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Skin Care Boosted into a Higher Orbit

NEW YORK -- The days of women using just a simple moisturizer are over.<BR><BR>At least that is the assertion of the many mass market treatment manufacturers who have been cranking out high-tech skin care items for the last two years.<BR><BR>"Until...

NEW YORK — The days of women using just a simple moisturizer are over.

At least that is the assertion of the many mass market treatment manufacturers who have been cranking out high-tech skin care items for the last two years.

“Until recently, cutting edge skin-care technology was only available in high-priced department store products,” said Stu Fine, vice president of marketing for St. Ives. “They were out of the reach of most women.

“However, American consumers who buy mass market products are now every bit as sophisticated as department store shoppers,” Fine added.

To address this new sophistication, Fined noted, St. Ives is planning to launch the St. Ives Swiss Formula Alpha Hydroxy Moisturizing Facial Renewal Lotion this summer. The 12-oz. decanter will sell for $3.99.

“We are launching this product to capitalize on consumers’ growing interest in facial renewal in a simple moisturizer,” he said.

For the most part, the simple moisturizer seems to be a thing of the past. Not to be outdone by their prestige counterparts, the major players in the $1 billion mass market skin care industry have been scurrying to flood store shelves with cutting-edge products.

One of the first innovations came in 1988 when Neutrogena launched its Neutrogena SPF 15 Moisture Formula in both untinted and sheer tinted versions.

At the time, sun protection was a relatively new concept in mass market treatment.

“Even though most consumers weren’t aware that daily sun exposure could be bad for the skin, the dermatologists we worked with advised us to develop a product for everyday sun exposure,” said a Neutrogena spokeswoman. “Now, as consumers are becoming more educated, I think they are choosing products based on whether or not they have [sunscreen].”

Nivea was another forerunner. The company put sunscreens in two Nivea Visage products when the line was launched in 1988.

Other lines such as Procter & Gamble’s Oil of Olay, L’Oreal’s Plenitude and the Pond’s line from Chesebrough-Pond’s have since started incorporating sun protection in select items.

But lately, SPF’s seem to be the least of what’s going on. Newer items are addressing anti-aging from both a preventative and curative angle, an area that was traditionally the sole province of department stores.

While many of these new items contain alpha-hydroxy acids, AHA’s are certainly not the only ingredient in town. Chesebrough-Pond’s Dramatic Results Skin Smoothing Capsules, which were launched in 1992, utilize such exotic ingredients as ceramides and nutrium — a vitamin complex — in addition to alpha-hydroxy acid.

Meanwhile, Plenitude Excel-A3, which bills itself as a triple assault on aging, combines antioxidants to combat free radicals, along with alpha-hydroxy acid and sun protection.

Salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid that is found in Clinique’s Turnaround Cream, is the active ingredient in Oil of Olay’s Visible Recovery Series. Company executives claim salicylic acid is less irritating than alpha-hydroxy acids.

Revlon has also chosen alpha-hydroxy acid alternatives to avoid any possible adverse reactions, according to company executives.

The company’s Results line, launched last year, uses an ingredient called Alpha Recap, and its Almay Time-Off treatment collection, due out next month, contains Gentle Glucose Complex.

Both substances were created to give virtually the same exfoliating and moisturizing benefits as AHA’s, without any type of reactions.

In some cases, these new ingredients have given manufacturers an excuse to upgrade a product line’s positioning, packaging and pricing.

Last October, Procter & Gamble brought out Oil of Olay Renewal Cream with salicylic acid as part of its new Visible Recovery series.

The company extended the Visible Recovery Series last month with two new additions: Oil of Olay Renewal Lotion and Revitalizing Eye Gel, which doesn’t contain the acid.

These introductions were designed to renew Olay’s position as the company in the mass treatment market that offers department store quality at affordable prices, an image the brand pretty much pioneered in the Sixties when the first Olay product made its debut. According to sources in the industry, other brands such as L’Oreal’s Plenitude, Nivea Visage and Pond’s have been seeking the same niche in recent years.

The Visible Recovery Series is packaged in more upscale containers than Oil of Olay’s existing line. The new cream, for example, will be in a faceted glass jar. Traditionally, Olay packaging has been plastic.

Technology and a more upscale presentation, however, have their price. The 1.7-oz. jar of the cream, the 3.4-oz. bottle of lotion and the 0.5-oz. gel have a suggested retail of $10.99 each.

The original line tops out at $7 for a 6-oz. bottle of Beauty Fluid.

