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AVON 2016 Recipients



Dr. Candrice Heath and I, traveled on December 14-15, 2016, to the Avon Global Innovation Center in Suffern, New York.  Our two-day experience was both informative, enlightening and inspirational. We thank the Women’s Dermatology Society and Avon for conceiving of and providing this transformative educational opportunity.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Dr. John Lyga, Director Bioscience and New Technology, who served as our gracious host and planned our entire visit. We are very grateful for his time, vision and attention to detail in planning our experience.

Day 1 was robust and consisted of exposure to the following

12:00-1:00         Introduction to Avon GIC and Global R&D
We learned that Avon was founded by David McConnell in 1886 as a company for women. As one of the first companies to provide career opportunities for women it also developed the first direct selling model and provided credit for women to buy the products thus allowing women of all socio-economic levels to support themselves and their families. The Avon Suffern Laboratory was established in 1893 and now there are research facilities worldwide. We noted that it is appropriate that the Mentoring Program is sponsored by the WDS, an organization committed to issues relevant to women and their families and Avon, a company for women.

1:00-2:00         Biology behind skin care & tour of cell biology
The Avon scientists explained that the overall goal of product development is to provide consumer centric products by combining consumer insights with important end benefits. The scientists discussed the example of an intracellular transporter protein, dynein, which when up-regulated in cells leads to a healthier and likely younger cell. We were led through this development process which took 3-years and ultimately resulted in a serum with a claim that the product was inspired by Nobel Prize winning technology.

 2:00-3:30         Skin Care lab demonstration and laboratory tour                 
Meeting with a cosmetic chemist we reviewed surfactants and emulsions, soaps and syndet bars. In the lab, we learned how to make oil-in-water and water-in-oil suspensions.

3:45-4:00         Pride and product display at the red lip couch area
We were able to view several innovative products including soon to be released color products and new lip products. Innovation has been a hallmark of Avon products with the launch in 1986 of Avon Skin Care (retinol), in 1992 Avon Anew (alpha-hydroxy acid), and in 1987 Avon Vitamin Collagen Booster. We heard a brief history of these innovative products.

4:00-4:00         3-D Printer Area
We were able to view the two Avon 3-D printers and learn how this technology streamlines the development of packaging. The prototypes created by the 3-D printer accelerate packaging development, improves efficiency and saves time and money.

4:30         Introduction and Welcome
We had the distinct pleasure and honor to be welcomed by Fernando Acosta, Executive Vice President, with whom we discussed leadership of the company as well as challenges faced in today’s environment. Additionally, we had a robust discussion when we were asked how Avon could better interact with and inform dermatologists about their products. Dr. Heath and I were able to explain the importance of national and international dermatology meetings and conferences as opportunities to educate and interact with dermatologists. Specifically, we sited the American Academy of Dermatology and the World Congress of Dermatology. Finally, Fernando Acosta left us with an inspirational quote by Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it is done”.

5:30 Dinner with Avon leaders and scientists
Lisa DiNatale, Senior Manager of Clinical Testing, served as our second hostess during our visit and took us to an enjoyable dinner during which we discussed the corporate environment of Avon as well as leadership.

Day 2 of our visit was very full with observations of and interactions with several different departments.

8:30-10:00         Color lab tour and demonstration
We toured the color lab, had an informal discussion regarding color cosmetics, specifically how to determine color matches for women of all skin types. We also touched on trends in color. We looked at various pigments, the color wheel and had a hands on demonstration during which we formulated a color pressed makeup product. We were able to put the product into a compact with our name pressed into the powder. Finally, we visited the color vault that contained every color product that Avon has ever developed as well as all of the Avon brochures.

10:00-10:30           Clinical lab tour
We were able to view some of the latest technologies used to assess the skin and the efficacy of products including a confocal microscope and a Visia imaging system.

10:30-11:00           Consumer science
Avon is committed to consumer centric product design. This is a process in which the needs and wants of the consumer are determined first before research, development and formulation of the product begins. The consumer science division has facilities to conduct focus groups to understand the needs of the consumer. This is also the division where skin care, color and hair products are tested on consumers who come to the Suffern facility. 

11:00-12:00           Corporate & scientific communications
We were interviewed by members of the corporate and scientific communications division. We discussed our background, interests within dermatology and provided and overview of our experience at Avon. We commented on the value of the Mentoring Program.

12:00-1:00         Meet the scientists
This luncheon meeting provided a forum for the scientists to “pick our brains” and obtain a better understanding of clinical dermatology and problems faced by our patients. Prior to the luncheon we visited the Avon Company Store to select products to use and we thank Avon for their generosity.

1:00-2:00         Seminar by Drs. Susan Taylor and Candrice Health
We were asked by Avon to give a lecture to a group of about 35 scientists. Dr. Taylor’s 45-minute lecture was entitled Understanding Skin of Color Genetic Considerations, Structure and Function. Dr. Heath’s lecture was on the importance of social media and included a demonstration.

2:00-3:00         Consumer Product Design & Marketing
The core responsibilities of Consumer Product Design include identifying s pipeline of compelling ideas, analyzing trends, and be the voice of the consumer to drive consumer centric product design. Several macro consumer trends include: 1) the East (Asia) continuous to take on the West with the faster growth in skin care spending; 2) the new wave of feminism with the numbers of working women; 3) blurred lines of the traditional role of males and females; 4) holistic well-being focusing on stress reduction. We then discussed emerging trends and mainstream trends in skin and hair care and color cosmetics.

Dr. Heath and I are honored to have been recipients of the 2016 WDS/Avon Mentorship Award. The time spent at Avon was intellectually stimulating, fast moving, and packed with activities, discussions and lectures. Dr. John Lyga and Lisa DiNatale, our hostesses throughout the visit, made our experience seamless and they were outstanding.

The program was a resounding success as we both unequivocally: 1) gained insights regarding the cosmetic dermatology business from an R&D and corporate perspective; 2) better understood the consumer and how she has become the center of how beauty products are holistically designed; 3) got a look at the science behind the development of aesthetically-pleasing, yet functional cosmetic products, and 4) learned about state of the art techniques and best practices for clinical testing and developing consumer-relevant and compelling product claims.

Dr. Heath and I traveled to and from the Avon Global Innovation Center in Suffern, New York together. We were also able to spend time after dinner on 12/14/16 and during breakfast on 12/15/16. This allowed us time to debrief, discuss the experience and it provided time for mentoring.

We sincerely thank both the WDS and Avon for an extraordinarily enriching experience.

-Dr. Susan C. Taylor & Dr. Candrice Heath