Although 1770 is given as the foundation date for the House of Yardley, the firm was actually established by Samuel Cleaver [c1750-1805] and it would be a new century before a member of the Yardley family was involved in the business. The families became connected through marriage, with two of Samuel Cleaver’s sons marrying daughters of William Yardley [c1756-1824] – William Cleaver married Hermina Yardley in 1801 and Edward Cleaver married Rosina Yardley in 1808.

When Samuel Cleaver died in 1805, he left the business to his wife and four sons who traded under the name of the Cleaver Brothers. Exactly how the business ended up in William Yardley’s hands is not clear. Thomas (Thomas, 1953) suggests that William Yardley had provided surety for a £20,000 loan that his son-in-law, William Cleaver, had taken from Coutts bank and had acquired the business in 1823 when the debt could not be repaid. Even if true, this cannot be the whole story.

Bankruptcy notices issued against the four brothers indicate that the business had slipped into insolvency as early as 1813. However, William Cleaver was again declared bankrupt in 1823 while trading under the name of William Cleaver and Company, so it is possible that William Yardley had provided surety for his son-in-law to buy his brothers and mother out, and when the business finally collapsed had gained control in return for paying his son-in-law’s debts as Thomas suggested.

Yardley and Statham

William Yardley died in 1824, one year after acquiring the Cleaver soap and perfume business. He left the company to his son Charles Yardley [c1795-1882] who then got his cousin Frederick Cleaver to manage it. When Frederick resigned in 1841 to start his own perfume and soap business – F. S. Cleaver & Sons – Charles took on William Statham [1809-1863] as a partner to run the firm which was then renamed Yardley and Statham. Describing itself as a manufacturer of superior toilet soaps and choice perfumery, Yardley and Statham had offices at 7 Vine Street, Bloomsbury, London and at 5 Rue des Vieilles, Haudriettes, Paris. They sold a variety of products for men and women including soaps, perfumes, toilet waters, toiletries, face powders and pomades for the hair.

Sun Flower Oil Soap: renders the skin beautifully soft, white, and pliant, and emits a refreshing and exquisite odour; it is acknowledged to be the Perfection of Toilet Soaps.
Honey Soap: invented by them in the year 1845, continues to command the most undeniable appreciation by the public.
Cold Cream Soap: prepared expressly for Ladies and Infants, is perfumed with Otto of Roses, and has been justly ranked as the most efficient, yet harmless improver of the complexion.

(Yardley and Statham advertisement, 1862)

Yardley and Statham traded domestically through chemists and dealers in perfumes but also shipped goods aboard to British dominions like Australia, as well as to the United States and Europe.

Yardley & Company

After William Statham’s death in 1863, the firm passed into the hands of Charles Yardley’s son, Charles Yardley junior [1824-1872], who died before his father. As Charles Yardley junior’s son, Robert Blake Yardley, was too young to run the business, it was put in the capable hands of Thomas Gardner, who became its manager and was later made a partner. In 1890, Gardner converted Yardley into a Joint Stock Company (Yardley & Co. Ltd.) and became its first chairman. Notification of the new joint stock company indicates that the business was previously carried on by Mary Anne Sophia Yardley and Thomas Exton Gardner at Ridgmount Street, St. Pancreas (The Chemist and Druggist, August 9, 1890).

Poor management saw the company’s fortunes decline after Thomas’ death in 1891 and it would not be until his two sons, Thornton and Richard, joined the firm that its fortunes would rise once again. Thornton joined the company in 1890, became a Director in 1897 and the Managing Director in 1900; Richard joined the company in 1900 and became its Secretary in 1905 (Thomas, 1953).

A new century

The situation the brothers faced in 1900 was very different to that of their father. Prime Minister Gladstone’s removal of the tax on soap in 1853 had made soap cheaper, stimulating increased production, but the entrance of new soap manufacturers, like the Lever Brothers, increased competition. Scientific developments, particularly in the production of caustic soda, were also moving soap production from a cottage industry into full-scale industrialisation. The long-term effect of all this was that the soap industry was entering a period of consolidation in which large companies would dominate the trade.

Wisely, the brothers decided to expand the perfume and toiletries side of the business and, by the beginning of the First World War, Yardley was producing an expanded range of toilet requisites that included perfumes, toilet waters, soaps, face powders, toothpastes, brilliantines and shaving sticks.

