These global corporations may have started as small, often family-run soap-making businesses, but they now own most of the brands we use today and thus control the beauty business. Theyâ€™re unified not only by their size but also their focus and investment in research.
PROCTER & GAMBLE
One of the biggest names in the business, Procter & Gamble was founded in 1837 by Alexander Norris and his sons-in-law. Its beginnings came from the most humble yet necessary of products: soap. Luck in the lab helped with some of its earliest successes: A mistake when developing a soap mixture led to the invention of the floating Ivory soap in 1879 (the name alludes to a biblical reference, but also cleverly played to a Western desire for fair as well as clean skin). Another happy (and lucrative) accident while experimenting with formulas was the invention of Crisco, the cooking fat. In 1924, P&G set up a market research department one of the first to be created gathering masses of information about the habits of their interviewees. This would prove to be key to the companyâ€™s growth and dominance. Over the years, itâ€™s bought a huge number of fragrance, beauty, and hair and skin companies, including Max Factor in 1991.