Products from Skin Doctors Cosmeceuticals.

Skin Doctors Cosmeceuticals, a line of solution-specific antiaging products from Australia, was started almost by accident.

NEW YORK — Skin Doctors Cosmeceuticals, a line of solution-specific antiaging products from Australia, was started almost by accident. Now it’s available in 139 May Department Stores Co. doors and is rolling out to 10 Ulta doors next month.

When native Aussie and co-founder Sonia Amoroso was a marketing and advertising student at university in Sydney in 1996, she met her future business partner, Peter Nicholas, and the two paired up to write a book on cosmetic surgery and alternatives to cosmetic surgery. As research, they hired chemists to formulate some antiaging creams and had volunteers try the creams for a 30-day period. “I fully expected them to say, ‘Well, this was a lovely moisturizer, but it didn’t have any effect on my skin,'” she said. “But what we found was quite the opposite.”

On a $700 budget, the two decided to sideline the book plans and start a problem-specific skin care company together. Their first product, dubbed Vein Away, was an instant hit, according to Amoroso. “Within six weeks, we were suddenly a brand,” she said.

Nine years later, Skin Doctors Cosmeceuticals is not just a brand, it’s a multimillion-dollar global company with a total of 21 stockkeeping units, from a 12-week, five-piece facial peel kit to a one-step resurfacing cream.

The line had a soft launch with May Department Stores in October, including stores such as Robinsons-May, Meier & Frank and Filene’s. Next month, Skin Doctors Cosmeceuticals will be part of a new May Department Stores concept called Clinical Skincare Installations, in which cosmeceutical skin care brands are highlighted in seven store locations. The launch is currently being supported by print advertising in women’s fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines.

Prices range from $20 for the Zit Zapper, a spot treatment that promises to clear blemishes in eight hours, to $120 for the Potent C+ Skin Renewal kit, a five-step antiaging kit that includes a serum, accelerator, day cream, night cream and eye gel, all of which contain high concentrations of vitamin C and green tea. All of the products fall under the “quick-fix” umbrella, including Vein Away Plus, a $35 spider vein treatment, and Perfect Pout, a $30 lip plumper.

This story first appeared in the June 3, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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Amoroso added that keeping the prices within a reasonable range was a key aspect in developing the line. “They are prestige products, but I didn’t want to make them inaccessible,” she said.

And, while both fast results and antiaging beauty products are not unfamiliar concepts for many Americans, Amoroso is confident the company will offer the U.S. consumer a unique experience.

“What makes the line different is that it addresses every single beauty problem a woman can have,” she said.

She also explained that the brand takes a “relationship-centered” approach to the consumer: “We try and educate them about the different reasons why skin ages, et cetera,” she said.

Keeping in line with that philosophy, Amoroso is looking into both QVC and HSN home-shopping TV channels as outlets, and is planning on doing an infomercial with a “prominent” dermatologist, she said.

For the future, Amoroso said she does plan to finish the book that started the brand in the first place. “We’ll hopefully finish it by next year,” she said.

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