Online Exclusives

Beauty by the Book

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | February 12, 2010

L’Oréal has published an encompassing and lavish text that traces the origins of and the future of beauty, as well as the social issues surrounding it.

As the world’s largest beauty company, it seems only fitting that L’Oréal should tackle a subject as encompassing as the history of beauty.

In a project funded by the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation, the Paris-based beauty conglomerate has published “100,000 Years of Beauty,” a unique book that aims to share knowledge and encourage the emergence of new perspectives about beauty.

The research for the 1500-page book developed over a four-year period and included 300 authorities engaged in disciplines ranging from sociology to psychology to history to anthropology. Inside the five-volume, pyramid-stacked set are lavish photographs and engaging text that’s billed to be as entertaining as it is educational.

This comprehensive body of work—which will be used by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in its graduate degree program in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management—was the basis for special panel discussion held in the school’s Katie Murphy Amphitheatre on Feb. 3.

Speakers at the event included “100,000 Years of Beauty,” contributors Maxine Craig, associate professor of women and gender studies at the University of California-Davis, and Michael Bisson, professor and chair of the department of anthropology at McGill University in Montreal, as well as Elizabeth Azoulay, the book’s editorial director. Rounding out the panel was Linda Wells, editor-in-chief of Allure. The discussion was lead by Stephan Kanlian, chairperson of FIT’s master’s degree program.
 
In her opening remarks, Béatrice Dautresme, executive vice president corporate communications and external affairs for L’Oréal and chief executive of the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation, provided insight into why L’Oreál embarked on the project. She noted that while some may see beauty as “superficial” it is, in actuality, cultural, psychological and controversial all at once. “It’s a deep and profoundly cultural and human subject,” Dautresme told the audience.

According to Dautresme, the project was in keeping with L’Oréal’s commitment to research and exploration.

One of the topics discussed at FIT included whether or not there is a universal definition of beauty and how the concept of beauty has evolved in a global context.

Making a comparison between beauty and language, Azoulay commented, “Everyone has the need to speak, but everyone speaks a different language—and the language evolves.”

The session also addressed the origins of beauty and its future. Using a definition of beauty as the need to transform the body, Bisson noted some of the earliest examples, such as use of pigments on the body, which date back thousands of years. On the flip side, Wells spoke of plastic surgery and the increasing role of science in modern beauty, suggesting that in many ways, it is replacing the “romantic” side of beauty.
 
The panel at FIT included (l-r): Maxine Craig (University of California-Davis) and Michael Bisson (McGill University), Elizabeth Azoulay, (editorial director), Linda Wells (editor-in-chief of Allure) and FIT’s Stephan Kanlian.
The brief discussion provided a glimpse into all five volumes of “100,000 Years of Beauty.” Volume 1 (Prehistory) features the origins of beauty in the earliest human societies; Volume 2 (Antiquity) examines the great changes that transform, from a sociological and psychological point of view, the pursuit of beauty; Volume 3 (Classical Age) explores the medieval and early modern periods as bringing about worldwide shifts in fashion and beauty; Volume 4 (Globalization) journeys through the modern era, which are marked by the age of the individual and the desire to achieve social equalities such as fighting against racism, claiming equal rights for women, and sexual liberation; and Volume 5 (The Future) looks at the the new digital age and alternative movements where beauty is a focus for cutting-edge medical and biotechnological research.

“100,000 Years of Beauty” is available at Amazon.com for $295 in English and French language versions.


  • Hitting the Right Notes

    Hitting the Right Notes

    January 6, 2017
    Agilex Fragrances is the leader in the middle market fragrance category.

  • The Smell of Clean in 2017

    The Smell of Clean in 2017

    January 6, 2017
    Changing consumer lifestyles and demographics are impacting the scents found in the household cleaning category.

  • On the Edge

    On the Edge

    January 6, 2017
    Expanding beauty brands to watch in 2017

  • Skin of Color Society Connects Experts

    Skin of Color Society Connects Experts

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||January 16, 2017
    Dermatologists from across the nation share information and ideas.

  • Erasa

    Erasa's New Evangelist(a)

    January 9, 2017
    Impressed by the performance of its hero SKU, supermodel Linda Evangelista joins the company in a hand's on role.

