NEW YORK — Estée Lauder is tapping the power of water to propel its latest facial skin care entry this winter.

In fact, with Hydra Complete Multi-Level Moisturizers — designed to lock in long-lasting moisture and to protect skin from fluctuating humidity levels — the brand is aiming for a top-10 ranking among moisturizers within a year.

Due to be launched Dec. 26 at Lauder’s 2,000 U.S. department and specialty store doors and on, Hydra Complete could generate $18 million at retail in its first year on counter, according to estimates by industry sources, who also figure the brand will spend $3.5 million on advertising and promotion. Lauder executives would not provide projections.

“As we continue to modernize the Estée Lauder brand, we’re continuing to focus our efforts on several categories,” said Janet Cook, president of Estée Lauder North America. “Since [Estée Lauder’s] Resilience is still the number one antiaging line in the U.S., it made sense to launch a new product segment to leverage our strength in that area.”

Hydra Complete falls into what is called the “super-hydration” segment, said Daniel Annese, vice president of marketing, North America, for Estée Lauder. “The super-hydration segment accounts for about 30 percent of the overall moisturizing category,” said Annese. “We think that this is a great addition to the category.”

Hydra Complete’s point of difference, noted Daniel Maes, vice president of research and development for Estée Lauder Worldwide, is that it’s not only designed to moisturize skin, it is meant to protect it from environmental stresses caused by fluctuating humidity levels. “Skin hydration is not proportionate to actual humidity levels,” he explained, noting, “You might think that someone in Arizona would have much drier skin than someone in New York, but that isn’t necessarily true. Skin hydration is proportionate to the stability of the relative humidity. Someone walking out of a dry, air-conditioned building into high humidity outside, as is true in New York, can actually have a much more negative effect than someone that is in a more constant climate.”

The key technology in this product is the proprietary Hydra Insulation Technology, which is intended to form a protective barrier over the skin and keep it in a state of stable hydration throughout the day, said Maes. This is a three-step technology, he explained. Ingredients intended to create the “microenvironment” on the skin’s surface are phytantriol, a vitamin B5 derivative that is said to respond to humidity shift levels; biosine, which is said to help produce a moisture barrier, and UV-activated barrier spheres, a blend of lipids said to help lock in moisture. A second set of ingredients is intended to release moisture over 12 hours. The ingredient providing this effect is called Moisture Cells, which include hyaluronic acid and trehalose, combined with mineral-rich biowater. A third set of ingredients is intended to rebalance the skin. Aloe butter and Indian Kokum butter are designed to facilitate the exchange of water in and out of the skin, while lipase is said to help water molecule circulation, nourishing cells inside and out.“This product’s technology is also serving as a catalyst for future product development,” said Anne Carullo, senior vice president of global innovation for Estée Lauder. “Our aim, quite simply, was to produce the best moisturizer on the planet. In the process, we discovered technology that will help us to produce even more products designed to keep skin in total balance.”

Hydra Complete will be available in two forms, one for normal-combination skin and one for dry skin. The normal-skin formula will be available in oil-free cream and lotion formulas, while the dry-skin formulation will be available in a rich cream formula. Both forms will retail for $40 for 1.7 oz. Hydra Complete’s packaging also introduces a new silhouette for the brand’s skin care products, added Annese. The lotion is in a tall, pale blue bottle, while the cream is in a pale blue jar.

A print ad, featuring spokesmodel Carolyn Murphy, will break in January fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines. In addition, more than 2.5 million deluxe samples are slated to be distributed in the product’s first year, including samples given away at counter, in gift-with-purchase vehicles and at special events.

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