NEW YORK -- When Aramis launched Lift Off in January, the company hoped to carry the momentum of alpha-hydroxy acid skin care, still the rage in the women's treatment market, into the men's business.

According to preliminary reports, the new product, an exfoliating moisturizer with a sunscreen, seems to have caught on.

Allen Burke, divisional merchandise manager at Dayton's, Hudson's and Marshall Field's, called the item "revolutionary."

"Men haven't really taken treatment seriously before," Burke said. "In order to make the move into treatment, men need a reason and [Lift Off] is it."

While early sales have been strong, Aramis will have to work hard to keep up its momentum, as men's skin care historically has been the toughest area of the cosmetics business.

WWD sent reporters to Aramis department store counters across the country to see what tactics the company's sales force is using to convince men that they can benefit from using an AHA product.

NEW YORK

According to what I learned during a short detour to the Aramis counter at Macy's on 34th Street, Lift Off is a new all-in-one skin care product for men -- exfoliator, moisturizer and sunscreen.

The salesman who talked with me briefly made sure I knew the item possessed these properties, although he could have been a bit more passionate in doing so.

My adventure began during my lunch hour as I made my way toward the Aramis station -- or, should I say, "mission control." I say this because apparently the company is using images of the NASA space program as a hook to sell the product. They actually show a video at the counter of a space shuttle taking off.

I'll admit that my first impression was that the setup was rather corny. I couldn't help but compare Lift Off's supposed exfoliating power to the thermal tiles being peeled from the space shuttle, which occasionally happens upon reentry into the earth's atmosphere.

While the video was eye-catching, I must say I had expected a bigger promotional extravaganza overall. But I discovered that the in-store display was surprisingly understated, as is the simple black-and-white Lift Off packaging.

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