  • Discourse on Disclosure

    Discourse on Disclosure

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||January 6, 2017
    Transparency impacts the cleaning industry.

  • The Top Stories of 2016

    The Top Stories of 2016

    December 26, 2016
    The companies and topics that grabbed headlines and your attention this year.

  • Positive Influence

    Positive Influence

    December 19, 2016
    Co-founder Elizabeth Scherle talks about her growing consumer review platform, top beauty products and more.

  • Pro Pigments

    Pro Pigments

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||December 12, 2016
    Makeup brand Kryloan has a rich history in the industry and now open doors at a NYC flagship.

  • Fast Forward

    Fast Forward

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||December 12, 2016
    Doug Cooper of IP Brands is thinking ahead when it comes to beauty trends.

  • Olivia Care Pays It Forward

    Olivia Care Pays It Forward

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||December 12, 2016
    Seeking post-election unity, a small natural personal care company hopes to cause a big wave of giving.

  • Patent Activity: Colgate-Palmolive

    Patent Activity: Colgate-Palmolive

    December 6, 2016
    New oral care compositions, the use of radish root ferment filtrate in a cleanser and more.

  • Sparkle & Shine

    Sparkle & Shine

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 21, 2016
    Glam packaging and upscale scent combos are big at Yankee Candle for Holiday 2016.

  • Cos Bar: Turning 40 and Hitting Fast Forward

    Cos Bar: Turning 40 and Hitting Fast Forward

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 21, 2016
    With a recent investor infusion, a new CEO and rebranding effort underway, this luxury beauty retailer has big plans.

  • Organic Matter

    Organic Matter

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 14, 2016
    FTC and USDA hold a public roundtable to discuss consumers’ perception of organic claims.

  • Help for Up Above

    Help for Up Above

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 14, 2016
    A brand from Down Under is touting a new formulation for what’s missing on top.

  • Skin Care Sensation

    Skin Care Sensation

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 7, 2016
    Circ Cell aims to be unique with formulations that uphold skin tone.

  • Get Ready, ‘Cause Here it Comes…

    Get Ready, ‘Cause Here it Comes…

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 1, 2016
    Skinphonic is a new brand created with a team of beauty experts and fronted by singer Smokey Robinson.

  • Hair for Me!

    Hair for Me!

    October 31, 2016
    Function of Beauty fulfills the promise of personalization in the beauty space—one bottle at a time.

  • A Facial Bar Grows in Brooklyn

    A Facial Bar Grows in Brooklyn

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 24, 2016
    With three doors in Canada, Blitz Facial Bar opens its first US location in one of the hippest areas of New York.

  • Free and Clear

    Free and Clear

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||October 17, 2016
    OY-L aims for zero-chemical skin care.

  • Coming Clean on a Host of Issues

    Coming Clean on a Host of Issues

    October 17, 2016
    Cleaning Products Conference is set for Nov. 9-11, 2016 in Washington DC.

  • Let the Magic Begin!

    Let the Magic Begin!

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||October 10, 2016
    IFSCC Congress gets underway at Walt Disney World this month.

  • Ogee Opens for Business

    Ogee Opens for Business

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 10, 2016
    Banking on the power of jojoba oil, a Vermont-based start-up is the newest player in organic luxury skin care.

  • P&G’s Latest Patents

    P&G’s Latest Patents

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 10, 2016
    A look at recent patent and IP related news from the biggest household and personal care player in the US.

  • A Cosmetic Armor Against Pollution

    A Cosmetic Armor Against Pollution

    Julia Comas, Cristina Davi, Elena Canadas, Laia Gonzalez, Raquel Delgado, Lipotec SAU||October 3, 2016
    Lipotec’s Pollushield creates a barrier between skin and pollutants and boosts the antioxidative potential of skin.

  • Cosmetic Chemists Head to Orlando Next Month

    Cosmetic Chemists Head to Orlando Next Month

    September 26, 2016
    Organizing Chair Guy Padulo explains why you should attend the IFSCC Congress.

  • Restoring Rembrandt

    Restoring Rembrandt

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||September 26, 2016
    Ranir LLC has acquired Rembrandt, an iconic name in teeth whitening, and plans to make it a staple in the value segment.