PARIS — L'Oréal has been busy in the past month. The French firm's Episkin model, which measures chemicals' irritation on reconstructed human skin, was validated as a full replacement for testing on animals. In a statement published last week, the French beauty giant said the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods had approved its in-vitro model, which tests how irritating a substance is on reconstructed human epidermis on collagen.

According to the ECVAM, Episkin "predicts the skin irritancy potential of chemicals with great accuracy and precision and will therefore fully replace tests on animals."

L'Oréal said it was a great step toward the elimination of animal testing. "Today, Episkin is routinely used for tolerance evaluation of our products, and our commitment to develop alternative methods continues," stated Jean-François Grollier, executive vice president of research and development at L'Oréal.

L'Oréal added that this type of test would enable it to replace animals in the testing of 10,000 substances, as foreseen under REACH, the wide-reaching legislation passed in Europe in December 2006.

The Episkin model is available to other firms and is sold by SkinEthic, the tissue-engineering company L'Oréal acquired in March 2006. When it bought SkinEthic, L'Oréal said its top priority was developing alternative approaches to animal testing. L'Oréal ended animal testing of all finished products, but not ingredients, in 1989.

In other news, more than 44,000 students from 128 countries took part in this year's edition of L'Oréal's e-Strat Challenge, the online business strategy competition for undergraduate and MBA students that the French beauty firm uses as a recruitment tool. In the Paris final round on April 18, students from Germany's Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg beat teams from Turkey and Indonesia to take first place in the undergraduate competition. In the MBA category, Switzerland's IMD won first place, trumping teams from the U.K., Taiwan and Brazil. L'Oréal executives — Geoff Skingsley, executive vice president of human resources, and Béatrice Dautresme, executive vice president of corporate communications and external affairs — chaired the jury panels. Since e-Strat Challenge was launched in 2000, L'Oréal has recruited 256 students from the competition.

Emmanuel Lulin has been named L'Oréal's ethics director, a new post. The beauty company announced last Thursday that Lulin would oversee internal and external ethical issues and report directly to L'Oréal's chief executive officer, Jean-Paul Agon. Lulin's role is to integrate ethical practices and insure they're respected throughout L'Oréal. He will also supervise the development of the firm's ethical program, which includes training.Since 1999, Lulin has been legal director of L'Oréal's human resources. Prior to that position, he worked as a lawyer for 10 years at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP here and in New York. — Ellen Groves

New Lancôme Counter

NEW YORK — Lancôme unveiled a new counter on April 30 at Bloomingdale's 59th Street location here, a 1,000-square-foot space designed to maximize points of contact with the store's customers, according to Eric Lauzat, president of Lancôme in the U.S.

"Bloomingdale's is a special partner to us, and we wanted to bring a new, modern and elegant installation to the store," said Nina White, deputy general manager and senior vice president of marketing for the L'Oréal-owned brand. "The new space has a more open design that invites clients in so they can get the best possible service."

An additional 200 square feet was added to the existing Lancôme area and the new space is manned by 22 beauty advisers. Customers can view the brand's full complement of beauty offerings in the space, and can receive services like skin care evaluations, makeovers and brow shaping.

Between 200 and 300 customers visit the counter on a daily basis, according to Lancôme.

Although executives wouldn't comment, industry sources estimated the new Bloomingdale's counter could generate $4.8 million in first-year sales. — Michelle Edgar

Revlon Hosts Run/Walk

Revlon kicked off its 10th annual Entertainment Industry Foundation Revlon Run/Walk for Women in Times Square last Saturday. More than 40,000 people participated to raise money to support women's cancer research, counseling and outreach programs. The bicoastal event was hosted by Jesse Martin of "Law & Order: SVU." Other special guests were Mandy Moore, Meredith Vieira, Chaka Khan and Revlon's spokesperson, Beau Garrett. The New York event raised about $5 million; EIF's Revlon Run/Walk has raised about $50 million dollars since its inception 13 years ago. The Los Angeles race is scheduled for this Saturday. — M.E.

Nars Supports Smiles

Coinciding with Operation Smile's 25th anniversary, Nars Cosmetics has partnered with fashion house J. Mendel to create a limited edition lip palette. Available at select Nars retailers this October, 5,000 of the limited edition J. Mendel Fall 2007 Collection Lip Palettes will be produced and will retail for $65. Thirty-seven percent of the palette's sales will be donated to Operation Smile, a worldwide children's medical charity whose volunteers help to repair facial deformities. The new palette will be previewed at the annual fund-raising gala this Friday. — M.E.

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