This post is sponsored by MBIB
I had a ball at the Cincinnati Music Festival! My visit to the area was a whirlwind of fun, food and music – but in the midst of it all, I got to experience a really special, insightful afternoon in house with some of the biggest beauty and personal care brands in the world. I got to go inside the offices and laboratories where some of the world’s most popular products are conceptualized, made and marketed.
I came away from the day so inspired and overflowing with amazing facts. I’m going to share just a few with you, so you too can know more about the brands you’re surrounded by every day – who’s making them, and how!
1 – P&G has been in the product game for more than a century, and many of their flagship brands are older than you think!
Proctor and Gamble is about 180 years old. The original estate began in 1837 and the brand history is absolutely amazing – they started as a family run candle and soap business, and serendipity has so much to do with their success. Many of their successes came from thinking outside of the box and combining products and existing ideas to create something completely new. The list and range of their innovation and influence is simply staggering to consider. Truly these are brands that have shaped and shifted culture and life on an international scale. For example, consider that Ivory soap was their very first product and it began the practice of consumer packaging (before that, soap was sold in plain brown paper wrapping), AND their investment in original advertising led to the creation of “soap operas.” Literally. Soap operas = daytime radio serial dramas sponsored by Ivory soap. Pretty amazing, right?
This company is behind brands like Tide, Charmin, Pantene, Olay and Old Spice, brands the world has grown up using. They are innovators and brand leaders in house cleaning, oral care, hair care; personal care…the list goes on and on. Honestly this is a whole ’nother post because I was SO impressed and surprised and amazed by the history, scope and innovative spirit behind the brands so many of us use every day.
2 – P&G has a real commitment to diversity behind the scenes. The Pantene Gold Series was entirely devised by a team of African American Ph.Ds!
On this trip we visited the innovation center where P&G Beauty does their product testing. I got to meet and spend time with some of these scientists and I was truly amazed at the scope of their work and the passion they displayed. I met the black technical Ph.D group of innovators and researchers, whose passion is to make hair and personal care products for natural and relaxed women of color. They spoke so passionately about their work and their efforts — getting a large mainstream brand to recognize the power of the AA consumer is a game changer, y’all! They truly made the change they wanted to see, from within.
“We make products that help women with natural and relaxed hair; we want women to have the best products. There’s no judgment in how you choose to wear your hair. Black women should be truly supportive and respectful of each other. No matter how we wear our hair it has to be healthy. We need to care for ourselves, care for our hair and be kind to each other,” says Rolanda J. Wilkerson Ph.D – Principle Scientist who has been at P&G for more than 12 years. The team I met included Rolanda, as well as Rukeyser Thompson, LaShaunda King-McNeil and Ian Henry – all African American Ph.Ds whose passion is working on products for consumers of African ancestry.
So many black women worked on the Pantene Gold line of products. Seeing where these folks work and the pride and passion they show in the products they’ve helped to create – products that took years to perfect – was truly inspiring. I learned SO much!
3 – The levels of scientific research and the environment these products come from is next level.
Honestly, smaller companies can fly under the radar and get away with things other bigger brands can’t. Externally, P&G has to substantiate every claim they make, or they invite big brand problems. So the company does safety tests galore and invests in quality ingredients and equipment. In fact, some of their equipment costs millions of dollars. We got to visit their microscopy lab to learn about their analysis, and they use an 800K microscope that can look at things that are nanometers in size. It uses electrons to image and analyze things in extreme detail, like delicate strands of hair or scalp cell samples. So crazy! Ultimately the brands are responsible for testing the toxicology of the products, ensuring that they’re non carcinogenic and won’t have neurological effects.
The scientists at P&G try out their own products and have to do their own safety tests. Long before P&G Beauty can test a product on consumers, they have to go through a thorough vetting process in-house. It’s not a game over there, and it’s a pristine process – this is as far from kitchen-mixtress product making as it gets, and it was fascinating to see the expectations and demands of their processes.
4 — Innovation takes TIME. Innovation takes effort. Keep on pushing.
The ads for Pantene Gold have been racking up social media hits and the Strong is Beautiful campaign has been inspiring black women all year. Have you seen it yet? If not, BEHOLD.
This campaign came about at the perfect time and resonated with us on social media. But please know this product line has been a long time in the making. Like, YEARS. It took about a decade for the Pantene Gold Series to come to fruition, because of the insistence on perfection for this particular consumer (that’d be us)!
The Intense Hydrating oil took the longest to create. It took 7 years to develop the conditioner! Along the way, every product was vetted with stylists and consumers (except the co-wash, which was only consumer tested). The scientific team truly took the time to get it right, according to their exacting standards and the demands of the market. According to these ladies, the Pantene Gold series shampoo can even help with detangling — you can finger detangle with their shampoo and the moisturizing begins there. So far I’ve tried the detangling milk and my hair LOVES it!
That’s just the tip of the iceberg of everything I learned. Here are some fascinating additional hair facts I learned along the way, from the team of scientists at P&G –
- When examined under the microscope, Caucasian hair had 6 layers of hair across the shaft. African American hair has 3 to 6 layers, and each kink and curl is a weak spot where you can get more damage. This is unique to AA hair. Curly Caucasian hair doesn’t have these areas of weakness. Our hair is more like ribbon than spaghetti, it is elliptical in shape. Every kink and curl is an area that needs extra gentle TLC. Also, melanosome pigment clusters are unique to African Ancestry hair
- Healthy skin = healthy scalp = healthy hair. Healthy hair comes from a healthy scalp. There is your hair journey and your scalp journey.
- Head and Shoulders has a special dandruff fighting ingredient that needs to be on your scalp to work, so apply it last if you’re treating your dandruff. On a personal note, I LOVE the Head and Shoulders co-wash!
- Leaving conditioner for longer doesn’t make a difference. Using a steam cap or heating cap can help the product to penetrate.
- Whether it’s natural or relaxed, our hair needs moisturization and protection.
- Hair color can affect hair health. Healthy hair has closed, even cuticles.
Thanks to P&G Beauty and MBIB for the experience.
This post was sponsored by MBIB but the opinions are all mine!