ILONA Beauty, an American beauty brand with Hungarian roots, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Formerly known as Ilona of Hungary, the company launched in the U.S. in 1971, the brainchild of the doyenne of estheticians, Ilona. Her reverence for skin and dedication to fine formulas was used at institutes she established all over the country. All estheticians received an intense six-week course of personal training from Ilona who perfected their skills to match her methods. Today, the company has evolved from its original focus on treatments and services, and is strictly devoted to formulating the most advanced skin care products for at home use. Ilona herself is still involved in every formulation.
Read on for MODERN SALON’s interview with Ilona where we discuss the evolution of professional skincare over the last 50 years.
What was happening in professional skincare when the company was founded?
Skincare was still in its infancy and primitive. One only needed a hairdressing license to perform facials. Now, the profession is treated with greater respect and estheticians are licensed separately.
What kind of services were being offered in salons and spas?
The centerpiece service were facial treatments, administered by Ilona’s legion of personally trained estheticians across the country. Clients of all skin types visited the salons, but many were distressed with acne. Acne suffers of all ages found solutions with Ilona and her prescribed in-home skincare regimens; local dermatologists and physicians often referred patients. .
What was missing from skincare that you wanted to fill?
Facials for acne-prone skin, and an emphasis on educating clients about what is taking place in their skin and its proper care. Ilona facial treatments and philosophy was sought near and far, and was the precursor to their national expansion, product development and mail-order fulfillment service to reach clients across the U.S. and internationally.
Do you think the pandemic has created a new awareness around skincare as healthcare?
The pandemic stirred deep emotions and introspection on many personal levels. When forced to shelter-in and relinquish control, often it’s the simple act of caring for oneself that yields the most satisfaction.
What is your hero product?
The accumulation of knowledge is present in our latest creations. A good example is Beyond C Corrective Serum which is a confluence of unique packaging and ingredient technologies—permeable vitamin C, micronized niacin and probiotics. These ingredients are partitioned until they unite, and the results are beyond expectations.
What does the future look like for ILONA?
The future is brighter than ever for ILONA. The next 50 years will look quite different from the first. We are expanding our website to more countries and languages and introducing new brands—absent the ILONA nameplate—to reach new audiences with a different take and meaning to beauty.
ILONA will always be the vehicle through which new beauty ideas are birthed, but we must go where the customer is. Beauty is very intangible and fluid, its definition changes with each generation. If companies don’t adapt, they will drown in the waters that helped christen them, including us.
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