A decision was also made to move from wholesale to retail. This meant that the Yardley brand needed to be strengthened. A display store was opened at 8 New Bond Street, London in 1910 and overseas depots were established, beginning in 1905 with an office in Pitt Street, Sydney, Australia. These depots would eventually become subsidiary companies in the 1930s.

Yardley New Bond Street

Above: Yardley’s Georgian style retail and display store at 8 New Bond Street, first opened in 1910. This photograph must have been taken after the Prince of Wales (later the Duke of Windsor) issued a Royal Warrant for Yardley soaps in 1921 as his crest appears above the shop.


Above: Interior of the Bond Street Showroom.

The company’s manufacturing base expanded to meet the increasing demand. A three-story factory had been situated in Vine Street, London from before 1855 and the company had moved to a new and larger factory in Ridgmount Street, Bloomsbury in 1883. This was now inadequate so, in 1904, a larger factory was built at Carpenters Road, Stratford.

Yardley factory on Carpenters Road

Above: Yardley factory on Carpenters Road (Historic England).

Making powder compacts at Carpenters Road

Above: Making powder compacts at Carpenters Road (Historic England).

Packing Department at Carpenters Road

Above: Packing Department at Carpenters Road (Historic England).

A new box-making factory was later established in High Street, Stratford commencing production in 1938. Both properties were damaged during the war but the company had moved much of its stock and reserves to a site at Boreham Wood where it was stored until the building was requisitioned.


Apart from the period encompassing the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars – when French ports were blockaded and the distribution of French perfumes was restricted – France dominated world perfume markets through to 1914 with the only exception being lavender which was, along with rose and violet, one of the most popular scents of Victorian times. As well as being used in soaps, perfumes and toilet waters lavender was used in potpourris, to scent clothing and linen, and as a cure-all.

English lavender was generally regarded as being superior to French and it commanded a higher price. As well as differences in the types of plants grown, English lavender came from the flowers of cultivated plants, whereas French lavender of the time came mainly from wild plants and often included stems and leaves along with the flowers.

Although Yardley promoted English lavender in its advertising, much of the lavender it used, particularly in its cheaper lines, was French. Price was not the only factor. The traditional English lavender growing regions in Surrey and Lincolnshire were in decline, mainly because of the expansion of greater London. Fortunately, in the 1930s, a new lavender growing area was established in Norfolk and Yardley built a distillery there to extract it.

Picking Lavender

Above: Hand picking English lavender at Fring, Norfolk (Poucher, 1932).

Lavender Still

Above: The Yardley distillery at Fring, Norfolk (Poucher, 1932).

The use of French lavender in Yardley products appears to have ceased sometime after the Second World War. Apparently, John H. Seager (a retired board member) was sent overseas in the 1930s to source different species and cultivars of lavender. From these Yardley developed its own cultivar which was grown in England and used exclusively in all their lavender products after the war (Thomas, 1953).

In 1913, Yardley purchased an engraving of Francis Wheatley’s ‘The Flower-sellers’ – part of his ‘Itinerant Traders of London’ series of paintings. Despite the fact that the painting depicted the sale of primroses not lavender, it was used to promote Yardley’s ‘Olde English Lavender Soap’ and other lavender-based products for many years to come. The company also produced porcelain versions of the flower-seller for use in advertising displays; these are are now highly collectable.

Yardley & Company Ltd.

Although the Yardley brand was well established in the British dominions, it was less well known elsewhere. Steps to rectify this were taken after Yardley become a Public Limited Liability Company in 1920. An American subsidiary company was established in 1921, with an office at 15 Thirty-Sixth Street, New York, then moved to larger premises in Madison Square in 1923. New York showrooms were also opened at 452 Fifth Avenue but these were relocated to the British Empire Building in the Rockefeller Center in 1933. Branches were also established in other American cities including Chicago (1928), San Francisco (1928) and New Orleans (1934).

In 1924, Yardley purchased the French perfumery Viville with its main office in the Avenue de l’Opera, Paris and factory in the suburb of Courbevoie. Operating as Viville-Yardley, until the 1930s when it became Yardley et Cie, it was used to promote Yardley products throughout France and Europe.

Yardley laboratory

Above: The interior of a Yardley laboratory, date unknown. Although I am uncertain as to its origins, this photograph may have been taken in a Viville laboratory.

The British dominions were not forgotten and subsidiary companies were set up in Toronto, Canada (1935) and Sydney, Australia (1939).

