1984-2000 : Become number one in the beauty industry

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Become number one in the beauty industry

Lancôme advertisement: Trésor

© Thorkil Gudnason

Lancôme advertisement: Trésor

© Thorkil Gudnason

These twelve years are marked by a great period of growth for L'Oréal, mainly driven by the significant investments made by the group in the field of research.

Alongside these efforts are strategic product launches that not only make history, but also succeed in strengthening the Group’s brand image.

In 1988, François Dalle's successor, the research and development pioneer Charles Zviak, hands over the reins of the company to Lindsay Owen-Jones, a truly outstanding director.

Under his management, the Group would completely change in scope to become the world leader in cosmetics through the worldwide presence of its brands and strategic acquisitions.


  • Charles Zviak named CEO

    © L'Oréal Archives/ DR

    A loyal companion to François Dalle, Charles Zviak becomes director at the age of 62, following a long professional career at L’Oréal. Joining the company’s Monsavon brand in 1945, he participates in the development of the continuous saponification process.
    He then becomes part of L’Oréal’s research department, as head of development for the “cold perm” (Oréol).
    He goes on to set up a laboratory for applied research with some fifteen researchers.
    Eugène Schueller and François Dalle decide to separate fundamental research and applied research, putting the latter in the hands of Charles Zviak, who is appointed head of Production and Technology.
    As the true creator of applied research, Mr. Zviak believes in what he calls the Research/Marketing relationship, which promotes ongoing exchange between research and current marketing trends.
    In 1973 he is nominated Executive Vice-President of L’Oréal. Then in 1984, he becomes the company CEO, a position in which he remained until 1988.
    One overriding principle has always governed his work: quality. A man of great composure, he was known for his rigorous intellectual and ethical standards. When he died, in 8 July 1990, a profound sadness filled the laboratories.


  • © L'Oréal Archives/ DR

    At the forefront of new trends, L’Oréal embraces the style of the 80s. The street is bursting with endless sources of inspiration, hairstyles are let loose and become a mark of individual expression. L’Oréal therefore creates a complete line of hairstyling products: gels, mousses, sprays. Based on unique, innovative formulas, these products give everyone, regardless of age or hair type, the freedom to create their own style. It constitutes a veritable style toolbox, allowing users to become their own hairstylists. The result is tremendous worldwide success. Twenty-five years later, Studio Line retains its pioneering spirit, and remains in the avant-garde of hairstyling trends.
  • Polo by Ralph Lauren in the L’Oréal stables

    © Bruce Weber for Polo

    L’Oréal obtains the Ralph Lauren licence, and continues the fabulous saga of Polo fragrances for men, created in 1978. The acquisition anchors L’Oréal’s position in the Luxury Products market in the United States and in luxury men’s fragrances.
  • © Herb Ritts for Paloma Picasso

    With an eye to expanding its fragrance business, L’Oréal continues its strategy of collaborating with cutting-edge designers. It teams up with Paloma Picasso, fashion and jewellery designer, daughter of a symbolic figure and herself a charismatic spokeswoman of the 80s. She gives the fragrance her name, designs the bottle, selects its composition – a heady, distinguished chypré – and wraps it in red, her signature colour, unimaginable at the time in perfumery. She pulls it off masterfully: the brand is an instant success throughout the world.
  • Biotherm creates skin care for men

    © Jean-Loup Sieff

    At long last, the first line of skincare products designed exclusively for men! Their refreshing, non-oily textures, specially adapted to male skin, their ergonomic shapes, and their straight-forward media campaign win men over throughout the world. A true pioneer in 1985, Biotherm Homme is today’s leader in men’s skincare products in more than 70 countries.


  • Biotherm creates skin care for men

    © Fabrizio Ferri for Lancôme

    Niosome, the first anti-ageing cream, will bring Lancôme into state-of-the-art skincare technology. Thanks to a formula patented by L’Oréal in 1980, for the first time ever, active ingredients are “vectorised”, that is, encapsulated in order to protect them and convey them to the epidermal layers where they are most effective.


  • Beauty for sale: The Club des Créateurs de Beauté

    © DR

    L’Oréal puts its energy behind a brand new distribution network: mail-order catalogues. Teaming up with Les 3 Suisses, one of Europe’s leading mail-order companies, the Group launches a catalogue of beauty products, known as Club des Créateurs de Beauté (Club of Beauty Creators). All the products are created by top designers such as make-up by Agnès B., haircare products by Jean-Marc Maniatis, to name but a few, and are the result of L’Oréal Research. In 2008, L’Oréal becomes the sole owner of CCB.
  • With Vichy, drugstores takes an interest in men

    © Vichy / DR

    Capitalising on its strong presence in the network of pharmacies, Vichy launches a comprehensive range of skincare products for men, called Basic Homme.


