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The Doctor Is In at Kiehl’s

Kiehl's Since 1851 is looking to both the past and the future with its latest skin care lineup.

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NEW YORK — Kiehl’s Since 1851 is looking to both the past and the future with its latest skin care lineup.

Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions, a new three-item collection that will launch in October, honors the brand’s beginnings as an apothecary on Third Avenue, and reaches into the future with technology the brand says is first-to-market.

Kiehl’s, which has collaborated with Harvard Medical School researchers for nearly a decade, also announced at a skin care symposium it held this week that it was awarding the Kiehl’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Award to Adrian Salic, assistant professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School. Salic is also a member of the brand’s Dermatology Advisory Panel, which comprises nine scientific experts who specialize in various skin care areas, many at leading universities. The panel consulted on this product collection, and Philip Clough, president of Kiehl’s Since 1851, noted that future products could come from the collaboration.

The line’s key technology, said Clough, is a stabilized version of vitamin C found in the line’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate. “While vitamin C is not a new ingredient for skin care technology, being able to provide a stabilized version of it is,” said Clough. Because vitamin C is sensitive to light, temperature variations, heavy metals and oxygens, the ingredient easily degrades. Kiehl’s concocted an anhydrous formula with 10.5 percent pure vitamin C in a stabilizing base.

And that’s critical, said Marie-Pierre Stark-Flora, vice president of product development for Kiehl’s, because the more stable the vitamin C, the more intense benefits that it delivers. “When applied topically, vitamin C has been shown to make skin look radiant and to diminish the appearance of wrinkles and lines,” she noted, adding that this product was tested against retinol in a split-face, double-blind clinical study. “No product has had an effect like this on marionette lines and crow’s feet,” she added.

In fact, according to James Leyden, a member of Kiehl’s Dermatology Advisory panel and an emeritus professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, the stable vitamin C in the product is equal to or better than retinol in several areas and better tolerated overall.

Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate will retail for $55 for 1.7 oz.

This story first appeared in the July 29, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion, which Clough calls a “skin polishing” cream, includes diatomatious earth, willow herb and aluminum oxide, which together are said to reduce the appearance of large pores and facial lines and smooths the skin. “The ingredients, particularly the aluminum oxide and ‘diatomatious earth’ — micronized shells — thoroughly, but gently, remove dead skin cells,” explained Stark-Flora. A 2.5-oz. tube will retail for $40.

Centella Recovery Skin-Salve, the third product in the range, is designed to soothe and moisturize skin, particularly skin irritated due to at-home microdermabrasion procedures. The key ingredient is centella asiatica, a tropical plant extract said to soothe skin; the formula also includes honey, aloe vera and vitamin E. A 2.5-oz. tube will retail for $42.

While the team was reluctant to put an age range on the products — particularly because today’s consumers are increasingly sophisticated about skin care, said Stark-Flora — she said that the core customer would likely be thirtysomething or older.

Dermatologist Solutions will be available in the brand’s full distribution, currently 150 specialty store accounts and 16 freestanding Kiehl’s doors. To accompany the launch, noted Clough, the brand — always known for its generous sampling — will undertake its biggest sampling campaign to date. “We’re targeting 500,000 samples of this collection,” he noted. The brand traditionally does not advertise nationally. Educating salespeople as well as consumers is a goal for Clough and Stark-Flora, who promise an extensive training program. “We want our people to have special qualifications,” said Clough.

Although neither executive would comment on sales projections, industry sources estimated that the collection would do upward of $5 million at retail in its first year on counter.

“Our aim was to produce a line which would deliver extraordinary results in a safe way,” said Clough. “We wanted, also, to make sure that this line met a real and voiced need for our consumers — to bring something new to the party. I’m pleased to say that we have accomplished this.”

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