Article by: Kelly Dobos
Known to his friends as Ed, Maison G. de Navarre, first took an interest in cosmetic science while studying pharmacy at the College of the City of Detroit (now Wayne University). As part of his qualifications to take a State Board examination, Ed worked in a drugstore and became interested in the many cosmetics and perfumes sold in there.
Starting the SCC
Louis Spencer Levy, publisher of The America Perfumer, created the Michigan Cosmetic and Extract Association in 1933. Ed became the first president and served as secretary and treasurer in later years. Ed began writing a column for The America Perfumer in 1934 called “Desiderata”, which means “desired things” in Latin. He shared technical information and advice in these columns. Through correspondences with readers, Ed soon realized the cosmetic industry had a need for a way to share and build collective knowledge.
It was in 1935 that Ed had the idea to create a The Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC). He planned a founding meeting that summer which was to take place in Cincinnati. After arriving in Cincinnati for the meeting, numerous cancellations frustrated Ed and he returned to Detroit disappointed.
In 1938, Ed began the task of creating the first edition of the book “The Chemistry and Manufacture of Cosmetics.” The initial manuscript was one thousand pages long and the book was so popular that it was reprinted six times. (I tracked down a first edition copy for my personal cosmetic science library!) That book has evolved into a multiple volume set that undergoes periodic updates and those books are still essential assets to cosmetic scientists today.
First SCC meeting
In 1944, Ed was ready to give it another shot. He had begun a business consulting in the cosmetics industry and approached many of his clients to gain support for the development of the SCC. May 23, 1945 the founding members of the SCC met at the Lexington Hotel. A constitution and the name of the organization were adopted and there was a short technical program. Ed served as the first chairman as there the role of president was not yet established.
Expanding to the IFSCC
Ed was also very involved in the creation of the International Federation of the Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC). On September 9, 1959 eight representatives from different national Societies of Cosmetic Chemists met in Brussels, Belgium to solidify the mission and goals. The first congress was held in Munich, Germany in 1960 with 350 attendees from 16 countries in attendance. Ed served at the first president of the IFSCC.
Today, Maison G. de Navarre’s legacy is celebrated through two awards that bear his name. The highest honor of the SCC in the US is the Maison G. de Navarre Medal Prize for scientific contributions to the field, and the IFSCC awards a promising young scientist a prize in his name.
While dissemination of scientific knowledge is easily accessible through publication, much more so today, Ed realized the importance of personal connections and conversations that could be developed through a professional organization. Today the SCC and IFSCC continue to thrive on the opportunity for personal dialogue and camaraderie.
Go here for more information about the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.