Dermatologist Norman Orentreich died Wednesday in New York. He was 96 years old.
The cause of death could not be learned at press time.
Orentreich was best known as the founding dermatologist of Clinique, which he created under the auspices of the Estée Lauder Cos. in 1968 with former Vogue beauty editor Carol Phillips.
The two met when Philips and Orentreich co-wrote a magazine story titled, “Can Great Skin Be Created?” Estée Lauder recruited Phillips after reading the piece, and asked the duo to create a brand based on it. At launch, Clinique consisted of the now famous, three-step skin-care system: cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize, and was the first dermatologist-created, fragrance-free and allergy-tested line in the prestige market.
Today, it is the number-one prestige brand in the U.S. by sales, according to the NPD Group, with multiple products that have achieved the status of industry icons. One bottle of Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+ is sold every five seconds, for example. The brand’s success has helped propel Lauder over the last 50 years into the world’s leading prestige beauty manufacturer and the third largest global beauty manufacturer overall.
“For more than 50 years, Norman has been my friend, colleague and partner,” said Leonard A. Lauder, chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. “He was a visionary who changed the way the world looked at skin care, and he did unheralded work in understanding human aging. His research added so much to our understanding of how age affects not only the skin but also the heart, brain and everything. The legacy he leaves behind is extraordinary, and I’m forever grateful to him. Our company has lost a guiding light today, and he will be deeply missed.”
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“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear friend Dr. Norman Orentreich,” said William Lauder, executive chairman of the company. “A true partner and innovator, Dr. Orentreich helped to shape the Clinique brand through the creation of its iconic 3-Step system. Our hearts are with his children Dr. David Orentreich and Dr. Catherine Orentreich, and his entire family.”
Even before co-creating Clinique, Orentreich was a medical pioneer. In 1952, he performed the world’s first hair transplant to treat male pattern baldness, and in 1960 he was the first to create a line of skin-care products for his medical practice, including a patented DHEA cream. After the launch of Clinique, he continued to practice and consult on the brand, and was joined in both endeavors by his son, David, and daughter, Catherine, both of whom are dermatologists. Orentreich retired from active practice in 2004.
Orentreich’s precepts remain a guiding force for Clinique’s product development today, and his original formulations are still in circulation. “Dr. Orentreich was my first dermatologist in New York City,” said Jane Lauder, global brand president of Clinique. “He personally formulated our iconic Clarifying Lotion, and to this day it is the one product I use every morning and night. We are tremendously grateful to Dr. Orentreich and will continue his legacy at Clinique working with his children, Drs. David and Catherine Orentreich. Our thoughts are with his many colleagues and friends, and his cherished family. He will be greatly missed.”