Youth Dew was a turning point for Estée Lauder, her family and her family-owned company. For more than ten years, Estée had struggled to sell her cosmetic creams. She was succeeding slowly, opening new accounts across America, getting her creams into the better department stores, becoming known in a small way. Then along came Youth Dew.
Youth Dew was, for Estée Lauder, what La Rose Jacqueminot was for François Coty — the product that opened the door to a whole new universe. Suddenly the money was coming in like never before and, at last, Estée Lauder and her family were on their way to becoming wealthy.
Youth Dew was created as a bath oil which could be used as a perfume. While many dismissed it as ordinary, many more flocked to buy it. It was the right scent at the right time at the right price. In fact, for women, Youth Dew represented an opportunity to buy a perfume at the price of a bath oil.
The Youth Dew story is told by Lee Israel in her book, Estée Lauder: Beyond The Magic. Ten years before the birth of Youth Dew, Estée had formed a friendship with Arnold Lewis van Ameringen, whose collection of companies would, in 1958, be consolidated as International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) and would soon become the world's largest flavors and fragrance house.
Israel suggests that Youth Dew, created by IFF perfumers, was Van's gift to Estée. Along with the gift came financial support in the form of an extention of credit that would not otherwise have been available to her.
Backed by Estée Lauder's personal sales skills, Youth Dew took off like a rocked.
Over the years, Youth Dew has found many incarnations. A collector could put together a small museum of Youth Dew packages in their various forms: the sprays, the solids, the eau d' this and that. All in all, a huge success that Estée played for all it was worth — and it was worth a lot!
While there has been speculation on exactly which perfumer at IFF created Youth Dew, given the relationship between Estée and Van Ameringen, it is likely that whatever perfumers worked on the project, they worked under close scrutiny. Ernest Shiftan was senior perfumer at Ameringen-Haebler, Inc. at the time but Youth Dew has also been associated by some with Ameringen-Haebler, Inc. (and later IFF) perfumer Josephine Catapano. Of course the truth is a corporate secret for both IFF and Estée Lauder.
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