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Cosmetics may be defined as “substances that you put on your face or body that are intended to improve your appearance”. The desire to improve one’s appearance is something that seems to be inherently human, and can be done in a number of ways. It is known today, for instance, that during Pre-historic times, ornaments such as necklaces and bracelets were used, as they have been found as grave goods in burials from that period.
Another way of improving oneself is of course the application of cosmetics. This article will focus primarily on ancient Egypt, where cosmetics are thought to have been first used. Nevertheless, the use of cosmetics in other parts of the ancient world will also be looked at briefly.
Oils to Protect and Perfume
The earliest known evidence for the use of cosmetics by human beings is believed to come from the ancient Egyptian civilization. Thus, it has commonly been speculated that cosmetics were first used in ancient Egypt (others have suggested that red ochre is evidence that the use of cosmetics began much earlier, i.e. during the African Middle Stone Age).
Nefertiti bust with eye liner applied ~1,320 BC (~3,300 years ago). ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )
Some sources say that the earliest evidence available for the application of cosmetics by the ancient Egyptians comes from 10000 BC (around the Neolithic period). During this period, it is asserted, the healing abilities of scented oil was discovered.
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These oils were used by the ancient Egyptians “to clean and soften their skin and mask body odor”, as well as for protection against the hot air. Vessels used for storing the oils have indeed been found, though the best known of these are perhaps from the Pharaonic period.
Kohl Painted Eyes
The ancient Egyptians were also famous for their use of kohl, which was made of “a mixture of metal, lead, copper, ash and burnt almonds”. This substance was applied to the eyes using a small stick. Kohl was usually applied onto both the upper and lower eyelids. Additionally, a line extending from the corner of eye to the side of the face was also drawn with kohl.
An 18th Dynasty Ancient Egyptian kohl container inscribed for Queen Tiye (1410–1372 BC).
In addition to its perceived magical protective powers, kohl also helped the ancient Egyptians to deflect the harsh desert sun. Furthermore, recent scientific research has shown that the kohl killed off harmful bacteria, thus protecting the ancient Egyptians from infectious eye diseases. It should be pointed out, however, that the lead in the kohl might have been harmful to the body.
Ancient Egyptian women wearing kohl, from a tomb mural in Thebes (1420–1375 BC).
In ancient Egypt cosmetics was used not only by women, but also by men. Additionally, cosmetics were used not just by certain social classes, but by the whole of ancient Egyptian society. In a way, cosmetics went beyond the need to improve one’s appearance, and turned into an essential part of life. For example, for those who could afford it, there were professional cosmeticians, the ‘face painters’, for hire. Thus, for these “face painters”, cosmetics was a means to earn a living. The importance of cosmetics as part and parcel of life extends even into the afterlife. When one comes before the gods during the ‘Judgment of the Dead’, one has to make the right impression by wearing the appropriate clothing, and putting on the right make-up.
Cosmetics in Other Ancient Cultures
Whilst such cosmetics as scented oils and kohl were being used in ancient Egypt, other types of cosmetics were being used in different parts of the ancient world. In ancient China, for instance, people began to stain their fingernails with a mixture of gum arabic, gelatin, beeswax and egg around 3000 BC. Unlike the ancient Egyptians, this practice served to differentiate the various social classes. During the Zhou Dynasty, for instance, the fingernails of royals were stained gold and silver. Lower classes, on the other hand, were not allowed to use bright colors to stain their nails. Another cosmetic practice used by the ancient Chinese was the use of rice powder to paint their faces white.
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The desire for a fairer complexion, however, was not limited to the Chinese. The ancient Japanese and the ancient Greeks too are said to have had painted their faces white. Whilst the former used rice powder, the latter used white lead. To a certain extent, this reveals the traits that people of these societies regarded as desirable and beautiful.
A Beijing opera performer with traditional stage make up. (CC BY 2.0 )
Unconventional Uses for Cosmetics
Lastly, cosmetics have been used in more unconventional ways. When one says that cosmetics may be applied to improve one’s image, one may ask “For what occasion?” In the previous examples, cosmetics was applied in everyday, mundane situations, or during social situations in which one has to make an impression.
1889 painting Woman at her Toilette by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Nevertheless, one may use cosmetics, for example, to make an impression on, and improve one’s image in the face of an enemy. In Julius Caesar’s The Gallic Wars , the Roman dictator’s description of the Britons has greatly influenced the way Celtic warriors are perceived in the popular imagination, their skin dyed blue being the most prominent feature,
“All the Britains, indeed, dye themselves with wood, which occasions a bluish color, and thereby have a more terrible appearance in fight.”
Featured image: A picture of an Egyptian woman applying kohl to her eyes. Photo source: World of Cosmetology
Cosmetics History and Facts
With over 10 thousand years of experience, chemists, cosmetologists, fashion designers, religious leaders and governments had incredible impact over the world of cosmetics. Because it is in human nature to always strive to perfection and new ways to express ourselves, cosmetic played a really big role in our advancements from ancient civilization to the modern way of life. Cosmetics helped us change the way we look, fixed out bodies in time of sickness and enabled us to express our religion and beliefs.
All that started some 12 thousand years ago when Ancient Egyptians discovered healing abilities of scented oils. From that point, their cosmetic industry rose higher and higher to the point when it became important part of their religion. Gods were honored by entire population with large use of cosmetics, almost everyone used oils, eyeliners, and similar products to enhance their look. Even though some of their ingredients were poisonous, allure of cosmetic did not lessen. However, when cosmetics found their way outside from Egypt, there reached resistance in Greece and Rome. There cosmetic reached broad popularity, but it was viewed as extravagant and unneeded by many. In Rome, there was a period when women were not considered beautiful if they did not wear cosmetics. This lead to the inflation of the prices, and few wealthy women managed to gamble large fortunes on expensive cosmetics from India and Middle East. To combat this epidemic, Roman Senate declared the (short lived) law that prevented public exhibitions of cosmetic products and extravagant female clothing in all of the cities of Roman Republic. In the other civilizations, cosmetics also received similar harsh treatment from time to time. In china for example, common people were executed if they were caught wearing nail polish in public (that was only the privilege of the rich), and in Japan, noble women were forbidden to walk in public without full body cosmetic treatment.
European Dark Ages was the time when cosmetics almost disappeared from public knowledge. Because of the tradition of prostitutes to use excessive amounts of cosmetics to hide their age and exaggerate their beauty, for the longest time cosmetics were totally abandoned by majority of the European population. Kings and queens made public statements that wearing cosmetic was not decent, Church officials spread the belief that cosmetic is used only by heathens and satan worshipers, and for the longest time only stage actors were allowed to use them, but only during their performances.
A history of cosmetics ingredients and their evolution
We are living in an age when cosmetics innovation is advancing faster than ever before. The dizzying array of new product concepts, formulations, textures and colours is contributing to consumers’ changing beauty rituals and creating a vibrant marketplace. It is easy to get carried away by the sheer volume of new products launching, but is our enthusiasm for cosmetics really that different from that of our ancestors?
