Beauty Pioneers: 100 Years and Counting

Beauty Pioneers: 100 Years and Counting

By Lisa Beard | Contributing Beauty Blogger

New skincare products are hitting the shelves and the internet at lightning speed; moisturizers, foundations, and lipsticks, oh my! It can be hard to navigate through the world of beauty with the hundreds of products introduced each year; so it helps when you can turn to products that have stood the test of time. Here are some of the world’s oldest beauty products, one of them over 245 years on the market. They may have donned new robes on the outside, but the formulas are the same; why change them? It is what got them to their 100th birthday and beyond proving they have staying power.

Yardley London Lavender Soap, 1770

This company’s signature soap scent is English Lavender which they launched in 1873. A very distinct lavender is grown to create this scent, Lavandula angustifolia, in the South of England. The company named after William Yardley, who purchased the firm in 1823 from the sons of the founder Samuel Cleaver, who had gone into bankruptcy. At the time, the business sold perfumes, soaps, powders, hair pomades and other toiletries. Today, Yardley London may be innocuous, but it’s the oldest registered beauty brand in the world. Records show that even though the company was officially founded in 1770, it humbly began in the 1600s when King Charles I granted a young man permission to supply all the soap for the City of London. The brand continues to enjoy royal patronage with Kate Middleton being the latest fan.

Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush, 1863

The world’s first powder blush was created by Parisian actor Joseph-Albert Ponsin in 1863. He created a skin product that would whiten the skin of actors and actresses in the theater. The careful combination of powder, water, and mother-of-pearl was baked in an oven and used as stage makeup. Over 150 years later, it’s available on Amazon.

Vaseline, 1872

Robert Chesebrough founded Vaseline when he was prospecting for oil at Titusville, Pennsylvania. The observation that oil rig workers used “rod wax” – the drill residue – to heal cuts and minor burns intrigued the chemist imagination. He spent the majority of the decade refining the rod wax to the clear, white petroleum jelly. There is a jar sold every minute. Queen Victoria knighted Chesebrough in 1883 and told him she used it every day.

Pears Soap, 1807

First produced and sold in 1807 by Andrew Pears in London England. This son of a farmer worked at a barber shop in Soho London and began to create cosmetic products exclusively for his patrons. Soho at that time was a high-end residential area. The barber shop clientele had many wealthy socialites who took pride in their appearance. These were Andrew Pear’s primary clients for Pears soap. A gentle glycerin soap that even today takes three months to make and is still going strong over 200 years later.

Listerine, 1879

Joseph Lawrence, a Missouri chemist, developed Listerine as a surgical antiseptic. Named after a pioneer of antiseptic surgery, Baron Joseph Lister. The combination of menthol, thymol (thyme), eucalyptol (eucalytus0, methyl salicylate (wintergreen) became a runaway success in 1920 when it was pitched as a solution for “chronic halitosis” – bad breath. At 138 years old, it is the oldest product in the Johnson & Johnson portfolio.

Pond’s Cold Cream, 1907

This face cream goes back to 1907 but dates back further to 1846 the year a pharmacist Theron T. Pond extracted a healing tea from witch hazel that was perfect for healing small cuts, rashes, minor burns and other skin ailments. This “Ponds Extract” became the beginning for what we know today as Pond’s Cold Cream. Sold around the world, with its largest markets being Spain and Asia, including India, Japan, and Thailand.

Nivea Crème, 1911

The German pharmacist Dr. Oscar Troplowitz and dermatologist Prof. Paul Gerson Unna used a butter churner to mix water and oil with Eucerit (an ancient Greek word meaning “beautiful wax) to create the world’s first stable water-in-oil skin emulsion. The doctors had figured a way to use water-in-oil emulsions, which is the best way to tackle dry complexion as they moisturize while simultaneously creating a skin barrier. The infamous blue aluminum pot was started in 1925 before then packaging was yellow. The distinctive blue is very rare and protected worldwide.

Noxzema, 1914

Invented by Francis J. Townsend, this became a drug store mainstay. Townsend was a doctor who lived in Ocean City, Maryland. He called the formula “Townsend R22” and often referred to it as “no-eczema.”[2] and prescribed as a remedy to resort vacationers burned by the sun. Townsend would later give the formula to Dr. George Bunting. In about 1917 Bunting began selling “Dr. Bunting’s Sunburn Remedy”. Bunting and Elizabeth Buck mixed, heated and poured the product themselves. The name was changed to Noxzema, supposedly because a satisfied customer who exclaimed, “You knocked out my eczema.”.

Ivory Soap, 1879

“It Floats,” is the marketing slogan that set Ivory soap apart from the other soaps in 1891. When James Gamble, (the other half of Proctor and Gamble), whipped extra air into a batch of Ivory soap bars, he created the world’s first floating soap that was 99.4% pure. The story goes that a worker accidentally left the mixing machine on too long, which added air to the batch. Although it was ruined, the company sold it anyway, and to their surprise, the public appreciated the new soap, even today, 138 years later.



Cover image courtesy of –

Yardley of London |  current product picture –

Vintage advertisement picture  –

Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush | current product picture –

Vintage advertisement picture –

Vaseline | current product picture –

Vintage advertisement picture –

Pears Soap | current product picture –

Vintage advertisement picture –

Listerine | current product picture –

Vintage advertisement picture –

Pond’s Cold Cream | current product picture –

Vintage advertisement picture –

Nivea Crème | current product picture –

Vintage advertisement picture –

Noxzema | current product picture –

Vintage advertisement picture –

Ivory Soap | current product picture –

Vintage advertisement picture –

2 thoughts on “Beauty Pioneers: 100 Years and Counting

  • Cynthia Randolph
    / Reply

    This was a very interesting article! Thank you Lisa for your dedication & research in bringing us such knowledge about these pioneer products.

  • Carol
    / Reply

    Wow this article was very informative. I will definitely be revamping my vanity!


What’s New What’s Next for Spring Beauty Trends 2018 – The April Edition

By Lisa Beard | Contributing Beauty Blogger Spring is finally here and what a relief to see winter go; only

The Michigan Fashion Media Summit (MFMS) – Arrives April 13th at The Stephen M. Ross School of Business U of M Ann Arbor MI.

Robere Lett | Publisher After meeting with the team who founded this amazing project, U of M seniors Alix Gropper,

SAUVAGE – The New Eau De Parfum from Dior

By Robere Lett | Publisher The relaunch of the much lauded signature mens scent Savage is again taking the country

New Products From LANO for Spring 2018

By Robere Lett | Publisher Our friends at LANO have created some amazing new products to keep your hands and

Chidoriya – SPRING 2018

By Robere Lett | Publisher Our friends at chidoriya have launched into spring with their amazing product lines to revitalize

“ON THE GO” Coolness! The March 2018 Edition of What’s New | What’s Next

By Lisa Beard | Contributing Fashion and Beauty Blogger. Spring is coming, and my product quest for March gives us