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The Future of Cosmetics Science will be Built upon a Bedrock of Beauty History

At least that’s what I gathered from the opening-day presentations at this year’s Society of Cosmetic Chemists Scientific Meeting and Showcase.

Howard Maibach, PhD of the University of California, San Francisco, gave today’s Henri Maso Keynote Award Lecture, which purported to be a historical review of the science of skin. In fact, nearly all of the day’s presenters looked back over the past several decades to help put the 75-year history of the SCC into context.

Maibach’s talk did cover quite a lot of the skin science developments that he and his predecessors and colleagues have witnessed and help advance. But what his keynote talk really highlighted was the beauty science quandary of our time; that is, How to coordinate knowledge sharing among the formulators, toxicologists, dermatologists, skin and hair biologists, marketers, et., etc. as well as how to train them to experiment and innovate effectively given the immense magnitude of relevant data and knowledge being published and discussed online around the world today.

His concern about generational and global knowledge transfer in the digital age doesn’t seem to have an easy answer. Though Maibach speculated about an Amazon-like marketplace for cosmetic chemistry and the value such a repository would have to the industry. And as I see it, any number of current ventures like Covalo, Novi, Knowde, and others have the potential to build out this sort of robust resource for the cosmetics and personal care industry.

In the meantime however, Lisa Napolione, Senior Vice President, Global R&D at The Estée Lauder Companies and the final speaker of the day, has a more personal and collective idea: “I challenge us all to mentor and be mentors.”

Napolione’s proposal came at the conclusion of her remarks on the positive impact that genuine diversity and inclusion have on innovation, business, and humanity.

And between Maibach’s keynote and Napolione’s presentation we saw knowledge transfer and mentorship in action:

Randy Wickett, PhD, of the James L Winkle College of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati shared a history of cosmetics science education, the gradual understanding of the structure of the stratum corneum, and the evolution of skin function measurement tools and techniques.

Jason Harcup, PhD, Global VP of both Skin Care R&D and the Prestige Division R&D at Unilever covered the “unsung achievements of an industry,” highlighting Vaseline’s important role as an occlusive layer and the brand’s newer product formula’s expansion of that occlusive benefit to include nourishment of the skin microbiome through the use of pro-lipids.

Jane Hollenberg of JCH Consulting shared just a fraction of her expansive makeup formulation know-how, giving a detailed overview of the history and development of color cosmetics technologies through the years.

And Joanne Nikitakis Senior Director of Cosmetic Chemistry at the Personal Care Products Council gave a fabulously informative run though of the history of beauty ingredient naming in her talk entitled, 50 Years of INCI Labeling.

🔮💋🧪So in one short afternoon, we have been reminded of all the work incorporated in bedrock of beauty history and how very much wisdom we have to build upon as we look to the future of beauty.

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this item was originally posted to LinkedIn and now appears on


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