Cosmetics have been used to make a highly personal and visual statement since Ancient Egyptian times. Scented oils and ointments were used to clean and soften the skin and mask body odour. Women used lead ore and copper minerals as make-up, which they applied to their faces for colour and definition. Kohl made from burnt almonds, oxidised copper, copper ores, lead, ash and ochre was used to define the eyes in the iconic almond shape seen in masks and sculptures. One of the best examples is Nefertiti, the wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Ancient Greek women also liked to paint their faces with white lead and crushed mulberries as rouge. Just like today, it was fashionable to accentuate the brows, but instead of colouring them in, they would attach fake eyebrows made from oxen hair.
The Romans treated their spots and pimples with barley flour and butter, while they coloured their nails with blood. Mud baths were popular and some Roman men dyed their hair blonde.
In the Far East, the higher social classes in China adopted the practice of colouring their fingernails, using gum arabic, gelatine, egg and beeswax. Gold, silver, black and red were used to denote social status.
The fashion for a pale complexion can be dated back to Elizabethan England, when society women would use egg white on their faces. Italy and France emerged as centres of cosmetics manufacture, producing face powder made from lead and, sometimes, arsenic. Queen Elizabeth I was a keen user of white lead, which she used in the belief it made her look younger. By 1800, zinc oxide replaced these deadly mixtures, which were believed to cause facial tremors, muscle paralysis and even death.
Even today, in many regions of the world, a radiant and fair complexion is associated with beauty and youth. In Asia, Africa and Latin America, especially, women are seeking to brighten their skin. BASF’s Dermawhite WF caters to this desire for a brighter complexion. With a skin brightening effect three times higher than that of kojic acid, a commonly used and well-known active ingredient on the topical skin brightening market, it helps lighten the complexion after two weeks of use.
Look to lips
People used to colour their lips with pigment dyes, crushed semi-precious jewels, beeswax, butter, olive oil and even crushed insects. But unfortunately, the formulas would last for just a few hours before turning rancid.
The first commercially manufactured lipstick appeared in 1884, sold by Parisian perfumers in paper tubes, wrapped in silk paper or small pots. Lipstick as we know it was invented by James Bruce Jr of Nashville, Tennessee, who patented the first swivel-up tube in 1923. Rouge Baiser, the first ‘kiss-proof’ lipstick, was created by French chemist Paul Baudecroux in 1927. This was followed by Max Factor’s invention of lip gloss for Hollywood actresses in the 1930s.
Since then, there have been many lipstick innovations, and today’s lipsticks come in a myriad of colours, textures and finishes, including the addition of ingredients like BASF’s multifunctional polymer
Cosmedia DC to leave lips feeling soft and silky-smooth. Helping cosmetics companies set new colour trends, BASF’s Reflecks MultiDimensions and MultiReflections ranges use the latest pigments technology to create a dramatic sparkle effect and visual dimensionality, and make eye-catching colour travel effects possible.
The evolution of sun care
Zinc oxide, a physical sun block, has reportedly been used for centuries to protect the skin from turning brown. However, only in the 1920s was sporting a suntan considered to be both fashionable and healthy, with Coco Chanel being the first celebrity to popularise the suntanned look. This trend prompted the development of the first sun care products from famous brands, such as Ambre Solaire, Piz Buin and Coppertone. However, sunscreen was far from being seen a necessity back then.
Since the 1980s, affordable air travel to sunny holiday destinations has transformed people’s lifestyle and leisure habits and aspirations. Science has revealed more about the dangers of unprotected sunbathing, leading to advancement in sunscreen technology and the move towards more effective broadscreen UV filters. Today, effective UV filters are increasingly important. According to statistics from the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in every five US citizens will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. The highest incidence of skin cancer is occurring in Australia, where the annual rates of malignant melanoma are ten and more than 20 times the rates in Europe for women and men, respectively.
With BASF’s broad spectrum UV filters, such as the ones from the Tinosorb and Uvinul ranges, it is possible to achieve a performance close to uniform UVB/UVA protection: so-called ‘spectral homeostasis’. The most innovative sun care products provide a light and dry feeling after application. They feature the sensory associated with skin care products, such as body lotions, but still provide the highest UV protection.
Hair care & styling
Before the advent of shampoos and conditioners, frequent hair washing was frowned upon and considered to be bad for the condition of the hair. White castile soap or tar soap was recommended for hair washing once a month, or even once every two months. The first liquid shampoos were developed in 1927, but it wasn’t until 1970 that rinse-off conditioners were introduced. In the 1950s, hair fashions for men and women became more sculpted, leading to the development of setting sprays, hair oils and hair creams. Today’s hair styling products have proliferated into a wide range of formats and textures, designed to allow the most demanding of consumers to create their individual style.
However, it’s not only formats and textures that have multiplied. Manufacturers also have a much wider choice when it comes to choosing the resources for the ingredients they use in their formulations. For example, many essential ingredients are now available as natural-based options. One good example is Plantaquat NC – an environmentally compatible conditioner compound based on lecithin. It offers effective hair breakage protection, reduction of split-ends and an exceptional sensorial profile. Another BASF hair styling product is Luviset One, an innovative styling polymer that is both multifunctional and easy to use – applicable for different styling formats, such as gels, creams and waxes. The polymer provides outstanding styling benefits, high resistance to humidity and long lasting hold with a flexible non-brittle film, for a true all-in-one ingredient.
A polished performance
Before 1800, people used a variety of methods to keep teeth and gums clean, whiten teeth and freshen breath. The early versions of toothpaste were usually powders and contained soap, chalk, betel nut and even ground charcoal to combat bad breath. Mass production began in the 1850s, when Colgate introduced its Crème Dentifrice in jars, followed in the 1890s by toothpaste tubes.
The BASF portfolio today covers a broad range of ingredients for oral care applications, such as toothpaste and mouthwash. It comprises, for example, surfactants, solubilisers and emulsifiers,
as well as polymers or active ingredients. For European customers, BASF now presents a consolidated product portfolio along with up-to-date formulation concepts, such as the Pure Smile Luxurious Mint Tooth Gel formulation. It combines effective and gentle BASF cleansing ingredients with the elegance of silvery-sparkling effect pigments. Another formulation is the Fresh & Care Everyday Mouthwash for Healthy Gums, which combines mild and low foaming surfactants with the ingredients bisabolol, panthenol and vitamin E-derivatives from BASF.
The future of cosmetics
Throughout history, humans have always expressed a need to use products for hygiene, protection and adornment. Today’s cosmetics and toiletries may be significantly more sophisticated than those earlier versions, but still fulfill the same functions.
What is changing is the society in which we now live by 2050, the global population will reach nine billion people, with over half of these living in cities. Cosmetic brands need to understand their specific needs by developing beauty products that keep them healthy, address urban issues – such as pollution – and lifestyle ones, including ways of switching off from highly pressured lives.
A brief history of skin care & cosmetics. Part 1: Ancient times
Skin Care & Cosmetics: Then, Now, and in the Future. This BFT series will start at the beginning and explore the ancient world first. Subsequent postings with discuss more current times and conclude with what can be expected in the future. Our hope is to educate and place today’s products and science into a longer timeline and larger context.
