It is health where the Unilever story began – in Victorian England when William Hesketh Lever, a partner in his family’s wholesale grocery firm and later to become Lord Leverhulme, became deeply troubled by epidemic diseases, such as cholera and typhoid.
The chronic lack of sanitation was leading to thousands of deaths despite the link having been established between handwashing with chlorinated lime and eliminating germs.
It was Leverwho discovered that carbolic acid was also a strong and, importantly, affordable disinfectant, and who set out to bring cleanliness to all.
In 1894 helaunched Lifebuoy Royal Disinfectant Soap, making the prevention of illness available to the masses. Such was its effectiveness and success that Lifebuoy launched the following year in America and went on to become symbolic of national heroism when each First World War soldiers’ kitbag was issued with a bar.
Lever Brothers, as the company was known at the time, also launched in 1926 the Clean Hands Campaign to teach British children how to wash their hands effectively to combat the spread of germs. This work continues today, around the world, through the Unilever Help a Child Reach 5 programme, which aims to help prevent the deaths of two million children who do not live to their fifth birthday as a result of easily preventable diseases such as diarrhoea.
Today Unilever is the largest personal care company in the UK and owner of the Dove, Vaseline and Simple ranges, which lead the market in skincare, as well as the UK’s top-selling deodorant brands Sure, Dove and Lynx. With VO5 and TRESemmé already leading hair styling brands, the latter is a firm contender for the UK’s number-one selling spot.
“The launch of Lifebuoy soap in 1894 created the multinational business that we have today – a business built over 125 years on a belief that equality of access to personal care should be a source of empowerment and confidence for everyone,” says Mark Bleathman, vice president personal care, Unilever UK and Ireland.
“We have a democratic and inclusive view of personal care. Our mission is to help every single person make the most of their bodies and their lives by being healthier, happier, and their most beautiful inside and out. We do this through our campaigns, such as the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, and also through the superior product experiences we create, which are underpinned by excellent science,” he says.
Unilever continues to deliver breakthrough innovation, as it did back in 1894. But in its inclusive view of personal care and beauty there is as much a place for soap bars as there is a place for premium products – and extending from skincare, to haircare, to oral care.
“The first thing that people notice is your smile,” says Dr David Tharme Jones, a leading cosmetic dentist at The London Smile Clinic. “Having practised for over 20 years, I have seen patients becoming much more concerned about the health and appearance of their teeth.” Indeed a survey found that 52 per cent of people say that a beautiful healthy smile is important when it comes to looking good compared with 27 per cent who say it’s a perfect figure. Good teeth give you confidence.
However, it is little known that 80 per cent of common tooth problems, such as decay, are caused by erosion of enamel, the outer, protective coating of the tooth. Enamel erosion comes from acid, commonplace in most food and drink, yet enamel cannot be reproduced by the human body.
“Our journey started almost a decade ago. Inspired by bone repair technology, we asked ourselves, so what about tooth enamel?” explains Fred Schafer, oral care researcher at the Regenerate International Research Centre. “REGENERATE Enamel Science™ is the first-ever system which provides the answer to this challenge, offering a solution to people troubled by enamel erosion.”
Newly patented1NR-5™ ingredients combine to form a fresh supply of enamel minerals, which wrap and integrate into teeth, helping to regenerate enamel and reverse the erosion process by restoring enamel mineral content with regular use.2
Beauty benefits of the Regenerate Advanced Toothpaste include protecting and strengthening against cavities, making teeth three times stronger5– based on an in-vitro test measuring enamel hardness versus standard fluoride toothpaste – restoring teeth to their original whiteness and giving a pleasant fresh-mint sensation.
Rooted in the concept of intimacy and care, Unilever once again is proving that innovation is the key to revolutionising and changing lives for the better.
REGENERATE Enamel Science ™ Advanced Toothpaste, RRP £10
REGENERATE Enamel Science ™ Boosting Serum, RRP £30
Available at Selfridges and larger Boots stores
1 Patents granted and patents pending.
2 Acts on early invisible stages of erosion.
3 Based on a three-day in-vitro test measuring enamel hardness with combined use of advanced toothpaste and boosting serum versus advanced toothpaste only.
4 Based on an in-vitro test measuring enamel hardness after three days combined use of toothpaste and serum.
5 Based on an in-vitro test measuring enamel hardness versus standard fluoride toothpaste.