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NEW YORK — In a quest to pump up sales within the sagging hair and bath categories, several of mass beauty’s smaller players are making some big changes to their product portfolios for 2005. Even skin care players, who are celebrating 10.8 percent sales gains in subsegments such as facial antiaging products, are jumping into the new year with notable innovations to keep skin — and sales — looking good.

Woodridge Labs, the Van Nuys, Calif., maker of the Vita-K Solution skin care line, is adding several new items to its vitamin K-infused lineup to help skin appear smoother and blemish-free.

In skin care, the two newest Vita-K products are geared toward improving skin’s appearance. There’s Silky Smooth Facial Primer, a face cream designed for use prior to makeup and moisturizers to give skin a silky, soft feeling. The primer should also fill out facial lines.

“It’s like a base coat for nails for the face,” said Joe Millin, president and chief executive officer of Woodridge Labs.

Millin believes primers are just what mass consumers are looking for.

“We’ve been following some of the upscale stores and found that Smashbox had huge success with their facial primer in stores like Sephora. Primers are also becoming popular to include with powder or foundation [offerings],” Millin said.

Vita-K’s version will be enriched with vitamins K and C, and will provide antioxidant benefits. It will retail for $14.99.

Also coming out is a colored cream specially formulated to cover discolorations and tattoos on the legs and the body. “We are bringing to market a leg and body cover line, kind of what Dermablend has been doing for years [for the face],” Millin said of the best-selling corrective cosmetics. The Vita-K color cream is available in four shades, Light, Light Medium, Medium Dark and Very Dark. Products will retail for $11.99.

Each of the new Vita-K stockkeeping units will launch in stores Jan. 1.

Vita-K makes approximately 13 sku’s under the brand, which are expected to generate $30 million in retail sales by the end of 2004. Vita-K launched in drugstores four years ago with a spider vein cream. Soon after, creams formulated for dark circles, stretch marks, bruises and blotchy skin followed.

This story first appeared in the October 1, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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Now, Woodridge is expanding into the bath and hair care segments with The Bath Lounge, a line of three-in-one body washes, shampoos and conditioners. Millin had been brainstorming branded opportunities to highlight some of pop culture’s drinks du jour, and so came up with the cocktail-themed products. Introduced at the ECRM skin care conference last month, Bath Lounge appealed to buyers so much, Millin said, some even inquired about receiving gift sets in time for the holiday selling season.

Bath Lounge will be available in six flavors. There’s the Martini collection, which consists of Lemon Drop, Cosmopolitan and Sour Apple. Then there’s the Tropical collection, which includes products in Strawberry Daquiri, Pina Colada and Classic Margarita flavors. The gift sets will include three 4-oz. containers of body wash, shampoo and conditioner, and will retail for $11.99. Each 16-oz. container will retail for $6.99. Products are scheduled for nationwide rollout Feb. 1.

Vita-K will continue to be marketed in print ads. Millin is in the process of looking for a celebrity spokesperson to represent Bath Lounge to generate consumer awareness with print ads and perhaps “some of those 10-second spots you see on TV,” Millin said. He expects Bath Lounge to generate $20 million in sales its first year at retail, bringing Woodridge Labs’ 2005 retail sales estimate to $50 million, which allows for retailers to realize 40 percent gross margins.

Another company, Vogue International, is also looking to add some excitement to mass beauty aisles. The Oldsmar, Fla.-based company has recently invested close to 40 percent of the company’s estimated $40 million in annual sales, according to industry sources, into restaging two existing product lines and launching a 19-item men’s hair and shave line.

Pro-Vitamin Intensive, a hair treatment line mainly comprising serums formulated with high-performance silk proteins and silicone for dry, damaged hair, launched more than 10 years ago. By today’s standards, the brand has lost most of its luster, according to Vogue owner and president Todd Christopher. But now, packaging has gone from colorful and bold to upscale monochromatic, Christopher said, with pearlized containers and chrome actuators. The 11-item line has been completely overhauled and now offers all new products, including Volume Booster serum, Hair Thickening Booster spray, Curl Therapy serum, Curl Miracle spray, High Shine serum, Shine Brilliant spray and Instant Repair serum. Products begin shipping in December for January and will retail from $5.99 to $7.99.

Christopher expects the relaunch to easily double or triple the brand’s sales. Born out of capsules enriched with liquid serums, Pro Vitamin started out in salons and QVC in the Nineties. Now only one capsule product remains, the Instant Repair capsule.

FX, the company’s 30-item, income-producing brand, is launching six new sku’s, including products for spiking and volumizing. FX is characterized by its small collections targeting different hairstyling needs.

