The magician of melanin. The scientist who put the stem cells in your favorite serum. The guru responsible for helping us become smarter about sunscreen. They might not have made a billion on a lip kit, but they’re the driving forces behind how we look at all things beauty today.
In 3000 B.C., Chinese cosmetic chemists were already perfecting nail polish using vegetable dye, ground blossoms, and later, gold and silver dust. In 2nd century Greece, Galen whipped up the first jar of soothing, hydrating cold cream. And while the practice of tinting lips red goes back for centuries, what we consider to be “modern” lipstick, easy to apply straight from a tube, has been around for over a hundred years. So it might seem as if All The Things, at least all those that are beauty-related, have already been invented. However, from a technological perspective, the Golden Age of aesthetic innovation is unfolding right before our eyes. And the great minds behind history’s biggest beauty breakthroughs— from skin-transforming lasers to line-smoothing neurotoxins— walk (and work) among us.
THE POWER DUO
Drs. Eugene Van Scott + Ruey Yu
Founders, Neostrata and Exuviance
On every Instagram shelfie, you’ll find a product that owes its potency to Van Scott and Yu, PhD: this dynamic pair looked at organic acids found in apples and oranges to invent alphahydroxy acids. Here, Dr. Van Scott shares his current obsessions.
Favorite beauty trend: I believe daily home skin care is best: peels, polyhydroxy acids, and perhaps the application of other physiologic agents.
Proudest moment: Receiving the Lasker Award.
Current inspo: Continuing our research on pain control.
Wish I would have invented: A way to bring our global society together quickly to implement ways to save our planet.
Loretta A. Miraglia
Corporate Senior Vice President Product Development & Innovation, La Mer
The physicist turned skin-care creator sourced from NASA to create La Mer’s airy loose powder; Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes inspired the structure of the brand’s Soft Cream. And bendable glass (only Apple, Samsung and La Mer had access to the tech) led to La Mer’s lifting serum.
Proudest moment: Every time someone tells me—even shows me— how La Mer The Concentrate has healed and changed their life.
Career confirmation: After creating my first innovation, I was hooked. There’s nothing better than creating something from nothing.
Current inspo: [The television show] Euphoria.
Wise words: Live life fearlessly: love keeps you safe, not fear. Lee Ann Womack says it best: “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”
THE SUNSCREEN ADVOCATE
Dr. Perry Robins
Founder of the Skin Cancer Foundation
As Dr. Robins says in his new memoir, “giving back is the highest level of success”—and that’s exactly what he’s been doing for 40 years with his work at The Skin Cancer Foundation.
Favorite beauty trend: When people not only make the healthy choice not to tan, but also use sun protection as both an anti-aging strategy and to prevent skin cancer.
Proudest moment: Being the first in my family to go to college, and then medical school, despite my dyslexia.
The first thing I do when I wake up: Put a smile on my face.
Career confirmation: When a mentor in the Army told me I would make a great doctor, and that I must try or he would haunt me for the rest of my life.
THE MELANIN WHISPERER
Dr. David E. Fisher
Chief of Dermatology and Director of Cutaneous Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)
From UV-released endorphins to a topical drug that turns on skin’s protective melanin production, Dr. Fisher targets the real-world triggers that lead so many to risk tans.
Favorite beauty trend: The increased focus on underlying science in all areas.
Proudest moment: Elucidation of pathway for melanin synthesis, and the means of manipulating it.
Current inspo: Our son Sammy, who passed away suddenly at age 24 during a charity triathlon—afterwards, we learned about his efforts at combating homelessness.
Wish I would have invented: Fully recyclable plastic.
Wise words: Dream broadly, focus closely and persevere.
THE LIGHT SOURCE
Dr. R. Rox Anderson
Lancer-endowed Chair of Dermatology; Professor of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School; Director of Wellman Center for Photomedicine, MGH
Name any of the biggest energy-device launches of the last 20 years—think everything from laser hair removal to CoolSculpting— and chances are, you have Dr. Anderson (colleagues liken him to a modern-day Benjamin Franklin) to thank.
Proudest moment: When one of my very young patients said, “Dr. Anderson, I love you, and I like you.”
The first thing I do when I wake up: Kick my dog off the bed.
Career confirmation: When I figured out that it combines all of the stuff I like: science, helping people, inventing.
Current inspo: My children.
Wish I would have invented: Global cooling.
Wise words: Be here now.
THE CONSUMER ADVOCATE
Dr. Frauke Neuser
Principal Scientist, Olay Skin Care, P&G
Cosmetic chemist Dr. Neuser’s number-one goal hasn’t changed since she joined P&G almost 20 years ago: to deliver the right information and the right ingredients to women around the world.
Favorite beauty trend: Personalized beauty! We can now analyze peoples’ skin, genes and microbiome, track environmental effects and turn the results into personalized advice, services and products.
Current inspo: Working in an industry that is changing all the time.
