Discover Our History

Josephine Esther “Estée” Mentzer, 1919.
 
 

Born for Beauty

The niece of a Hungarian chemist, Estée was trained in the art of face creams at an early age.

 

Young Love

Estée meets her “first beau.”

 

The company began in 1946 when Estée Lauder and her husband Joseph Lauder began producing cosmetics in New York City. They first carried only four products: Cleansing Oil, Skin Lotion, Super Rich All purpose Creme, and Creme Pack. Two years later, in 1948 they established their first department store account with Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Over the next 15 years, they expanded the range and continued to sell their products in the United States. In 1960, the company started its first international account in the London department store Harrods. The following year it opened an office in Hong Kong.

In 1964, they introduced Aramis, a line of fragrance and grooming products for men named after an exotic Turkish root originally used as an aphrodisiac. In 1967, Estée Lauder herself was named one of ten Outstanding Women in Business in the United States by business and financial editors. This was followed by a Spirit of Achievement Award from Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in 1968. In that year, the company expanded again, opening Clinique, a dermatologist-guided (Dr. Norman Orentreich), allergy-tested, fragrance-free cosmetic brand.

Estée Lauder’s Clinique brand became the first women’s cosmetic company to introduce a second line for men when, in 1976, they began a separate line called “Skin Supplies for Men”, which continues to be sold at Clinique counters worldwide. In 1981, the company’s products became available in the Soviet Union.

In the 1990s, brand acquisitions and licensing agreements contributed to explosive growth as the company transformed from a family-owned business to a publicly-traded, family-controlled organisation. The decade opened with the creation of Origins — the first wellness brand in U.S. department stores. The first licensing agreement for fragrances was with fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger in 1993, followed by Kiton, an Italian fashion house (1995), and with American fashion designer Donna Karan (1997).

Brand acquisitions began with an investment in the Toronto-based M•A•C Cosmetics in 1994, which the company then acquired in 1998. Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, designed by the celebrated makeup artist, was acquired in 1995, as was La Mer – along with the original recipe for its supreme luxury product, Crème de la Mer, containing the nutrient-rich Miracle Broth™. The company ventured into its first hair care and holistic beauty brand with Aveda in 1997. The renowned fragrance house Jo Malone London was acquired in 1999.

On November 16, 1995, The Estée Lauder Companies went public on the New York Stock Exchange at $26.00 a share ($6.50 on a post-split basis).

Acquisitions and licensing continued in the 2000s as The Estée Lauder Companies bought a majority interest in Bumble & bumble, the trendy hair care salon, and completed its acquisition in 2006; an exclusive global licensing agreement was signed with fashion designer Michael Kors (2003). Designer Tom Ford begins a project with the company and later an agreement was signed with him (2005) to develop and distribute fragrances and cosmetics under the Tom Ford Beauty brand.

On July 1, 2010, the company acquired Smashbox Beauty Cosmetics, Inc., a brand created in Smashbox Studios in Culver City, California, by brothers Dean and Davis Factor (as in Max).

On October 28, 2011, Aramis and Designer Fragrances, a division of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., and Tory Burch LLC announced the signing of a multiyear agreement for the exclusive worldwide license of the Tory Burch fragrance business. This partnership marked Tory Burch’s first step into the beauty industry. The first Tory Burch fragrance products were introduced in 2013.

In 2012, the company launched AERIN Beauty, a luxury lifestyle beauty and fragrance brand inspired by the signature style of its founder, Aerin Lauder.

In 2014, the company acquired two insider beauty brands, RODIN olio lusso, a skin care brand renowned for its “Luxury Face Oil,” and Le Labo, a fragrance and sensory lifestyle brand. In 2015, the company acquired Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, a fragrance brand, and GLAMGLOW, a Hollywood skin care brand.

In 2016, the company acquired Becca Cosmetics, their first colour cosmetic group acquisition since Smashbox in 2010. In November 2016, the company made its largest acquisition to date by acquiring California-based cosmetics company Too Faced for US$1.45 billion. The company subsequently promoted Israel Assa as vice president.