NEW YORK — Elizabeth Arden is building its defense with antioxidants.

Its newest skin care item, First Defense, is designed to serve as both a skin treatment and a moisturizer.

"We see this as the next generation in antioxidant skin care," said Tony Vargas, director of research development for skin care for Elizabeth Arden, at a recent press conference. "Until now, antioxidants only neutralized the initial reactive oxygen species, which allowed some free radicals to develop into the secondary reactive carbonyl species, which could not be neutralized by commonly used antioxidants. This formula neutralizes both initial and secondary carbonyl species."

Key ingredients in First Defense are antioxidants carnosine and wolfberry plant extract. Carnosine is said to be identical to skin peptides, while wolfberry plant extract, also used in Chinese medicine, is said to shield skin from initial environmental irritants.

To moisturize skin, the product combines glycerin, a "moisture magnet" that is said to attract water to skin, and sodium hyaluronate, which is said to hold water in the skin. The product also includes UVA sunscreen Parsol 1789 and UVB sunscreen ingredients octinoxate and octisalate.

The product, which is available in lotion and cream formulations, will retail for $47.50 for a 1.7 oz. container.

First Defense will hit Arden’s global distribution —?which includes 1,600 doors in the U.S. and doors in roughly 90 markets worldwide — in February 2003. While none of the executives would comment on projected first-year sales, industry sources estimated that the product would do about $6 million at retail in the U.S. and about $24 million at retail globally.

Print advertising is slated to break in March fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines, said Lisa Mataro, vice president of marketing for Elizabeth Arden. A broad sampling campaign with packettes and packettes on cards, is also on tap, with more than 900,000 samples planned, said Mataro. While she wouldn’t comment on budgets, industry sources estimated that Arden would spend upward of $1 million on advertising in the product’s first year on counter.

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