By  on May 25, 2007

NEW YORK — A trio of top beauty executives attempted to plot the intersection of beauty and wellness — particularly as many consumers work to stave off aging — during a panel discussion hosted by the Fashion Group International last week.

The panel, which took place May 17 at the New York Hilton, included Lynne Greene, global president of Clinique, a division of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.; Dr. Howard Murad, founder and chief executive officer of the eponymous dermatologist skin care line, and Nicole Fourgoux, assistant vice president of L'Oréal's Garnier Nutritioniste. Gregory Stock, Ph.D., president and ceo of Signum BioSciences, moderated the discussion, pressing the panelists on their roles in consumers' pursuits of eternal youth, asking them: "Are they selling beauty and health, or the promise of beauty and health?"

He commented that recent developments in the life sciences has brought a thirst for medical miracles. "The expectations about health and biotechnology have altered our concept of who we are," said Stock. Those expectations naturally spill over into the beauty industry, with the lines between therapy and enhancement growing increasingly blurry. "We yearn to defy aging," he said, commenting that scientists believe the first person to live to 150 years old is alive today.

"There's no more letting go at 40 [years old]," declared Greene of Clinique. She explained the consumer mind-set toward beauty and aging as: "If I look healthy, I am healthy. I do not have less days in front of me than I do behind me." She added, "We sell beauty within a different context today, and that is the need to feel and to be young."

Referring to the infamous quote by Revlon founder Charles Revson, who said beauty marketers sell "hope in a jar," Murad said: "Now there is more hope." He shared that, when he routinely asks residents at UCLA, where he is an associate clinical professor of dermatology, if the skin is connected to the heart, most of them respond, "No." However, Murad explained that the skin, which acts as a barrier, and the heart are very much connected, and that "if we improve the quality of the skin, we improve the quality of everything else." To that end, Murad's skin care line, introduced in 1989, includes dietary supplements.

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