1957-1983 : "On the road to the Grand L'Oréal"

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"On the road to the Grand L'Oréal"


© Pierre Derly for L'Oréal


© Pierre Derly for L'Oréal

These are the formative years of “Le Grand L’Oréal”.

At the instigation of Chairman François Dalle, the Group starts to expand internationally.

Acquisitions of strategic brands mark the beginning of a period of spectacular growth for the company. Emblematic products come into being.

The company motto is “Savoir saisir ce qui commence” (seize new opportunities).


  • François Dalle named CEO

    © L'Oréal

    As soon as he takes over the helm at L’Oréal on Eugène Schueller’s death, François Dalle gives fresh impetus to the company. Creator of “Le Grand L’Oréal”, always mindful of the social conscience of the day and initiator of in-company training, François Dalle keeps one eye on the future which, for him, is the only factor of progress. He is a visionary who is to run a policy of targeted acquisitions in order to expand the Group’s positions in new market sectors and new distribution channels; develop research, the driving force behind internal growth; increase the Group’s international presence; and make beauty more accessible to win new consumers.


  • Creation of the Procasa affiliate in Brazil

    © L'Oréal /DR

    Present in the Brazilian market since the late 1930s, L’Oréal responds to the 1950s boom by establishing a direct presence in the country, forming FAPROCO (Fábrica Produtos Cosméticos S.A.) in 1959. It is so successful that, with its two plants in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, L’Oréal Brasil is today an export platform for the whole of Latin America and is ready to celebrate in 2009 its 50th anniversary.


  • A legend is born: Elnett hairspray

    © L'Oréal /DR

    L’Oréal Net for hairdressers in 1958 followed by Elnett (from elle (she) and nette (neat) – for consumers in 1962, are not only a complete departure from the established tradition of hairstyling products, hitherto dominated by brilliantine and gum lacquer, but are above all a new and extraordinary way to fix hairstyles. It’s goodbye to stiff hair and hello to hair that’s silky soft to the touch! In 1962, Elnett Satin adopts its slimline golden silhouette and becomes the “golden goddess”. In 1968, yet another innovation: the micro-spray delivering an even finer mist distributed evenly all over the hair, which simply brushes out with minimum effort. Thanks to this groundbreaking formula, still unrivalled, L’Oréal is the global hairspray market leader. The story of a mythical product inextricably linked with L’Oréal’s own history.
  • Belle Color: The easiest, safest, most natural-looking coloring shampoo

    © L'Oréal /DR

    Belle Color, one of the very first colouring shampoos, plays a vital role in the development of the home colouring market. Its ease and speed of application are to be the key to its success. It prefigures the launch of Récital a few years later.


  • L’Oréal goes public

    © L'Oréal

    In recognition of its spectacular yet sound development, the L’Oréal Group is listed on the Paris Stock Exchange which gives it access to new financial resources. The Group’s market capitalisation has increased more than 750 times since 1967.
  • OBAO: The first bubble baths

    © Alain Le Foll

    French women discover the secrets of Japanese bathing practices with the first foam bath, Obao: a name that takes its inspiration directly from o-furo, the traditional Japanese bath that is both a relaxation ritual and a cult way to recharge one’s batteries. A new approach that caters for the newfound demand for toiletries that are more sophisticated than a bar of soap.


  • Acquisition of Lancôme

    © L'Oréal / DR

    Founded in 1935 by Armand Petitjean and the d’Ornano brothers, Lancôme is a fabulous perfume, skincare and make-up brand that at this time is already the embodiment of elegance and French style in many countries. Its major products (such as Nutrix cream created in 1936), international presence and network of technician-ambassadresses win over L’Oréal, which is keen to position itself in the upmarket cosmetics sector and the perfumery channel. The acquisition of Lancôme in 1964 is the first stepping stone on the road to becoming a luxury goods empire.
  • Kérastase paves the way in professional hair care

    © L'Oréal / DR

    L’Oréal takes hairdressing salons into groundbreaking territory, complementing the usual colouring and styling services with a new concept: haircare, with a specialist range of products called Kérastase. What sets this concept apart is the combination of the best formulas to emerge from L’Oréal’s research laboratories, the stylist’s expertise and the way the care programme is tailored to individual hair types. The treatments are highly sophisticated with steps performed in a specific sequence, turning them into a real beauty ritual: diagnosis, scalp massage and expert treatment applied using specially developed techniques. A uniquely luxurious experience to enhance beauty and well-being.
    In 1967, Kérastase products become available for resale to customers which enables women to prolong the benefits of in-salon care in their own homes. Selling the products to customers is also a new source of revenue for the salons.


  • Acquisition by Garnier

    © L'Oréal /  Saurin, All rights reserved

    Laboratoires Garnier have been successfully marketing various hair products since the 1920s: Garnier plant-based lotion, Moelle Garnier energy-boost shampoos with natural extracts, Moelle Color hair colourant and so on. The purchase of Garnier enables L’Oréal to acquire a portfolio of complementary haircare products with an organic positioning – a different approach to haircare.


