Rimmel: One of the world’s leading commercial cosmetics companies

Founded in 1834 as a perfumery in the heart of London, Rimmel became one of the world’s leading commercial cosmetics companies. It earned praise not only from London aristocrats, but also from European royalty. Queen Victoria was the brand’s most famous and loyal customer.


The foundation of the British cosmetics empire is led by Hyacinthe Mars Rimmel, later followed by his son Eugene. Hyacinthe was an acclaimed French perfumer, trained by the legendary Pierre-Francois Lubin, Empress Josephine’s personal “nose”. There is no doubt that Hyacinthe was a master of fragrance, but the Rimmel we know today does not owe its great success to him alone. In fact, it was his young son, Eugene, then only 14 years old, who proved to be a true genius, and a pioneer of perfumery more than his father. Eugene is a determined and innovative entrepreneur. After a few years under his father’s wing, he started his own business. This bold move launched him on the international stage and helped build his reputation as a creator of unique products and fine fragrances.


The Rimmel house was founded by Eugene Rimmel in 1834 as a perfumery in Regent Street, London. Eugene, born in 1820 in France, was responsible for the manufacture and marketing of the first marketable cosmetics. The boy moved to London when his father accepted an offer to run a perfumery in Bond Street. Eugene worked as an apprentice for his father and honed his skills as a perfumer. By the time he’s 24, he’s an expert as well as being something of a cosmetics guru and opens his first flagship store on Regent Street.

Eugene Rimmel
Eugene Rimmel

Eugene Rimmel, Founder of the brand

The young Rimmel is unstoppable and writes a considerable list of beauty breakthroughs before it is thirty years old. From the introduction of mail order catalogues, a brand new idea in the world of perfume and cosmetics, to scented fans for ladies to use at the opera, theatre or ballet and scented valentines, his most memorable and recognised work is the perfume fountain created for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Scented jets of eau de cologne are poured into the fountain, which can be used to flavour visitors’ handkerchiefs.

Even by today’s standards, the fountain was a bold publicity stunt and it certainly didn’t fail. In fact, its scented fountain caught the eye of Queen Victoria, who not only became the patron saint of Rimmel, but also appointed him her official perfumer. This appointment consequently spread his name and fame throughout the world. During his lifetime, Eugene collected 10 Royal Warrants, not only from Victoria but from all the crowned heads of Europe.


As a true pioneer, Eugene was not content with formulating and marketing his own fragrances and beauty products. He became so passionate about the idea of becoming the “King of cosmetics and fragrances” that he wrote and published The Perfume Book, one of the first “beauty bibles” documenting the fascination of fragrances and the etiquette of beauty. But the author did not stop at just one publication: there followed Rimmel’s Almanac of Perfumes, Memoirs of the Paris Exhibition of 1867 and the Victorian best seller Scented Valentines.

But what earned Eugene Rimmel a place in beauty history was his 1860 creation, Superfin, the first non-toxic commercial mascara. Although women had been using various potions and salves to blacken their lashes for centuries, Eugene’s mixture of charcoal powder and petroleum jelly was a revolutionary product. Although confusing and unstable, its popularity spread dramatically throughout Europe. The word ‘rimmel’ or ‘rimel’ became synonymous with mascara and still takes on the meaning of mascara in various languages, demonstrating the large-scale influence of its creator in the world of cosmetics.



Rimmel continues to work on mascara innovation, developing and improving Superfin and finally launching Water Cosmetique. Surprisingly, this item did not start out as an eyelash product. The original Cosmetique was created much earlier as a moustache tint, consisting of a mixture of soaps and pigments in a solid stick mixed with water, to be applied to the moustache with a special brush to cover grey hairs and add colour. It was a very popular product among the theatre actors of the time. Eventually, the formula was adapted and, in 1917, the product was launched as a mascara to be used only on eyelashes and eyebrows. At the same time, New York chemist T.L. Williams (the founder of Maybelline) also launched a mascara, called Lash Brow-Ine.


Eugene continued to extend his hold and expand his empire, opening shops in both Paris and New York, as well as a flower garden and essential oil distillery in Nice. He was an early pioneer of aromatherapy, discovering that oil extracts from plants and flowers had therapeutic properties. In addition, Rimmel created vaporizers that were used in hospitals to diffuse the vapours of beneficial oils into the air, the same way we use aromatherapy diffusers today.