  • Lindsay Owen-Jones, named CEO at 42 years old

    © L'Oréal /DR

    Under the leadership of this highly unconventional director, the Group undergoes a radical and profound transformation. Lindsay Owen-Jones takes what is essentially a French export company and turns it into an international group, operating in over 130 countries and present in all distribution networks. From a company producing primarily haircare products, he creates a more balanced range of activities, centred around 5 core businesses: hair colour, haircare, skincare, make-up, and perfume. From a plethora of national brands, he would create a portfolio of 23 international megabrands, designed to meet the needs of both women and men throughout the world. And from a group with an utterly “made-in-France” vision of beauty and elegance, he establishes a standard of diversity that embraces all types of ethnic needs, all levels of purchasing power, and all cultural expectations in the realm of beauty.


  • L'Oréal supports the

    L'Oréal supports the "Look Good Feel Better" program in the USA

    Cosmetics also serve a social need, as they can greatly help ill people to feel better about themselves. Therefore, L’Oréal is deeply invested in the programme developed in the United States by the Personal Care Products Council, which helps women cancer patients deal with the physical side-effects of their treatments. Today, the programme is carried out with support from L’Oréal in several European countries.
  • Helena Rubinstein Campaign

    © Igor Monsigna

    L’Oréal acquires Helena Rubinstein, the American brand of skincare products. This luxurious, innovative brand, created in the image of its famous founder, is already well positioned on the European, Japanese and South American markets. Rounding out the product range, the Group aims to position it as a flagship brand in its Luxury Products Division.
    Following Helena Rubenstein, L’Oréal signs a licensing contract with Giorgio Armani, allowing the company to promote this prominent name in fashion, synonymous with timeless elegance and prestige, in the area of beauty products and fragrance. These latest acquisitions enable L’Oréal to expand its international portfolio of luxury brands, together with the French brand, Lancôme and the US brand, Ralph Lauren.
  • Acquisition of La Roche-Posay

    © La Roche-Posay

    L’Oréal consolidates its dermatological expertise and its presence in pharmacy networks with the acquisition of La Roche-Posay, a high-tech dermatological product recommended by dermatologists all over the world.


  • New hair color technology campaign:

    © L'Oréal Archives / DR

    L’Oréal Professionnel creates the first tone-on-tone permanent colouring solution, Diacolor. Unlike traditional permanent colouring using oxidation dyes, Diacolor does not use ammonia. The result is a shade that is close to the natural hair colour, gently covering up to 50% of grey hair.
  • Lancôme advertisement: Trésor

    © Peter Lindbergh, Isabella Rossellini,Lancôme, 1992

    After Ô and Magie Noire, Lancôme wants to pursue its saga as a great international perfumer and it launches Trésor. Worldwide success, rapid and spectacular: Trésor becomes the world's best selling perfume and is still today in the top 10 worldwide. This success is the result of a rare alchemy: the juice, an fragrant miracle of rose, peach and apricot flower, its precious bottle and the loving look of Isabella Rossellini in a Paris in sepia tones, filmed by Peter Lindbergh.


  • New plant in Aulnay-sous-Bois, France: Respect for the environment at the heart of production

    © Georges Fessy

    L’Oréal inaugurates its ultra-modern factory in Aulnay-sous-Bois (France), where primarily Garnier products are manufactured: hair colour, haircare and sun protection. Its design and management reflect the Group’s concern for environmental protection and workplace safety. The complex, designed by renowned architects Pistre et Valode, is awarded the prestigious architectural prize, l’équerre d’argent.


  • Acquisition of Redken: The premium brand of New-York-inspired hair products

    © Redken 

    The Group undertakes a series of strategic acquisitions in the United States in order to expand its Professional Products Division and make the United States the second stronghold for L’Oréal in the world, after Paris. The 1st step involves the purchase of the premium hairstyling brand, Redken, with its young, urban, New York-inspired image.
  • L’Oréal Brandstorm is launched: L’Oréal invents the Business Games

    © L'Oréal 

    Learn about marketing and develop a passion for the profession by working on an (almost) real case. This is the challenge that L’Oréal has been posing to students for the past seventeen years. Initiated in 1993, L'Oréal Brandstorm aims to attract the best marketing students from around the world. The figures are impressive: more than 32,000 students from 469 schools in 38 different countries have already participated in the challenge. It involves every aspect of product development, from market analysis to defining a communications strategy to packaging design. Participants in the competition fully assume the role of a marketing director, working with the most prestigious advertising agencies in the world. Much more than a mere recruitment tool, L’Oréal Brandstorm provides the company above all with a showcase for the upcoming generation.


