The global beauty business permeates our lives, influencing how we perceive ourselves and what it is to be beautiful. The brands and firms which have shaped this industry, such as Avon, Coty, Estee Lauder, L'Oreal, and Shiseido, have imagined beauty for us. This book provides the first authoritative history of the global beauty industry from its emergence in the nineteenth century to the present day, exploring how today's global giants grew. It shows how successive generations of entrepreneurs built brands which shaped perceptions of beauty, and the business organizations needed to market them. They democratized access to beauty products, once the privilege of elites, but they also defined the gender and ethnic borders of beauty, and its association with a handful of cities, notably Paris and later New York. The result was a homogenization of beauty ideals throughout the world. Today globalization is changing the beauty industry again; its impact can be seen in a range of competing strategies.
Global brands have swept into China, Russia, and India, but at the same time, these brands are having to respond to a far greater diversity of cultures and lifestyles as new markets are opened up worldwide. In the twenty first century, beauty is again being re-imagined anew.