In the beginning …
Although written recorded history dates back only six millennia, the history of skin decoration and care is likely much longer, perhaps as long as mankind itself. Using facial decoration to gain attention or intimidate enemies in battle are cultural constants throughout history. Looking one’s best to improve social standing, denote superior rank in society, or improve the chances of coupling with the most attractive members of the opposite sex, also seem to be timeless concerns. Whether learned behaviors or something embedded in our genetic code (probably right next to the shopping gene), there is ample evidence that proves skin care and cosmetics have long been with us.
The basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter are apparently only slightly more important than rouge, lipstick and eyeliner. After all, the mirror was invented for a reason and sending distress signals using reflected sunlight is not it. The record shows the earliest mirrors (after reflecting surfaces of still dark water) were polished obsidian stones used in Anatolia (modern day Turkey) as long ago as 6000 BC. Similar polished stones have been found in the Americas and date back to 2000 BC. Reflective copper discs date back to 4000 BC and the first metal backed glass mirror is 2000 years old. Apparently, people have been peering at themselves before the big night out on the town for a long, long time.
The first archaeological evidence of cosmetics usage is from Ancient Egypt about 6000 years ago. Not only was it an important aspect of their daily culture, it was deeply incorporated into their mummification and burial traditions. Archaeologists have found small clay pots of makeup in even the most humble tombs. Yet, as important as beauty was to the Egyptians, cosmetics served another purpose – protecting them from the elements, warding off the sun’s burning rays, and repelling insects. Application of makeup also served as a ritual to honor their gods or goddesses.
Ancient Egyptians had a variety of make-up formulations. Metal ore, copper, and semi-precious stones were ground into powder for eye-shadows. Adding water, oil, or animal fat aided in adhesion and made the color darker, giving the eye a more dramatic look. Kohl, the dark eyeliner depicted in Egyptian statuettes, paintings, and mummy cases is a mixture of lead, copper, burned almonds, soot, and other ingredients. .. For lips, cheeks and nails, a clay called red ochre was ground and mixed with water. Makeup was stored in special jars that were kept in special makeup boxes. Women would carry their makeup boxes to parties and keep them under their chairs. The Egyptians believed make-up could ward off evil spirits and improve the sight so even the poor wore eye make-up
Henna is a natural dye still used for body decoration and hair coloring. It comes from a particular shrub whose dried crushed leaves create a deep orange-red powder. When mixed with water a paste is formed that is a temporary dye that colors the skin or hair for several weeks. Both women and men also used henna to stain their lips a deep red. Archaeologists report discovering traces of henna on the fingernails of mummified pharaohs. Today henna is used to decorate the skin of brides in many cultures, most notably India.
With no FDA around to ensure safety, the ancients created products using dangerous materials like mercury and white lead. According to findings published in the journal Analytical Chemistry the use of lead may have aided in combating eye infections like conjunctivitis.
The ancient Hebrews employed fragrance to consecrate their temples, altars, candles and priests. The book of Exodus (approximately 1,200 BC) provides a recipe for the Holy anointing oil given to Moses for the initiation of priests. It contains: Myrrh, cinnamon and calamus mixed with olive oil. Although the Mosaic Law decreed severe punishment to anyone who used Holy oils or incense in a secular fashion, some aromatics were less restricted. Two biblical references to perfume include Proverbs 27:9, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart,” and Song of Solomon 1:13-14,
“A bundle of myrrh is my beloved unto me he shall lie all night between my breasts. My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire [henna] in the vineyards of En-gedi.”
The Greeks invaded Egypt with an interest in their medical knowledge. Egyptian priests were unwilling to divulge the “secrets” of sacred Egyptian oils. Under pressure from Alexander the Great, the priests released disinformation and half-truths to prevent the knowledge from falling into the hands of the great unwashed masses [I know, sounds like some of our favorite online anti-aging sites]. Although, to be fair, the Greeks seemed to be more interested in the aphrodisiac qualities of the sacred oils than their medicinal value. In Greece, precious oils, perfumes, cosmetic powders, eye shadows, skin glosses, paints, beauty unguents, and hair dyes were in universal use. Export and sale of these items formed an important part of trade around the Mediterranean.
In ancient Rome, cosmetics were usually produced by female slaves called Cosmetae, hence the name.
Middle and Far Eastern Practices
Cosmetics were also used in Persia and what is now called the Middle East. After Arab tribes converted to Islam and conquered those areas, cosmetic use was regulated in order to prevent people from disguising themselves for deceptive purposes or causing uncontrolled desire. There was no prohibition against cosmetics per se, only restrictions on their improper use. Deliberately using them to look “hot” was one of them.
So extensive was the use of cosmetics and fragrances in the Middle East that an early 24-volume medical encyclopedia, the Al-Tasrif, had an entire volume dedicated to cosmetics. It was later translated into Latin and used in the West. Cosmetics were considered a branch of medicine – “The Medicine of Beauty.” The text also dealt with perfumes, scented aromatics and incense. There were descriptions of ingredient rolled and pressed in special moulds, perhaps the earliest antecedents of present-day lipsticks and solid deodorants.
Around 3000 BCE, Chinese people began to stain their fingernails with gum arabic, gelatin, beeswax, and egg. The colors used represented one’s social class: Chou dynasty royals wore gold and silver later royals wore black or red. The lower classes were permitted to color their nails but forbidden to wear bright colors.
Beauty “painting” became all the rage in ancient China when legend has it a plum blossom drifted down onto the forehead of a princess, leaving a floral imprint. Ladies of the court were so impressed they too began to decorate their foreheads with delicate little plum blossom designs and soon it became commonplace. (Apparently, fashion fads started long before Madison Avenue began to create sophisticated campaigns to convince people they “needed” the latest trend in designs for jeans, shoes, purses, dresses, make up, etc. The author’s opinion is that men are less susceptible to being swayed that they “need” something, but when they do, it just might be a red $200,000 sports car.)
In medieval Japan, geisha used crushed safflower petals to paint their eyebrows, edges of the eyes and lips. Sticks of bintsuke wax, a softer version of the sumo wrestlers’ hair wax, were used by geisha as a makeup base. Rice powder colored the face and back white while rouge contoured the eye socket and defined the nose. The geisha also used bird droppings as the base for lighter colors.
(You may say “yuck” but wait until you read what current thinking is for possible cosmetic and face cream ingredients in an upcoming BFT post).
Stay tuned for Part 2: Cosmetics from the dark ages to the 20th century.
In medieval times, many church leaders in the Europe thought makeup was sinful and immoral. Women adopted the fad anyway. From the Renaissance until the 20th century, lower classes worked outside in agricultural jobs resulting in darker, suntanned skin. The higher a person was in status, the more leisure time one could spend indoors, which kept their skin pale. To raise their perceived “status”, some people attempted to lighten their skin using white powder. Other products were used including white lead paint which contained arsenic. Many women died as a result. Queen Elizabeth I of England, often depicted in paintings as having a very pale complexion, was a well-known user of white lead. Her so-called “Mask of Youth” is seen in nearly all her portraits. Women in the 16 th century went so far as to undergo “bleeding” to achieve pale skin.
