Yves Rocher, the baron of eco-beauty, died of a stroke in Paris on Saturday at age 79.
Rocher began his cosmetics empire based on the idea of "beauty through plants" in 1959, selling natural hemorrhoid cream in the classifieds pages of Ici Paris. His creations evolved into a beauty line made without any synthetic products sold via mail-order and in boutiques.
He is also well-known for his 1965 book The Green Book of Beauty, which has been published in 30 languages, and for serving as mayor of La Gacilly for four decades.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy said Rocher was a "great French industrialist, inventor of cosmetics based on vegetable products and pioneer of mail-order sales. Yves Rocher knew how to construct step by step a group devoted to the beauty of women, invest in durable business development and the protection of the environment, notably through his foundation, Yves Rocher-Institut de France."
Roch's grandson Bris Rocher will become the company's president. The Yves Rocher group has annual sales of over 2 billion euros ($2.9 billion), nearly three times that of L'Oreal's Body Shop, with a presence in over 80 countries, according to Reuters, and has about 15,000 employees.