P&G Beauty Timeline: From Soap to Scent

Highlights from P&G’s 175 years in the beauty industry.

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1837: William Procter, a candlemaker, and James Gamble, apprentice to a soap maker, stop in Cincinnati and end up marrying sisters Olivia and Elizabeth Norris. The two decide to join forces and found Procter & Gamble to avoid competing for the same raw materials.
1862: P&G is awarded contracts to supply Union armies with soap and candles.
1879: P&G introduces Ivory, an inexpensive white soap said to be equal to high-quality imported soaps. The inspiration for the soap’s name came from a Bible entry that included the phrase “out of ivory palaces.”
1882: Ivory’s first national ads appear in the Independent, a weekly newspaper.
1896: P&G introduces its first color print advertisement for Ivory — in Cosmopolitan magazine.
1901: The American Safety Razor Co., later the Gillette Co., is formed in Boston.

This story first appeared in the November 30, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


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1915: P&G builds its first manufacturing plant outside the U.S. in Canada.
1926: P&G launches Camay in response to the growing popularity of perfumed beauty soaps.
1928: Max Factor introduces the first lip gloss, a pomade used to keep actresses’ lips moist under hot film studio lights.
1933: “Ma Perkins,” a radio show sponsored by P&G’s Oxydol soap, airs, leading P&G Brands to sponsor many new programs known today as “soap operas.”
1934: P&G enters the hair care business with Drene, the first synthetic shampoo.
1946: The company launches Tide, whose technology eventually leads to a wide range of products like shampoos, toothpastes and household cleaning formulas.
1948: P&G enters Mexico, marking its foray into Latin America.
1950: Wella introduces Koleston in Germany, the first cream hair color created for professional stylists outside North America.
1950: Clairol introduces Miss Clairol in the U.S. and changes hair coloring. The product lightens, tints, conditions and shampoos the hair in a single 20-minute step.

1952: Olay Beauty Fluid is launched, marketed as a lightweight alternative to the heavy, greasy night creams of the time.
1956: Secret deodorant is invented by P&G scientist Edwin Daley, the first to put together the three ingredients that have become the industry standard today for antiperspirants: zirconium salts, aluminum chlorhydroxide and glycine.
1957: P&G introduces its first hair sprays, Winter-sett and Summer-sett.

1961: The company launches Head & Shoulders after a P&G scientist discovers that pyrithione zinc is effective in removing dandruff.

1971: Herbal Essences is launched and marketed as the first “experiential shampoo.” The fragrance was created with the essences of 16 herbs and wildflowers.
1985: P&G acquires Richardson-Vicks, which includes Vicks respiratory care and Oil of Olay, Pantene and Vidal Sassoon.
1986: P&G introduces the first 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioner technology in Pert Plus/Rejoice Shampoo.
1988: P&G announces a venture to manufacture products in China.
1989: P&G enters cosmetics and fragrances with the acquisition of Noxell, and its Cover Girl and Noxzema products.
1990: P&G acquires Shulton’s Old Spice product line.
1991: P&G acquires Max Factor and Betrix, adding brands like SK-II and Hugo Boss to its portfolio.
1993: Company sales exceed $30 billion, with more than 50 percent coming from outside the U.S. for the first time in P&G’s history.
1994: P&G adds Giorgio Beverly Hills to its fine fragrance business.
2001: P&G acquires the Clairol hair-color and hair-care business, which includes brands like Nice ’n Easy Hair Color, Natural Instincts, Aussie and Herbal Essences, from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
2001: P&G acquires Joy Perfume by Jean Patou and Lacoste Fragrances.
2003: P&G acquires a controlling interest in Wella AG, a professional hair-care company, which includes Wella, Koleston Perfect Color Touch and Sebastian, and its fragrance division, Cosmopolitan Cosmetics, which includes Escada, Dunhill, Rochas, Montblanc, Puma and Naomi Campbell.
2005: P&G merges with Gillette, adding five $1 billion brands to the portfolio, including Gillette, Braun, Oral-B and Duracell.
2005: P&G Prestige and Dolce & Gabbana Fragrances enter licensing agreement.
2006: P&G Prestige secures licensing agreement with Gucci.
2007: P&G acquires skin-care brand DDF, Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula.
2008: P&G acquires Nioxin and Frédéric Fekkai.
2009: Dolce & Gabbana launches makeup line, Olay Professional Pro X range is introduced and P&G acquires The Art of Shaving.
2011: P&G signs license for 007 male fragrance and SK-II passes the $1 billion mark. 

2012: Pantene launches its Expert Series, including the AgeDefy line.

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