Reminds us of the opposite trend today, where women line up to have UVA and UVB skin irradiation in order to achieve (the current standard) darker (tanned) tones. Seems like we are chronic malcontents with regards to skin coloration.
Henna is a natural dye derived from the leaves of the Lawsonia Inermis shrub. Once its green leaves are crushed and dried, they create a reddish powder. The Egyptians would mix this powder with water to form a paste, which they used to paint nails and dye grey hair. FYI, both men and women used it to stain their lips red.
The Egyptians loved strong scents and made lots of perfumes using ingredients like myrrh, cinnamon, cassia, chamomile, lavender, peppermint, lily, cedar, aloe, rosemary, rose, olive oil and almond oil blended with animal fats and oils.
They knew several ways to make perfumes. A common method was enfleurage: flowers, roots or resins were soaked in layers of fat to create creams and pomades. These were worn in the shape of a cone on top of their heads and would melt throughout the day, running down their faces and necks, scenting them.
Another popular method was called maceration. Basically, they would heat fats or oils to a temperature of 65 degrees Celsius. Then, they would add flowers, herbs or fruits to it. Finally, the mixture was sieved and, once cooled, shaped into cones or balls.
On festive occasions, both men and women wore wings made of human hair. Archaeologists also found short fine tooth combs and hair pins used by Egyptians on their hair.
The History of Beauty
Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry is the first serious attempt to trace the history of the $330 billion global beauty industry and its large collection of fascinating entrepreneurs through countries including France, the United States, Japan, and Brazil. What's taken so long?
According to author Geoffrey Jones, the Isidor Straus Professor of Business History at HBS, the fragmented, secretive, often family-owned businesses that have constituted the industry have been difficult for scholars to unlock. Couple this with the fact that most business historians are male, and you have a major industry that still has lots to reveal. We asked Jones to discuss his research and his new book.
Sean Silverthorne: What inspired your interest in the beauty business and its history?
Geoffrey Jones: My initial interest in the beauty industry was triggered by my earlier history of the consumer products giant Unilever, published some years ago. This company had a long-established business in soap and other toiletries, but spent decades after World War II striving without great success to expand its business into other categories of the beauty industry, such as skin care and perfume.
As I researched this story, I realized both the huge size and the importance of this industry—and the remarkable paucity of authoritative literature about it. Or more precisely, while there are numerous books on various aspects of the beauty industry, from glossy coffee-table publications on cherished brands of perfume to feminist denunciations of the industry as demeaning to women, there were few studies that treated beauty seriously, as a business. So I saw both a challenge and an opportunity to research the story of how this industry grew from modest origins, making products that were often deemed an affront to public morality, to the $330 billion global industry of today.
Q: Why has this industry been so neglected by business school faculty?
A: I think there are two reasons. First of all, this is a difficult industry to research. Historically, it has been quite fragmented, with many small and often family-owned firms whose stories are hard to reconstruct. The industry as a whole is well known to be secretive—after all, its foundations rest heavily on mystique.
And then there is the frequently observed gender bias in business school faculty. I suspect male faculty, who comprised the majority in most schools until quite recently, regarded this industry as a feminine domain and rather frivolous, and felt more comfortable writing about software or venture capital than lipstick and face powder. As female faculty built careers in business schools, they may also have been disinclined to conform to assumed gender stereotypes by working on beauty. The fashion industry, which is also huge, suffers from the same lack of attention from management researchers.
Q: You write, "Beauty emerges as an industry which was easy to enter, but hard to succeed at." How so?
A: It does not take a great deal of capital nor technological expertise to launch an entrepreneurial venture in many beauty products—although for such a venture to have any hope of success, high levels of imagination and creativity have always been required. If you have a concept for a new brand, and the necessary finance, there are contract manufacturers and perfumers that will provide a product for you.
This is also an industry subject to sudden shifts in fashion and fads, which disrupt incumbent positions and provide opportunities for new entrants. Brand loyalties are often weak, especially for "fun" products like lip and eye cosmetics, although less so for foundation, because it is more expensive and needs to be a good match with skin tone.
Achieving sustainable success in the beauty industry is another matter. It is fiercely competitive, with thousands of product launches each year. Even the largest, most professionally managed global companies find it hard to predict the success of product launches, and can stumble badly. One estimate is that 90 percent of new fragrance launches fail. Getting the word out to consumers, and getting product through the distribution channels to consumers, provide further major challenges for new ventures. Creative talent, astute marketing skills, and the ability to understand and respond rapidly to consumer fashions and preferences are all needed to succeed. There are fortunes to be made by building a successful new brand, but it takes an enormous amount of work and good luck to succeed.
Q: You artfully portray a vivid, passionate cast of entrepreneurs. Which do you consider the most influential? Do you have favorites?
A: The book emphasizes the role of individual entrepreneurs in building this industry. They varied enormously in their backgrounds and characters, but most shared a passion for the beauty industry, combined with an ability to understand the societal values and artistic trends of their eras, and to translate them into brands.
François Coty stands out as a creative genius in the formative stages of the industry in the early 20th century. Born as Joseph Marie François Spoturno on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, which was also the birthplace of Napoleon, he was a complete outsider to the traditional Parisian perfume industry. He went on to transform it. Assuming an adapted version of his mother's maiden name as he strove to create a brand that symbolized style and elegance, he got his first order by smashing a bottle of his perfume on the floor of a prominent Parisian department store, in a successful gambit to get customers to smell it. He created two entirely new classes of perfume, soft sweet floral and chypre, and was the first perfumer to sell his wares in elegantly designed glass bottles, rather than in the pharmaceutical bottles used previously. An ambitious believer in globalization, he even sent his energetic mother-in-law to open up the American market in 1905. The American business proved so successful that its U.S. sales reached the equivalent in today's terms of half a billion dollars by the end of the 1920s, before the Great Depression eviscerated what had become the world's biggest beauty company.
Coty was a larger than life character, but he was hardly alone in this industry in that respect. The cast of influential and colorful characters includes Madam C.J. Walker, the daughter of former slaves in Louisiana who developed a system for straightening African-American hair, which was so successful that she ranks as among the first American self-made female millionaires. And then there was the ever-feuding Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, who transformed beauty salons from places considered the moral equivalent of brothels to palaces of opulence and style. And in our own time, Luiz Seabra stands out as the founder of Brazil's biggest beauty company, Natura, which is dedicated to environmental sustainability with a broad social vision.
Q: How much does the industry influence our notions of beauty, and how much do accepted or popular notions of beauty influence product development?
A: The human desire to attract reflects basic biological motivations. Every human society from at least the ancient Egyptians onwards has used beauty products and artifacts to enhance attractiveness. However, beauty ideals have always varied enormously over time and between societies.
The book shows that as the modern industry emerged in the 19th century, it facilitated a worldwide homogenization of beauty ideals. Beauty became associated with Western countries, and white people, and with women. These assumptions reflected wider societal trends. Western societies as a whole underwent growing gender differences in clothing and work. And this was the age of Western imperialism. The industry's contribution was to turn these underlying trends into brands, create aspirations that drove their growing use, and then employ modern marketing methods to globalize them.
