by Angela Himsel

The Business of Beauty

Helena Rubenstein’s Jewish roots

In Ugly Beauty: Helena Rubinstein, L’Oreal and the Blemished History of Looking Good (Harper, $26.99), Ruth Brandon masterfully blends her expertise as a cultural historian and biographer with her talent for writing detective stories and literary novels to produce a page-turning, insightful sprawl of a book. The mys- tery is this: how is Jewish entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein (1870 – 1965) connected to L’Oreal’s founder, the fascist Eugene Schueller (1881 – 1957), and what does the beauty business have to do with Nazi collaboration in Vichy and political scandals of modern-day France?

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