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A Centennial History of the Personal Care Products Council

1939 World's Fair Exhibit

The New York World's Fair provided an unprecedented opportunity for the Association to counteract the negative publicity that had beleaguered the industry during the 1930s.

In remarks to the Toilet Goods Association (TGA) at its 1938 annual meeting, TGA Chairman Herman Brooks stated that the Fair "affords our industry the first real opportunity it has ever had to not merely display its products, but to educate the public to the importance of our industry and how necessary it is in the social and economic life of today."

Seventeen companies leased exhibit space in the Cosmetics Pavilion, including Revlon, Chanel, and Coty.

According to the official guide to the New York World's Fair, the Cosmetics Pavilion's displays "demonstrated how these products have contributed to American loveliness by enhancing the natural beauty of Woman. These exhibits also show that the preparation of cosmetics is scientific, although much phatasy (sic) and imagination are associated with their glamorous results."

A bronze casket containing industry products was placed within the cornerstone of the building. With the building scheduled for demolition after the close of the Fair, plans were announced to erect a Shrine to American Beauty containing the casket on a peak near Tucson, Arizona. This site was selected because the climate was similar to Egypt's, where cosmetics were placed in the tombs of the Pharaohs 4,800 years earlier. The outbreak of World War II, however, undermined these ambitious plans.

TGA and World War II

As the nation and the world plunged into war, the members of the Toilet Goods Association (TGA) were again confronted by the possibility of a complete shutdown of their industry.

Like many industries affected by restrictions on critical war materials, TGA led efforts to develop war-related work for cosmetic manufacturers. Although these efforts were largely unsuccessful, the Association did persuade the U.S. Government to allow the industry to continue manufacturing products as long as alternative sources of raw materials could be obtained.

Efforts to develop suitable alternative ingredients became the focus of the Association's Scientific Advisory Committee. Meeting approximately every two weeks during the war years, the Committee developed as many substitutes as possible for critical raw materials, packaging, and closures.

For example, the Committee developed more than 30 proposed substitutes for glycerine. Members were informed of these findings through bulletins, helping to double the industry volume during World War II.

During the war years, the Association also established its Scientific Section, which brought together technical and production people from member companies to discuss and present scientific papers.

Out of World War II came much of modern food technology and medicinal chemistry, which helped pave the way for many of the scientific advancements in the cosmetic industry.

The Industry Comes of Age

With an increasingly affluent middle class emerging in the post-World War II years, the industry witnessed an unprecedented period of growth. Industry sales hit the $1 billion mark in 1952 and continued to rise. For the Toilet Goods Association (TGA), this "baby boom" era was marked by challenges on a number of different fronts.

Despite the growth in sales, the industry experienced a wave of consolidations that resulted in a decrease in Association membership.

At this time, the industry and the Association focused its energies on educating a broad spectrum of outsiders — ranging from advertising agencies to retail sales clerks to the public — about cosmetics.

Educational initiatives also targeted younger audiences. The Association produced educational booklets for school groups and attempted to convince the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts to establish a merit badge for good grooming.

On the legislative front, this era was marked by a new series of regulatory issues brought to the forefront by a wave of concern over safety. A controversy developed over the alleged link between cancer and the use of cosmetics. A House Select Committee was formed in the early 1950s to investigate the use of chemicals in food and cosmetics and to examine the possibility of such a link.

The Committee, chaired by New York Representative James Delaney, held extensive hearings before issuing a report in 1952 that recommended legislation to protect consumers from harmful chemicals in both food and cosmetics.

The Delaney anti-cancer clause was ultimately included in the Food Additive Amendments of 1958.

Pre-Market Clearance Required for Colors

As the cosmetic industry entered the 1960s, it faced new regulations on color additives. Public policy debate had turned to the regulation of color additives soon after the passage of the Food Additive Amendments of 1958.

After extensive and spirited hearings focusing primarily on the Delaney clause, the Color Additive Amendments to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act became law in July 1960.

These amendments included the Delaney clause and required pre-market clearance of all color additives used in food, drugs and cosmetics. Under the terms of the statute, the burden of demonstrating the safety of both coal-tar and non-coal tar colors fell to the industry.

All colors that were "commercially established" at the time of the passage of the Color Additive Amendments were provisionally listed for two and one-half years. After this period, FDA had the discretionary authority to continue the provisional listing if testing of a color's safety was being carried out in good faith.

Because of the costs involved in undertaking such a process, the industry was forced to forego testing on certain colors that were deemed expendable to the industry. The Toilet Goods Association (TGA) polled its members to determine which colors to include in the testing. It then established a program to employ an independent testing laboratory that would be funded on a voluntary basis by the industry based on certified color poundage used.

The Association also established a Color Committee to develop the specifics of the program and to report recommendations to the TGA Board of Directors. The Committee divided the colors into five groups, each one to be tested by a different laboratory.

In subsequent years, the Association clashed with the FDA over the latter's interpretation of the 1960 amendments. The FDA maintained that the amendments provided it with the authority to approve any product that contained any of the provisionally listed colors prior to its release in the market.

In 1965, the Association filed suit against the FDA over this issue. TGA's position was ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1970.

The Association Enters a New Era

In March 1967, James H. Merritt, Stephen Mayham's successor, began his 16-year tenure as TGA president. At the time of the Mayham-Merritt transition, the Association moved its headquarters from New York City to Washington, D.C. to increase its effectiveness in influencing legislation.

Two years after the move, the Association formed a Public Relations Committee to "discuss industry-wide public relations activities." Later that year, the Committee made a "thorough study of the need for a name change for the Association."

In September 1970, after considering several alternatives, the Board approved the Association's name change to The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA), subject to membership approval.