Sylvie Legenne

Owner & Founder – SkinLinkConsulting

Combining her passion for Dermatology and a deep need to preserve a piece of history, Sylvie Legenne, founder of SkinLinkConsulting, has written a book about RoC. From Buenos Aires to New York, the current company headquarters, Clinically Proven: From Science to Success* recounts the yet untold and inspiring story of the iconic Parisian Skin Health brand, RoC.

She shares why she felt she had to put pen to paper, and what the brand has meant to her, both personally and professionally.

*Not for sale. Internal use only.

 

Why was it important for you to write this book?

 

I have a profound connection with RoC. My professional journey has been intertwined with this brand for numerous years. I received my training and began my career as a young pharmacist at the Rogé-Cavaillès Pharmacy, which stands as the birthplace of the brand.

RoC’s narrative is deeply entrenched in the legacy of its founder, Dr. Jean-Charles Lissarrague. However, our understanding of him remained limited, leaving a gap in our comprehension of the brand’s origins. We were at risk of losing this history, as only a few people who had known or worked with Jean-Charles were still around to share this invaluable information. Furthermore, RoC boasts a rich French and Parisian heritage, a characteristic that deeply resonates with me.

Tell us about how you first encountered the brand.

I have fond childhood memories of watching my mum apply the brown tube of RoC sunblock. My first direct encounter with the brand was in June 1987, as I stepped into the Rogé-Cavaillès Pharmacy looking for an internship. RoC products had a prominent place on the shelves, and Dr. Pierre-Alain Nemet, the pharmacy’s owner at the time, told me that the brand was created within these very walls. This revelation forged an immediate and profound connection within me.

How did you approach writing “Clinically Proven”?

For a long time, our knowledge about RoC’s founder, Jean-Charles Lissarrague, was limited. The first facts I uncovered about his life — his Basque and Argentinian origins, and his acquisition of the Pharmacy Rogé-Cavaillès aged 28 — sparked my curiosity.
I embarked on a journey to delve into the pharmacy’s beginnings, tracing the footsteps of those I trained with and who had shared experiences with Dr. Lissarrague. One interview and one decade at a time. Through conversations with scientists and artists who collaborated with Jean-Charles, I gradually pieced together not only his professional achievements and ethos but also the captivating trajectory of the brand itself.

As RoC’s founder, how did Jean-Charles Lissargue’s creativity influence the brand’s development?

Jean-Charles Lissarrague demonstrated an unwavering passion for dermatology and raw materials but also art, literature, and haute couture. His innate design talent shone through in the packaging of the initial products and the timeless sophistication of the brand’s iconic pestle-and-mortar logo.

Jean-Charles was steadfastly curious, staying abreast of the latest advancements in scientific literature. He cultivated extensive connections within the medical community, collaborating closely with allergologists, dermatologists, and esteemed institutions such as the Saint-Louis Hospital in Paris, the Rothschild Foundation, and various renowned medical groups beyond Paris.

Today, R&D continues to be a major focus at RoC. The current innovation-led philosophy is a modern version of the original installed by Jean-Charles. The brand’s scientific approach to skincare set the bar for high-performance skincare, and it continues to raise that bar, ensuring the highest level of scientific substantiation rooted in multi-step product validation. In its 65-year journey, RoC has evolved from a young pharmacist’s dream into an internationally recognized name synonymous with clinical-grade, high-performance skincare.

In your opinion, which of RoC’s “firsts” was the most groundbreaking?

Jean-Charles was the pioneer of many!  The first hypo-allergenic brand, the first sunscreen with full UV protection (at a time when sunbathing was the norm), the first to offer liposomal skincare in-pharmacy, the first non-comedogenic brand…. RoC is also the first pharmaceutical brand to have successfully stabilized retinol, be advertised on television… the list is long!

What can brands today learn from RoC’s dedication to connecting with consumers and innovating to offer better products?

The importance of this authentic connection. Since its beginnings, the brand has cultivated this legacy of listening to women’s skincare needs. From Jean-Charles’s pharmacy period to RoC’s activity in the present day, innovations have been driven by skin insights uncovered through active listening and engagement with consumers and experts.

What were the most memorable moments writing the book?

Meeting Dominique Lissarrague, Jean-Charles’s daughter, who graciously welcomed me into her home and shared cherished memories and family archives. Conducting unforgettable interviews with passionate women who offered valuable scientific insights and amusing anecdotes about Jean-Charles. The fascinating journey of researching and analyzing RoC’s historical advertising. And finally, the unforgettable moment of holding the printed book in my hands at the Paris printing factory last month!

 

How was RoC pioneering in brand advertising? How did they go about this?

RoC revolutionized brand advertising by adapting its communication strategies to cultural trends across decades. From the first advertising in a medical journal in 1961 (designed by Jean-Charles) to collaborations with renowned photographers like Sarah Moon in the 70s, RoC consistently broke conventional advertising norms. Under different ownerships, such as Dior and LVMH, and through iconic campaigns like “Saga” and “la Beauté Pure,” RoC maintained its core values of safety, efficacy, and elegance while innovating in the portrayal of retinol benefits, as seen in the groundbreaking TV ads by Johnson & Johnson Consumer.

What can we learn about brand storytelling from a company like RoC, which encountered numerous “reinventions”?

Reinvention and change are good and necessary to survive in a competitive environment, as long as the brand values are nurtured and protected. Despite passing through various ownerships and undergoing transformations, RoC remained rooted in its Lissarrague spirit. This continuity allowed the brand to become a market leader in skin health, offering clinically proven products and fostering partnerships with dermatologists, without compromising on the elegance of the formulas and packaging.

How has the brand inspired your career?

I have been fortunate to work on the brand during its various ownerships and in many places worldwide. Whatever the period, my connection to the brand has always been strong: emotionally through its Parisian roots, scientifically through its evidence-based approach that appeals to my pharmaceutical background and finally, aesthetically through the creativity and the elegance of its founder whom I wished I had the opportunity to meet.