Article by: Kelly Dobos
Often, I wonder about the history of our industry. So I’ve been collecting old cosmetic formularies and books. They tend to be rare. There were only two copies of my latest purchase, published in 1935, available on Amazon. That book is Canitics: The Art and Science of Hair Dyeing, written by Florence Wall. It appears that Florence was one of the first women to be recognized as a cosmetic chemist and the first female medalist in the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.
Florence Wall was born in Patterson, NJ in 1893. She attended the College of St. Elizabeth and graduated with Bachelors’ degrees in Arts and Education and honors in both English and Chemistry. There were few opportunities for women in chemistry at the time, so Florence spent time teaching high school science.
World War I opened doors for women in many careers when men were sent off to war. Florence began working as an industrial chemist and later a cosmetic chemist. In 1924 she took a position at the leading manufacturer of hair dyes, Inecto, Inc. She was to be a liaison between the lab and the salon where product testing occurred.
Soon, her technical writing skills and knowledge of several languages caused a change in course and she was put in charge of library research and the department of technical advice. Shortly thereafter she was asked to write a text on the science of hair dye and coined the term canitics to mean the art and science of hair dyeing. Florence continued to write throughout her career. She published 5 books and published over 300 articles.
Inetco created the Notox Institute for postgraduate education in hair dyeing and Florence was charged with developing the curriculum. Soon after, Inetco purchased the Marinello Company, a beauty and cosmetology school still in existence today. Florence began developing curriculum for the Marinello schools as well.
Florence fought for recognition of cosmetic science as a true science and was involved in updates to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic legislation. She attended hearings and worked closely with Senator Royal Copeland. She intended to fight scientific inaccuracies and ensure accurate representation of the cosmetic industry. She earned her doctorate at the New York University School of Education.
Dr Wall continued writing and lecturing late into her career and even set up a class in cosmetic hygiene at New York University. She was inducted into the Cosmetology Hall of Fame at the New York World’s Fair in 1965. Florence passed away at the age of 95 in 1965.