Ref NoGB1752.EFL/HC
Alt Ref NoOFR:
LevelSub collection
TitleHelene Curtis
DescriptionHelene Curtis Industries Inc was founded in 1927 by Gerald Gidwitz and Louis Stein as the National Mineral Company, originally producing a single product, 'Peach Bloom Facial Mask', being a facial mud pack made of a special clay mined in Arkansas which the company sold to beauty salons around the US.

As hairstyles changed from straight to wavy in the 1920s-1930s Gidwitz took the decision to enter the hair care market and introduced affordable permanent wave products for use in hair salons. The business introduced one of the first shampoos to use a detergent-based formula - Lanolin Crème shampoo- in the 1930s. In 1938 the company extended its range with a second line - Suave Hairdressing hair tonic - in 1938.

During the Second World War the company changed its name to National Industries and became engaged in making aircraft gun turrets and radar equipment as well as hair care products. Following the war the company's name changed once more to the more consumer-friendly sounding Helene Curtis, apparently combining the christian names of Louis Stein's wife and son. The business moved into the field of retail sales and began national advertising campaigns.

In 1950 Helene Curtis introduced one of the first hair sprays with its aerosol product Spray Net. Other introductions included Stopette deodorant and Enden dandruff shampoo.

The company went public in 1956.

During the 1960s the company introduced hair conditioning products Quik Care and Sure Thing. In 1968 the firm began to manufacture cosmetics introducing a line called Soft Focus. During the 1970s Helene Curtis developed and introduced the first compact permanent wave machine; and brought out Everynight, a shampoo aimed specifically at teenagers.

During the 1980s Helene Curtis entered the skin care lotion market, and in 1982 launched Finesse conditioner - a product based on a time-activated formula. The company went on to extend the Finesse line to include shampoos and hair sprays.

In the 1990s the company launched Degree , a heat-activated antiperspirant/deodorant, and in 1994 expanded into the baby care market with the launch of Suave baby care. The Salon Selectives and Vibrance range of conditioners and shampoos were also launched.

In 1995 the company moved its Research and Development facilities to Rolling Meadows, Illinois to allow its manufacturing facility to expand.

In March 1996 Helene Curtis was acquired by Unilever, and the company was integrated with Elida Fabergé Ltd to concentrate on the expansion of the Salon Selectives hair care range.

EFL/HC contains a very small group of records relating to Helene Curtis prior to the acquisition of the company by Unilever in 1996.
Date1965-1968
Access StatusOpen
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