By  on January 19, 2012

SkinMedica Inc. is expanding its presence at doctors’ offices with the acquisition of mineral makeup brand Colorescience.

The deal marks SkinMedica’s first acquisition of a branded commercial business, although the company has built infrastructure by taking over its formerly outsourced manufacturing facilities in 2007 and chemistry lab last year. SkinMedica, which is known for its TNS skin care line that, like Colorescience, is sold through the physicians channel, purchased Colorescience from private equity firm VMG Partners for an undisclosed sum.

Chief executive officer Mary Fisher said the Carlsbad, Calif.-based SkinMedica had been eyeing the mineral makeup space for about year with Colorescience as its main target. “The doctors see it as a tool they reach for already. We have been looking at the category really with Colorescience as our priority because of their reputation for having a scientific basis for what they do,” she said.

Diane Ranger launched Colorescience in 2000 after cementing a prominent place in mineral makeup history by starting Bare Escentuals in 1976. Ranger left Bare Escentuals in 1990 at a low point when unsuccessful expansion efforts made it a shadow of the powerhouse it is today. Following Bare Escentuals, she continued to innovate in the mineral makeup field by introducing, for example, powder mineral sunscreen that went on to be used in Colorescience’s best-selling Sunforgettable product. Ranger will remain connected to Colorescience as a consultant.

At SkinMedica, which has a spate of investors that includes Domain Associates, Apax Partners, HealthCare Ventures and Aisling Capital, Colorescience will operate as a subsidiary with its own sales force. Josie Juncal will head the Colorescience subsidiary as vice president of new commercial operations. While Colorescience will operate on its own, Juncal and Fisher said the brand would leverage SkinMedica’s existing network of physicians’ offices, which is around 2.5 times larger than Colorescience’s network, to grow. Beyond the medical realm, they didn’t rule out spreading Colorescience into traditional retail.

SkinMedica’s upward trajectory has been virtually unparalleled in the physicians’ channel that took a beating during the recession as patients and doctors reined in spending. The company grew 10 percent in 2009, roughly 30 percent in 2010, when market research firm Kline & Co. found it to be the fastest-growing skin care firm in the U.S., and 30 percent last year.

It is anticipated that SkinMedica will hit $100 million in revenues this year. Colorescience should contribute $10 million of that, an amount similar to what the brand generated last year. Fisher expects Colorescience to experience growth beginning in 2013, when it is fully integrated into SkinMedica’s systems. Vaniqa, a prescription cream to reduce unwanted female facial hair, could bring in $13.5 million to $14 million, and TNS will be responsible for the rest of SkinMedica’s business.

SkinMedica views Colorescience, which has some 400 stockkeeping units priced mostly at $20 to $75, as appropriately paired with TNS and its other properties at physicians’ offices. In an illustration of that pairing, Juncal explained customers who gravitate to SkinMedica’s $135 Scar Recovery Gel launching in April might also want to pick up Colorescience’s makeup products to camouflage scars. The same idea applies to a product addressing hyperpigmentation that will be released later in the year without the controversial bleaching ingredient hydroquinone.

“Our excitement is over adding Colorescience as a very complementary offering,” said Fisher. With Colorescience, Juncal continued, “I see no reason why we wouldn’t be even accelerating the growth we had at SkinMedica.”

Colorescience may be SkinMedica’s first brand acquisition, but it is not likely to be its last. At any given time, the company is evaluating two to three possible purchases, according to Fisher. “We have a map of priority targets that build around our core antiaging business in professional skin care,” she said. “Colorescience is an exciting first acquisition for us because it was the one that to us was most attractive, and it is also a meaningful size.”

San Francisco-based investment bank Demeter Group advised Colorescience on its sale to SkinMedica.

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