In 1932, the Orto company was founded in Estonia, in which a perfumery department was opened in 1936 to manufacture face creams, toilet soaps, eau de cologne, perfumes and toothpaste. The demand for beauty products was big, as until then perfumery products were mainly imported from abroad. In 1937, two Orto stores were opened in Tallinn, one each on Pärnu Road and Narva Road. In 1939, 140,000 pieces of soap were produced in Orto.
The Second World War brought about major changes and the range of products altered to suit the new era. The main focus shifted from beauty and cosmetics and the entire production volume was decreased by 75%. From perfumery products, only a clay-based soap, Toalettseep, remained in production. In 1944, Orto began producing for the huge Soviet Union market and by then there were 44 articles in production with only soap remaining from the perfumery line.
The 1950s was a complicated period for Orto during which the survival of the company was repeatedly an issue.
The 1960s, however, brought about winds of change and a start of vigorous growth and development. A face cream containing bee queen milk became the brand article among the perfumery products. Orto was the first in the Soviet Union in the 1960s to start using bee queen milk and, at that time, it was considered a miracle active substance, which was low in acidity and rich in protein. That face cream garnered several prizes and awards.
Besides the production of creams and shampoos, Orto also began to produce plastic bottles and aluminium tubes for packaging products. In the 1960s, birch shampoo and pine needle shampoo came into production, as well as a brow colour, tinted shampoos, cucumber lotion, etc.
In the 1970s, the development of perfumery products continued and the product range was constantly supplemented. Also, artists were hired by Orto to work on the design and appearance of the products.
Egg shampoo, hops shampoo, nettle shampoo, burdock shampoo, hair dyes and facemasks, hand cream in tubes and cucumber cream were added to the product range.
In the 1980s, the Orto perfumery department produced 920 tonnes of shampoo and 124 tonnes of creams. At the end of the 1980s, there were 799 employees in Orto and, during this decade, 21 new perfumery products were released, e.g. chamomile cream, apricot cream, hair gel, lotions Astel and Galeega, etc.
The big social changes of the 1990s also affected Orto, as had the previous political changes. Due to the re-independence of the republic, the huge market of the Soviet Union disappeared and production was decreased sharply. The mighty large enterprise became a small company producing for the Estonian market, concentrating more than ever on the development and manufacture of perfumery products. The lines “Pure Nature” and “Solar” were launched.
In the middle of the 2000s, the company concentrated on the creation of new products, and 24 new products were completed in 2004.
Similar to the new GREEN trend encompassing the entire world, Orto is more and more heading towards the use of natural materials. Hair and skin care product development follows the trends of Europe’s leading material producers and the finished products are tested in labs in France and Germany.
It is important to use renewable materials as raw materials. Green substance does not mean just the colour, but extraordinary softness and natural components – everything a consumer expects from contemporary products. The products are made of natural raw materials, some as much as 100%. In cream making, alternatives are sought to the preservatives that have been used to date, and parabens have been abandoned.
Orto cooperates with many major perfumery product suppliers and the majority of raw materials come from Germany, France, UK and Sweden.