Wish I would have invented: Olay Skin Advisor, the first-of-its-kind application of Artificial Intelligence in Beauty. It’s changed the way women understand their skin, and is now available to millions of women around the world.
THE STEM CELL SCIENTIST
Dr. Gail Naughton
Founder, Histogen, Inc.
An inventor, an innovator and the reason your favorite serum—we’re looking at you, SkinMedica TNS—does so much, Dr. Naughton saw a void in the skin-care space and filled it. Today, she has a whole lot of other lines to add to the resume, but it’s her forward thinking on growth factors that has changed the face of beauty.
Favorite beauty trend: Products that stimulate your own cells to help restore youthful functions to naturally rejuvenate and regenerate.
Proudest moment: Winning the National Inventor of the Year award.
The first thing I do when I wake up: Give thanks for another day and go into the kitchen to feed my rescue dogs and cat who act every morning as though they haven’t eaten in weeks!
Career confirmation: I wanted to go into medical research for as long as I can remember (at least 4 years old) to make a difference.
Current inspo: Mother Nature.
Wish I would have invented: The cell phone. It connects people worldwide!
THE CHANGE AGENT
Director of the L’Oréal Multicultural Beauty Lab
To create shades that would work on women in all 150 countries where L’Oréal is found, cosmetic chemist Atis combed through more than 20,000 data points.
Her aha moment: An Yves Klein–esque ultramarine blue pigment added a rich, glowy tone to darker foundations, leading to the development of over 30 additional hues.
Proudest moment: Meeting consumers who are literally moved to tears at finally having found foundation shades that match them.
The first thing I do when I wake up: Meditate.
Career confirmation: When I couldn’t find a shade that matched my skin.
Current inspo: Both my children and our consumers bring out the best in me.
Wise words: Never give up on your dreams, even when “no” is all you keep hearing. One day, the door will open and all you’ll hear is “YES!”
THE INJECTABLE PIONEER
Dr. Jean Carruthers
With her husband, Dr. Alastair Carruthers, she pioneered the cosmetic use of botulinum A exotoxin, and remains at the forefront of research and teaching about the popular treatment we know so well today.
Favorite beauty trend: Combination treatments such as IPL and Clear + Brilliant with neurotoxins and fillers. Research shows that combinations are not only more effective, but also last longer and are associated with higher long-term patient satisfaction.
Proudest moment: I actually have eight—marrying the love of my life, Alastair, and the birth of our three sons and four grandchildren.
Current inspo: Seeing my female colleagues shine and lead.
Wish I would have invented: A way to make each day longer.
Wise words: Surround yourself with positive people!
THE MAKEUP MAVEN
President, bareMinerals, Buxom, Shiseido Makeup and JWALK, and CEW Chairwoman
For Scalamandre, it was “love at first sight” when it came to a career in beauty. “I started at Revlon in product development, learning the need gaps in lipstick, the science of formulating and the basics behind shade ranges. It combined all of my personal passions.”
Favorite beauty trend: After watching [bareMinerals’ global ambassador] Hailey Bieber do a tutorial on applying foundation with a brush, I decided to give it a try. I was a fingertip girl. Now, there is no going back.
Proudest moment: Launching the bareMinerals Power of Good Fund, which was established to help young women realize their potential.
Current inspo: Plant-based everything—food, formulas, packaging. It’s really a passion.
Wise words: Check your ego at the door.
President of Éminence Organic Skin Care
An icon in the spa world and just about the best person on earth to get a facial from, Koronczay is passionate about helping others through his magical world of beauty.
Favorite beauty trend: Biodynamic ingredients. They’re the new organic!
Career confirmation: As a survivor of leukemia, I stayed home most of my childhood watching my mom, an aesthetician, give facials to the neighborhood ladies. I would see her clients come in stressed and anxious, and leave relaxed and happy. As a teen, my mom encouraged me to become one of the first male aestheticians in Hungary, and I thought that would be an amazing way to spread my passion for organic living through skin care while also helping others.
Wise words: Reach for the stars, but keep your feet on the ground.
Dr. Daniel Stangl
Director of Innovation, La Prairie
The Indiana Jones of luxury skin care, Dr. Stangl, an avid mountaineer, literally climbs every mountain in search of the most active ingredients.
Favorite beauty trend: The work of Swiss architect Peter Zumthor.
Proudest moment: I’m proud to be around wonderful people.
Career confirmation: The moment I realized that our skin is as vulnerable as the earth’s atmosphere and serves the same purpose: to allow us to live.
Current inspo: The mysterious nature of light.
Wish I would have invented: The perfect delivery system for active ingredients.
Wise words: Be curious in all you do.
THE BARRIER BREAKER
Esi Eggleston Bracey
EVP & COO, Beauty & Personal Care, Unilever
With leadership roles at mega-brands such as CoverGirl, Coty and now Unilever, Eggleston Bracey has changed the laws, literally changing millions of lives with programs like the Crown Act.
