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From Theory to Practice, A New Way Forward for the IFSCC?

November 4, 2008

Leaders of the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists unveil new concepts that are designed to boost participation.

From Theory to Practice, A New Way Forward for the IFSCC?!

Leaders of the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists unveil new concepts that are designed to boost participation.

Gavin Greenoak, vice president; Xavier Romeu, president; Johann W. Wiechers, immediate past president; Amy Wyatt, chair of the education committee and Fujihiro Kanda, Chair of the Science Committee of the IFSCC



The International Federation of the Societies of Cosmetic Chemists, Luton, United Kingdom

The International Federation of the Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC) will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year in Melbourne, Australia, when we reunite for the 2009 IFSCC Conference. It will be a true milestone in the history of the IFSCC! But as an organization of and for cosmetic chemists, the IFSCC has changed over the years and the purpose of this short article is to inform you about the latest changes that were agreed upon in Barcelona during the 2008 25th IFSCC Congress. 

These changes relate to three things. One, we have adopted a program that will bring differentiation between IFSCC Conferences and Congresses. Two, we have implemented a prestigious new educational program within the IFSCC, the Ecatarina Merica Cosmetic Education Program, and three, we are organizing the next IFSCC Conference back-to-back with In-Cosmetics Asia to be held in Singapore the week after the IFSCC Conference in Melbourne.

All these three initiatives are an attempt to get closer to our members. After all, the IFSCC should be part of the life of every cosmetic scientist and not only of that of our more experienced members.

This article aims to provide the rationale behind these initiatives with—of course—the attempt to convince you to participate in our new structure.

Differentiating IFSCC Congresses and Conferences

In the past, there has been an IFSCC Congress in every even-numbered year and an IFSCC Conference in every odd-numbered year. The former attracts typically far more than 1000 people whereas the latter is visited by approximately 450 visitors. The Congresses last three days whereas the Conferences last two days. Both typically have an exhibition, both welcome the winner of the Maison G. de Navarre Young Scientist Prize and both award the best scientific contribution with an award. You get the difference? If not, don’t feel embarrassed as many of us did not get the difference either! Until now, the main difference was the number of attendees (> 1,000 vs. 450) and the number of days (3 vs. 2). But obviously we were not marketing the difference well enough as there hardly was a difference.

A couple of initiatives have been undertaken in recent years. For instance, in 2003 we went from two Conferences back to one Conference in an odd-numbered year and we installed the IFSCC Conference Award to lift the quality of the cosmetic science presented. Indeed, the quality went up, but we also saw that the Conferences started to become very similar to IFSCC Congresses. Figures 1 and 2 show the contribution of the societies that are in the top 12 of our 46 societies with respect to scientific and financial contribution (the so-called Major Societies that are eligible to host IFSCC Congresses in contrast to the Regular Societies that we will simply call ‘Societies’ in this article). We can see that nowadays, by far the majority of presentations at IFSCC Conferences is given by members of the Major Societies, similar to what was already the case for the IFSCC Congresses. Whereas we cannot explain whether this is due to organizing one instead of two Conferences in a Conference year or to the introduction of the IFSCC Conference Award, the point remains that IFSCC Conferences started to look more and more similar to IFSCC Congresses.

Figure 1: Percentage of papers presented by Major (red) and Regular Societies (blue) at the last couple of Congresses. This clearly shows that by far the majority of papers comes from the Major Societies that are eligible to host an IFSCC Congress.

Figure 2:  Percentage of papers presented by Major Societies (red) and Regular Societies (blue) at the last couple of Conferences. This clearly shows that since 2003 when we introduced the IFSCC Conference Award as well as changed from two to one Conference during an odd-numbered year by far the majority of papers comes from the Major Societies that are eligible to host an IFSCC Congress, similar to the Congresses depicted in Figure 1.