I see beauty companies as interpreters of prevailing assumptions and as reinforcers of them. The debate is how much autonomy beauty companies have to shape ideals. Unilever's current Dove marketing campaign, which uses senior women as models to make the point that one can be beautiful beyond one's 30s, shows that a large company has the power to challenge stereotypes should it wish to do so.
Q: What was the impact of television both in helping define beauty and in developing the industry?
A: During the late 1940s, television spread rapidly across the United States, and soon afterwards elsewhere. Television offered remarkable new opportunities to take brands into people's living rooms, and it drove advertising budgets sharply upwards.
Charles Revson was a master of using the new medium to grow brands. Revlon's fortunes were made through its sponsorship of The $64,000 Question game show that began broadcasting on CBS in 1955. Later it emerged that the show was rigged, a scandal that even led to congressional hearings, but this had no discernible impact on either Revson or his company.
Television also proved a medium that new entrants could use to challenge incumbents. During the late 1950s, Leonard Lavin used television advertising to grow the tiny Alberto-Culver hair care business into a significant national player.
More recently, home shopping channels such as HSN and QVC have become important places to launch new brands. However, the impact of television was not limited to marketing. Color television drove innovation in makeup, which was subsequently diffused from actors to the wider public. And as the United States became a major source of television programming worldwide, it proved a major force for diffusing American ideals of lifestyle, fashion, and beauty worldwide.
Q: What do you think were the most significant products that marked its evolution?
A: I would begin with soap. The technology to make soap was known for several thousand years, but the product was rarely used for personal washing, especially by Europeans who largely avoided washing with water after the Black Death in the Middle Ages, believing it to be dangerous. Then, as public health concerns rose during the 19th century and water began to be piped into people's houses, a number of brilliant entrepreneurs built a demand for soap as a branded product by linking its use to godliness, securing celebrity endorsement, and later suggesting that the use of some brands would bring romantic success. Using soap for washing became associated with Western civilization, and even as an essential entry ticket for immigrants seeking to become true Americans.
The transformation of perfume also marks an important stage in the evolution of the modern beauty industry. In the early 19th century, perfume was made in small batches, rarely applied to the skin, and drunk for health reasons. There was a narrow range of available scents. A hundred years later, the application of new technologies to extract essences from flowers and plants, and to create synthetic fragrances, had transformed perfume. Historically, perfumes were reminiscent of one individual "note"—to employ the musical metaphor used in the industry—which tried to replicate nature. The new perfumes had a vastly increased range of scents were far more abstract, with three notes and offered scents not found in nature. Meanwhile, a marketing revolution had turned perfume into a branded product, sold at different price points in different distribution channels, and increasingly gendered. While historically men and women had used the same scents, they now began to like to smell differently, with scents now reminding genders of their roles in the world.
As for decorative cosmetics, the story of lipstick is really interesting. While the use of lipstick, like many cosmetics products, reaches back far into human history, in the early 20th century it was still a product associated with actresses and women of dubious morality. Thereafter the use and acceptability of lipstick expanded. There was technological innovation—the first metal lipstick container was invented in Connecticut in 1915, and the first screw-up lipstick appeared six years later. By the time the United States entered World War II in 1941, the government declared the production of lipstick to be a wartime necessity, such was its impact on morale.
Q: What does this book tell us about the impact of globalization today and going forward?
A: As I have suggested, the emergence of the modern industry was associated with an unprecedented homogenization of beauty ideals throughout the world. During much of the 20th century, homogenization was further reinforced by the impact of Hollywood, the advent of international beauty pageants, and so on. Beauty was associated with Caucasian features, as interpreted by the twin capitals of beauty, Paris and New York. Although the momentum for homogenization was strong, it was striking that markets stayed differentiated by inherited cultural and social preferences.
And globalization today is working in a far more complex fashion. The geographical spread of megabrands and globalization of celebrity culture certainly suggests further homogenization. During the early 1980s, China's consumption of beauty products was close to zero. It is now the world's fourth-largest beauty market-and the top brands in cosmetics and skin care are the same as in the United States.
However, there was also a new sensitivity to difference and diversity, representing a new pride and interest in ethnic and local beauty ideals. The tremendous growth of skin lighteners in India and East Asia is one sign of this trend. While global companies are concerned that the core claims—and usually the core technologies of brands—have to be the same worldwide, there is now also a concern that the forms in which such claims were delivered, whether in jars or creams, should be relevant to local consumers in each market. Moreover, as global firms experiment with taking new beauty ideals around the world, they are becoming agents of diffusion for different beauty ideals. L'Oréal, for example, primarily sold French brands before the 1990s. During that decade it purchased American brands such as Maybelline, Redken, and Kiehl's and globalized them. And over the last decade it has acquired Shu Uemura in Japan, Yue-Sai in China, and Britain's Body Shop. Global firms are, in this sense, now orchestrating diversity, not homogeneity.
Q: Both men and women played huge entrepreneurial roles in the development of the industry. Was one gender better than the other, generally, in creating success?
A: It is tempting to speculate that since so many of the products in the industry have been and continue to be aimed at women, being a female entrepreneur would make one better at interpreting women's desires than a male entrepreneur. The industry has indeed seen a veritable roll call of influential female entrepreneurs. Over the last five decades alone, one can think of Estée Lauder and Mary Kay in the United States Simone Tata, who virtually founded the modern Indian beauty industry and Britain's Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop. Among influential female business leaders today are Avon's Andrea Jung and Leslie Blodgett of Bare Escentuals.
Yet for every successful female business leader, one can find male equivalents, including the misogynist Charles Revson who built Revlon as an industry leader between the 1950s and 1970s the British-born Lindsay Owen-Jones, who turned the French hair care company L'Oréal into today's global beauty powerhouse over the last two decades and Shu Uemura, the Japanese makeup artist who created an exquisite, and now global, brand.
A further complication in reaching a definitive answer to whether there are gender advantages in this industry is that women are more likely to enter the beauty business than others, as the obstacles to entry for female entrepreneurs have been and continue to be higher for women than men in other industries, like construction, for example. So there is a lot of female entrepreneurial talent pooling up in beauty, while male entrepreneurial talent is spread more evenly across industries.
The book's position on this question is that gender is not a main determinant of success in this industry, but that status as an "outsider" of some kind was important. This helps to explain why so many successful figures in the past were immigrants, or Jews, or—indeed—female.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am writing a book on the origins and growth of green entrepreneurship worldwide over the last six decades. This idea originated out of my research on the beauty industry, in which I explored the growth of interest in "natural" products. This is now one of the hottest segments of the global industry, with estimated sales of $7 billion.
In recent years, natural products companies like The Body Shop and Bare Escentuals, the San Francisco company that has built the minerals-based cosmetic market, have been snapped up by global players paying large premiums. However, what really interested me is the time it took to make this market take off. As early as the 1950s, entrepreneurs like Jacques Courtin-Clarins and Yves Rocher began to experiment making cosmetics from plants rather than chemicals, decades ahead of perceived demand. They, and their counterparts in other industries such as food and cleaning materials who talked about the dangers of chemical ingredients and the need for environmental sustainability, were often dismissed as crazy, or at best irrelevant. Today, many of their ideas are mainstream.
