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Footsteps to Follow

By: Lois Hince
Posted: July 23, 2008, from the August 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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A woman named Florence Nightingale Graham, born Dec. 31, 1878, in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, moved to New York when 24 and worked as a bookkeeper for the E. R. Squibb Pharmaceuticals company. While employed at Squibb, she spent a great amount of time in the lab learning about skin care. She then briefly worked for Eleanor Adair, an early beauty culturist as a “treatment girl,” traveling to France to learn different beauty techniques, including facial massage.

Upon returning to the United States, she formed a partnership with Elizabeth Hubbard, another culturist, but in 1910, after an unsuccessful beauty salon venture with Hubbard, Graham opened her own on Fifth Avenue in New York and coined the name Elizabeth Arden—from her former partner and from Alfred Tennyson’s poem Enoch Arden. Manhattan’s Red Door Salon offered manicures, facials and the signature “Arden Wax.”

Graham was recognized for other early endeavors in the industry as well. She is said to have revolutionized cosmetics, bringing a scientific approach to formulations after working with chemist A. Fabian Swanson to create a face cream she called Venetian Cream Amoretta. With more and more women entering the workforce during World War II, she educated these young professionals on how to apply makeup and dress appropriately. And it was also during this time that she formulated a lipstick for the women in the armed forces—Montezuma Red—a shade that matched the red buttons on their uniforms.2

Having innovated the “total look” concept—coordinating eye, lip, cheek and fingernail color; creating foundations that matched a person’s skin tone; and making the first cosmetics commercial shown in movie theaters—ranks Graham as a pioneer in the industry in every sense of the word. However, there were also others who blazed the trails that many spa owners follow today.

Heading West

The Rancho La Puerta of today in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico, is a first-class destination spa surrounded by 3,000 acres of valley and mountains. Its very humble beginning is a true pioneer story and has been best told by its co-founder.