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Blue Lagoon

Talk about natural.

Talk about natural.

Blue Lagoon Skincare literally sprang from the bowels of the earth, bubbling up in geothermal springs heated to 560 degrees Fahrenheit from a depth of 7,000 feet below the surface.

The brand is named after a lagoon in Iceland filled with a combination of fresh and sea water loaded with minerals and microorganisms in a whitish silica soup naturally heated to between 103 and 107 degrees. The lagoon, which has become the site of a spa, is adjacent to a geothermal power plant, located between the airport and Reykjavik, the capital.

The health benefits started to become known in the late Seventies when a night watchman at the power plant began bathing in the waters to ease his psoriasis, and it became a popular nightspot with his friends, according to Sigurdur Thorsteinsson, managing director of Blue Lagoon Skincare. A clinic was founded in 1994 and a line of treatment products was introduced the following year. A spa line was launched between 1998 and 1999. The lagoon complex now draws 400,000 visitors a year.

According to Thorsteinsson, 200 different microorganisms live in the water, 160 of them not identified as existing anywhere else. The skin care products were formulated with silica, thought to strengthen the skin’s natural barrier against the elements, plus two species of algae, each of which are said to contribute to the health of the skin’s collagen layer, and minerals.

One species of algae is suspected of slowing down the degradation of collagen and the other of blunting the consequences of UV radiation, Thorsteinsson said, adding that the other species of algae is thought to spur collagen regeneration. Meanwhile, the minerals have been added for skin rejuvenation.

Exactly how the thermal water works is under study. Thorsteinsson noted that professor Jean Krutmann at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf is researching the bioactive molecules from the Blue Lagoon. The results are expected to be published within the next few months.

The 10-item facial skin care line includes a 5.1-oz. cleanser, priced at $65; a 6.8-oz. silica mud mask for $125; a 0.5-oz. antiaging eye cream for $125; a 1.7-oz. night cream for $170, and a 1-oz. night serum for $185.

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“Most spa brands usually don’t have serious face lines,” Thorsteinsson pointed out, adding that the company uses the term “naturceutical.” He stated, “We felt we did not want to be 100 percent organic so we could put nature and technology together.”

In terms of distribution, Blue Lagoon now has three shops in Iceland and the brand is distributed through pharmacies in Scandinavia, plus through shops-in-shops in stores in Copenhagen and Stockholm. The company sells through 140 dermatologist clinics in Germany and is considering entering the U.K., perhaps next year.

The brand will be launched in the U.S. in seven Saks Fifth Avenue stores, including Boston and Chicago. After specialty stores, the second phase will call for entering the spa market. Beginning in September, Cornelia Day Spa in New York will retail the Blue Lagoon line, he said. Recently, the company opened its own spa in Reykjavik and “eventually we would like to evolve our own stores,” as well as developing distribution in other department stores and spas, said Thorsteinsson. While noting that the Saks venture is the leading edge of a brand-building exercise, he suggested that Blue Lagoon could open its first U.S. store, perhaps in New York, in two years. He indicated that the company is interested in linking spas with health clubs under the wellness banner. Thorsteinsson admitted that “very few spas make money,” but he speculated that what is needed is “the right business model.”

He declined to cite numbers, but industry sources estimated that Blue Lagoon could do $1.5 million wholesale in the U.S. in year one, with those numbers climbing to $7 million to $8 million wholesale by year three. In total, sources estimated that the entire company could do as much as $9 million wholesale globally in 2008.