had started in 1907 when he invented his dye, but it was only a few years later that the business took off with the strong financial support of one of his accountant friends who then allowed him to employ a representative and a demonstrator. Then he made several appearances in various magazines and even launched his own professional magazine and publications for clients to keep them waiting at the hairdressing salon.

The company therefore has a good communication strategy in addition to innovative products. In 1922, his daughter Liliane was born and At the end of the 1920s, the company diversified with the purchase of Monsavon, a brand of hygiene products sold in mass distribution. The following years were marked by the release of a quick hair dye, a Dop shampoo and the first sunscreen called l'Ambre Solaire. Moreover, these launches are perfectly consistent with the trend of the time. Quick hair dye came out when Coco Chanel and Louise Brooks launched the fashion for colorful and short hairstyles. Sunscreen comes out at the same time as the introduction of paid holidays. And the MonSavon and Dop brands promoted the hygiene so valued during the post-war period. By the way, speaking of war, did you know that just before the Second World War, Eugène Schueller set up a clandestine far-right group called La Cagoule and used the headquarters of L'Oréal for the meetings of his political group.

In 1950 André Bettencourt, then 31-year-old journalist and politician, took over the management of L'Oréal and married his daughter of Eugène Schueller, Liliane. Liliane, who we know well today as Liliane Bettencourt and for having been involved in two legal cases over the past 15 years. The first case you may remember is the Barnier-Bettencourt case and dates back to 2008. The daughter of Liliale Bettencourt, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers files a complaint against an artist friend of her mother, François Marie Banier for "abuse of weakness" towards her mother.

Indeed, the artist would have approached Liliane after the death of her husband André and would have benefited from “gifts” of several thousand or even million euros. The case was then closed in 2011 after a so-called "personal and confidential" agreement between the different parties. During this affair, clandestine audio recordings would have been disclosed by Liliane Bettencourt's butler and would reveal a second scandal. The Woerth-Bettencourt affair which began in 2010 and would involve potential conflicts of interest between Liliane Bettencourt and Éric Woerth, Minister of Finance. Illegal financing of the 2007 presidential campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy is then suspected. In 2015, the court declares that the proof of guilt of Éric Worth is not established because it would have to be shown that he was aware of the vulnerability of Liliane Bettencourt. The latter died in 2017 in her residence in Neuilly-sur-Seine, leaving this huge group behind her.

Today, the L'Oréal group includes 36 brands, sells in 150 countries and enjoyed nearly 30 billion euros in sales in 2019. These 36 brands fall into 4 categories. Professional brands such as L'Oréal Prossionnel, Kérastase or Redken. Luxury brands such as Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent, Biotherm, Kiehl's, Urban Decay, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Cacharel, Mugle, etc. Consumer brands such as L'Oréal Paris, Garnier, Maybelline New York, Nyx, essie, Mixa, etc. And finally the brands they call active like La Roche Posay, Vichy, CeraVe, SkinCeuticals and Décléor. All these brands have very diverse cultural origins, which in my opinion is the strength of the group. They have brands from Europe, America, China, Japan, Korea, Brazil, India and Africa.

To sum up L'Oréal is the largest cosmetics group in the world. It was created in 1909 by Frenchman Eugene Schuller for his hair dyes. Today the cosmetics group has diversified and belongs to the Bettencourt family. The brands are organized into 4 segments: professional, luxury, active and retail cosmetics. And we find among its 36 brands, obviously L'Oréal Paris and L'Oréal professionnel, but also Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent, Biotherm, Garnier, Maybelline, Nyx, La Roche Posay and Vichy.

I hope you enjoyed this episode and fueled your admiration for L'Oréal as a company. A new episode will be released next Saturday and you can find the ratings for these episodes on mastelcosmetics.com in the underside of cosmetics section. Mastel is written MASTEL and is the contraction of my two surnames Magand Castel. Do not hesitate to react in the comments, to ask your questions or to indicate what you would like to hear next.

You can subscribe to the Podcast Les sous de la beauté today on various Podcast platforms including Spotify and follow its news on Instagram and Twitter with the identifiers mastelcosmetics. Also and of course feel free to share this podcast with your friends if you think they might enjoy it - thank you. I wish you a great week and give you an appointment next Saturday for an episode on The moisturizing cream. We will see its usefulness and its main ingredients.


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A chemist in the cosmetics industry for more than 5 years and a graduate of the Natural Raw Materials in Cosmetics Master's degree from ISIPCA, Julie is an expert in the development of natural cosmetic products.