Cosmetics Industry Sadly Loses Another Great: Paul Thau

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Paul Thau, 91, of Summit, NJ, sadly passed away on Feb. 15, 2024. He was a pillar to the cosmetics R&D community and his wealth of knowledge and eagerness to help will sadly be missed.

...Nothing is impossible. I learned that when working with marketing, R&D should always investigate before saying that something cannot be done."
— Paul Thau

Thau graduated from the Columbia University College of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1954. After working in pharmacies for a short time, he moved into cosmetics R&D, which proved to be a wise decision. 

Thau was a well-recognized expert in the cosmetic field. He was employed at Cosmair/L’Oréal USA for more than 22 years, during which he served as assistant vice president of cosmetic R&D, and then as senior research fellow. 

His industry experience spanned more than fifty years in total, and included R&D positions at Revlon, Bristol-Meyers, CIBA Pharmaceutical and Warner Lambert. He later formed the cosmetic consulting company PaCar-Tech, which specialized in innovative product development; he served as an industry consultant from 1999 to 2014.

Lessons Learned from Paul Thau

Cosmetics & Toiletries published an interview with Thau in 2013, where he described his work and shared lessons learned for the industry. Following is one excerpt:

Paul ThauPaul Thau

C&T: What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned in general?

Thau: Ciba Pharmaceutical Co., I was working on a Binaca toothpaste and one of the marketing experts asked me if we make a clear toothpaste. I responded that the abrasives used in the system were dense and opaque, but to my embarrassment, about six months later, Unilever came out with the transparent Close-up brand toothpaste. They were using a colloidal silica, which had a fine particle size and low refractive index. That embarrassment taught me to say that nothing is impossible. I learned that when working with marketing, R&D should always investigate before saying that something cannot be done.

"Paul was one of the industry's leading mentors, who I met early in my career," wrote Rachel Grabenhofer, managing scientific editor, C&T. "He taught this 'green' editor a great deal about the basics of cosmetic science and product innovation. I will miss our long conversations — and his stories." Thau was a regular contributor and friend to C&T.

Service to Industry and Innovation

Thau served the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC) in many capacities, including as chairman of the NY chapter in 1971 and as president of the national organization in 1988. Later, he was a member of the IFSCC Presidium and Scientific Committee. He was presented with the SCC's Maison G. de Navarre Award in 2005. Thau was also a fellow of the SCC and is a patentee or co-patentee on twenty issued U.S. patents. 

Down Time

In his free time, he enjoyed playing senior tennis doubles, growing vegetables, reading, feeding birds and taking winter vacations to Delray Beach, Fla., which he did for over fourteen years. 

Per his family, Thau lived a good life and endeavored to make contributions to society. He was the son of Morris and Vivienne Thau and loving husband of Carole. He is survived by his wife Carole; daughters Rona and Robin; and grandchildren, Lauren and Jake.

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