University Medical Pharmaceuticals Corp. wants to power its way up the ladder of skin care leaders with battery-charged wrinkle remedies.

This story first appeared in the May 1, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

WrinkleFree Eyes 20 Minute Eye Lift System is the first in a series of offerings planned by the Irvine, Calif.-based company tapping a technology called Iontophoresis. Based on methods for delivering medicine through skin, Iontophoresis is intended to transmit product formulas into the skin using a three-volt battery, which is embedded in a patch and activated upon contact with skin.

“It is getting too proliferated with creams right now, and there is not enough technology there,” said University Medical chief executive officer and founder Raymond Francis, referring to the skin care market. “The consumer is getting very confused. We think this [Iontophoresis] platform will separate us from the rest of the group.”

Francis points to WrinkleFree Eyes 20 Minute Eye Lift System’s early performance as evidence that battery-driven skin care technology resonates with consumers. The product started entering roughly 35,000 doors, including CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aid, Target, Walgreens and Wal-Mart, in February, and Francis boasted it has already risen into Information Resources Inc.’s list of top 10 skin care products at retail.

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“We expect it in the next month to get into the top five,” said Francis, who projected the product would generate $50 million in first-year retail sales. “I think you would label it as the biggest success of any new [skin care] item to come out this year.”

The $29.99 WrinkleFree Eyes 20 Minute Eye Lift System comes with two eye patch sets, two 0.5-gram Retinol 4x Activating Creams, a 0.5-oz. 24 Hour Face Lift Dermal Filler and a 0.25-oz. Retinol 4x Intensive Cream. Consumers are instructed to apply the activating creams to the patches and place the patches on their eye area for 20 minutes once a week. The filler and intensive cream are supposed to maintain the results from the patches between patch usages.

University Medical dubs the retinol products 4x because it asserts the concentration of retinol within them is four times stronger than the concentration of retinol within most available skin care products. The key ingredient in the 24 Hour Face Lift Dermal Filler is hyaluronic acid for enhancing skin elasticity and smoothness. The WrinkleFree Eyes 20 Minute Eye Lift System is designed to last around two weeks, and for replenishment, University Medical markets a 1-oz. filler for $39.99, a .5-oz. intensive cream for $29.99 and four pairs of eye patches combined with the activating cream for $29.99.

To promote the WrinkleFree Eyes 20 Minute Eye Lift System, Francis said University Medical is spending up to $60 million on advertising created in-house that has begun to run on major networks. The company hired Tom Roche, who formerly worked for L’Oréal’s Maybelline-Garnier division helping to guide the Nutrioniste brand, as senior vice president of sales and marketing to oversee sales and marketing programs.

University Medical, known for its AcneFree product franchise and estimated to have generated $100 million in annual sales, is anticipating 70 to 80 percent sales growth this year, according to Francis. Next year, the company will roll out subsequent WrinkleFree products building on the momentum it gains from WrinkleFree Eyes 20 Minute Eye Lift System. Francis said, “With our patch technology, obviously there are other parts of the face [to address] where wrinkles have a tough time disappearing.”