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An Industry of Progress, Part II

By: Mario Montalvo
Posted: October 28, 2011, from the November 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Editor’s note: This article is Part II in a three-part series about the evolution of the skin care industry. Part I, which detailed the beginnings of skin care and cosmetics in the United States, was included in the October 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine. Part III, which will address the growth of wellness as a focus in spas, will appear in the December 2011 issue.

As time passed, competition in the skin care industry never abated, but instead heightened from the 1950s through the 1970s. When cosmetic chemistry technology ascended to even higher levels, each skin care company rapidly opened its own research and development department and laboratory, where state-of-the-art ingredients were compounded endlessly. These not only served to enhance company credibility, but also boosted desirability, which impacted sales.

Companies had to initiate radical changes or lose their footing in a highly cutthroat marketplace. Newer concepts and terminology rapidly replaced cold creams and vanishing creams with more alluring terms, such as “hydrating,” “toning,” “firming,” “nourishing” and “age-defying.”

For a time, the most coveted ingredient had been lanolin, a derivative of sheep’s wool. It was used in formulations for its skin-softening properties, but eventually faded from the scene.

The next fad involved packaging, which became the main focus, with more money spent on the container and advertising than on the actual ingredients included in the formulation. This changed when the development of sophisticated single and double emulsions quantitatively forced companies to rethink their strategies.