NEW YORK — Posing for hundreds of magazine covers over the past three decades has prepared Linda Evangelista for her next gig: creative director of skin-care startup Erasa.
The supermodel quietly joined the one-and-a-half year old company during the summer, where she’s spent the past several months on product innovation, development and expansion of the brand’s offerings. Erasa has one product — the $160 Erasa XEP-30 Extreme Line Lifting and Rejuvenation Concentrate — with three more launching early next year and a fourth about to enter the clinical testing phase.
Erasa XEP-30 launched in May 2015 and is the first commercial company from startup Biomimetic Laboratories, which is part of research and development incubator Skyler Brand Ventures.
With a focus on antiaging, the concentrate’s hero ingredient is Activen XEP-30 — the most potent Botox mimic to date from Switzerland, according to Jules Zecchino, founder of Erasa and Skyler Brand Ventures and chief technology officer of Biomimetic Laboratories. It’s currently sold on the brand’s web site at erasaskincare.com and amazon.com.
During an interview Monday morning at the Four Seasons here, Evangelista said she came across Erasa when a friend’s husband who works in finance gave it to her. The product was sitting on her nightstand alongside lip balm and hand cream, and before bed one night she put in on. This went on for a few weeks and she noticed the first improvements in her skin when she went to tweeze her brows in a magnifying mirror.
Evangelista’s pores were visibly smaller by the third week, her melasma was down and before long she stopped using concealer altogether.
“Peter Lindbergh used to always say to me, ‘You have the best bags out of any woman I know.’ He loved them,” she said with a laugh, pointing out that she wasn’t wearing any concealer at the moment — because she no longer had dark circles or bags under her eyes. She also hasn’t had any Botox injections yet this year or a fraxel laser treatment since she started using the concentrate.
After seeing the vast improvements in her complexion, Evangelista reached out to Zecchino, the two met in March and before long they were plotting how to grow Erasa. She visits the lab weekly and said that she has even brought her own beauty products to be evaluated.
“I am so disappointed in these skin-care companies — what they’re actually putting in [products] and the value of what they’re putting in is very disappointing. It’s a kick to the stomach. I’m offended,” she said. To date, Evangelista maintained she has never finished a beauty product — or used anything that yielded results like Erasa.
“Every decade there’s a technology that raises products to another level,” said Zecchino, whose 35-year career in the beauty industry spans roles at Avon and Elizabeth Arden to chief scientist and head of innovation and applied research at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. “In the Eighties, it was retinoids; in the Nineties, it was alpha-hydroxyl acids, around the turn of century it was designer peptides and now we’re narrowing down to the next item that’s the missing link.”
The missing link is topical products that could have a Botoxlike effect, according to Zecchino. He was working with a pharmaceuticals company in Switzerland a few years ago looking for pain relievers and studying neurotoxins for pain relief when he discovered Activen, which he realized had “nice effects, topically, on relaxing muscles.” From there, he spent another year and a half creating “the next level of neurotoxin”: the Activen XEP-30 that’s in Erasa’s XEP-30 concentrate.
In addition to wrinkle reduction, Zecchino said the product contains collagen synthesizers, whey protein, vitamin B3 and licorice extract to help with evening skin tone and the reduction of spots and pores. Two moisturizers containing Activen XEP-30 and an eye gel are on the way, as is building out distribution to include specialty retailers.
Zecchino said the company’s first-year sales of $1.8 million will jump to $7.7 million for fiscal 2017.