As the subsidiary companies developed they set up factories to make or assemble Yardley products. This increased production, saved on transportation costs and enabled Yardley to avoid local import duties. So, by 1931, when company moved its retail showrooms to Yardley House at 33 Old Bond Street, Yardley could be considered to be a small but established global brand.

Yardley House

Above: Yardley House, 33 Old Bond Street. Architects were Wimperis, Simpson & Guthrie. The frieze of floral decorations on the top of the building was designed by Reco Capey. The company would move most of its administration as well as the perfume laboratory, art department and salon into the building in 1946.

Yardley Old Bond Street

Above: A closer view of part of Yardley House. The door and other elements inside the building were designed by Reco Capey, Yardley’s resident designer.

By the late 1930s Yardley was thriving. The British government had removed the spirit duty on lavender in 1932 and, as Yardley perfumes and toiletries were now more competitive, this was a tremendous boost to sales, helped by Queen Mary issuing a second Royal Warrant for Yardley perfumes, also in 1932 – a previous Royal Warrant had been issued in 1921 by Edward, Prince of Wales, for perfumes and soap. Unfortunately, this streak of good fortune would be interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1939.

As well as the Gardner brothers, some of the company’s success during the interwar period can be attributed to the work of William A. Poucher and Reco Capey.

William Poucher, and Reco Capey

W. A. Poucher [1891-1988] worked as a consulting chemist and perfumer for Yardley from 1927 and joined the firm in 1929 after disposing of his consulting practice. His appointment as a perfumer was a bold move at the time, as he was English not French, but he had solved an important cosmetic problem for Yardley in 1929 (Bouillette, 1955) – which I assume to be associated with the formulation of English Complexion Cream released in that year – which impressed the Yardley board. He produced a range of new fragrances for Yardley including Freesia, Orchis and Bond Street and also worked on the formulation of numerous products in the Yardley range.

Reco Capey [1895-1961] was engaged by Yardley as its Art Director in 1928 and was later assisted by Katharine Bertram Stone [1908-1971]. The couple were married in 1936 and together they went to New York in 1940 for the duration of the war. As Art Director, Capey was responsible for Yardley’s elegantly designed cosmetic containers with their flower and honeybee motifs – typified by English Complexion Cream – that made Yardley products so distinctive in the 1930s and 1940s. Reco Capey was also placed in control of other areas of design including advertising artwork and store fittings and fixtures.


Above: The redesigned interior of the Yardley Bond Street Showroom. Designed by Reco Capey, 1936. Furniture by Gordon Russell Ltd.

Inter-war period

Yardley had been making beauty products for some time, including Lavender Cold Cream, Lavender Vanishing Cream, lipsticks and powder compacts. Although it continued to promote its soaps, perfumes and toiletries – many of which were based on English Lavender – the start to its modern beauty lines begins in 1929.

Beginning with the introduction of English Complexion Cream in 1929, Yardley developed a complete skin-care range and organised them into a system of beauty care. The company placed Mrs. Olive Cato in charge of this area and even opened a beauty salon in a building adjacent to Yardley House in 1937 (Thomas, 1953). Yardley wisely used its lavender-based soaps as their ‘foundation for beauty’ but combined them with other products to promote the idea of an ‘English complexion’.

Natural, young and lovely … an English Complexion.
Skin petal-soft, lips alive with color … an “English Complexion” is naturally, delightfully charming. To make its attractions yours, There’s the simple beauty routine of fashionable women the world around—daily care with Yardley Aids to Beauty.

(Yardley advertisement, 1948)

Initially ‘English Complexion’ meant the complexion of English socialites and the aristocracy but by the 1940s the egalitarian effects of the war saw this morph into something more generalised.

An English complexion

The Yardley English Complexion beauty system of the early 1930s was a 3-step routine of cleanse, tone, and apply powder foundation – even though the company did not have a well-defined toner and used Lavender Water in its place. English Complexion Cream was used both as a secondary cleanser and a powder foundation, and also acted as a ‘skin food’ when used overnight.

To begin, there is Yardley’s English Lavender Soap for shampooing the face and neck. Its cooling fragrance is a revelation. It is followed by Yardley’s English Complexion Cream to complete the cleansing, to dislodge the impurities which seem to elude even the most penetrating lather. The cream is removed with a cotton pad saturated with lavender lotion or your own special astringent. Now your skin is ready for the second coating of English Complexion Cream, which remains on all night to soften and nourish the tissues.
In the morning, this same cream becomes your powder foundation. Let your skin absorb as much of it as it will; then wipe away the surplus with water and an ordinary wash cloth, or with cotton and tonic, or simply with tissues. Yardley’s English Lavender Face Powder will cling perfectly to the fine invisible film that remains.