  • The first designer fragrance developed by L'Oréal : Fidji by Guy Laroche

    © Francis Giacobetti

    Armed with Lancôme’s perfumery experience and keen to continue its expansion in the luxury goods market, L’Oréal joins forces for the first time with a major French couturier, Guy Laroche, to create a number of fragrances. The first product of this association is Fidji, which becomes a classic perfume with the unforgettable advertising slogan: “A woman is an island. Fidji is her perfume”.
  • Récital: Home coloring

    © L'Oréal / DR

    No need to go to the hairdresser’s anymore to have your hair coloured: L’Oréal launches Récital on the mass consumer market: hair colouring kits designed for women to use in the comfort and privacy of their own bathrooms, so they can colour their hair at home in complete safety. François Dalle’s vow “to make beauty accessible to as many women as possible” starts to take shape.


  • © L'Oréal

    In response to the wishes of women who prefer not to perm their hair, L’Oréal launches Mini Vague, a completely new technology that gives the hair softness, body and bounce. The secret is a gentler mix that results in a more natural wave. It is so successful that “mini vague” actually enters the French language as the term to describe a lighter kind of perm, the equivalent of the demi-wave in English.


  • Modern management: Manage while inspiring and persuading

    © L'Oréal /DR

    An intuitive man, a people person and a great leader, François Dalle is an innovative manager. The initiatives he introduces – sales force motivation seminars, highly original at the time; debate-style meetings (still held today) that give all participants the opportunity to express their views and win people over; setting up, with other companies, the European Centre for Executive Development CEDEP which offers excellence training programmes for all its members; founding the “Entreprise & Progrès” association in 1970 in conjunction with other company heads – all bear witness to his highly humanistic approach to running a company, continued by his successors. Another notable fact is that he has no hesitation in giving responsibility to very young men and women: “We have 27-year-old managers”. Is it not he who spots a young Welsh product manager by the name of Lindsay Owen-Jones?


  • When Lancôme created the first

    © L'Oréal Archives / DR

    A classic fragrance that will never date, that appeals to women younger than traditional perfume users; fresh and clear, the ideal fragrance to capture markets in South America and Asia; a short, internationally applicable name that plays on the sound of the letter O as in Eau (de Toilette) and the use of the circumflex as the brand’s signature: Ô de Lancôme is an immediate success and is still a leading Eau de Toilette today.


  • Acquisition of Biotherm

    © L'Oréal  Archives /  DR

    Established in 1950, from the outset Biotherm has cultivated a unique positioning that is responsible for its success: an organic approach to skincare that draws on the regenerative power of thermal springs. In Biotherm, L’Oréal sees a highly original skincare brand to complement Lancôme and Vichy. The Group takes over Biotherm and steps up its research effort. Four years later, the active principle of spas is identified and the famous Plancton Thermal Pur comes into being


  • Elsève: When shampoo becomes beauty care for your hair

    © L'Oréal

    Until now, the sole purpose of shampoos has been to make hair clean. Elsève ventures into new territory with a new kind of shampoo that enhances the beauty of the hair, giving it softness, suppleness and shine. And a new market is born: beauty shampoo.


  • Majority takeover of Synthélabo pharmaceutical laboratories

    © L'Oréal  Archives / DR

    Synthelabo is one of the leading lights in the French pharmaceutical industry. With L’Oréal’s research teams now reaching beyond cosmetics and getting closer to remedial dermatology, this acquisition gives the Group the means to develop its dermatological and dermopharmaceutical activities.
  • Acquisition of Gemey

    © L'Oréal / DR

    Gemey, a make-up brand specialising in foundations and face powders, has been present in France since 1923. Cult products include Fluid Make-up, the first fluid foundation in a tube, and Dernière Touche, the first compact powder. With the acquisition of Gemey, L’Oréal gains a significant position in the volume retailing make-up market in its country of origin. In 1976, L’Oréal buys out the mascara brand Ricils and attaches it to Gemey to expand its offer in all make-up segments.


  • Signing an agreement with Nestlé

    © Nestlé

    The agreement, which adds to the stability of the Group’s shareholders, is also conducive to L’Oréal’s international development in certain markets, particularly Japan, the future bridgehead of L’Oréal’s expansion in Asia.


  • Opening of Artcurial

    © Artcurial

    Artcurial, a contemporary art centre established by L’Oréal in 1975, launches a new concept: issuing so-called “multiples” in collaboration with the artists. The centre approaches some big names in the art world, including Sonia Delaunay, Man Ray, Armand, Berrocal and the Lalannes. They all design sculptures, ceramics and jewellery produced as limited editions. All want their designs to have everyday relevance and be affordable to a large public. In 1997 L’Oréal sells Artcurial to focus once more on the beauty sector.
  • The Equalia revolution by Vichy!