  • Creation of L’Oréal Israel

    © L'Oréal Israel PR

    Present in Israel since in 1983 via the Migdal Ha Emek plant, which is the Group’s very first plant in the Middle-East, L’Oréal reinforces its presence in the country by creating a subsidiary in 1994.
  • Excellence Crème campaign by L’Oréal Paris: The world's #1 hair color product

    © L'Oréal Paris / DR

    At the end of the 1980s, L’Oréal Paris labs developed a new generation of cream colourants. Launched in Latin America, Excellence Crème appeared to be a solution for women with dry or thick hair that required hydration and protection. After becoming a local success story, Excellence Crème is launched internationally in 1994 and rapidly becomes a world leader in hair colourants. Today Excellence Crème offers a rich choice of shades for lightening, darkening or enhancing natural hair colour.
  • Ceramide R: The powerful molecule for repairing damaged hair

    Ceramide R: The powerful molecule for repairing damaged hair

    After 10 years of research, L’Oréal Laboratories succeed in producing a synthetic replica of a natural ceramide, which is found in hair cuticles (the protective sheath). It is called Ceramide R. It attaches itself to the damaged areas of the cuticle in order to repair and strengthen hair fibres. This remarkable agent will be incorporated into several shampoos for improving texture and volume, particularly those aimed at repairing brittle and damaged hair.
  • Sights set on India

    © Photo credits: Hélène Kerhervé

    Until the beginning of the 90s, laws in several Asian countries prohibit foreign companies from operating on their territories. In 1994, L’Oréal becomes the 1st international cosmetic group to which the Indian government grants the status of wholly-owned subsidiary. This allows L’Oréal to consolidate its presence in a country experiencing tremendous economic growth.


  • Force C campaign by Helena Rubinstein: All the power of vitamine C in a face care product

    © Photo credits:  Shoichi Kondo, All rights reserved

    Pure Vitamin C is as essential for cellular renewal as it is for a healthy glow. And yet, due to its instability and sensitivity to air and light, its benefits had never been exploited for skincare. This was Helena Rubinstein’s master stroke: encapsulating Pure Vitamin C and incorporating it into a skincare formula—Force C.
  • Revitalift campaign by Plénitude: A facelift in a jar

    © Athur Elgort, Dayle  Haddon, L' Oréal Paris 1996

    Ever at the forefront of innovation in mass marketing, Plenitude from L’Oréal Paris creates a new offering for women aged over forty: an eye cream that diminishes the appearance of wrinkles (thanks to Pro-Rétinol A) and also improves firmness (with Par-Elastyl™). It’s called Revitalift, the worldwide best-seller and current mainstay of L’Oréal Paris’ anti-ageing product range.


  • Aminexil campaign: the anti-hair fall molecule

    © Daniel Schweitzer

    Aminexil, a molecule patented in 1990, marks a tremendous advance in the fight against hair loss. It stops the hardening of the collagen sheath that surrounds the hair follicle, helping it to attach more firmly to the scalp thereby slowing down hair loss. This molecule is incorporated for the first time in the Vichy Homme hair loss treatment.
  • Maybelline campaign

    © Dahmane

    The acquisition of Maybelline, the leader in mass-market make-up in the United States, represents a strategically important step. Not only does it make L’Oréal the uncontested leader in the United States—the most crucial market in the world—but it also establishes the company as the world leader in mass-market make-up. What’s more, Maybelline opens doors for L’Oréal in Asia—especially in China, where the company already operates one factory.
  • Key partnership in China

    © L'Oréal / Alain Buu

    In collaboration with Suzhou Medical College, one of the oldest universities in China, L’Oréal creates the company, Suzhou L’Oréal Beauty Products. In the same year, construction on a factory within the Suzhou industrial complex gets underway, and begins operations in 1999. Two additional factories open their doors in the following decade, serving a Chinese market in full economic expansion.
  • Fructis, the green whirlwind!

    © Garnier / DR

    In its fluorescent green bottle, an absolute departure from established codes for shampoo packaging, Fructis from Laboratoires Garnier has a tidal wave affect on mass-market points of sale. Its unique formula enriched with active fruit concentrate, its scent, and the off-beat tone of its multicultural advertising make a splash around the world. The success of Fructis gives real impetus to Laboratoires Garnier, and brings about the repositioning of the brand at the dawn of the new millennium.
  • Acqua di Giò For Men, by Giorgio Armani: The world's #1 fragrance for men

    © Peter Lindbergh, Lars Burmeister, Biotherm,1996

    Embodying the sophisticated and understated Armani style for men, Acqua di Gio has enjoyed resounding, unabated success since it first hit the market. It remains the leading fragrance for men worldwide.