Sources projected that the three new items would have a wholesale volume of $10 million. Procter & Gamble is reportedly spending $15 million to support Visible Recovery through print and TV advertising campaigns in the line’s first year.

Almay also used updated technology and more upscale packaging for its new Time Off brand, in an attempt to elevate the Almay name to the next level.

The new collection, which bows this month, consists of six treatment and three makeup products.

Most of the items will be priced roughly 20 percent above the retail tags of Almay’s existing line.

“We are positioning this as a premium line,” said Rosie Albright, vice president of marketing for Almay. “It has technologically advanced ingredients and more sophisticated packaging. We think we will definitely appeal to department store customers.”

The 7.25-oz. bottles of Age Smoothing Cleanser and Toner will have a suggested retail price of $8. A 4-oz. bottle Age Smoothing Lotion and a 2-oz. jar of Age Smoothing Night Cream will have a suggested retail price of $9.75. The 0.5-oz jar of Age Smoothing Eye Cream will have a suggested retail price of $6.50.

While these products will be positioned as anti-aging items, they do not use alpha-hydroxy acids, the ingredient of choice for most products in this segment of the market.

Instead, all Time Off products, including the makeup, contain Gentle Glucose Complex.

The company claims that this ingredient, a sugar derived substance, has the same moisturizing and exfoliating benefits as an alpha-hydroxy acid. The additional benefit, the company claims, is an absence of irritation.

“Almay is a 64-year-old company that was founded on hypoallergenic and non-irritating skin care,” said Albright. “We wanted to address the needs of the baby boomers who are seeking products that will give them younger looking skin, while staying true to our heritage.” Industry sources estimated that Time Off could post an annual wholesale volume of $25 million to $35 million.

For Chesebrough-Pond’s, introducing three new alpha-hydroxy acid-based products was the third step in the company’s strategy to expand beyond its signature cold cream into more sophisticated treatment items.

In 1991, Pond’s repackaged the classic cold cream line and added other cleansing items, such as a combination cleanser-toner and a cleanser-moisturizer.

The following year, the company introduced a line of moisturizers, including the skin smoothing capsules.

The high tech efforts were capped off late last February, when the company introduced three alpha-hydroxy acid products: A 4-oz. Self-Foaming Cleanser for $4.99 and 2-oz. jars of Age Defying Complex, for both normal and sensitive skins, for $10.99 each.

According to David Cohen, category manager for Pond’s face care division, the company is backing the new additions with $23 million in print and TV advertising. The campaigns kicked off last month.

Earlier this year, Maybelline jumped on the alpha-hydroxy trend when it moved into treatment for the first time. The company’s new skin care items are extensions of its Revitalizing Line of makeup products, which are geared to the needs of women over 35.

In February, Maybelline launched five new treatment products and augmented the color line with seven additions.

Industry sources estimated that the existing 19-item color line had a wholesale volume of $35 million last year. Revitalizing sales are expected to increase to $90 million this year, due to the additions.

The new treatment products are a 0.45-oz. jar of Optimum Eye Cream, a 4-oz. bottle of Enhanced Moisture Lotion and a 2-oz. jar of Enhanced Moisture Cream, all for $9. The lotion and cream are also available in versions with alpha-hydroxy acids for $12.

According to Robert Hiatt, the treatment items were designed to work in tandem with Revitalizing’s existing foundations and powders.

“The more mature market is one of the fastest growing segments in the U.S.,” he said. “But until now, there hasn’t been a full line of products geared to those needs in the mass market, only at department stores”

L’Oreal has decided to take alpha-hydroxy technology several steps further with PlÄnitude Excell-A3, which is due out next month.

The product contains alpha-hydroxy acid, sun protection and antioxidants to combat free radicals.

Excell-A3 will be backed with as much as $20 million, said John Wendt, senior vice president and general manager of the L’Oreal cosmetics and fragrance division of Cosmair.

He noted that this budget is the most L’Oreal has ever put behind a single treatment launch. Industry sources estimated that the item will do $30 million in wholesale in the first year, or roughly one-third of the estimated $90 million that the entire Plenitude line is expected to do.

Excell-A3 will be available in cream and lotion form. The 2-oz. and the 1.4-oz. jar will have a suggested retail price of $11.50 each.

“Mass market consumers are getting increasingly sophisticated now that they are being better educated by the industry and have come to accept concepts like alpha-hydroxy acids,” said Wendt. “We feel that they will also understand the idea of antioxidants and free radicals, since other industries, such as vitamin manufacturers, have also been discussing that idea.”