By  on June 15, 2007

PARIS — Kérastase, the L'Oréal-owned professional hair care line, has set its sights on skin care.

The prestige brand, which is part of L'Oréal's Professional Products Division, will introduce Kéraskin Esthetics, a treatment brand, starting in December.

The brand will bow facial care items in Europe, followed by body care in 2008 and hand products after that. After Kéraskin Esthetics facial care launches in Europe, the line will roll out to the U.S., Canada and the rest of the world beginning in 2008. Training for salons will start this August.

"It's an historic step for our division," said Jean-Jacques Lebel, vice president and general manager of L'Oréal's Professional Products Division. "The luxury hair salon business has changed. Customers want a total service, not just a haircut."

Lebel added the French beauty giant is constantly on the lookout for new niches, such as products for men or for older consumers, for example, that can increase sales for the company.

"In the salon business, we've created all kinds of new experiences: Disco salons, spa salons, salons with restaurants, bars, environmentally friendly salons," he said. "Today, we feel that professional skin treatment is one of those niches. Our competition is not necessarily other hair salons but anywhere that offers head-to-toe beauty treatment," he continued.

While L'Oréal executives declined to reveal sales estimates, members of the brand said high-end hair salons represent a dynamic and growing channel. The worldwide professional skin care market is estimated to represent between 1.3 billion and 2 billion euros, or $1.7 billion and $2.7 billion at current exchange, according to L'Oréal.

Created with Parisian skin care expert Joelle Ciocco, Kéraskin's formulas contain ingredients developed by L'Oréal's research team, such as pro-xylane, which purportedly fights aging.

While Kérastase certainly has a loyal following for its hair care products, it may take some time for consumers to accept its new positioning as a treatment skin care brand. L'Oréal, however, seems to have faith in taking trusted brands from one category to another. Earlier this year, the U.S. division of L'Oréal Professional Products expanded makeup artist brand Shu Uemura into the luxury professional hair care category with Art of Hair. Industry watchers remarked at the time that it would be interesting to see whether consumers would accept a makeup line as a credible hair care brand.

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