    © Vichy / DR

    The launch of Equalia, meticulously planned over several years, is still a textbook case even today. The basis of the Equalia phenomenon is the concept of skin rehydration. Thanks to its highly original formula, Equalia restores and maintains exactly the right balance of water in the skin, a balance which is threatened by the effects of the wind, sun and ageing. This highly scientific expertise is to gain the support of pharmacists and the medical profession of the day. Added impact comes from the information and factual advertising campaign that ensures historic success for Equalia. Worldwide sales are to reach more than 50 million units.


  • Anaïs Anaïs by Cacharel wins over young, romantic girls

    © Sarah Moon

    The fashion house Cacharel calls on L’Oréal to develop its first fragrance, aimed at young women. Exceeding all the forecasts, Anaïs Anaïs becomes the world’s top-selling perfume and remains so for many years. Its secret is the perfect alchemy of a unique floral fragrance and an advertising campaign using the ultra-romantic visuals of photographer Sarah Moon.
  • © L'Oréal Archives / DR

    After Ô de Lancôme eau fraîche, Lancôme is keen to launch a major new fragrance. Magie Noire is launched, a sensual, bewitching oriental that breaks with perfume tradition and is to be hugely successful.
  • Majirel by L’Oréal Professionnel: Color that cares for your hair

    © L'Oréal  Archives / DR

    Groundbreaking technology: L’Oréal designs the first colouring product that protects the hair while it colours. Thanks to a new molecule created and patented by L’Oréal – Ionène-G, which penetrates to the hair’s core – the hair is protected both during and after the colouring process. The first formula to benefit from this innovation is Majirel, used by hairdressers.


  • Creation of a dermatological research center in Sophia Antipolis

    © L'Oréal Archives / DR

    L’Oréal invests further in research and, in conjunction with Nestlé, establishes the International Dermatological Research Centre (CIRD) in the Sophia Antipolis technology park near Nice (France). Its mission is to improve knowledge of the skin’s physiology and ageing process.


  • Dulcia, the first self-protecting hair perm

    © L'Oréal Archives / DR

    Having revolutionised hair colouring, Ionène-G, the hair protection system, is included for the first time in a perm solution formula to protect the hair’s integrity at the same time as permanently changing its shape. The result is hair that keeps its strength and softness.


  • Creation of Galderma Laboratories

    © L'Oréal /DR

    The result of a 50/50 association between Nestlé and L’Oréal, Galderma (whose slogan is “Committed to the future of dermatology”) is devoted to the worldwide development and marketing of world-renowned dermatological remedies effective against skin, hair and nail complaints (acne, psoriasis, onychomycosis, rosacea,…). An independent organisation active in the strictly controlled field of healthcare, which is to enjoy worldwide success.


  • Plénitude by L’Oréal: Widely Advertized Facial Care

    © Roger Turqueti for L'Oréal

    L’Oréal foresees that the consumer skincare market is to represent huge global potential. To conquer the segment in the mass market, L’Oréal creates a new brand – Plénitude. Its goal is to give women the best that technology has to offer, completely new active ingredients and unusual textures at affordable prices. Its strategy is to attack the market from the top end: the most sophisticated and highly developed segment, i.e. anti-wrinkle creams. The Plénitude slogan: “Delays the signs of aging”.
  • Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche: On the road to success

    © Daniel Podva

    Is it possible to repeat the success of Fidji by Guy Laroche, this time with a product for men? The answer is Drakkar Noir. An ultra-masculine fragrance whose mysterious name redolent of Viking conquerors and sophisticated black visuals ensure huge success in the 1980s.
  • A revolutionary sun filter: Mexoryl SX

    © L'Oréal Research

    The challenge facing sun protection research is to develop light-stable filters that are compatible with the sensory aspects of the formulas and that are capable of blocking not only UVB but also UVA rays whose detrimental effects on the skin are just becoming known. Patented by Recherche L’Oréal in 1982, Mexoryl SX, an ultra-powerful anti-UVA, combines all these properties and revolutionises sun protection. It is to be used for the first time in Vichy’s sun protection range, Capital Soleil.


  • Ultra-Doux by Garnier: Beauty at the heart of plants

    © DR / Archives L'Oréal

    Laboratoires Garnier launches Ultra-Doux, a new range of family shampoos made from natural plant-based ingredients such as wheatgerm, lime blossom and camomile, in keeping with the brand’s positioning: the alliance of science and nature. Its slogan: “Ultimate gentleness from the heart of plants”.
  • Opening of the research center in Japan

    © Sutton Jeremy /Eyedea

    In 1983, François Dalle sets up an Applied R&D centre for hair and skincare to tailor the Group’s products to the Japanese market. The new lab, which has since grown from a team of four people into a team of 150, is given the task of researching hair and skincare issues to help develop a range of products in tune with the specific needs of Japanese consumers. Initially based in Tokyo, the lab moves to Kanagawa Science Park in Kawasaki in 1990.