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Masqueology Brings New Spin on Facial Masks to U.S.

Beauty Architects is launching a line of single-use paper masks, popular in Asia but uncommon in the U.S., at Sephora.

Gunky, gooey and gloppy facial masks are staples on American skin care shelves in jars, tubes and bottles, but single-use paper masks popular in Asia are uncommon in the U.S.

This story first appeared in the December 30, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Masqueology’s founders believe they shouldn’t be.

The brand is the first of what could be many from Beauty Architects, a partnership between Southern California branding, design and merchandising company Creative Forces Inc. and Welcome MS USA, the American arm of Korean beauty, fashion and lifestyle marketer Welcome MS, formed in the spring to bring Asian cosmetic concepts and technologies to the U.S. market and vice versa. Masqueology will be launched at 100 Sephora doors with eight stockkeeping units of masks in March.

“In Asia, facial masks are a dime store product. In our market, they exist, but they have been hidden,” said Miles Lichterman, chief operating officer of Beauty Architects. Lonnie Roy, the firm’s chief marketing officer, added, “When you find masks in other lines, they are usually a specialty treatment mask you do once in a while. The masks we are bringing in are part of your daily routine.”

“I think the reason we were most excited about it was because it was a line dedicated solely to masks,” said Carolyn Bojanowski, director of skin care merchandising for Sephora. “We felt that we didn’t just want it to be another sku in an overly proliferated line. Masqueology was bringing technology and ingredients from Korea in a line solely dedicated to paper masks. It was time to go after that category and do it in a way that was bigger than ever before.”

Bojanowski, who pointed out even more typical masks such as Boscia’s Luminizing Black Mask have been on the upswing at Sephora, reasoned that masks are affordable luxuries consumers are craving, like do-it-yourself manicure and hair color products.

“If you look at trends in Asia, everybody is so busy, and it is all about being quick,” said Beauty Architects chief financial officer Phillip Ha.

Comparing favorably to facials that often top $100, Masqueology’s masks come in sets of three for $24 to $36 and tackle a specific skin care concern each with a spotlighted ingredient to address that concern.

Masqueology rounds out its skin care selection with four products for prepping the skin before mask usage and protecting it after. The products are $32 cleanser Masque Cleanse, $48 cell-activating Serum Actif, a $68 7D Moisture day-and-night cream and a $68 Advanced 7D Solution wrinkle fighter, considered the hero of the nonmask products.

Sold in packs with four syringes filled with cream, Advanced 7D Solution is already available at Sephora stores in Las Vegas and the Meatpacking District in New York on displays containing international products. The product has an enviable track record in Korea, where it is called Double X and is under the brand Leaders Insolution, racking up $50 million in retail sales on TV home shopping, according to Ha.

In the first year following the launch of Masqueology, Ha estimated that Beauty Architects would generate $20 million in retail sales. In addition to Sephora, the firm is targeting prestige specialty retailers and department stores for Masqueology’s distribution, and expects to build a retail network of 500 to 1,000 doors in year one.