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Meet the Beauty Buff Behind Some of Your Most Beloved Products

Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+. Photographed by Peter Richweisz for Vogue Arabia, June 2018

It has been an icon in the world of beauty for half a century, devising effective, science-led products that women have relied upon for decades. And, as Clinique celebrates its 50th anniversary, it is not resting on its laurels, continuing to develop game-changing formulas. Leading this charge is Janet Pardo, the cult beauty brand’s senior vice-president of Global Product Development, who took up her role in 2003.

Under her lead, Clinique has released some of its most successful products to date, such as the Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator and Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balms. Embracing the heritage of the brand, Pardo is responsible for taking ideas from the drawing board into real life, keeping a customer’s needs and wants at the forefront of her mind. Here, Pardo shares details from her career, her beauty motto, and the products she relies on, as she unveils what it takes to be a beauty boss.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in the world of beauty?

“I have to thank my mother for this. When I was a little girl, I used to love watching her put on her red lipstick and wing-tipped eyeliner. I was always in awe of her and thought she was the most beautiful woman on the planet. My mother recognized my passion for beauty and continued to encourage me. When I turned 19, I got a job working behind the beauty counter at Macy’s and I absolutely loved it. To have so many women wanting to know what kind of eyeshadow and lipstick I was wearing was truly empowering. I felt really good about myself because I was making other people feel happy and confident.”

What drew you to work with Clinique?

“I knew it was the best of the best – always putting their customers first with customized skincare solutions anchored in dermatology. I always say if you can do product development at Clinique, you can do it anywhere, because it’s not easy to formulate products for this brand. Every single one of our products goes through rigorous evaluation so that we can deliver the safest and most efficacious formulas. It can be difficult to find just the right balance and combination of ingredients, and each product has to be allergy tested and fragrance-free, too.”

What do you think sets Clinique apart?

“At Clinique, we never compromise. We go back to the drawing board until the formula meets Clinique’s high standards. Our ultimate goal is for our customers to look at themselves in the mirror and say, “Wow I look great and feel confident”. It takes 50 years to build trust and loyalty, and one day to break it. Our consumers trust Clinique because of the quality, and we guard that with our lives.”


Janet Pardo, the senior vice-president of Global Product Development at Clinique. Courtesy of Clinique.

What was the first Clinique product you personally used?

“Aromatics Elixir. I remember saving up all of my money and going to the Clinique counter to buy the smallest size. It was all I could afford and was a lot of money at the time. I love how earthy and absolutely unique the scent is; it is a masterpiece to this day.”

When creating a new product what is your first thought?

“I ask myself, ‘Is it unique? Is it disruptive? Is it going to change someone’s life? Are we making somebody’s life better?’ For example, when we were developing the Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel, I asked myself, ‘what if I could develop an acne product at an affordable price that is equal to a prescription product for a young adult, who may not have access to health insurance?’ We wanted it to be comparable to a drug because not everyone has access to a dermatologist. That, to me, is what we are all about. Changing lives and building confidence through great skin.”

How does the process continue of product development?

“After we have the concept, I start working with my partners across various departments. My first call is to Dr. Tom Mammone, vice-president of Skin Physiology and Pharmacology in Research & Development, to ask him if it makes sense from a biological standpoint. After that my partners in Packaging and Marketing get involved and together, we determine whether it’s a viable concept. Next, we begin pulling raw materials together and little batches come into place. Then we start curating ingredients and evaluate how certain combinations of ingredients react and/or work together. It takes a village to create just one product.”

What defining factors do you feel made the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion reach cult status?

“I think it is very genius in its simplicity. There are not a lot of ingredients in this formula and it’s not high-tech—it’s a synergistic marriage of efficacious ingredients that complement each other. It is the perfect hydrator for your skin. That being said, while it may be ‘simple’ there is a lot that goes on behind the curtain, from its exact pH to its barrier-strengthening ingredients. It’s about keeping your skin moisturized and functional, and most people become hooked on it from a very young age. That’s why it’s been around for 50 years—once you start you can’t live without it.”

Clinique’s Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto Replenishing Hydrator. Photographed by Peter Richweisz for Vogue Arabia, June 2018

What is an average day like for you?

“I like to start every day with a little ‘me’ time. I wake up at 5.30am and have my coffee while looking out at the peaceful water near my home. After that, I get my kids up and ready, and get to the office around 7.30am. I like to get in early to set the pace for the day, send a few emails, and talk to my partners in Asia and Europe before I hit the ground running. My day typically consists of many meetings. Each is different from the next, but every day I learn something new which is what I love most about my job. It’s about the journey and enjoying moments along the way.”

What is your beauty motto?

“Right now, it would be ‘it’s not about me.’ At Clinique, we make sure that we are not talking to ourselves and always keep our finger on the pulse of the customer’s wants and needs. Our goal is not only to deliver the products she wants, but also those she doesn’t even know she yet needs.”

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