This transition is the core of the book I am now researching. It will look at entrepreneurs and firms across a broad span of industries, and globally, that saw greenness as both a profitable and a socially necessary business opportunity, and that have led, rather than followed, regulators and public opinion in pursuit of their goals.
Excerpt From beauty Imagined: A History Of The Global Beauty Business
Beauty amid War and Depression: The American color cosmetics market also expanded during these years. Still barely acceptable in 1914, product innovations made their use both more accessible and desirable. The first metal lipstick container was invented by Maurice Levy in Connecticut in 1915. The first screw-up lipstick appeared six years later. 19 In 1916 Northam Warren created the first commercial liquid nail polish when he launched the Cutex brand of manicure preparations. A new form of mascara was invented by an Illinois chemist T. L. Williams, whose Maybelline Cake Mascara, launched in 1917, became the first modern eye cosmetic to be manufactured for everyday use. 20 As usual, early adopters were young. In 1925 the concept of a "generation gap" was invented to describe the difference between mothers and daughters regarding the use of lipstick in America. 21 By the end of the 1920s, three thousand different face powders and several hundred rouges alone were being sold on the American market. 22
Hollywood was also playing a pivotal role. During World War I the American industry was able to pull ahead of the French firms which initially dominated the cinema industry. By the 1920s the industry, now concentrated in Southern California, was able to benefit from the size of its home market and its control of distribution markets to dominate both the American and international markets. 23 Movie theaters reached almost every American town, diffusing new lifestyles and creating a new celebrity culture around movie stars that exercised a powerful influence on how beauty, especially female beauty, was defined. 24
Max Factor forged the direct link between cosmetics and Hollywood. His work for actors resulted in the principle of "Color Harmony," which established for the first time that certain combinations of a woman's complexion, hair, and eye coloring were most effectively complemented by specific make-up shades. As he grew in fame alongside the movies, he also played a significant role in legitimatizing the use of cosmetics. In particular, he began referring to his cosmetics as make-up, a word long used by actors but not widely used more generally because of the disreputable image of actors. 25 Now, for perhaps the first time in Western culture, actors could be thought not just beautiful on the outside but beautiful and respectable on the inside, too. That was a big change for people until recently regarded as barely above prostitutes.
Max Factor's store in Los Angeles also began to make wider sales. In 1916 he introduced Eye Shadow and Eyebrow Pencil for public sale, the first time such products had been available beyond the theatrical make-up line. Advertisements prominently featured screen stars, whose studios required them to endorse Max Factor products. 26 A distribution company was contracted to penetrate the drugstore market, and in 1927 nationwide distribution of Max Factor cosmetics began. The date coincided with the premiere of the first talking movie The Jazz Singer, at which Max Factor and his family were in attendance. 27
Milk Bath: Cleopatra routine included milk bath. She used to take a bath in the milk of young donkeys, along with almond oil and fresh honey. This milk bath nourished her skin from deep inside. Well, if you want, you can also try this milk treatment. You can replace donkey milk with cow milk.
Grape facial: In order to get over-tanned skin, Queen Cleopatra used to take green grapes facial. You can also try this beauty hack at home. Just crush green grapes in grinder and mix grape pulp with honey. After that, apply this mixture gently on your skin and keep up to 15 minutes, and then rinse it with water.
Sea salt: Secret behind the flawless skin of Egyptian Beauty Cleopatra is Sea Salt scrub. She was fond of taking natural scrub to exfoliate her body. Sea salt scrub is an amazing way of removing the dead skin cells and making skin shiny and soft.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Cleopatra might know about tonic action of vinegar, which promotes blood circulation and maintains the pH of the skin. That’s why she used Apple Cider Vinegar for face rinsing.
Henna and Red Ochre: Cleopatra used henna as nail polish and Red Ochre as lipstick.
Honey: For hair straightening, Cleopatra used to apply a mixture of honey and castor oil on her hair. This natural hair care treatment aid in repairing dry and damaged hair.
A History of Cosmetics from Ancient Times
Civilizations have used cosmetics – though not always recognizable compared to today’s advanced products – for centuries in religious rituals, to enhance beauty, and to promote good health. Cosmetics usage throughout history can be indicative of a civilization’s practical concerns, such as protection from the sun, indication of class, or conventions of beauty. The timeline below represents a brief history of cosmetics, beginning with the Ancient Egyptians in 10,000 BCE through modern developments in the United States. You can use the following navigation to jump to specific points in time.
Cosmetics in the Ancient World
Cosmetics are an integral part of Egyptian hygiene and health. Men and women in Egypt use scented oils and ointments to clean and soften their skin and mask body odor. Oils and creams are used for protection against the hot Egyptian sun and dry winds. Myrrh, thyme, marjoram, chamomile, lavender, lily, peppermint, rosemary, cedar, rose, aloe, olive oil, sesame oil, and almond oil provide the basic ingredients of most perfumes Egyptians use in religious rituals.
Egyptian women apply galena mesdemet (made of copper and lead ore) and malachite (bright green paste of copper minerals) to their faces for color and definition. They use kohl (a combination of burnt almonds, oxidized copper, different colored coppers ores, lead, ash, and ochre) to adorn the eyes in an almond shape. Women carry cosmetics to parties in makeup boxes and keep them under their chairs.
The Chinese stain their fingernails with gum arabic, gelatin, beeswax, and egg. The colors are used as a representation of social class: Chou dynasty royals wear gold and silver, with subsequent royals wearing black or red. Lower classes are forbidden to wear bright colors on their nails.
Grecian women paint their faces with white lead and apply crushed mulberries as rouge. The application of fake eyebrows, often made of oxen hair, is also fashionable.
Chinese and Japanese citizens commonly use rice powder to make their faces white. Eyebrows are shaved off, teeth are painted gold or black, and henna dyes are applied to stain hair and faces.
Grecians whiten their complexion with chalk or lead face powder and fashion crude lipstick out of ochre clays laced with red iron.
Cosmetics in the Early Common Era (CE)
In Rome, people put barley flour and butter on their pimples and sheep fat and blood on their fingernails for polish. In addition, mud baths come into vogue, and some Roman men dye their hair blonde.
Henna is used in India both as a hair dye and in mehndi, an art form in which complex designs are painted on the hands and feet using a paste made from the henna plant, especially before a Hindu wedding. Henna is also used in some North African cultures.
Cosmetics in the Middle Ages
Perfumes are first imported to Europe from the Middle East as a result of the Crusades.
In Elizabethan England, dyed red hair comes into fashion. Society women wear egg whites over their faces to create the appearance of a paler complexion. Some people believe, however, that cosmetics blocked proper circulation and therefore pose a health threat.
Italy and France emerge as the main centers of cosmetics manufacturing in Europe, and only the aristocracy has access. Arsenic is sometimes used in face powder instead of lead. The modern notion of complex scent-making evolves in France. Early fragrances are amalgams of naturally occurring ingredients. Later, chemical processes for combining and testing scents surpass their arduous and labor-intensive predecessors.
