Sunday, 8 July 2012


the estee lauder logo - image taken from google images

I make no secret of my love for the iconic Estee Lauder cosmetics brand. My go-to products have all been sourced from their counters - indeed my first ever real make-up purchases were from Estee Lauder. I recall tentatively wandering up to the sales girl, just over two years ago, and asking in a small, scared voice 'Can you please find me a foundation that won't make me look ridiculous?' and instantly I was sat down being shown products, asked pointed questions about my routine and most importantly I was asked what I wanted from my make-up.

I bought six products that day and was left the better part of £150 lighter but I didn't care about the price. I felt amazing. I'd been given compliments, showed techniques and I felt like I could take on anything with the small potions and lotions in the bag that I clutched so tightly.

That is what makes Estee Lauder so special for me - I had taken a risk that I wouldn't usually take by making my way up to that counter (I hated asking the sales girls anything before this - I would get huffed at a lot or looked at as though I was dirty and poor) and it had put my anxiety to rest.

So here I share with you the culmination of my adoration: a two-part special on Estee Lauder. This part will explain the life and ethos of the wonderful woman that created this eponymous empire of enchantment whilst the second part will show-case all the products I own, with swatches and reviews.

estee lauder - image taken from google images

Estee Lauder was actually born Josephine Esther Mentzer to her Eastern-European jewish parents, Rose and Max Mentzer, in Queens, USA, in 1906. Her parents actually wanted to name her 'Esty' but eventually her mother decided that due to the strange spelling and European sound that on her birthday certificate she would be called 'Esther'. 'Esty' was a nickname reserved for familial endearment although when her father, Max, said 'Esty' it sounded like 'Estee' because of his Czech accent. Somehow, it stuck.

The Mentzer family owned a hardware store in which, as a child along with her nine siblings, Estee worked as a child to help her parents make ends meet. It was this upbringing during her formative years that is credited with laying the foundation for the entrepreneurial sense she would show throughout the rest of her life. This being said, as a child Estee actually dreamed of being an actress.

Hardware was boring for Estee though and instead her interest was taken by her uncle's laboratories. Dr. John Schotz was a chemist, owned New Way Laboratories and made and sold cosmetics. Creams and rouges as well as fragrance fascinated Estee to the point where when she graduated High School she immediately began to work for her uncle creating her own face creams which she sold to her friends.  

estee lauder - image taken from

Estee met Joseph Lauter during her early twenties and married him in 1930. This surname was later to changed to the 'Lauder' that we know it to be, probably because it rolls out the mouth in a more fluid way when combined with Estee's name.

The 'Estee Lauder Companies' was created in 1935 after Estee was asked by her hair-stylist what her secret was to her perfect complexion. Estee returned to the salon with the creams that she herself had created for her uncle and was promptly asked to sell those products through the stylist's growing number of salons. From there Estee moved onto selling to hotels and in small beauty boutiques. 

estee lauder with her customers - image taken from google images

In 1948 Estee opened a counter space in Saks Fifth Avenue. It was from here that her empire rapidly began to expand. Even from the very beginning she was aware that the personal touch was a necessity to her clients and consumers. She frequently gave away samples of her cosmetics - especially to celebrities and socialites (people who were renowned for only wanting and using the best products available). She would try to attend every single counter and shop opening in person and would frequently address her sales force with inspirational speeches.

The traditional gold and blue design that still graces the packaging of the majority of Estee Lauder purchases was chosen by Estee herself. She decided that these colours would compliment the majority of bathrooms and dressing rooms and therefore her products would be more likely to be left out by their owners for others to notice than hidden away in cupboards. This woman was nothing if not smart.

In 2004, at the grand age of 97, Estee Lauder died in her Manhattan home. It was a great loss to the cosmetics industry and she was deeply mourned. Her eldest son now runs the 'Estee Lauder Companies' whilst it is her Granddaughter, Aerin Lauder, that oversees all of the creative aspects. This is still very much a family-run business with the same ethos and aims as when the great lady herself was in charge.

aerin lauder - image taken from google images

Aerin Lauder is now launching her own cosmetics range which, like her Grandmother's, is based on elegant yet simple aesthetics but beautiful and brilliant colours that will suit any woman. If you would like to read more about Aerin Lauder there is an article about her in this month's Vogue which is just as inspiring to read as any biography of her Grandmother.

aerin lauder cosmetics collection - image taken from google images

For one woman to achieve so much in her lifetime is inspiring to anyone, let alone an incredible feat of business-skill and sensitivity towards her customers. Estee Lauder products continue to this day to be of the finest quality and worth every penny of their (sometimes weighty) price tag. I know that I won't be cheating on my new love-affair any time soon.

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