By  on October 12, 2012

Scientific breakthroughs power beauty forward. Hyaluronic acid, alpha hydroxy, peptides, sulfate-free shampoos—the list of innovations goes on and on, and chances are it’s going to get exponentially longer thanks to the impact of the latest discoveries on our industry. In this, WWD Beauty Inc’s second annual science issue, we’re delving into the newest research and technologies that are expected to exert the most significant influence on skin care and hair care. Foremost, of course, is the mapping of the human genome and the many secrets now being revealed about how our bodies work at a cellular level. For example, P&G’s scientists recently discovered the five fundamental pathways involved in the pigmentation process, knowledge that transformed the way they formulated their newest skin-discoloration product. Surprisingly, only 7 percent of discoloration is caused by pigmentation.

Such discoveries are becoming increasingly common, and, as you’ll read in “The Genius Files," are expected to lead to ever more meaningful breakthroughs. The possibilities are endless and for beauty’s top scientists, the opportunities unlimited. As Johnson and Johnson’s Cathy Salerno points out, researchers have already identified the genetic coding responsible for breast cancer. Why not skin cancer? “Wouldn’t it be great if we had some sort of [sun] protection that could be used as easily as fluoride is for young kids through their drinking water?” she muses. Right now, that’s only a dream. But if Salerno’s track record, and those of her colleagues, is any indication, the reality is not far away.

Already, we are seeing the impact of advanced research on the hair-care market. Plagued by stagnant low-single-digit growth, more researchers and marketers are looking to skin care for strategy and inspiration, and the result is a slew of next-generation launches expected to significantly shake up the market. As P&G’s Walter Geiger tells WWD’s West Coast beauty editor, Rachel Brown, in “Hair!,” “When you have performance, are in the right benefit space and tell the right story, you can charge higher prices—even in the recession.” Robb Akridge, the cofounder of Clarisonic, knows about charging higher prices. One industry executive once called the device a $100 washcloth. Akridge was quick to correct him—it’s actually closer to $200—and the high price hasn’t hindered growth in the least. During a recent appearance on QVC, Dr. Robb, as he’s fondly known, set a personal record by generating $87,000 a minute in sales. Some execs might be content to rest on those laurels, but not Akridge and his cohorts at the L’Oréal-owned Clarisonic. Discover how they’re driving growth forward in “Sonic King.”

These are exciting times for our industry: E-mail me at jenny_fine@ and tell me what breakthrough you’re most excited about and I’ll include your thoughts in an upcoming issue of WWD Beauty Inc.

5 Key Points From This Issue

1. The Age of Omics: Genomics, proteomics and metabolomics will deliver ever-deeper insights into skin aging.

2. Promoting Hair Growth: Taking a page from skin-care marketers, hair-care brands are tapping into antiaging concepts to help drive sales.

3. The Doctor Is In: Treatments performed in doctor’s offices will continue to have a significant impact on product developers.

4. Different Strokes: While beauty has historically drawn students from the chemical sciences, biologists are increasingly in demand.

5. How Green Is Your Garden: Implementing sustainable practices—in sourcing, manufacturing and even marketing— will grow in importance.

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