(Yardley advertisement, 1930)

Also see the company booklet: A beauty secret from across the sea

Given that Yardley did not establish a beauty salon until 1937, it is interesting to ask about the origins of its ideas on skin-care. Although it is true that the Yardley system of beauty care was not out of step with practices of the time, many of its ideas may have come from W. A. Poucher. In 1926, before he began consulting for Yardley, he had published the book ‘Eve’s Beauty Secrets’, which he suggested would “be of some assistance to women desiring to retain their beauty by means of the substances placed at their disposal by modern science” (Poucher, 1926). This is the only case I know of where an industrial chemist has put pen to paper in this way. Most of the ingredients described in Yardley’s skin-care routine are there, soap and water, cleansing cream, skin foods and facial massage.

While it is impossible for any woman to lead a placid and uninteresting life free from all cares, yet it is within the power of all to spend five minutes each day upon a treatment that will, at any rate, retard the appearance of wrinkles, and materially assist nature in maintaining that roundness and firmness of the face so typical of radiant youth.

(Poucher, 1926, p. 25)

Olive Cato (Yardley’s beauty expert) probably read Poucher’s 1926 book ‘Eve’s beauty secrets’ and, given that Poucher played a role in many of the new skin-care products developed in the 1930s, it seems likely that he also had a hand in the development of Yardley’s skin-care system.

Skin types

Additional skin-care products added in the 1930s enabled Yardley’s routine to be customised for dry, normal and oily skins. For example, the use of Lavender Water as a general toner was replaced with Yardley Toning Lotion for dry and normal skins and Yardley Skin Astringent Lotion for oily skins. There was also a greater range of powder foundations with the addition of Foundation Cream and Complexion Milk.

Lavender soap: “your first weapon in the battle to keep your beauty”.
Liquefying Cleansing Cream: “seems to penetrate the dry parched condition and actually soften and remove the little flakes of surface matter”.
Toning Lotion: “removes cream, stimulates all skins”.
Astringent Skin lotion: “for that imperative refining and stimulation of the pores”.
Skin Lotion: “for arms and neck”.
Complexion Milk: “a skin lotion that also soothes and smooths … insures a day-long, smooth-as-silk finish to your powder”.
Skin Food: “nourishes, rejuvenates”.
Night Cream: “rich in beneficial oils that will actually retexture the skin while you sleep”.
Foundation Cream: “your powder base”.

Like another British cosmetics company, Cyclax, some preparations had multiple uses, which meant that their purpose was not self explanatory and this could create some confusion in the mind of the user. English Complexion Cream was the worst offender, being used as a cleanser and emollient on normal and oily skins, and a powder foundation on dry skins.

Yardley Skin-care chart

Above: 1937 Skin-care chart from ‘Beauty Secrets from Bond Street’.

Also see the company booklet: Beauty Secrets from Bond Street


The company also extended its range of make-up in the 1930s with new lipsticks, powders and eyeshadows in matching shades that could also be coordinated with Yardley nail enamels. As far as I can tell they did not make a mascara at this time. In naming its colours, Yardley followed established terms or used names taken from nature.

English Complexion Powder: Available in specialized boxes depending on the perfume used i.e., Lavender, Bond Street, Orchis, Lotus, Jessamine or Fragrance. Shades: Natural, Rachel No. 1, Medium Rachel, Deep Rachel, Suntan (Rose Rachel), English Peach and Gipsy.
Rouge: Rouge Compact and Cream Rouge. Shades: Natural, Medium, Vivid, Cherry, and Poppy.
Lipstick: Shades: Natural, Medium, Vivid, Cherry, and Poppy.
Eye Shadow: Shades: Azure, Mist, Green-moss and Violet.

Advice was available for clients that enabled them to match colours with their skin tone.

Yardley Make-up chart

Above: 1937 Make-up chart from ‘Beauty Secrets from Bond Street’.

Colour coordination became more sophisticated in the 1940s when allowance was made for a greater range of skin tones.

1947 Yardley Make-up Chart

Above: 1947 Part of a Yardley make-up chart. The cosmetics have been place in two categories, Sophistication and Simplicity, which are interchangeable. This was for English customers so tan shades are notably absent.

