By  on November 30, 2012

It began with a bar of soap called Ivory.

Introduced in 1879, the lightweight, mild cleanser tackled everything from dirty floors to faces and set the stage for Procter & Gamble’s imminent rise in the beauty industry. “P&G has always been a company that asked consumers what they wanted,” said P&G corporate archivist, Lisa Mulvany, adding that Ivory was P&G’s first product to have its own brand name, advertising budget and in turn, loyal fan base. Introduced as a laundry soap, Ivory soon doubled as a personal cleansing product because of its mildness. In fact, Ivory’s first newspaper print ad showed two hands slicing a bar in half with a piece of string, as was typically done at the time to separate one piece for the laundry room and one for the powder room. The floating soap’s popularity lead P&G to, in 1926, delve further into the beauty world with Camay, the company’s first “beauty soap,” marketed toward “beautiful” women. “Women wanted more of a special bar soap to use only in the bath and they wanted it to smell and look pretty,” said Mulvany, noting that Camay soaps were available in a variety of colors and fragrances and brides were many times featured in the product’s advertising. “Women were becoming more sophisticated and more interested in personal care.”

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