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A New Wrinkle For MD Skincare

Hydra-Pure Intense Moisture Cream, coming in November, is designed to circumvent skin problems caused by metals.

NEW YORK — Heavy metal may have worked for Eighties bands — but it’s all wrong for facial skin, said Manhattan dermatologist Dennis Gross, who has based his company’s newest skin care product around the theory.

Hydra-Pure Intense Moisture Cream, coming in November, is designed to circumvent skin problems caused by metals — such as iron, copper, magnesium, lead and zinc — found in tap water.

“Heavy metals in the water used to rinse your face have the ability to make one’s own skin oils comedogenic,” said Gross, the founder of MD Skincare.

Gross noticed that his jet-setting clients were regularly returning from trips with irritated skin, acne and rosacea. While on a tour last year promoting his book, “Your Future Face,” Gross began testing levels of heavy metals in tap water across the U.S. — and the results were enough to make one’s skin crawl. Levels varied significantly from city to city, he said, noting that Los Angeles is “off the charts” for iron, while New York’s tap water is high in both lead and iron. “Heavy metals not only destabilize skin and hasten aging, they destabilize skin care products,” said Gross. “This cream will actually improve the performance of other products.”

The product’s key ingredient is Hydra-Pure Chelating Complex, a proprietary blend that pulls the offending metals off the skin, he explained. In fact, Gross foresees building a new category around the concept, and as many as six additional products using the technology could roll out in the next year, noted Gross’ wife, Carrie Gross, the firm’s chief executive officer.

In addition to the chelating technology, Hydra-Pure also includes an essential oil blend to soothe and moisturize skin; genistein, a soy active, said to promote collagen production, green tea extract, said to reduce redness, and hyaluronic acid, said to be a humectant. A 1.7-oz. jar will retail for $120.

Hydra-Pure will be available in about 700 doors, including Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman and Sephora, as well as on mdskincare.com, Gross’ Web site. Currently, the brand’s distribution is nearly evenly split between retail accounts and spa doors. “Customers will have spa facials — say, at the Golden Door or the Ritz-Carlton — and then, because they see real results without irritation, they come to retail doors like Nordstrom to buy the products,” said Stefani Thionnet, executive vice president of MD Skincare. “It’s a nice synergy.”

MD Skincare grew out of Gross’ dermatological practice and his background as a skin cancer researcher. “When you’re studying what goes wrong in skin, you’re also observing how healthy skin functions,” the self-proclaimed “science geek” said.

In 1996, Gross began developing what became his first skin care product, the Alpha Beta Peel — which was based on a procedure he was performing in his dermatological practice. In 2000, MD Skincare was officially introduced; the line now includes 23 stockkeeping units.

None of the executives would discuss numbers, but industry sources estimated that the brand will ring up about $40 million at retail by year-end 2005, with as much as $60 million retail targeted by year-end 2006.