Forever Ulay

08 Jun


My colleagues love playing a good game of ‘Guess Angel’s Age.” I don’t know why – I’ve already told them I’m old. What more do they need to know?

“I reckon she was born in the 1940s,” laughed one of my colleagues.
“Of course I was,” I replied, “though you’d never know due to all the Oil of Ulay I’ve been using.”
“Oh my gosh,” cried another colleague, “my mum used to use that all the time!”
“Yeah but back then it definitely would have been called Oil of Ulay. None of this Olay Business.”
“I know – I don’t know why they bothered changing the name. They should have just left it.”
“Don’t lie – Oil of Olay used to be called Oil of Ulay?” (Bless her, it was before her time.)



Trust me, the conversation was a lot more riveting than it sounded – and of course took me back to my childhood when a bottle of Oil of Ulay adorned the dressing table of many women – and my mum was no different. Ulay, back then, was heavily advertised on television, urging consumers to purchase a bottle, with promises of beautiful, youthful skin. As a child, I figured that was what I needed if I wanted to keep looking, er, eight!


Olay began life after the Second World War when it was invented by South African chemist, Graham Wulff, a man who undoubtedly has the gratitude of females all over the world! He named it ‘Oil of Olay’ as a spin on the name of the product’s key ingredient, lanolin. Packaged in a heavy glass bottle during the early days, Olay stood out from the beauty product crowd as it was a soft pink fluid rather than a thick white cream.

Olay's inventor: Chemist Graham Wulff

Olay’s inventor: Chemist Graham Wulff

In fact, what Olay actually was was a bit of a mystery as it was never labelled a moisturizer and neither was it referred to as a beauty fluid. the packaging didn’t say what the product actually did but it was uniquely marketed as a ‘beauty secret’ and promised a ‘younger looking you.’

It was soon launched in other parts of the world as Oil of Ulay (UK and Ireland), Oil of Ulan (Australia) and Oil of Olaz (continental Europe). It was only in 1999 that the product was given the globally unifying name of Oil of Olay – which is exactly as Wulff intended.


Sales really took off in the 1970s, with a huge television ad campaign and an extended product range which included a cleanser and a night cream. The sub heading ‘beauty fluid’ was added to packaging.

Today, the product range has exploded with a multitude of products catering for virtually every age, skin type and skincare requirement. All these years later, Olay is still very much a giant in the beauty industry.

new olay

This iconic, pretty, pink beauty fluid is so symbolic of ‘my era’. Oh and it’ll always be Ulay to me!




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