In addition, he is the first to experiment with mouthwash, as well as toilet vinegar, called Toilette Vinegars. This unattractively named fragrance is made from eau de cologne and sold as a personal disinfectant and refreshing toilet deodorant. It was probably the first form of deodorant.

In 1875, Rimmel’s original premises on Strand Street were destroyed by fire, but Eugene’s passion and enthusiasm were not extinguished. In fact, he rebuilt his perfumery on the site that is now the location of one of London’s most glamorous and historic hotels, The Savoy. Eugene continued to run his empire until his death on 15 March 1887 at the age of 67. His obituary, published in the New York Times, described him as ‘The Prince of Perfume’. The company was owned and run by the Rimmel family until 1949, when it was bought by a London company and then sold to Coty Inc. in 1996.


Coty Inc. is an American beauty products manufacturer operating in more than 150 countries. Based in New York, the company was founded in Paris by François Coty in 1904. It produces fragrances, colour cosmetics, skin and body care products. It is known for collaborating with designers and celebrities to create fragrances. Its major brands are CoverGirl, Max Factor, Rimmel, Sally Hansen, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Burberry and Wella Professionals, as well as Chloé (perfumes), Davidoff (perfumes), Marc Jacobs (perfumes), Philosophy (beauty), Playboy (perfumes) and OPI Products (beauty).

Camillo Pane CEO of Coty
Camillo Pane CEO of Coty

On 9 July 2015, Coty announced that it had finally reached an agreement to buy some Procter & Gamble brands for $12.5 billion, in a deal that doubles its sales and turns it into one of the world’s largest cosmetics companies.


In fiscal year 2016, Coty Inc. generated approximately $4.35 billion in net revenue, rising to approximately $7.65 billion in the following year. The statistics provided are from Combined Company, referring at the same time to Coty and P&G Beauty.


Rimmel London announced in 2013 that they would be collaborating with British singer Rita Ora on a limited edition make-up collection, which was then launched in February 2014. The line includes lip and nail products. “Rita is a true London girl and uses the streets of London as inspiration for her songs, just as Rimmel uses London Look from the streets as inspiration for its products,” said vice president of global marketing, Friedemann Schmidt. “With this new collection we combine both the vibe of the London streets and Rita’s extraordinary style.”

Georgia May-Jagger teamed up with Rimmel London for its new Wonder’Full Mascara campaign in July 2014. Wonder’Full, Morocco’s first argan oil mascara, is a perfect weapon for perfectly full, smooth and clump-free volume.


In April 2016, Rimmel London announced that Cara Delevingne would be the brand’s testimonial. The British model and actress will act as a brand ambassador and appear in the advertising campaign, according to Johanna Businelli, Coty’s chief marketing officer. Delevingne’s first campaign was launched the following year.Cara-Delevigne-X-Rimmel-

British model Kate Moss has also been associated with the brand. And to celebrate 15 years of partnership between the brand and Moss, the company is launching new lipstick shades in 2016. The collection includes six of Kate’s favourite reds and nudes that she has helped launch in the past. Inspired by the model’s most iconic looks from years past, the range of cult reds and nudes highlight the different facets of her personality, from red carpet idol to quirky goddess.



Rimmel London, on its official website, states that it does not represent or commission any third party on its behalf to test products or ingredients on animals, especially when required by law.

In fact, it is well known that China requires mandatory animal testing on all products imported into the country. The brand continues to be involved in dialogue with the Chinese authorities, including active membership of the China Association of Fragrance Flavour and Cosmetic Industries (CAFFCI), to replace animal testing with alternatives.

The brand has also been involved in the research and development of alternatives to animal testing for many years. Rimmel has been part of SEURAT-1, the single private-public partnership initiative that aims to find alternatives to animal testing. With a total contribution of €50 million, funded equally by the European Commission and the cosmetics industry, it has succeeded in producing a number of alternative testing methods and laid the foundations for the wider development of which it is a part. The common goal of all these efforts is to completely replace animal testing with viable alternatives that can guarantee consumer health.


Rimmel is currently part of Coty Inc. of which the CEO is Camillo Pane since July 2015. In this role, he is responsible for developing and driving Coty’s strategic vision, which focuses on increasing sales. A native Italian, Camillo graduated from Bocconi University in Milan with a degree in Business Administration. He currently lives in London.

In April 2018, Coty announced that Esra Erkal-Paler, current Global Head of External Communications at AstraZeneca, has been appointed Chief Global Corporate Affairs Officer and member of the Executive Committee, a newly established position. Esra will lead Coty’s global internal and external communications strategies and be responsible for growth.

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