Where Science & Beauty Meet

There is a science behind Avon that may be surprising to some. I’m sure that when many people think of Avon, they do not think of science – or scientists. But it is science that tells us how to make safe products – our responsibility to everyone who buys an Avon product. It is also science that helps create new products that consumers love – our responsibility to innovate.

Avon R&D LabAs Chief Scientific Officer for Avon, I take pride that for over a century, a commitment to both innovation and sound science has been the hallmark of Avon’s Research and Development (R&D) team.

A town called Suffern, New York, twenty-five miles northwest of Manhattan, is the home of Avon’s Global Research & Development (R&D). The company’s founder, David McConnell, built his first fragrance laboratory in 1897 at this exact place, a little more than a decade after he launched the company. After 115 years, that small lab grew into an innovation powerhouse for products across all beauty categories. In 2005, Avon opened its $100 million new global R&D Center at Suffern on the historic site of our first lab, showcasing the state-of-art laborites and cutting edge scientific capabilities. This new R&D center is where science and beauty meet.

Housed in the new R&D center are hundreds of scientists with expertise in more than 20 scientific fields, such as chemistry, physics, molecular biology, pharmacology, microbiology, consumer psychology, engineering, and formulation chemistry that bring our R&D Center alive, delivering creative solutions to consumer needs, as well as uncovering new ingredients and technologies. The men and women of Avon R&D collaborate with world-leading scientists, dermatologists and other experts in close to 20 universities and institutions across five continents, utilizing the latest scientific discoveries and technology to fuel Avon’s “innovation pipeline.”

Every year, about 2,000 products are developed by R&D to support Avon’s global business. Yes, that is correct – 2,000 products. Among these are many world- and industry-first innovations that have made Avon a global leader in the beauty industry.

We work hard at delivering innovation, and are proud of the recognition we have received. In 2011, Avon Lotus Shield hair care won a prestigious Edison Award in the Personal Care category – the same year the award went to new breakthrough electronic tablet technology. Last year Avon was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the most innovative companies in the world across all industries, and our R&D played a major role in that recognition.

And since, at our core, Avon is about beauty, we are proud that we have won the highly acclaimed Allure Magazine Best of Beauty Award three times in the last five years (most recently a “Big Breakthrough” Award for Anew Clinical Pro Line Eraser). Delivering great products makes the whole R&D team proud every day, but receiving recognition for these efforts really inspires us.

Our R&D mission is to continue driving bolder innovations that will help Avon be an undisputable leading innovator in beauty globally based on sound science. So the next time you pick up your Avon Anew, lipstick or even Skin-So-Soft, remember that a scientist “delivered” the product long before the “Avon Lady” (or website) brought it to your door.

About: Xiaochun Luo, Ph.D.

I am currently Group Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer for Avon, based in the Global Research & Development Center in Suffern, NY. I am responsible for leading the Global R&D organization in its drive for innovation and the development of breakthrough technologies in beauty products. I have been with Avon since 1999, when I joined the company as Director of Global Hair Care. Prior to working at Avon, I spent almost 10 years in Global R&D at Procter & Gamble Company, including three years in Japan establishing a New Technology organization for P&G’s Asia-Pacific region.

I received my Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Purdue University and have authored numerous scientific papers, book chapters and patents in biological research fields. I am proud to have been recently selected as one of the 100 Women Leaders in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) from the organization STEMconnector.

I am married with two sons and enjoy spending time with my family.

2 comments on “Where Science & Beauty Meet

  1. Xiaochun and team, I salute this initiative, it is extremely important to remind ourselves and our teams about who we are and what it takes to deliver beauty around the world. I felt proud reading this post and I wished many more like this would follow!

  2. A well written and exciting article. Congratulations on your well deserved recognition as one of the ’100 Women Leaders in STEM. We at HairMath share your passion for where “science and beauty meet”.

    The HairMath Team

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