FX, which primarily targets teens, is made up mainly of styling products to enhance shine, curl and volume. There’s a 3D Volume Serum, a Volume Boosting Gel and Volume Amplifying Blowdrying Spray. FX products retail from $3.99 to $5.99. There’s also a spiking collection including a Spiking Glue, a Spiking Gel and a Spiking Spray, all in 6-oz. sizes. Currently, FX sales are led by two products that launched in February, Curl Booster Fixative Gel and Curls Up Mousse.

Both Pro-Vitamin and FX will receive print ads to support them, which will break in the first and second quarters of next year.

In addition to polishing up existing brands, Vogue has launched a new one, Ego Trip, formulated specially for men.

Within Ego Trip are 14 hair care items, including a thickening collection with a shampoo, conditioner, serum and volumizing spray; an invigorating collection formulated with peppermint oil consisting of a shampoo and conditioner, and several individual sku’s such as a Hard Body sport gel, a spiking glue, a texture cream, a texture wax, a pomade, a hair spray and a shine spray.

Retailers such as Longs Drug Stores have taken an interest in Ego’s grooming items, which include Shaved Ice Mint Shaving Cream, Hydrate Facial Moisturizer, Adrenaline Body Fragrance and Cool Down Sport Body Wash. Products retail from $5.99 to $6.99.

Print ads are expected to appear in magazines such as Cargo and FHM in the first and second quarter of next year.

The mass market may get an infusion of natural products by ShiKai, a Santa Rosa, Calif.-based company that’s been making beauty items for Whole Foods and Wild Oats for 30 years. Created by Dr. Dennis Sepp, who has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and a background in pharmaceutical chemistry, ShiKai makes everything from natural body lotions to facial care products. The company’s newest item is Color Reflect, a line of shampoos, conditioners and styling products made to keep hair color bright and fresh looking.

“These not only protect color but also contain natural botanicals that produce color on their own.”

Color Reflect doesn’t contain any dyes, colorants or bleaches. Active ingredients include an extract made from sunflowers and a sunscreen.

The Warm line, designed for reddish hair colors to bring out warm tones, uses henna; a Deep line designed for brunettes looking to avoid red tones uses black malva; a Gold line for blondes who want their yellow color to remain fresher longer uses chamomile, and a Platinum collection for silver or light-colored hair uses blue malva. Color Reflect is currently carried by Ulta, Whole Foods and health food stores and in nine months has already generated $500,000 in sales. The seven-sku line includes four shampoos, a daily conditioner, an intense conditioner and a daily conditioning mist. Products retail for $6.99 for an 8-oz. container.

A Color Reflect styling line is brand new and includes a shine cream, curl enhancer, styling gel, mousse, hair spray and hot oil treatment.

Advertising appears in magazines appealing to health-conscious consumers, including Organic Style and Health.

While Dr. Sepp is interested in gaining distribution in the mass channel, he doesn’t want his products in every corner drugstore.

“We don’t want to go into the mass market to get into large chains. The raw materials we supply are not that readily available. We’re still a specialty niche. I think we would fit with a Target because they position to a younger clientele.”

British hair care line Umberto Giannini is also adding glamourous new products to mass beauty aisles. Giannini, which is sold exclusively at all 3,300 Rite Aid stores, will be bringing over some of its latest successes from the U.K. for March 2005. New products include Superstraight Straightening Irons Mist, designed to protect hair against the damaging effects heat appliances can cause. Mist also allows for a straight, antifrizz look.

“Everyone has the ceramic straighteners over here so there is a lot of damage going on,” said Claire Shread, managing director of Umberto Giannini.

There’s also Supercurl Everlasting Curl Hairspray, designed specifically for curly hair, as well as Incredible Body Superbody Ultimate Volume Spray, a hair-boosting item.

One of the more innovative products is Dazzling Shine Laminate, a lightweight gloss serum packaged in a container with a roller ball application, which after three strokes on the palm dispenses the exact amount one should use.

Coming from Giannini’s Glamour range are Hankie Pankies, scented cloths to run along the hair from root to tip to provide a deodorizing scent, as well as a subtle shine.

Umberto Giannini has posted dramatic increases in growth in the U.S. despite the slew of new products hitting retailer shelves, said one industry insider. In the U.K., Giannini is the fourth best-selling hair care brand with sales of more than $25 million.

“Rite Aid would not keep adding additional Umberto Giannini sku’s unless each was able to stand on its own. Umberto Giannini is now competing one-on-one with the big brands, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Jergens, vying for retail space,” the mass hair care expert added.