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Merle Norman Celebrates 90 Years of Beauty Success

Venerable makeup and skin care company looks back while moving forward.


By: Melissa Meisel

Merle Norman Celebrates 90 Years of Beauty Success

Merle Nethercutt Norman founded her eponymous cosmetic company in 1931 with a dream of empowering women.  Merle Norman Cosmetics has become a true American success story and a beauty empire leading the way in innovation, franchising, and product development. In 2021, Merle Norman Cosmetics celebrates 90 beautiful years!
The history of Merle's incredible journey is one of perseverance and triumph against many difficult circumstances throughout the decades.  We'll be celebrating throughout the year with a look back, a look ahead, and unveiling new products along the way. We hope you'll join us in commemorating this exciting milestone.
It’s a success story like no other. Back in 1931 Merle Nethercutt Norman began mixing ingredients in her “kitchen laboratory,” which resulted in the development of the three products that would become the basis for her eponymous cosmetic line and the cornerstone of what would ultimately become a beauty empire. Cleansing CreamMiracol Revitalizing Cream and Powder Base Foundation were the first three products Merle developed, and they are so tried-and-true that they are still part of the best-selling “3 steps to Beauty” line-up available today.
Merle set out to make lives beautiful. Her grit and determination to fulfill that desire helped guide her and the company through World Wars, pandemics, generational shifts, and more. Offering women the highest quality products was imperative, but providing an opportunity for women to become self-sufficient entrepreneurs in their own right was the at the forefront of her goals. In 1931, Merle opened her first Studio in Santa Monica, California and by 1934, 94 independently-owned Merle Norman Studios were flourishing across America! Today, as the company celebrates their milestone 90th Anniversary, there are over 1100 Merle Norman Cosmetics Studios across the US and Canada. Proving that company philosophy and morals matter, some special Merle Norman Cosmetics’ employees are celebrating 40 years with the brand.
Beauty is Best Shared
The way in which consumers sample beauty products is due – in large part – to Merle blazing the trail in 1961. She developed the FIRST hygienic beauty sampling program with signature “Lip Bubbles” which provided one-use lipsticks housed in an individual, disposable bubble to insure that the consumer loved the color on her lips before she purchased the full size product. This “try before you buy” forward-thinking philosophy is still one of the best and most replicated programs in the beauty industry today and continues to evolve. For example, in direct response to COVID-19, Merle Norman Cosmetic Studios were the first in the beauty industry to deploy a stringent third-party verified Sanitation Conversation for all franchises to follow to maintain the health and safety of the employees and the customers.
Sharing is caring – especially within families. It is a widely known, and a very proud part of the fabric of the company, that Merle Norman Cosmetics are shared between generations. Grandmothers pass their makeup expertise on to their daughters who, in turn, pass their favorites and the knowledge they learn to their children. It’s not unusual for generations to shop in the Studios together and as a matter of fact there is a franchise Studio in Ozark, Alabama which is owned by Corene Edgar, joined by her daughter Kim, and now her daughter Brooke! There’s something very special about the traditions that Merle Norman creates between generations.
Authentic Americana
During World War II, Merle was called upon to create a special machine gun oil and camouflage stick for the US troops. Merle was proud to serve her Country then, and her company was equally proud to serve their Country during the Global Pandemic of 2020. Switching immediately from cosmetics to hand sanitizer, the World Health Organization-approved spray formula has become a daily health essential for front line workers and consumers throughout the U.S.
Award Winning Product Experience
In 1959 Merle Norman Cosmetics established itself as a household favorite by being bestowed with the illustrious Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. From the 50’s to today, many of Merle Norman Cosmetics products have received beauty industry awards which cover both editor and reader’s choice including Perfecting Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 2524K Gold Firming Foundation PrimerShadow Stick, and dozens more. The innovations are never ending thanks to a top notch R&D team and a brand that listens to their consumers and follows the trends. Keep an eye out for a very exciting launch coming up that pairs the power of charcoal with the effectiveness of a scrub!
2015 – 2021 brought an array of innovation such as the Skintelligent System with Probiotic Technology – one of the first of its kind, Plush LipsticksSoft Focus Finishing Powder and more. Wicked Lash Mascara was born in 2013 and immediately became a makeup artist, editorial, and customer favorite. The sky is the limit for the Merle Norman team, and they will continue to keep Merle’s drive and dream alive.
Today, Merle Norman remains family-owned, operated, and manufactured in their headquarters in Los Angeles.  The company is involved in the community, as reported in Happi. All Merle Norman Cosmetics products are available online at and at Merle Norman Cosmetics Studios nationwide.

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