Other products included soaps, perfumes, toilet waters, dusting powders, bath salts, hair preparations, hand lotions and shaving creams.

Men’s lines

Due to the English dominance in men’s tailoring – based largely in Savile Row, London – men’s toiletries, along with soaps and lavender products, were a traditional strength of the English perfume and toiletries industry; Paris may have been the centre for female fashion but the well-to-do male went to London to buy a suit.

Yardley had been selling men’s toiletries for centuries with a range that included pomades, colognes, talcs, brilliantines and shaving soaps. Popular products from the 1930s and 1940s included a wooden shaving bowl (with included Shaving Soap), Hair Tonic, Invisible Talc (used as an after-shave) and After Shaving Lotion.

The war and post-war period

As with other British cosmetic companies, the Second World War hit Yardley harder than its American counterparts. European supplies and markets were severed, factories were requisitioned, production restricted and assets bombed. Thornton Gardner, at the request of the company director was relocated to New York as were some staff such as Reco Capey and Katharine Stone. The 1940 Board of Trade Concentration of Industries Order also meant that Yardley was manufacturing cosmetics for a number of other companies on its premises (Thomas, 1953).


After the war, as things slowly returned to normal, the company attempted to regain its prewar momentum. Some of the confusion in the its skin-care lines was resolved in the 1950s with the introduction of Dry Skin Cleansing Cream as this allowed English Complexion Cream to be rebadged as an all-purpose cream.

1948 Yardley salon in London

Above: 1948 Yardley London salon.

Yardley also made some product improvements, for example, vitamins A & C were added to the Night Cream and it was renamed as Vitamin Night Cream in 1954. It was to be used nightly on dry skins, every other night on normal skins and twice a week on skins that were oily. Vitamin E would be added in the 1973. There was also an Improved Skin Food, although this was not available in the United States where the term ‘skin food’ had been banned since the introduction of legislation there in 1938.

Dry Skin Cleansing Cream: “rich and creamy! Restores radient freshness”.
Liquefying Cleansing Cream: “especially for oily skin—tissues off without a trace of film!”
Vitamin Night Cream: “to rebuild skin tissues, counteract effects of sun, wind and dust, and keep your skin supple and youthful”.

In general, the message remained one of cleanse, nourish and tone.

If your skin is to be really beautiful, simple care with Yardley is essential. Never be slack about removing grime and make-up with soap and water, afterwards using Dry Skin Cleansing Cream and Toning Lotion. If your skin is greasy, substitute Liquefying Cleansing Cream and Astringent Lotion. Once or twice a week, condition your face and neck with Night Cream. Its bland richness vitalizes your skin, and keeps it clear and smooth.

(Yardley advertisement, 1952)


There were some changes to Yardley’s make-up lines of this period as the company updated its various lines. Feather Pressed, a pressed powder compact was added in 1951 to complement Yardley Complexion Powder which now came in shades that included English Peach, Carmen, Pink Pearl, Honey Glow, Golden Rachel, Copper Gold, Rose Tan, Tampico, Rose Amber and Pink Champagne. In 1955, Yardley added Feather Finish, a cream powder compact in four shades: Blonde, Medium 1, Medium 2 and Brunette. There were also new foundations, including Feather Foundation and Moisture Make-up.

A mascara was added and, along with Yardley lipsticks, eyeshadows, eyeliners and so forth, it underwent the usual ‘improvements in formulation’ and addition of colours although there were few colour promotions of the Revlon kind. One has the feeling that the company was getting little traction with its make-up lines and was concentrating more on maintaining the sales of its soaps, perfumes, toiletries (including bath products and deodorants) and skin-care lines. This would change in the 1960s.

Also see the company booklet: The Yardley Way to Beauty

The 1960s

The 1960s ushered in a sea-change for Yardley. Both Reco Capey and William Poucher left in 1959 and the pattern that had developed over the past 20 years began to alter.


For the Yardley skin-care range, change was one of evolution rather than revolution and included additional products designed for mature women, the growing youth market and other specialised skin problems. Noticeably missing from the list are any of the more extreme anti-ageing fads that periodically swept through the beauty industry.

