Meet the woman named the 'Steve Jobs of cosmetics'.

By Terry
Thanks to our brand partner, By Terry

If you’ve ever wondered what goes into creating one of the world's most successful beauty brands, just ask Terry de Gunzburg

Labelled the "Steve Jobs of cosmetics" by the Wall Street Journal, Terry is a trailblazing industry legend who was among the first to use skincare ingredients in makeup formulas. 

As a medical student turned creative director for Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, Terry went on to establish her own cosmetics brand By Terry in 1998, which introduced the first hybrid skincare-makeup product to market and gained a cult following.

But Terry never actually intended to pursue a career in beauty. 

She spoke to Mamamia about her big break and what led her to create some of the world's most iconic beauty products – from YSL's Touche Éclat to her very own By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder.

On discovering her love for makeup:

Image: Supplied.


It was the early ‘80s when Terry was studying to become a doctor. 

During a semester break, she enrolled herself in one of the most renowned French beauty schools, the Maison de Beauté Carita, run by sisters Maria and Rosy Carita who revolutionised the profession of luxury hairdressing. 

“I was a medical student at the time and my girlfriend and I decided to do a four-week makeup course over summer, you know, just for fun,” explained Terry.

“I fell in love with the fact that makeup is so joyful and I loved being able to transform someone using textures and colour. 

"After the four weeks Maria Carita decided to send me to do the makeup for a photoshoot with Vogue. Apparently I was different!

“I came from a totally different universe so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I did the perfect lip, very minimal lashes and the perfect glow – that became my signature." 

To achieve her looks, which weren’t yet popularised, Terry explained she would mix products with moisturisers and combine powders, to create natural finishes. 

From the beginning, Terry says her ethos was always “less is more”. 

Following the photoshoot's success, Terry paused her university studies to pursue makeup full time. 


The Vogue shoot instantly put her on the map and she was soon working with the likes of Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista. 

On working with Yves Saint Laurent:

One of Terry’s biggest breaks came in 1985 when she met Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent, who saw something in her and offered her the role as Creative Director.

“You have to believe in yourself and your destiny,” said Terry. 

For 15 years, Terry worked with luxury brand and was the mastermind behind the bestselling Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Radiant Highlighter.

“I had a trademark application, instead of putting a lot of powder to mattify, I preferred glow and illumination and I made my own recipe, mixing a drop of foundation, a drop of toner a drop of liquid moisturiser," she told Mamamia

“I applied it with a brush and all the models loved that instead of heavy-looking matte coverage, the finish that this technique created was more sheer and illuminating, with a blurred-skin effect. From this I had the idea to create the Touche Éclat for Yves Saint Laurent.”

On elevating her own brand:


“I knew I had all the assets I needed to write my own story,” explained Terry. 

“I learned what it’s like to work with the most expensive and exclusive ingredients, and now it was my turn to share with the world.” 

Terry explained her first and biggest challenge of running By Terry was to bridge the gap between producing high-quality products using ingredients not commonly used in makeup. 

“It's like you're making an industrial chocolate cake or a chef is making one; it's not the same process,” said Terry.

To maintain the quality and integrity of the brand, the focus had to be on the size of the production.

"Instead of doing like 10 tones in quantity of a batch, we divided that into multi batches. We're using extremely, extremely refined ingredients," she explained. 

“It's like in food and wine: the better the ingredients, the better the result." 


Almost 12 years ago, Terry created the first silky mattifying setting powder to be infused with hyaluronic acid, the Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder. It continues to be a cult classic, and has now been upgraded to include eight types of hyaluronic acid – By Terry's exclusive technology to boost skin’s hydration and create a luminous complexion.

As is true to Terry's continual reinvention, By Terry has relaunched in Mecca with new loose and pressed setting powder options, as well as the new-to-market innovation Hyaluronic Glow Setting Mist – a skincare-first high-performance setting spray that hydrates, primes and sets makeup up to 16 hours.


On her iconic Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder:

“One day in my lab, by chance I touched a white powder on a bench. I asked my staff ‘what are you doing with that white powder?’" Terry said. 

“It was hyaluronic acid, and as I touched it, it disappeared. I then put it like that on my skin, then suddenly I saw all my lines and even my pores appeared to be completely filled. A translucent powder with no colour could erase the look of lines – that was 11 years go. 

“I knew I wanted this as a setting powder in its simplest form, and they said to me ‘That’s not possible. It’s too expensive’. But I pushed and I pushed.”

“It took five years to create. I wanted to create a powder for people who hate traditional powders – like me – which dry out the skin.”

On her life philosophy:

“My philosophy is first, creativity," Terry shared. 

“I also believe in integrity. I was so proud when the Wall Street Journal called me the Steve Jobs of cosmetics, because each time I aimed to reinvent even the products deemed a cult-favourite.

"I hope to make them more sustainable, more natural and more efficient. 

“I’ve always invested more in research rather than marketing, and I let the products’ results speak for themselves." 

Shop the By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder 8HA and Hyaluronic Glow Setting Mist, available exclusively at Mecca. 

Feature Image: Instagram/@byterryofficial

By Terry
Introducing the world to innovative, multipurpose and ultra-luxe formulations – like the award-winning hyaluronic acid-infused setting powder, iconic rose lip balm and tea-infused bronzer – By Terry founder Terry de Gunzburg has an undeniable understanding of skin, colours and textures. Designed to enhance your natural beauty, this is skincare and makeup at its most radiant.