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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.

page 3 of 8

Amid all the clamor, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a list of known ingredients that potentially could manifest these reactions, and ranking highest on the list were masking agents, preservatives, detergents, stabilizers and emollients. Strict manufacturing laws addressing purity were yet to emerge, but sensing potential economic disaster, manufacturing companies began producing hypoallergenic cosmetics. The name struck a chord with consumers, so future formulas, which excluded the offending agents, emerged.

One of the first on the market was Estée Lauder’s Clinique, introduced in 1968, which claimed to be dermatologist-tested and fragrance-free. Other companies followed suit. The dermatologist and allergist went from being obscure to becoming recognizable, and some enjoyed celebrity status. Anecdotally, for a while, it was a badge of honor to declare that you had extremely delicate and sensitive skin, so visiting the dermatologist on a regular basis became the zeitgeist of the day.

Equipment and tools of the day

Meanwhile in the late 1960s through the 1970s, on the educational side of beauty in the United States, things remained rather status quo. Although some earlier cosmetology manuals featured facials with electrical modalities—and they were in place at a number of schools and salons—skin care professionals who could operate the equipment were more the exception than the norm, and were usually of European origin and training.

Cosmetology hours emphasized hair and nail services, and the allotted time spent on a facial procedure was minimal, and leaned heavily on makeup application. So, there was little or no existing awareness in the area of scientific skin care.

Whenever equipment was employed, it often consisted of the use of an ominous-looking black box named the wall plate, which was able to generate three currents: galvanic, sinusoidal and faradic. Because knowledge of their use was abstract, their application often resulted in highly disagreeable, unexpected reactions. The hazard lay in that the wall plate had an output of anywhere from 15–25 amperes, compared with the present use in today’s equipment of microamperes and milliamperes, which rank below one full ampere. Thankfully, the wall plate eventually became obsolete for use in cosmetology schools.