Deep Emollient Cleanser: “contains eleven emollients to cleanse deeply”.
Skin Freshener: “pH controlled to balance skin acidity and tone the skin”.
Improved Vitamin Cream: “a vitamin enriched night cream to combat dryness and roughness, tiny lines and wrinkles”.
Velvet Skin moisturiser: “a moisturizing liquid to retain essential skin moisture”.
Special Dry Skin Cleansing Cream: “to cleanse gently but deeply and thoroughly”.
Complexion and Foundation Cream: “a light untinted all-purpose cream”.
Infinite Beauty: “rich luxury cream to counteract tired lines and loss of skin firmness”.
Beauty Magic: “it’s a cream full of moisture … keeps skin young, glowing”.
Eye Contour Oil: “to stop the tiny lines and wrinkles from deepening”.

As with other companies, moisturisers were added to Yardley’s skin-care line in the 1960s but the skin-care message continued to promote the idea of feeding and massaging the skin rather than merely hydrating it.

First the skin must be thoroughly cleansed night and morning. Start with a soap and water wash using luke-warm water and Yardley Oatmeal Soap (if your skin is dry or sensitive) a Yardley perfumed soap if your skin is oily. This removes the buildup of make-up, secretion of skin oils and daily grime.
Next deep pore cleanse with Special Dry Skin Cleansing Cream or Deep Emollient Cleanser if your skin tends to be oily.
Next step, tone up your skin with Yardley Skin Freshener which conditions your skin as well as freshening it. This means it has the ability to make dry skins less dry and oily skins less oily—it also contains a mild antiperspirant to keep skin cool and dry in hot weather.
In the daytime you follow this with a moisturizer – Velvet Skin moisturizer for dry and sensitive skins—Beauty Magic for all others. …
Next step is the sheerest possible film of Contour Control. This product does two things—it helps smooth out surface wrinkles and lines thus creating a more youthful appearance and for oily skins and skins which perspire excessively it provides a transparent filmy base for even make-up application and keeps make-up looking fresher longer which is a major problem with moist or oily skin. …
Now apply a little of the Improved Vitamin Night Cream—spread lightly over the face and throat and using the pads of the fingers gently massage into the skin with an upward and outward movement. Continue this gentle massage for five to 10 minutes—then tissue off any excess.
If you are the lazy type or just don’t like any form of massage then use Infinite Beauty. This cream has been specially designed to do its job without any massage. Simply spread a light film over the skin and leave it.
Please note if you have a sensitive skin Infinite Beauty is not for you—it’s too stimulating—so you’d just smooth a little of Improved Vitamin Night Cream over your face and throat and forget it is there.

(Yardley article on beauty care, 1967)

Although moisturising is given its due, the importance of oils in nourishing the skin remained central to Yardley’s skin-care message.

Just as our bodies need good food so our skins need nourishing. When we are born nature provides us with an abundance of natural oils to keep our skins soft and smooth but sad to say, as we grow older these natural oils gradually dry out and lines, wrinkles, flabbiness and general loss of colour occur.
To prevent further loss of these oils, and, as far as possible to replace them is the aim of the Yardley nourishing creams.
Again, like our bodies, our skins also need some exercise so we combine the two—nourishment and exercise by gently massaging in to our skins Improved Vitamin night Cream.
But first we must prepare our skin to accept this nourishment and exercise. So we repeat out morning treatment wash, deep pore cleanse and freshen. The use of Yardley Skin Freshener helps prepare the skin for the benefits of your night treatment cream.
For very dry skins, and this applies too to the mature skin, it’s a good idea to use Improved Vitamin Night Cream one night and Infinite Beauty the next and to continue these on alternate nights—but don’t forget Infinite Beauty must not be massaged in.
Oily skins of course need no additional oils so they do not use a nourishing cream. They use Beauty Magic to replenish their supply of moisture.
Next step is the sheerest possible film of Contour control over your treatment cream. This helps trap the moisture in your nourishing cream or Beauty Magic, which ever you are using, and holds it in while you sleep.
Last but by no means least a few drops of Eye Contour Control on eyelids and underneath the eyes. This exceptionally absorbent blend of rare oils is specifically designed to protect the delicate skinned eye area against cobweb lines and actual wrinkles. Because there are no oil ducts around the eye area to keep the skin soft and supple even an oily skin needs Eye Contour Oil to keep lines and wrinkles from forming.

(Yardley article on beauty care, 1967)

The products were packaged in rather generic looking plastic containers with the faux metal or white lids with a new Yardley logo which made the name look more hand-written.


In some areas, such as foundations and powders, Yardley make-up from the 1960s followed on from what had happened before.