Favorite beauty trend: Textured hair—from braids and locs to curly fros in all shapes and sizes.
The first thing I do when I wake up: Japanese water therapy. I drink a liter of water in about five minutes to cleanse and flush my system to continue my body’s natural cleansing process from sleep. It’s life-changing for my allergies, skin and appetite.
Current inspo: My Dad. Watching him stay strong and positive despite his significant physical challenges that prevent him from speaking or moving independently.
Wise words: Give yourself grace. Over the years, I’ve learned that I’ve held myself to extremely high standards.
THE HAIR APPARENT
Tal introduced the world to a product that launched the argan oil revolution—and a bunch of good hair days in the process.
Favorite beauty trend: Transparency in everything, from ingredients to packaging.
Proudest moment: In 2007, when the brand attended its very first trade show and we were able to see firsthand the growth the Moroccanoil Treatment experienced and how it was loved by so many.
The first thing I do when I wake up: Meditate and thank the universe I am alive and healthy.
Career confirmation: After opening my first salon, I realized this was my calling and I had a knack for it. I loved the beauty industry and wanted to do more.
Current inspo: Sustainability. Our brand is consistently working to further our commitment to the planet and to create beauty products in a more sustainable way.
THE SKIN-CARE SAVANT
Founder, Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc.
Before there was Ulta Beauty there was Jan Marini, the pre-millennial answer to all things active and systematic in the skin-care space.
Favorite beauty trend: I really applaud that consumers are trending more toward attaining glowing, healthy-looking skin, as opposed to covering up their flaws with makeup.
Proudest moment: Marrying my husband, Reed, and knowing that I had found my forever love. We’ve been married almost 25 years.
The first thing I do when I wake up: My skin-care routine. It’s a ritual that signals the day has begun. If nothing else goes right on any given day, my skin is glowing.
Makeup Artist, Giorgio Armani Beauty
He’s the force behind why so many celebrities look flawlessly glowing, but for Quinn, his mom is still the “glam” in his life.
Favorite beauty trend: The return of glowing skin! Natural, beautiful skin always adds to your confidence.
The first thing I do when I wake up: Wash my face with a gentle exfoliator and follow it with Armani Crema Nera Firming Plumping Essence to make me look like I’m awake!
Career confirmation: Back in the late ’90s, I had just come back from Milan, and Lancôme had me stand in as National Makeup Artist at an event in Boston. I loved the energy of helping real women feel empowered.
Dr. Rocio Rivera
Scientific Communications Vice President, L’Oréal Paris
Merging scientific rigor with an outspoken personality, Dr. Rivera brings her expertise in biology to the world of beauty.
Favorite beauty trend: Historically, skin care was seen as a chore, used on problematic skin, or a seasonal step to use sunscreen. Now, everyone is using skin care as a form of self-care, while enjoying serums, sheet masks, showing off their bare skin on social media, and really enjoying their skin-care routine.
Career confirmation: At a very young age at my grandfather’s pharmacy back in Spain, watching him create topical unguents for all types of issues. It fascinated me.
Wish I would have invented: SPF. Such a critical product.
THE SKIN BODYGUARD
Dr. Carl Thornfeldt
The marriage of research and botanical ingredients to create effective skin care has always been Dr. Thornfeldt’s passion; his brand, Epionce, his baby.
Favorite beauty trend: Repairing the skin barrier! Since our discovery in the 1990s, I have been writing and lecturing on this topic, in many cases being criticized by “thought leaders” along the way. It is so gratifying that this topic is finally getting the attention it deserves.
Proudest moment: Every time a new Epionce product proves more effective and safer than a prescription product, I am most proud.
Current inspo: My patients. Having a full-time clinical dermatology practice really helps me stay grounded. Every day I see a patient who is not responding as well as I would like, which reminds me that dermatology still needs more scientific answers. As I like to say, the diseases didn’t read the textbooks.
THE MOUTH MACGYVER
CEO of Supersmile
Married to Dr. Irwin Smigel (“the father of aesthetic dentistry”) for more than 60 years, Lucia Smigel taught everyone from Calvin Klein to Jimmy Fallon how to floss during the day, and then designed products at night.
Proudest moment: Getting my first toothpaste into a store: I took a tube to the pharmacy on Madison Avenue and 60th Street that specialized in makeup, and asked them if they could order me a tube because that one was almost empty. Then I ran back to my office to take the call from the pharmacy. I told them the minimum order was 12 tubes, $8 a tube, and they had to put them on the checkout counter. They laughed. Back then toothpaste was 80 cents a tube. I told them I would take it back in five days if they did not sell. In five hours, they called and ordered another two dozen…and off we went.
Wish I would have invented: I am still inventing! When I have an idea, I go after it. My husband always said to me: “If it’s to be, it’s up to thee.”
Wise words: I believe that, if you are a creative person, you can bring that to any job you do.