From a workshop to world-renowned laboratories: a story of success
The key to understanding the strength and potential of the cosmetics industry lies in its history. Over the course of a single century, the industry has blossomed and products made in Poland have deservedly gained recognition both domestically and in the most remote parts of the world.
Did you know that…
It all began in 1919 when Poland regained independence. After over a hundred and twenty years under foreign rule, the Polish community made an attempt to unify the country’s fragmented infrastructure and to modernise the economy. In the wake of the new energy triggered by the rebuilding of the now- independent country, the cosmetics industry was subject to reorganisation. Small, local shops had been emerging in Polish since mid-19th century, but cosmetics did not start to be manufactured on an industrial scale until the 1920s.
It was then that cosmetics companies such as “Schicht-Lever” (the future “Uroda”), “Miraculum”, and “Ewa” were founded. In 1929, “Pebeco” launched production under the license of Beiersdorf. Several successful industrial cosmetics manufacturers and numerous smaller local businesses were opened in the two decades between the World Wars.
The foundations of a regular cosmetics industry laid down in the 1920s provided solid grounds for further development after World War II when the Polish cosmetics and cleaning product industries was nationalised to create Pollena.
Thanks to its expertise, long experience, and existing manufacturers, Poland soon became the leading producer and exporter of cosmetics in central and eastern Europe, making tinted and conditioning cosmetics as well as scents for all countries in the Eastern Bloc. Women in the Czech Republic, in Russia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria all wore “Pani Walewska” perfume, “Celia” lipstick, and “Miraculum” creams.
Polish products were highly regarded among women internationally and there was a time when Pollena was synonymous with true luxury. But luxury at an affordable price. Perhaps it was the combination good quality with reasonable prices that helped many of the brands created during those times to survive the economic transformations of the late 1980s and keep selling their products to this day.
The knowledge, experience, and production infrastructure accumulated over forty-plus years guaranteed the cosmetics industry a great start in the new difficult conditions of free market economy. During the post-1989 economic transformations, manufacturing companies were privatised and acquired by corporations such as Cussons, Henkel L’Oreal, and Beiersdorf. Many foreign companies, including Avon, Procter & Gamble, Oriflame, and Colgate Palmolive, also invested in development of new factories in Poland.
Simultaneously, domestic cosmetics companies started to emerge and dynamically grow. The ones founded in the 1980s and 1990s included Dr Irena Eris, Eveline Cosmetics, Soraya, DAX Cosmetics, Ziaja, Kolastyna, Oceanic, Dermika, Joanna, Bielenda, Hean, Inglot, and Inter Frangrances. In effect, the current cosmetics industry in Poland offers a combination of global cosmetics corporations, medium and large polish businesses, and hundreds of small and micro cosmetics manufacturers, which is unique throughout Europe.