Most skins unless very young look best with a foundation and loose powder. Yardley makes two foundations—Moisture Tint for dry and normal skins. Feather Foundation for the oily types.
If your skin is inclined to have a flushed appearance chose a shade of foundation and matching face powder in a beige toning which will make your skin look cooler.
If on the other hand your skin looks sallow or olive, try a shade with a little pink or rose in it to give it warmth. For touch ups during the day use Yardley Feather Finish Cream Powder in compact form.
For the younger skins or those who prefer an all-in one-makeup Yardley has designed Beauty Finish—gives a lovely matt finish to the skin and stays put for hours. Some young skins are troubled with blackheads, etc., and for those there is Yardley Medicated Beauty Finish.
Blush Tone is available for those who like a little rouge to add colour to the cheeks. Chose a shade to blend in with your lipstick.
Lipstick is really a fashion accessory and should be chosen to exactly match or blend with the colour of your dress or suit. Yardley has a large range to choose from including Lipslickers which can give a dewy moist look to your lips or a heavenly frosting— which ever you prefer.

(Yardley article on beauty care, 1967)

However, in regard to lipsticks, eye make-up and other coloured cosmetics the changes were more dramatic. The 1960s saw Yardley invest heavily in colour cosmetics. This was a major undertaking as these lines are driven by rapid fashion changes that require shorter product turnovers and need bigger marketing budgets to be successful in a market was becoming increasingly segmented by age and income.

The decision to invest heavily in make-up was probably taken by Donald Burr [1937-1990] who became Yardley’s first American born president in 1965. Using an advertising campaign created by Jacqueline Brandwynne [b. 1937], Yardley promoted its London links, taking advantage of the exuberance of that brief period in the 1960s when Britain became the world centre of music and fashion and London became ‘Swinging London’ as epitomised by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Carnaby Street and King’s Row.

The campaign was initially successful, particularly in the United States. Yardley was able to increase the number of its younger customers and sales rose from US$12 million a year in 1964 to US$40 million in 1968, with American sales rising from US$150,000 to $20 million (Observer Reporter, 1968). Unfortunately, as Yardley soon discovered, the youth market was very fickle and before long the company began to experience heavy financial losses in the American market as product went unsold (Jones, 2010). This was probably the reason why Donald Burr resigned as the president of Yardley in 1969, after only four years in the job.

The London Look

A good example of Yardley make-up from this time was Yardley’s ‘London Look’. Make-up for the London Look consisted of a pale, matt skin finish with a heavy focus on the eyes. It was not original and followed the make-up style developed by Mary Quant in her 1966 ‘Jeepers Peepers’ and ‘Paint Box Make-up’ lines. London Look makeup was given ‘funky’ names – such as ‘Sigh Shadow’ eye shadow, ‘Slicker Dolly’ lipstick ‘Pot O’Gloss’ lipgloss – and was packaged in the bright pop colours we now see as being signatures of the 1960s. It was heavily promoted using the well known and more expensive English models Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy.

English Eyelighter: “makes your eyes look twice the size.”
Sigh Shadow: “brush on powders in low-key colors flutter on like a whisper and make eyes look not once, but twice the size!” Shades included: Heather Green, Foggy Grey, Aqua Tint, Oxford Brown and Lavender Blue.
London Lashes: “makes lashes look as flirty as false ones without the bother.”
English Eyeliner: “a knockout mascara.“
New to Nothing Foundation: “The sheerest face film that actually lets your skin glow through.” Shades: Bare, Buff, Bloom and Blush.
London Fluff: “See through powder that settles light over Next to Nothing Foundation.” Shades: Bare and Buff.
London Fluff Pressed Powder: “The carry-cake compact.” Shades: Bare and Buff.
Slickers: “turn on lips or lipstick. Make your mouth all softness and shine.” Shades included: Basic Slicker, Helpless Pink, Beach Melon, Eastside, London Luv Pink, Good Night, Sunny Slicker, Frosted Slicker, Surf Slicker, Chelsea Pink, Piccadilly, Dicey Peach, Nippy Beige, Tan-Tan and Nectaringo.
Slicker Nail Polish: “captures kisses down to your fingertips.”

Corporate acquisition

In 1967, Yardley was bought by British American Tobacco (BAT) who followed this acquisition with number of other British and European firms including Morny, Germaine Monteil, Juneva, Lenthéric, Scandia and Tuvaché and this is where my interest in the company largely ends. The cosmetic part of BAT was combined into a separate division, British American Cosmetics (BAC), in 1970.

