DCL Skin Care

DCL is getting out of the doctor’s office.

On the heels of a packaging and formulation revamp this year, the clinical skin-care line is gearing up to enter the prestige retail arena with a January launch at Space NK in the U.K.

The in-house label of a contract manufacturer, DCL — which stands for Dermatologic Cosmetic Laboratories — is perhaps best known in the beauty industry for its pioneering of alpha-hydroxy-acid-based-products around the time of the inception for at-home use in the Eighties. Under the scientific tutelage of Joel Rubin, its longtime research and development lead, DCL has made a name for itself with alpha-hydroxy-acid-based products sold primarily through dermatologist offices. Its first was the AHA Revitalizing Cream, containing an 8 percent concentration of glycolic acid, which today is known as the AHA Resurfacing Lotion 8.

Steeped with DCL’s proprietary formulations and developed under Rubin with a host of other doctors and chemists at DCL’s East Haven, Conn. facilities, the brand’s initial products had more of a clinical look and feel, but its 2016 revamp spurned a sleeker package design meant to compete in the prestige arena. Also with the re-branding came new product formulations from Rubin and a redesigned, interactive web site.

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President of DCL Cherry Robinson noted that the resurgence of consumer interest in alpha-hydroxy acids proved the right timing to parlay DCL’s clinical skin-care line into a brand with luxury appeal.

“Today, dermatologist skin care [“doctor lines”] is outpacing other categories within skin care,” said Cherry Robinson, president of DCL. Robinson is astute in her observation. NPD’s global beauty industry analyst Karen Grant this year has noted that while prestige skin-care is experiencing sluggish sales growth, Millennials are still interested in skin-care lines with natural or doctor — “expert” — appeals. Ingredient-wise, it’s an apt time for DCL to revamp, as products containing alpha-hydroxy acids — well-known varieties include glycolic, L-absorbic and lactic acids — continue to proliferate in the prestige market. The trend has even caught on at mass — earlier this year, L’Oréal Paris launched its Bright Reveal peel pads containing glycolic acid.

With that in mind, DCL is primed to takes its clinical skin-care technology out of doctors’ offices and into more upscale retail settings. Robinson and Rubin both noted that the packaging and reformulations were designed with an improved sensorial appearance in mind. Though DCL has scientific roots, executives thought the brand was in need of a facelift. “I joined two and a half years ago because we wanted to update the brand,” said Robinson. “It hadn’t changed much since launch, it was still medicinal-looking, almost sterile because it was a clinical product.”

To update DCL’s range, Rubin removed parabens from the line, created richer textures, updated the scent, which is meant to smell clean and “natural” and reworked the formulations into new product variations. For the new formulations, Rubin used a combination peptides, retinoids, Vitamin C and alpha-hydroxy acids — DCL’s proprietary blend that he said targets four zones of the skin — the stratum corneum, epidermis, dermal epidermal junction and the dermis — for optimal skin health.

The end result is 40 new products, spanning skin care, sun care, hair and body. The biggest range is skin-care, with hero products such as the C Scape High Potency Night Booster 30, priced at $120. Said to boost collagen with a 30 percent concentration of L-absorbic acid and a proprietary Vitamin C complex designed to release ingredients over time, Rubin noted the product contains an unprecedented level of alpha-hydroxy acids for an at-home, non-prescription product. Many of the products have also been formulated for use during the day, defying conventional wisdom that alpha-hydroxy-acids, which can make skin more sensitive to sun exposure, can only be used at night. The products are designed to treat a slew of common skin issues at the same time, such as hyperpigmentation, dryness and acne.

With the addition of the U.K. Space NK stores, industry sources estimate the brand to generate 25 to 30 million dollars in retail sales by 2017. Since its re-brand, DCL has launched in the U.S. on Amazon’s Professional Skin Care store and on dermstore.com, and is available for sale in 1,000 doctors offices. The brand is also available in doctors offices in the Middle East and in the U.K. Robinson noted the next likely market for the brand is Asia.

The new website contains a “customized ritual tool” designed to help shoppers identify the right products and routine for their skin needs. “Consider this a 360-approach for optimal skin health,” Robinson said of the line. “We treat multiple skin conditions at one, and this is really important. It sets us apart from other skin-care companies.”