The Emergence of A Mass Market

Moving from the small-scale home-made recipies and traveling salesman distribution, the cosmetic industry found their economic force in the 1920s. This new industrial America could see the burgeoning demand for consmetic items. Much like Crisco oil or the Gillette razor, new cosmetic products were rising from an invisbile current that only need to be packaged, branded, and retailed in order to take advantage of the growing economic boom.

These innovative retailers began to develop a system of mass production, distribution, and marketing that trasnformed local patterns of buying and selling into a new culture of consumption (Strasser 104). By the 1920s many traditionally female run and manages beauty companies were being taken over by businessmen who were ready to cash in on the new lucrative shpere of feminity. Helena Rubinstein, Elizabeth Arden, and Madame C.J. Walker, found their power being usurped by men who were quick to label them unable to run the company that they established.

Like the evolving business strategy of the time, products were immediatly branded in order to form an easily recognized national identity. Unlike the existing local made bars of soap, Pond's Cold Cream, Ivory Soap, and Noxzema quickly became immersed in this culture of consumption. Women easily bought into this community of wants and by 1929, the sociologist Robert Lyn estimated that Americans were spending 700 million dollars annually for cosmetics and beauty serives (Peiss 97).

To further extend this process, in the late 1920s Max Factor removed the stigma from painted women and made "society make-up." As a make-up artist to the stars, Factor was able to package new blushes, lipsticks, and mascaras with the face and approval of a powerful Hollywood starlet.

By 1930, women could choose from an array of three thousand face powders and several hundred rouges, with a handful of leading brands controlling about 40 percent of cosmetic sales (Peiss 103). The beauty market was clearly developing into a lucrative and substantial business whose future would be intensified by new marketing methods and advertising.