After a management change at BAT that resulted in them deciding to concentrate on tobacco, BAT sold BAC to Beecham in 1985. In 1989, Beecham merged with SmithKIine to form SmithKIine Beecham. As with BAT, the new entity decided to concentrate on its core business, pharmaceuticals, and once again Yardley was sold, this time to Wasserstein Perella & Co. and operated through the Old Bond Street Corporation. In 1998, Yardley went into receivership with debts of about £120 million. Despite suffering a series of sales and subdivisions the brand still operates today.


1770Samuel Cleaver establishes the soap and perfumery business that will eventually become Yardley.
1823William Yardley gains control of the Cleaver soap and perfumery business.
1841Charles Yardley takes on William Statham as a partner to form Yardley and Statham.
1847Yardley and Statham trademark registered.
1853Gladstone removes the tax on soap.
1883New factory built at Ridgmount Street, Bloomsbury.
1890Thomas Gardner converts Yardley into a Joint Stock Company, Yardley & Co. Ltd.
1900Yardley begins trading in Canada.
1904New factory opened in Carpenters Road, Stratford, London.
1905Yardley opens its first overseas wholesale outlet in Pitt Street, Sydney, Australia.
1910Display and retail sales shop opened at 8 New Bond Street, London.
1913Yardley purchases an engraving of Francis Wheatley’s ‘The Flower-sellers’.
1920Yardley converted into a Public Limited Liability Company.
1921Yardley subsidiary established in the United States at 15 Thirty-Sixth Street, New York.
Yardley receives its first Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales.
1923Yardley subsidiary established in Canada.
New York office moves to Madison Square
1924Yardley purchases the French perfumery Viville, which operates as Viville-Yardley until the 1930s.
1927Yardley headquarters and showrooms moved to 8 New Bond Street.
W. A. Poucher engaged as consulting chemist and perfumer.
n.d.Perfume laboratory and art studio established in Pollen House, Cork Street.
1928William Poucher joins Yardley to become its perfumer-chemist.
Reco Capey joins Yardley to become its Art Director.
1929New Products: English Complexion Cream.
1931Yardley’s London retail showrooms moved to Yardley House at 33 Old Bond Street, London.
1932UK spirit duty on alcohol used in perfumes and toilet waters removed.
1933Yardley New York sales office and showrooms moved to the Rockefeller Center.
London headquarters moved to Sackville house, Piccadilly.
1935Yardley subsidiary established in Canada.
1936New Products: Liquefying Cleansing Cream.
1937Yardley opens a beauty salon in a building adjacent to Yardley House in Old Bond Street.
New Products: English Complexion Powder.
1938New box making factory opens in the High Street, Stratford.
1939Yardley subsidiary established in Australia.
1940Yardley ordered to remove ‘English’ and ‘London’ from U.S. products by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
1946Yardley head office, perfume laboratory, art department and salon moved to Yardley House, London.
1951The first British depot outside London opened in Liverpool
New Products: Feather Pressed, a pressed powder compact; Yardley Y range of men’s toiletries.
1954New Products: Vitamin Night Cream.
1955Yardley of London (Africa) Pty. Ltd. established.
New Products: Feather Finish, a pressed cream compact.
1966Yardley completes its manufacturing relocation from High Street, Stratford, East London to Miles Gray Road, Basildon.
New Products: Jean Shrimpton line.
1967Yardley acquired by British American Tobacco (BAT).
New Products: Oatmeal Beauty Treats line.
1970Yardley grouped into British American Cosmetics (BAC).
1984Yardley acquired by Beechams.
1989Beecham merges with SmithKline to form SmithKline Beecham.
1990SmithKline Beecham and sells its Yardley-Lenthéric cosmetics group to the investor group Wasserstein Perella to be operated through the Old Bond Street Corporation.
1992Yardley of London (Africa) Pty. Ltd. acquired by National Brands Ltd., a subsidiary of AVI Ltd.
1998Yardley goes into receivership.
Yardley acquired by Wella.
Yardley London trademark for sub-Saharan Africa secured by National Brands Limited.
2001Yardley U.S. acquired by Wella.
2005Yardley acquired by The Lornamead Group.
2009Lornamead sells Yardley Asian and Middle Eastern rights to Wipro.
2012Lornamead sells the U.K./European division of Yardley, with the exception of Germany and Austria, to Wipro.

Updated: 29th June 2016

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