Interview with ELC’s Thia Breen, Personal Care Products Council Chair

What was your overall impression of this year’s PCPC event?

I was thrilled by the level of engagement and turnout this year. The power of these meetings is that we not only bring together our membership and colleagues, but many of our sister trade associations from around the world to align on objectives and shape the future of the industry. The meeting’s theme, Redefining Beauty for a Changing World, reflected the magnitude of change surrounding our industry, and we had great dialogue on how our member companies can effectively and proactively embrace these changes to turn them into opportunities.

If there was one message you wanted people to leave the council meeting with, what would that be?

Our industry landscape has changed significantly in recent years, and while we are proactively evolving some of our practices to adapt to these changes, our focus has remained steadfast — at the core of every decision we make is product safety, quality and innovation, respect for our consumers and the environment we share, and our deep commitment to giving back. These values have allowed us to forge trusted relationships with our consumers for more than a century. To maintain and grow the trust on which our industry depends, we need to continue to be an industry where, the more people know, the more they admire our work. And that means we need to be part of the conversation, wherever and however it’s happening to ensure our core audiences, from policymakers to consumers, better understand who we are, what we stand for, and the scientific rigor behind our industry. We are at our strongest when we come together to reaffirm our core principles, when we take stock of our industry’s challenges, and proactively plan for tomorrow.

What are the two key challenges the council is facing in the coming year?

We believe that this year will present a tremendous opportunity to engage empowered communities of consumers with sound, science-based information. We will continue to educate consumers about the cosmetics and personal care products they use through channels like Now more than ever, the consumer experience goes beyond in-store purchases—they’re online and on-the-go—we want to continue the conversation with them about product quality and safety.

Also, the Personal Care Products Council has been working for many years with leaders in Congress on a bipartisan basis to modernize FDA oversight of cosmetics and personal care products. Cosmetic and personal care products are regulated under the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act. Several proposals have emerged and been filed as legislation. As part of our ongoing commitment toward modernization, PCPC and its member companies support legislative principles to guide bipartisan action, many of which mirror protections applied to other FDA-regulated products – these principles go above what is currently required by law.

Any thoughts on how we can encourage companies to participate and bring more people?

This year, PCPC held its 123rd Annual Meeting. At this stage, it’s a part of our process to evaluate ways to grow participation and to make sure those who attend walk away feeling the meeting was valuable. We encourage our member companies to get involved throughout the year and/or use our Annual Meeting as a way to stay up-to-date, as our industry continues to rapidly evolve. We are at our strongest when we come together and that’s why gatherings like this are so important.

Any changes you might suggest for next year?

We will continue to identify changing market conditions and new ways of reaching consumers so that it is a “must attend” event for all segments of the industry. Also, we’ll continue to keep the meeting objective, topic, theme, and guest speakers focused on where the industry is going. Most importantly, we’ll keep listening to the feedback from attendees and members.

Photography by LILA PHOTO

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