European women often attempt to lighten their skin using a variety of products, including white lead paint. Queen Elizabeth I of England is one well-known user of white lead, with which she creates a look known as “the Mask of Youth.” Blonde hair rises in popularity as it is considered angelic. Mixtures of black sulfur, alum, and honey are painted onto the hair and lighten with sun exposure.
19th and Early 20th Century Global Cosmetics Developments
Zinc oxide becomes widely used as a facial powder, replacing the previously used deadly mixtures of lead and copper. One such mixture, Ceruse, which is made from white lead, is later discovered to be toxic and blamed for health problems including facial tremors, muscle paralysis, and even death.
Queen Victoria publicly declares makeup improper. It is viewed as vulgar and acceptable only for use by actors.
In Edwardian Society, pressure increases on middle-aged women to appear youthful while acting as hostesses. As a result, cosmetics use increases, but is not yet completely popularized.
Beauty salons rise in popularity, though patronage of such salons is not widely accepted. Because many women do not wish to publicly admit they have assistance achieving their youthful appearances, they often enter salons through the back door.
From its earliest days, the United States has been at the forefront of cosmetics innovation, entrepreneurship, and regulation. The timeline below represents a brief history of the important developments and American usage trends, as well as a regulatory history of cosmetics in the U.S.
Growth of the Industry
David McConnell founds the California Perfume Company (CPC), then located in New York. Over time, the company continues to grow and experiences great success, selling five million units in North America during World War I alone. In 1928, CPC sells its first products – toothbrush, powdered cleanser, and a vanity set – under the name by which it is commonly known today: Avon. The Avon line of cosmetics was introduced the next year, in 1929.
The extremely competitive nature of the industry drives a group led by New York perfumer Henry Dalley to found the Manufacturing Perfumers’ Association. The group evolved over time and, after several name changes, is now known as the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC).
The number of U.S. firms manufacturing perfumery and toilet goods increases from 67 (in 1880) to 262. By 1900, cosmetics are in widespread use around the world, including the United States.
Eugene Schueller, a young French chemist, invents modern synthetic hair dye which he calls “Oréal.” In 1909, Schueller names his company Societe Francaise de Teintures Inoffensives pour Cheveux (Safe Hair Dye Company of France), which today has become L’Oréal.
American women begin to fashion their own form of mascara by applying beads of wax to their eyelashes.
World War I & Aftermath
The onset of World War I leads to increased employment among American women. This gain in disposable income, with more discretion over its use, leads to a boom in domestic cosmetics sales.
Chemist T.L. Williams creates Maybelline Mascara for his sister, Mabel, the product’s inspiration.
Congress passes the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, commonly known as Prohibition. As originally drafted, the Amendment might have outlawed perfumes and toilet goods because of their alcohol content. The Manufacturing Perfumers’ Association (MPA), however, mobilized its forces and persuaded Congress to clarify the language to exempt products unfit for use as beverages.
The Roaring 20s
The flapper look comes into fashion for the first time and, with it, increased cosmetics use: dark eyes, red lipstick, red nail polish, and the suntan, which is first noted as a fashion statement by Coco Chanel.
Cosmetics and fragrances are manufactured and mass marketed in America for the first time.
Max Factor, a Polish-American cosmetician and former cosmetics expert for the Russian royal family, invents the word “makeup” and introduces Society Makeup to the general public, enabling women to emulate the looks of their favorite movie stars.
The first liquid nail polish, several forms of modern base, powdery blushes, and the powder compact are introduced.
The Manufacturing Perfumers’ Association (MPA) changes its name to the American Manufacturers of Toilet Articles (AMTA).
Max Factor, now living in Hollywood, unveils the very first lip-gloss.
A pound of face powder was sold annually for every woman in the U.S. and there were more than 1,500 face creams on the market. The concept of color harmony in makeup was introduced simultaneously, and major cosmetics companies began producing integrated lines of lipsticks, fingernail lacquers, and foundations.
The Great Depression
Due to the influence of movie stars, the Hollywood “tan” look emerges and adds to the desire for tanned skin, first made popular by fashion designer Coco Chanel, who accidentally got sunburnt visiting the French Riviera in 1923. When she arrived home, her fans apparently liked the look and started to adopt darker skin tones themselves.
In the midst of the Great Depression, brothers Charles and Joseph Revson, along with chemist Charles Lachman, found Revlon, after discovering a unique manufacturing process for nail enamel, using pigments instead of dyes. This innovation was ultimately responsible for Revlon’s success it became a multimillion dollar corporation within just six years. Revlon also borrowed the concept of “planned obsolescence” from General Motors Corp. to introduce seasonal color changes. Until World War II, women tended to use an entire lipstick or bottle of nail polish before purchasing a new one.
Drene, the first detergent-based shampoo, is introduced into the marketplace by Procter & Gamble.
Max Factor develops and introduces pancake makeup to meet the unique requirements of Technicolor film. When actresses started taking it home for personal use, he realized his new invention looked wonderful both on and off camera and decided to introduce pancake makeup to the general retail trade.
Eugene Schueller (founder of L’Oréal) invents the first sunscreen. Despite its relative ineffectiveness, this development leads to the invention of Glacier Cream by Austrian scientist, Franz Greiter. Introduced in 1938, this product is cited as the first commercially viable sun protection cream. In 1962, Greiter introduced the concept for the Sun Protection Factor rating system (SPF), which has since become the worldwide standard for measuring the effectiveness of sunscreen.
Cosmetics were excluded from the Pure Food & Drug Act of 1906 because they were not considered a serious public health concern. However, an incident linked to use of an eyeliner product forced Congress to pass the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act, which greatly expanded FDA’s authority to regulate cosmetics.
World War II & Aftermath
Leg makeup is developed in response to a shortage of stockings during World War II.
The FDA is transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Federal Security Agency and Walter G. Campbell is appointed the first Commissioner of Food and Drugs.
Companies such as Procter & Gamble (who made products such as soap and laundry detergents) begin to sponsor daytime television programs that will eventually be called “soap operas,” the first of which was called These Are My Children.
The Modern Era of Cosmetics
The Modern Era of the cosmetics business begins as television advertising is first implemented in earnest.
Mum, the first company to commercially market deodorant, launches the first roll-on deodorant (under the brand name of Ban Roll-On), which is inspired by the design of another recently invented product – the ballpoint pen.
Crest, the first toothpaste with fluoride clinically proven to fight cavities, is introduced by Procter & Gamble.
Congress passes the Color Additive Amendments, in response to an outbreak of illnesses in children caused by an orange Halloween candy, which requires manufacturers to establish the safety of color additives in foods, drugs, and cosmetics. The Amendments included a provision called the “Delaney Clause’" that prohibited the use of color additives shown to be a human or animal carcinogen.
“Natural” products based on botanical ingredients, such as carrot juice and watermelon extract, were first introduced. False eyelashes became popular.
The first aerosol deodorant is introduced – Gillette’s Right Guard.
Congress enacts the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), which requires all consumer products in interstate commerce to be honestly and informatively labeled, with FDA enforcing provisions on foods, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices.
The Toilet Goods Association (TGA) changes its name to the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA).
