Montgomery Place resident shares knowledge of skincare and fragrance industry tips for holiday gifts

Montgomery Place resident Anne Cifu built a career touting skincare products and fragrances. She believes in living life with a sense of style. Montgomery Place
Have you ever wondered who writes up the information printed on folded slips of paper that come in boxes containing bottles of fragrance or moisturizers or other cosmetics?

Montgomery Place resident Anne Cifu spent a good portion of her life interviewing scientists to understand active ingredients in Estée Lauder products so she could describe the benefits on these ubiquitous slips of paper. She also wrote ads for magazines, newspapers, TV and radio. When she wasn’t writing for all these media, she was hiring or working with copywriters who were. At one point, she exerted sway over decisions concerning free handbags offered with Estée Lauder products.

“Cosmetic and fragrance companies discovered they made more money if they kept introducing new products and different versions of existing products. A daytime or lighter version of a fragrance, for instance, and a nighttime version of a skincare product could attract new customers. These also would offer loyal customers new ways to enjoy their favorite products,” Cifu said. “This approach gave us all plenty to do. We developed numerous promotions throughout the year.”

About 20 years ago, Cifu’s son, Adam Cifu, M.D., moved to the Chicago area with his wife, Sarah Stein, M.D., a dermatologist for children.

After her husband passed way about 10 years ago, Cifu began visiting her family more frequently. Eventually, her son and daughter-in-law moved to Hyde Park with their two children.

“Even before moving to Montgomery Place, I was familiar with Hyde Park,” said Cifu. “I wanted to be near my family, so I decided to move here.” Proximity allows her to take in her granddaughter’s activities, including a recent dance performance at the Museum of Science and Industry. She also enjoys visiting with her 15-year-old grandson, Adam.

Cifu grew up in Brooklyn. She earned a degree in English from Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y., now affiliated with Fordham University. She later attended a year of Tobe-Coburn School for Fashion Careers in Manhattan, now known as Wood Tobe-Coburn School.

One of her instructors at the fashion school found work for her immediately. “I graduated on a Friday and started work on Monday,” Cifu said. Her duties included writing newspaper ads for Abraham & Strauss, a department store chain eventually acquired by Macy’s. Cifu went on to work for other retail stores.

After she married Robert Cifu, an Italian physician, the Cifus moved to Manhattan. Some years after becoming a mother, she realized she missed her career and applied for a temporary position writing newspaper ads and catalog copy for Bergdorf Goodman. “After two weeks, they made it a full-time position,” she said.

Cifu eventually joined the agency, AC&R Advertising, writing for Estée Lauder product accounts, Clinique and Aramis.

Estée Lauder eventually hired her to work at company headquarters in New York. Besides overseeing and hiring copywriters, Cifu collaborated with others, developing fragrance and skincare product names—among them DayWear, Beautiful and Pleasures along with their corresponding product variations.

“I remember saying we didn’t want to call this product ‘DayCare’ because that would make people think of daycare centers,” Cifu said. “DayWear seemed a much better option.” Today, she still uses DayWear as a moisturizer, and Pleasures is one of her favorite fragrances.

Cifu offers the following tips for holiday shoppers wanting to buy fragrances as gifts:

1. Fragrances are personal. Get to know people’s favorites, and purchase versions of the fragrances they like best. Some fragrances come in variations made lighter for daywear, bolder for evening.

2. For someone who has never tried a fragrance before, consider giving a smaller quantity or a gift certificate with samples.

3. It’s always fun to buy yourself a holiday gift—whether a favorite fragrance or one that’s new.

4. Remember, teens also appreciate receiving fragrances.