By  on October 15, 2010

Gene-boosting technology is about to hit the mass beauty aisle.

L’Oréal Paris is launching Youth Code, a four-item antiaging line that the beauty firm said “cracks the genetic code to younger-acting skin.” The line has been in the works for 10 years at the Saint-Louis Hospital Skin Research Institute in Paris, overseen by Louis Dubertret, who spoke at the line’s unveiling to the beauty press in September. It is being billed as the first range in the mass market to use gene-boosting science.

Dubertret said Youth Code uses “the latest knowledge in gene science and the understanding of how genes express themselves” in a clinically proven topical skin care formula that acts against aging.

The collection includes a day-night cream, a serum, a day lotion with SPF 30 and an eye cream. L’Oréal claims that after four weeks of use, the collection “significantly diminishes the signs of aging.”

What Youth Code could offer the antiage category in the mass market is considerable. Sources told WWD that Youth Code could generate as much as $80 million in first-year retail sales, backed by a media spend of $50 million. The line will likely go straight up against Olay’s various franchises, most notably the high-end Pro-X range.

According to SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm, L’Oréal Paris ranks second in facial antiaging, behind its closest competitor, Procter & Gamble, with 17.76 percent dollar share, versus P&G’s 38.7 percent. L’Oréal also claims the second-best-selling facial antiaging brand, L’Oréal Dermo-Expertise Advanced RevitaLift. P&G’s Olay Regenerist is the best-selling brand. Data reflects sales for the latest 52 weeks ended Sept. 5, excluding Wal-Mart.

One industry observer called Youth Code “a great addition to the L’Oréal skin care offering. Something new and fresh [that likely would not compete with] L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift much at all.” The observer added that the $24.99 price for each item “shouldn’t be an issue, and quite the value compared to [Olay] Pro-X.”

Youth Code launched in the United Kingdom in January to much buzz and has been pitted against Boots’ No 7 Protect & Perfect Serum, a bestseller there.

GenActiv technology, the company said, is the secret to Youth Code, which has two key ingredients. There’s Biolysat (a lysate of bifidobacteria that is obtained by a fermentation process of Bifidus bacteria), which acts at the epidermis level and tells genes to act faster in the recovery process. Then there’s adenosine, a molecule that is found in skin cells that acts at the dermis level to produce collagen.

L’Oréal’s Françoise Cabanne, international director of product development, said the GenActiv technology “helps the skin recover faster after aggressions…and is capable of making the skin act faster and younger.”

For example, when there is an aggression, the skin reacts and produces proteins to help repair the epidermis and barrier function. But as skin ages, it does not do this as well.

Youth Code is launching to Wal-Mart Nov. 15 and nationwide in January.

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