By  on August 1, 2008

Lancôme is lashing out with a new mascara this fall — one the company believes will add volume not only to lashes, but to the brand’s bottom line.

Oscillation, a vibrating mascara that the beauty powerhouse is planning to release later this fall, got a preview in 17 of Lancôme’s top U.S. doors on Thursday, and was said to have sold out in many of its doors by lunchtime. Final sales numbers were not available at press time, although retailers estimated Lancôme sold close to $200,000 worth of product in total.

So, what is it about the $34 mascara that makes it groundbreaking? According to Jean-Louis Guéret, who has created more than 400 mascaras for the L’Oréal Groupe in his multi­decade career there, it is the micro-oscillation brush, paired with a “fluid, supple formula.”

“The brush, which is battery operated, provides 7,000 micro-oscillations per minute,” he said. “The vibrations wrap the formula around eyelashes and, together with the longitudinal brush, stretches, curls, shapes and spreads the lashes. The formula, which is designed specifically to work in tandem with the brush, is comprised of a new generation of polymers and is ultrafine. We are calling it powermascara.”

The brush is powered by a 3-centimeter motor activated by pressing a button on the mascara’s outer tube, noted Anne Collinet, vice president of makeup marketing for Lancôme. The application method differs from traditional mascaras, as well: “Many makeup artists and consumers apply mascara by using a zigzag motion,” she explained. “Oscillation emulates that motion with the vibrations of the brush — so it should be applied in straight, smooth strokes.”

“Oscillation occupies a unique place not just in Lancôme’s portfolio, but in the world of mascara,” said Serge Jureidini, president of Lancôme in the U.S. “We’re confident that our micro-oscillation technology has kicked off a true revolution in the category.”

According to The NPD Group, Lancôme currently has five of the top 10 prestige mascaras in the U.S. market, including the number-one stockkeeping unit, Definicils.

The mascara is available in one shade, black. While Lancôme is still finalizing launch plans, it is currently slated to roll out to Lancôme’s full U.S. distribution — about 2,000 department and specialty store doors — in November. It will also be available at that time on

Advertising, featuring Daria Werbowy, will break in fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines. The exact media plan is still being finalized.

While Lancôme executives declined to discuss sales projections or advertising spending, industry sources estimated that Oscillation would do upward of $20 million at retail in the U.S. in its first year on counter.

The industry will most likely be eyeing the results, as two of the top three department store brands are hopping on the vibrating mascara bandwagon this fall — Lancôme with Oscillation, and competitor Estée Lauder with TurboLash All Effects Motion Mascara, a $30 item that entered Saks Fifth Avenue in mid-July.

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