  • Launch of the international program

    © L'Oréal Archives 

    Aware of the inferior place accorded to woman in the realm of scientific research, L’Oréal partners with UNESCO to launch the “For Women in Science” Awards, to honour and support accomplished women in the sciences from all around the world. This corporate sponsorship marks the beginning of a new era of social responsibility for the Group.
  • Acquisition of Carson

    © Carson / DR

    L’Oréal acquires SoftSheen, the leading brand on the Afro-specific haircare market, present both in retail and in salons. With this acquisition, the Group attains a singular expertise in African hair.


  • Mexoryl XL, the best in sun filtration

    © Christian Kettiguer for Laroche-Posay

    The revolution in sun protection gets underway in 1982 with Mexoryl SX (anti-UVA), followed by technological improvements initiated in 1989 of Mexoryl XL, anti-UVA and UVB. It would be automatically incorporated into all of L’Oréal’s sun protection products, embodying the Group’s commitment in the crucial field of photoprotection. The 1st product range to boast Mexoryl XL in 1999 is Anthélios, from La Roche-Posay, an important name in sun protection. It would soon become a benchmark in sun protection, recommended by dermatologists throughout the world.


  • Acquisition of SoftSheen in the United States

    © SoftSheen / DR

    Shortly following the acquisition of SoftSheen, L’Oréal consolidates its position on the afro-specific haircare market through the acquisition of Carson, owner Dark and Lovely. Already widely used in Africa, Carson provides the Group with an opportunity to strengthen its presence on the continent. The merger of the two brands in 2001 creates SoftSheen-Carson, the world leader in afro-specific haircare products.

  • Acquisition of Kiehl’s Since 1851

    © Kiehl's

    L’Oréal acquires Kiehl’s Since 1851, a niche brand in the luxury market and in terms of distribution whose approach to product development is far from traditional: highly effective products made from natural ingredients; no advertising; a wide, targeted sampling for all formulas; a super-selective distribution; and exceptional customer service. It represents a new territory for the Group and a new source of inspiration. Indeed, since its founding in New York in 1851, Kiehl’s has striven to develop its products while remaining faithful to its heritage. This venerable old pharmacy has made service, quality, generosity, and respect for the environment the pillars of its success. Kiehl’s Customer Representatives receive an extremely thorough training in order to respond to each customer’s needs with ultra-personalised service. This urban cult brand has long been committed to charity organisations. An integral part of its philosophy, Kiehl’s is active in several humanitarian organisations, focusing on three priorities: the fight against AIDS, child protection, and protection of the environment.
  • Acquisition of Matrix, #1 among professional hair products in the USA

    © Matrix

    L’Oréal acquires Matrix, the US leader in professional haircare products, known for its youth, creativity and quality. The objective is to strengthen the Group’s market share in the US, develop a brand that complements L’Oréal Professionnel and Redken through user-friendly products and services, and exploit its strong international potential. Mission accomplished: Matrix’s friendly, upbeat image continues to win over hairstylists throughout the world.
  • Watershine by Maybelline, the world's best-selling lipstick

    © Maybelline

    Whether in Paris, New York, Rio, Moscow or Beijing, women have one word for their lips: Watershine! Its brilliant shine is adored by women everywhere, especially in Asia, making it the No. 1 lipstick in the world.
  • L’Oréal Professionnel launches Série Expert

    © L'Oréal

    At the forefront of the latest cutting edge technologies, Série Expert is a line of highly efficient professional hair care products that addresses all demands and all hair types. Série Expert benefits from the exclusive concept of high molecular precision, which has an effect on all three parts of the hair, including the very heart of the fibre.
  • Dermablend products

    © D. Engelhard for Demablend

    L’Oréal acquires Dermablend, an American brand. Created in 1981 by a dermatologist, it is a make-up concealer designed to cover facial blemishes, such as angioma or scars. As a product that is both medically based and accessible to a mass market, it was a natural addition to Vichy, expanding the latter’s area of expertise and increasing its international scope.
  • L’Oréal publishes its Ethics Charter

    © L'Oréal

    In February 2000, L’Oréal’s first Code of Business Ethics,formalising its values and guiding principles, was distributed to all employees throughout the world. Enriched by employee feedback, a second edition of the Code of Business Ethics was launched in 2007.