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Award-winning Cosmetic Chemist Rides the Wave to Success
By: Jean Allured, Freelance Writer and Editor
Posted: November 1, 2006, from the November 2006 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
Martin M. Rieger entered the cosmetic industry by accident. In 1948, he graduated from the University of Chicago with a doctorate in physical organic chemistry, and his first job offer was to work in Cuba at a rayon tire cord factory. He decided to turn that opportunity down, however.
Sol Gershon, PhD, technical director of Pepsodent, formerly located in the outskirts of Chicago, offered him the first position that he actually accepted. “My task,” Rieger said, “was to find out what happens to hair when exposed to waving lotion.” Pepsodent’s Rayve and Gillette’s Toni brands were the two biggest competitors in the permanent wave industry at that time. Through research, Rieger became an expert in the mechanics of stretching human hair. Among his developments was formulating a clear cold wave during a time when all waving lotions were milky.
By 1955, Pepsodent as well as the Rieger family had moved to New Jersey. Rieger received an offer to join Hudnut Co. of New Jersey, soon to become a part of Warner-Lambert. a company acquired by Pfizer in 2000. He brought his knowledge of cold waves to the new company where Donald Powers, PhD, was technical director. When Powers retired, Rieger took charge of cosmetic research at Warner-Lambert until his retirement in 1986. He supervised a staff of 10–25 scientists; the development of products in the Hudnut line for mass market outlets, including cold waves and shampoos; and the development of products in the DuBarry line for department stores, including skin care, moisturizers, antiaging products and makeup.
Among Rieger’s colleagues is Charles Fox, who has shared an almost identical career path with Rieger: they worked together at Pepsodent and Warner Lambert. Fox, who retired in 1983, remarked, “Marty Rieger is one of the most brilliant scientists I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. When you had a problem with a product, he could always put his finger on the solution,” he added.
In addition to Rieger’s full-time job, he joined the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC) in 1950, and over the subsequent 56 years served in many positions: He edited the Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists from 1962–1967, served as president in 1972, and chaired the finance and membership committees. He also has served as a member of numerous other committees.