LOS ANGELES — There’s nothing revolutionary about oxygen in skin care.
This story first appeared in the January 3, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
But according to Richard Wright, co-founder of Ethix Skincare, the market for oxygen products is still underdeveloped. Wright’s line of six sprays and a serum contains a compound that delivers highly concentrated levels of oxygen to the skin. The results, he says, are a luminous complexion, plumped-up skin, and the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.
Wright knows skin — he’s been a celebrity photographer for 15 years. And he had a high-profile guinea pig in sister Robin Wright Penn, who spread the news about Ethix to her family and friends and helped the products garner a cult-like following among celebrities such as Robert Downey Jr., surfer Kelly Slater, and model Kirsty Hume, months before the line’s scheduled launch at Henri Bendel this month.
Champions of the line point to the Advanced Molecular Oxygen Substance (A.M.O.S.), a 68 percent molecular oxygen compound, as Ethix Skincare’s magic bullet. “Within the first month of using [the products], I noticed…that the lines on my forehead and around my eyes had diminished considerably,” Wright Penn states on the company Web site. “My skin looked plump and hydrated. Natural.” Wright contended that the high levels of oxygen in his products increase circulation, improve metabolic activity, and act as antibacterials, while powerful essential oils hydrate the skin.
But despite his high-profile endorsements, Wright prefers to focus on the products rather than trade on his celebrity connections. “I don’t want to photograph a man or woman of any notoriety to sell my brand,” Wright said. “I want to keep a very generic, male-female presentation to get the message across that it’s not for men, not for women, not for old or young, it’s for skin.” In keeping with this philosophy, Ethix’s packaging is clean, sterile and gender-neutral, and its promotional images feature a futuristic Adam and Eve who represent what Wright called “a genesis, or rebirth, of the skin.”
It was in 2000 that Wright and his wife, model and cosmetic advertising consultant Florence, signed a proprietary agreement with the scientist who created the oxygenated compound. The couple brought on Coralie Calvet as chief executive officer and chief financial officer; and the three funded two years of research and development, along with some minimal foreign investment. After the line’s debut this month at Bendel’s, the company plans to introduce the line, which retails for $25 to $45 an item, in high-profile boutique retailers and spas. The executives have also been in talks with domestic and international distributors. Future goals include department stores and even discount retailers such as Target.
“I want to create something that’s really valid as a product and then expand that to a bigger marketplace so that people do benefit from it,” Wright said.
There are already plans for additional products. As early as fall, Ethix will add a cleanser, exfoliant, moisturizer and lip product. And the company is optimistic about the line’s potential — projecting domestic sales of more than $30 million within the next three years.