To counteract this trend, we decided on the following in the IFSCC Praesidium, which was subsequently accepted by the IFSCC Council in Barcelona:
1.    Whereas we are continuing the IFSCC Congresses as they are (namely to focus on cutting edge science), we will also introduce an educational element into the IFSCC Conferences; this means that cutting edge cosmetic science will still be presented at IFSCC Conferences but next to more educational reviews that should attract both the new cosmetic scientist and the experienced cosmetic scientist that is not working in that particular field.
2.    We will change the Award structure to reflect this change in emphasis. Instead of an IFSCC Conference Award that honored the most prestigious paper presented at an IFSCC Conference, the three new awards to be installed honor:
a.    the best practical presentation of the Conference (giving the younger people of our industry that tend to be more practical greater chance of winning). This award will be called the IFSCC Best Practice Award;
b.    the best presentation of the Host Society (stimulating the development of cosmetic science in the country where the Conference is being held). This award will be called the IFSCC Host Society Award;
c.    the best review paper presented at the Conference (stimulating the more experienced cosmetic scientists to also attend IFSCC Conferences and share their knowledge with the younger generation). This award will be called the IFSCC Review Award.
3.    The educational workshops that we started in 2005 and repeated in 2007 will continue to exist and should give all attending an IFSCC Conference a good opportunity to update their knowledge in a new field. The IFSCC is to pay for the travel and accommodation of the workshop leaders.
4.    The Maison G. de Navarre Young Scientist Prize that is now awarded to whoever writes the best essay in one of five subjects on cosmetic science, will remain the same in an odd-numbered year. The winner will still go to the next IFSCC Conference. But during the Conference, a new Committee will also investigate which presentation of a young cosmetic scientist was the best and this individual will receive a free entrance, flight and accommodation to the next Congress.
5.    These changes should start at the next Conference in 2009 to be held in Melbourne, Australia.
As you will realize, these are some drastic measures to ensure that IFSCC Conferences will not only be attended by experienced cosmetic scientists including IFSCC Award winners who tend to discuss only cutting-edge cosmetic science. As a Federation, we will need to ensure that our younger generation will also attend IFSCC Conferences where they learn from and meet the more experienced people of our industry. This will educate and stimulate them and make them ready to take over from their experienced, and retiring, colleagues. It will also make them ready to become the industry experts of the future, the lifeblood of our industry.

The Ecatarina Merica Cosmetic Education Program

All fine, some of you would say, but the economic situation in my country or company is such that I will never be able to attend an IFSCC Congress or Conference. They are too far away and they are too expensive for me. And such people are right. The gross national product per capita of the various countries can be quite different and, therefore, what may be acceptable to one may be too expensive for someone else.

Should we simply ignore those members? Of course not! Whether you are smart or not is not determined by the country in which you were born but your country of birth does have an impact on your capabilities to fully develop yourself. It has not gone unnoticed by the members of the IFSCC Praesidium that certain countries do not attend IFSCC events and the answer is always a financial one. We therefore developed the Ecatarina Merica Cosmetic Education Program.

Based on their gross national product per capita, the IFSCC identified a couple of Societies from which the members are very likely not to attend an IFSCC event due to economical reasons. Educational workshops including those that are held prior to IFSCC Conferences will be brought to these countries completely free of charge. Amy Wyatt, the current Chair of our IFSCC Education Committee, collected about 45 courses from which people can choose. In 2009, we are proud to report that we will visit Romania and Bulgaria (Zone I), The Philippines and Indonesia (Zone II) and Central America (Guatemala) and Ecuador (Zone III). In order to attend these courses, you must be a member of the local society although members of neighbouring countries and societies will also be welcomed. These should be self-standing events and we are looking forward to the inaugural IFSCC Workshops in 2009. The Societies have been approached and all (local Societies, workshop leaders and the IFSCC) are equally excited.

