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A Centennial History of the Personal Care Products Council

The Personal Care Products Council Was Founded As Manufacturing Perfumers' Association

As the Victorian era's conservative attitude toward using cosmetics shifted at the close of the 19th century, the American perfumery and toilet goods industry took its first steps toward becoming a major manufacturing concern.

The number of U.S. firms manufacturing perfumery and toilet goods increased from 67 firms in 1880 to 262 firms in 1900, according to statistics from the Department of Commerce. This represented a nearly 400-percent increase over that 20-year period. The value of products jumped from $2.2 million in 1880 to more than $7 million in 1900.

The establishment of the Manufacturing Perfumers' Association of the United States (MPA) was principally the work of five individuals, led by New York perfumer Henry Dalley. Included in Dalley's group was Bowles Colgate, -president of Colgate & Company. One factor for establishing the Association was the extraordinarily competitive nature of the industry at the time. However, Dalley's motivation for bringing together a group of colleagues was pending Congressional legislation that would increase the tariff on imported raw materials, affecting the cost of producing toilet goods.

With support from peers, Dalley wanted to coordinate industry opposition to this legislation. By 1894, Dalley became convinced of the need for a permanent organization and persuaded his small circle of colleagues to join him. The MPA was established at Delmonico's Hotel in New York in October of that year. During its first 10 years, the Association focused principally on furthering the industry's interests regarding tariffs and taxes.

The Association Establishes an Identity

In the early 1900s, the Manufacturing Perfumers' Association (MPA) experienced tremendous growth as the industry rapidly increased production of goods to meet the growing acceptance of cosmetics within mainstream America.

On the legislative front, the -Association worked repeatedly during this era to successfully overturn tariff legislation that threatened to cripple the industry.

Despite a concerted lobbying effort by the Association in 1914, a tariff was enacted, imposing a 20 percent duty on 90 percent of the raw materials used in perfumes and toilet goods.

MPA Chairman William Bradley summed up the turn of events by commenting, "We have been roasted."

World War I provided an unfortunate, yet well-timed, impetus for the industry's growth. First, the war exposed French perfume and other fine toilet articles to nearly five million American soldiers, most of whom were in Europe for the first time.

Secondly, the decline of French exports to the U.S. due to the war provided an opportunity for the industry to capture this growing American market.

In the words of Association -Secretary Walter Mueller, companies could "concentrate all of their energy to building up trade in their goods in this country with a view to convincing the American public of the worth of these goods."

Prohibition and the Cosmetic Industry

In January 29, 1919, the United States adopted a Constitutional Amendment, commonly known as Prohibition, that banned the "manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors within the territory of the United States for beverage purposes."

"When first presented, the [Volstead Prohibition] bill would have made it impossible for our industry, or the drug industry or the manufacturers of flavoring extracts, or anyone else using alcohol as a chemical or raw material to continue in business," said MPA's Washington Representative at the Association's 1920 annual meeting.

Since an individual was capable of consuming perfumes and toilet goods that contained alcohol, the law could have been interpreted to outlaw these goods.

However, the Association mobilized its forces, convincing legislators to clarify the bill's language to exempt products "unfit for use of beverage purposes."

The Association Expands in the 1920s

The 1920s were watershed years for the cosmetic industry as Americans consumed more cosmetic goods than ever before. The more stylish "flapper" look emerged, replacing any traces of the more reserved Victorian style.

For the Association, the era began with the adoption of a new name in 1922: The Manufacturing Perfumers* Association became the American Manufacturers of Toilet Articles (AMTA).

This change reaffirmed an earlier decision to bar from membership companies that imported their products. AMTA also extended membership eligibility to companies beyond perfumers. By 1924, AMTA membership included 115 active members and 105 associate members.

During the 1920s, the Association saw imports of foreign-made toilet preparations dramatically decline while domestic industry production skyrocketed.<

The 1938 FD&C Act

Soon after assuming office in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt announced his support of new legislation to strengthen the regulatory provisions of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. Agitation for change had been brewing for several years, particularly at the state level. A series of highly publicized books, most notably 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs (1933) and American Chamber of Horrors (1936), severely criticized the practices of the food, drug, and cosmetic industries, sparking controversy over the safety of cosmetics.

In June 1933, Senator Royal S. Copeland of New York introduced legis-lation to strengthen the 1906 Act. During subsequent Senate debate on the bill, attention was focused on a sensational photograph of a woman who reportedly was blinded by an eyelash dye.

Although the factual basis of the story was disputed by the industry and never confirmed, the so-called "Lash Lure" incident provided the smoking gun the legislation needed for passage.

For Senator Copeland, the eventual passage of the Copeland-Lea Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Bill in 1938 was the crowning achievement of his three-term Senate career.

The American Manufacturers of Toilet Articles (AMTA) supported the basic tenets of Copeland's legislation. The prospect of a patchwork of state laws greatly concerned the membership and provided the basis for their support of this federal legislation.

During a speech at the Association's 1937 annual meeting, Copeland pointed out that "unless we establish a Federal standard . . . there would be an individual standard for each state and those of you engaged in manufacturing and shipping in interstate commerce would have to conform to 46 or 48 different standards."

The 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act contained both adulteration and misbranding provisions. A cosmetic was deemed to be adulterated if it "contains any poisonous or deleterious substance that may render it injurious to users under customary conditions of use." The misbranding provisions prohibited labeling that is "false or misleading in any particular."

The provisions also required that a package's quantity of contents and name and address of manufacturer, packer or distributor be conspicuously included on the label. To enforce the statute, the Food and Drug Administration was given search and seizure and prosecution powers.