Even if you aren’t the biggest beauty buff, you’re familiar with the wide range of products under Estee Lauder’s eponymous brand. Although her line is a department store staple now, the businesswoman actually got her start by selling products door-to-door—Lauder’s uncle was a chemist who ran the New Way Laboratories company, which created products like fragrance, skincare, and color cosmetics. She began opening outposts at beauty shops, salons, resorts, and beach clubs among many other locations, then partnered with husband Joseph Lauder to officially launch the brand in 1946, and the rest is history! In honor of Lauder’s 108th birthday, we’re taking a look back at how her legacy continues to influence the beauty world today.
Youth Dew Fragrance
This spicy blend of incense, cinnamon, patchouli, and lavender originally rolled out in 1953 and has been a staple ever since. The original formula was a bath oil that doubled as perfume, and sold 50,000 bottles in its first year on store shelves alone. While the bath oil ($40; esteelauder.com) is still available today, the range now boasts additional body lotions, scented powders, and a spritz-on version ($34; esteelauder.com) that looks as gorgeous as it smells displayed on your vanity.
The Gift with Purchase
Fact: Spending that extra $5 is totally worth having the associates at the Estee Lauder counter throw in a makeup bag jam-packed with the brand’s products when you’re restocking your supply. The 2014 gift with purchase may look a little different from the 1946 version, but the concept has been the same since the start of Lauder’s cosmetic empire. In the early days of the company, Lauder herself would sell the products at beauty counters and always gave women extra samples to try out. By doing this, she hoped her clients would spread the word to their friends, and the method certainly worked. The Gift with Purchase concept remains a mainstay, and many designers like Derek Lam, Tom Ford, and most-recently Lilly Pulitzer, have collaborated with the company to create limited-edition versions filled with the brand’s newest staples.
Glamorous Collectible Compacts
Perhaps as a nod to her own personal tastes, Lauder began producing gorgeous compacts in 1967, which held both powders and solid perfumes. Hundreds of ornate designs have since been released, and every holiday, a new, limited-edition solid perfume compact is released. Designers like Judith Leiber and Jay Strongwater have also put their own spins on the compacts, and the ornate pieces are coveted by jewelry and beauty collectors alike. Currently, a zodiac-inspired line is available, but we especially love the streamlined, simple gold compact, as well as the classic feel of the textured alligator version ($40 each; esteelauder.com).
Estee Lauder’s Additional Brands
In addition to her own range, Lauder is also the mastermind behind many of the brands we still know and love today. She and husband Joseph Lauder started the Aramis fragrance brand in 1964, which created men’s fragrances and grooming staples. Clinique was started in 1968, and was the very first brand to introduce dermatologist-approved products merged with luxury and high-performance results—hence the white lab coats representatives still wear at counters today—and in 1979, Lauder brought custom-blended foundations to the market with the Prescriptives brand. When natural cosmetics gained in popularity and demand, Lauder began Origins in 1990, and today, Estee Lauder has a total of 27 beauty brands under the company umbrella, including MAC, Jo Malone, Bobbi Brown, and Aveda among many others.