BEVERLY HILLS — Two Beverly Hills plastic surgeons and a beauty blogger have teamed up to create JolieMD, a tightly edited skin care line designed to battle hyperpigmentation in all manifestations for all skin colors.
This story first appeared in the September 18, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
JolieMD posits itself as a gentler alternative to skin bleaching, hydroquinone-driven solutions and harsh peels. The brand is launching in C.O. Bigelow and Studio BeautyMix at Fred Segal in December with a duo of products — 1-oz. Metamorphosis Softening Serum and 1-oz. Metamorphosis Enlightening Serum — sold together for around $90.
“We wanted to create a product that is going to answer multiple different skin care concerns,” said plastic surgeon Peyman Solieman, who, along with fellow plastic surgeon Jason Litner, highlighted numerous skin issues associated with hyperpigmentation experienced by women aged 26 to 65, including acne, sun damage and post-pregnancy melasma. “The key thing for us is, if you can do this in a healthy, safe way, then you can stay on the product long-term and address different needs as they evolve.”
The list of ingredients in the products goes on and on (Solieman and Litner estimate the Enlightening Serum has 50 percent active solids), but some are slow-release glycolic and lactic acids; salicylic, phytic, tartaric, citric, malic and azelaic acids; palmaria palmata, licorice root, green tea and white mulberry bark extracts; niacinamide, gluconolactone and flavosterone. The ingredients, which exclude parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, hydroquinone, kojic acid and synthetic dyes and fragrances, were chosen to help shed existing pigmentation, and restrain future production of melanin — the substance that gives skin its color — as well as melanin triggers such as inflammation.
“This is a strong product,” said Solieman, admitting a challenge in formulating JolieMD products was to make them simultaneously effective and tolerable. Litner added, “We want to answer all the pressing needs in a really simple way. It kills us when the market says you have four different problems and four different products to deal with that.”
Other skin care market tendencies that irk Solieman and Litner are the stark divisions made between ethnic and racial groups, and the lack of products aimed across skin colors. When conceiving JolieMD, Solieman and Litner were heavily influenced, respectively, by their African-American girlfriend and Caucasian wife, who each experience a range of hyperpigmentation problems, despite their dissimilar skin tones, and have been instructed to turn to an array of remedies.
“I don’t understand the perspective out there that skin is different,” said Solieman. “We have the same number of melanocytes [where melanin is produced.] It is a question of how active they are.” The JolieMD boxes feature images of women with various skin colors — there’s an African-American and a woman of Asian descent, for instance, next to text elucidating skin matters specific to them — to inform shoppers that the product isn’t restricted to a single ethnic or racial category. The women’s pulled-back hair, spotlighting their faces, indicates the product is for skin care.
The Jolie in JolieMD means pretty in French, but also is a reference to Jolie Nadine, the blogger handle for Nadine Haobsh, author of “Beauty Confidential.” She met Litner and Solieman about two years ago, when she was their marketing director, and has been involved in JolieMD’s yearlong development process. She has been charged with roping in beauty bloggers to test the products — their input led to the formulas being less sticky and smelling more luxurious — and getting the word out about them. The packaging’s chocolate brown and pale green got a positive response from the bloggers for being elegant and feminine.
Haobsh is a key retail strategy adviser, and her approach is to build JolieMD at upscale boutiques and small beauty chains before entering a larger beauty specialty retailer like Sephora. (Litner and Solieman own JolieMD, and Haobsh will receive an undisclosed percentage of the brand’s sales.) JolieMD expects to generate $315,000 to $450,000 in first-year sales. Line extensions are planned for the brand in a year or so, and a sunscreen is being considered.
“To be perfectly frank here, the market is completely saturated with doctor brands. We are very mindful of that, and that was why it was important for us to come out with one product and not 15 sku’s because people have lots of options,” said Haobsh. “We have been told by a lot of retailers that a lot of doctors are coming in and saying they want to be the next Perricone. You have to have a story, a point of view and something to say. We feel that we have that.”