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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.

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“New and improved” was the popular claim; it was an anachronism that the fight for the apex was in treatment items, particularly anti-aging, because traditionally makeup had always outsold treatment, but consumers were aging and were turning increasingly toward lines offering anti-aging solutions.

The primary ingredients

Ingredients once again became the No. 1 focus. Collagen was the new royal child. Of animal origin, it was hydrolyzed—made soluble with water—and touted as the latest answer to true and significant hydration of the skin. It was also claimed to be able to retain hydration in the skin for a longer period of time, which meant that foundation did not dry as quickly as it normally would.

What ensued was the development of even more rarefied derivatives. The market became glutted with new silver bullets, including chinchilla oil, swan oil, mink oil and squalene. Most had a brief day in the sun, and, in the late 1960s and early to mid 1970s, cosmetic companies were in abundance, all with their own message of hope—even movie stars launched their own skin care lines.

However, everything did not remain rose-colored for long. The consumer and cosmetic companies were on a collision course. The new animal-origin ingredients, when included in cosmetic formulations, needed masking agents to disguise their multifarious odor in its raw state. The most popular masking agents were perfumes. Other chemical agents, such as preservatives and stabilizers, were added as well, and alone or together, created a synergistic dermal time bomb.

The consumer was soon plagued with sudden rashes, blisters and redness that resulted in the medical classification of moderate to severe allergic reactions. The culprits became identified as certain agents in the cosmetics that were directly responsible for these reactions, which were inevitably responsible for the origination of a new medical category: cosmetic contact dermatitis. There are now more than 20 classifications of this condition.