IFSCC and In-Cosmetics Asia: a back-to-back organization

Whereas all the above is actually quite a lot already to enhance the participation of younger scientists to IFSCC Conferences without losing the more experienced generation and ensuring a flow-through from IFSCC Conference to IFSCC Congress to our industry, our Australian colleagues from the Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemists (ASCC) came up with yet another idea to help us go from theory to practice. For many of us, Melbourne is quite a long way away from home and it might be more difficult to convince our bosses to pay a trip to Melbourne than to, say, Amsterdam or Florence where the two previous IFSCC Conferences were held. Money will have to be used wisely and efficiently and a two-day trip to Australia may not easily match these criteria.

Discussions have therefore taken place between the ASCC and Reed Exhibitions, the organizers of the In-Cosmetics Asia trade exhibitions. These two independent entities decided to organize their events back-to-back, that is, the 2009 IFSCC Conference will be held from October 7-9, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia whereas the In-Cosmetics Asia trade exhibition will take place in Singapore on October 13-15, 2009. This means that on your return from Melbourne to Europe or the US, you can make a stop-over in Singapore and attend In-Cosmetics. The days in between the two events constitute a long weekend which is just long enough to get exhibitions stands to be transferred from Melbourne to Singapore. Visitors that are not presenting might find just enough time to visit Uluru in Central Australia near Alice Springs during the weekend.

But the purpose of this back-to-back organization is to give each of you most value for money and justify your trip to Australasia. You'll learn the latest of cosmetic science in the workshops organized prior to the IFSCC event in Melbourne; you can attend the 2009 IFSCC Conference where you will listen to educational reviews as well as the latest cutting edge cosmetic science. During the weekend, you climb Uluru rock and soak in the Aboriginal wisdom or climb the famous coat-hanger bridge in Sydney harbour, new and fresh ideas will emerge that require you to get into action. You jump on a plane to Singapore and visit In-Cosmetics Asia where you can immediately order those novel chemicals that you need to implement the new thinking. By the time you are back, the chemicals are there, you go into the lab and you can file your patent! Now that is efficient use of time and money!

The ideal travel scheme for October 2009:

1.    If 35 years of age or younger, write an essay on one of the five topics for the Maison G. de Navarre Young Scientist Prize, see the next IFSCC Magazine for details and topics. Submit on time and win the prize giving you free access to the IFSCC Conference.
2.    Submit a paper to the IFSCC 2009 Conference in Melbourne, either cutting-edge novel science (basic or applied research) or a review of a topic of cosmetic interest before the deadline of 31st December 2008 (see the IFSCC2009 website:
3.    Attend IFSCC workshop prior to IFSCC Conference in Melbourne on October 7, 2009, see or for details on the courses offered.
4.    Attend IFSCC Conference 2009 in Melbourne on October 7-9, 2009, again see for details.
5.    Win the Maison G. de Navarre Young Scientist Prize by giving the very best paper of the Conference if you are 35 years of age or younger (exact rules still to be established). You now win access to the XXVIth IFSCC Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2010!
6.    Win the Host Society Award if you are from Australia and/or the Best Practice Award for the best practical presentation of the 2009 IFSCC Congress. Again, rules still to be established but you better start writing now! Alternatively, win the first ever IFSCC Review Award.
7.    Over the weekend, get some fresh air in Australia or Singapore, but do not forget that Australia is significantly larger than Singapore! Develop some fresh ideas that implement what you just learned in Melbourne.
8.    Attend In-Cosmetics Asia to see the latest in raw materials and other cosmetic services suppliers. Identify the suppliers and the materials that you need to implement your new ideas.
9.    Go home and implement your new ideas in the lab. In case you had not already won the Maison G. de Navarre Young Scientist Prize (ensuring your attendance at the 2010 IFSCC Congress in Buenos Aires), write your best ever abstract and paper based on your latest findings and submit this on time for participation at the 2010 IFSCC Congress.

The above might be the most ideal scenario, but a few of those can be easily implemented and achieved. Relative to winning all IFSCC Awards at a single Conference, attending the 2009 IFSCC Conference in Melbourne and in-cosmetics Asia in Singapore is easy. We leave it to you to decide whether you implement it all. Anyway, see you in Melbourne and Singapore in October 2009 if not before.

It is now definitely time to go from theory to practice.....
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