In response to a citizen petition filed by the CTFA, the FDA Office of Colors and Cosmetics established the Voluntary Cosmetic Reporting Program (VCRP) in 1971. The VCRP is an FDA post-market reporting system for use by manufacturers, packers, and distributors of cosmetic products that are in commercial distribution in the United States it demonstrated the industry’s commitment to cosmetic safety and furthered the safety evaluation of cosmetic ingredients.
CTFA establishes the International Cosmetic Ingredient Nomenclature Committee (INC) – comprised of dedicated scientists from industry, academia, regulatory authorities and sister trade associations – to develop and assign uniform names for cosmetic ingredients. “INCI” names are uniform, systematic names internationally recognized to identify cosmetics ingredients that are published biennially in the International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook.
The environmental movement brings challenges to the cosmetics and fragrance industry. The use of some popular ingredients, including musk and ambergris, is banned following the enactment of endangered species protection legislation.
CTFA, with the support of the FDA and the Consumer Federation of America, establishes the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The goal of the CIR is to bring together worldwide published and unpublished data on the safety of cosmetics ingredients, and for an independent expert panel to subsequently review that data. The seven-member panel consists of scientists and physicians from the fields of dermatology, pharmacology, chemistry, and toxicology selected by a steering committee and publicly nominated by government agencies, industry, and consumers. The panel thoroughly reviews and assesses the safety of ingredients and ultimately publishes the final results in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Toxicology. Today, CIR has reviewed thousands of the most commonly used cosmetics ingredients.
The 80’s saw a dramatic change from previous decades where women typically wore makeup that was natural and light. Instead, the new order of the day was to experiment with heavy layers of bold, bright colors. Gone was the golden glow of the 70’s, replaced by foundation that was one or two shades lighter than women’s natural skin tone. Smokey eyes in bright colors such as fuchsia, electric blue, orange, and green were hugely popular. The 80’s was all about taking your look to the extreme, championed by superstars such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.
Concerns about contaminated makeup emerged late in the decade. An FDA report in 1989 found that more than five percent of cosmetics samples collected from department store counters were contaminated with mold, fungi, and pathogenic organisms.
PCPC donates $1 million to fund a national center for the development of alternatives to animal testing – the Johns Hopkins School Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT). Its mission is to promote and support research in animal testing alternatives. To date, CAAT has funded to approximately 300 grants totaling more than $6 million.
Look Good Feel Better is founded by the Look Good Feel Better Foundation (formerly the Personal Care Products Council Foundation) – a charitable organization established by CTFA to help hundreds of thousands of women with cancer by improving their self-esteem and confidence through lessons on skin and nail care, cosmetics, and accessories to address the appearance-related side effects of treatment.
Animal testing for cosmetics continues to be a hot topic in the beauty industry, driven by consumer preferences. In June 1989, Avon became the first major cosmetics company in the world to announce a permanent end to animal testing of its products, including testing done in outside laboratories. Other companies subsequently follow suit throughout the next decade and efforts intensify to develop and gain governmental approvals for alternative methods to substantiate product safety.
The first ever Cosmetics Harmonization and International Cooperation (CHIC) meeting is held in Brussels, Belgium. At the conference, representatives from the U.S. FDA the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) Health Canada and Directorate General III of the European Union discuss broad cosmetics topics, including: basic safety substantiation, exchange of data and information, development of an international alert system, and an international memorandum of cooperation.
Consumers in the early 2000s are pressed for time. As the pace of work and home life became more stressful and hectic, cosmetics and personal care products that emphasized relaxation, but which could still be used quickly, constituted a strong category within the industry. Among these products are aromatherapy scented body washes, as well as other liquid and gel soaps, which start to replace traditional bar soaps.
The industry experiences increased challenges including product safety concerns, calls for scientific data to document product claims, increasing environmental concerns, and pressure from the growing animal rights movement. Congress began investigating possible revisions to the traditional “drug” and “cosmetic” definitions established under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
The European Union (EU) implements an animal testing ban on finished cosmetics products.
The CTFA develops the Consumer Commitment Code, which highlights the voluntary, proactive, and responsible approach to product safety supported by cosmetics companies. The Code is intended to enhance confidence and transparency for consumers and government regulators.
The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) changes its name to the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC). PCPC supports numerous legislative initiatives in the states of California, Massachusetts and New York, and launches Cosmeticsinfo.org to assist consumers in understanding the products they use as well as the industry’s record of safety in the formulation of those products.
The International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation (ICCR) is established, comprised of a voluntary, international group of cosmetics regulatory authorities from Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Japan, and the United States. This group of regulatory authorities meets on an annual basis to discuss common issues on cosmetics safety and regulation.
The European Commission (EC) issues regulation governing product claims, protecting consumers from misleading claims concerning efficacy and other characteristics of cosmetic products.
PCPC commissions a study to help quantify the important contributions the cosmetics industry makes to the economy and society. The findings illustrate the deep commitment of personal care leaders to promote and advance environmental, social, and economic benefits to its consumers.
PCPC begins working with FDA and Congressional staff on a multi-year process to develop a framework for cosmetics reform legislation that would strengthen FDA oversight and provide for national uniformity and preemption of disparate state cosmetic regulations.
Due to rising concerns about the potential environmental impacts, the cosmetics industry supports the enactment of the Microbead-Free Waters Act, which prohibits the manufacture and sale of rinse-off cosmetics (including toothpaste) that contain intentionally-added plastic microbeads.
PCPC successfully petitions FDA to issue draft guidance for lead impurities in lip products and externally applied cosmetics, providing critical regulatory certainty consistent with international policies.
PCPC issues an updated Economic and Social Contributions Report, documenting the vital role the industry plays in every state.
CIR completes the scientific safety assessments of 5,278 ingredients since the program began. Findings continue to be published in International Journal of Toxicology.
Recognizing that sunscreens are considered “drugs” and therefore banned in schools, PCPC successfully spearheads a coalition of more than 30 stakeholders in support of state legislation that allows students to have and apply sunscreen at school.
Ancient Egyptians depict themselves in hieroglyphics and sarcophagi with wide, almond-shaped eyes totally surrounded with eyeliner. They wore this eyeliner every day and believed it to allow the gods Horus and Ra to keep them from sickness. The liner was made from lead salts, so modern scientists were surprised when they found out it did not make them sick due to the toxicity of lead. Instead, the eyeliner protected them against eye infections. The lead salts actually produced nitric oxide, which boosts the immune system. Egyptians wore black liner made from Galena, a lead-based mineral abundant in the desert. Soot was added to make Kohl or Mesdemet, the name for their eyeliner, which was stored in carved stone pots. They also wore green eyeliner made from crushed malachite stone, a copper ore. They added water or animal fat to the powder to make a paste applied with a bone, ivory or wood stick. The substance repelled flies and protected the eyes from intense sun conditions. Even mummies' eyes were painted with liner before mummification.
Red ochre was taken from tinted clay dug from the ground. It was washed to get rid of sand and dried in the sun, then burned to get a darker color. The Egyptians applied this mineral to their cheeks and lips with a brush to add color to their faces. Sometimes, oils or fats were added to make it a smooth paste.