Clarins aims to expand its Vital Light treatment franchise with the fall launch of a serum designed to remove age spots.

This story first appeared in the July 29, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The product — called Vital Light Serum — is geared to compete in the mushrooming dark spot correction category, with the added firepower of offering antiage and luminosity enhancing benefits.

Jonathan Zrihen, president and chief executive officer of the New York based Group Clarins USA, said the ultimate goal is in “reaffirming our leadership” in orchestrating the concept of serum. He added, “We would like to own this category.”

In a recent presentation in New York, Eric Gooris, head of research and development for the French parent, Groupe Clarins, said that according to a study involving 150 women, skin luminosity starts decreasing after age 40 and after 50, it decreases by up to 35 percent.

The new product follows on the heels of Clarins’ Vital Light Day and Night Creams, aimed at protecting and restoring skin vitality. Those products contain ingredients from “pioneer plants,” which thrive in inhospitable locations, and the new serum contains some of the same materials. But the heart of the formula for reducing dark spots is hexylresorcinol, which is reinforced with a pioneer plant, Spergularia. The company maintains that the new chemical is as effective as hydroquinone in lessening dark spots, but without the possible side effects. The formula focuses on melanocytes, which are cells buried in the lower levels of the epidermis and can become hyperactive when bombarded with UV rays or upset with hormonal flare ups or inflammation. This can lead to production of surplus melanin on a localized area and hence dark spots.

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The hexylresorcinol is designed to help block production of tyrosinase, an enzyme which can trigger melanocytes to start producing melanin pigments. The molecule is also designed to block peroxidase, another enzyme which activates production of dark-tone melanin pigments, called eumelanins. As for skin luminosity, cochlearia, waltheria and tripeptide are included to promote skin firmness and prevent dullness. Hydration and surface radiance of the skin are promoted with katafray, high- and low-molecular weight hyaluronic acid. Cangzhu extract was included to spur cellular metabolism, which usually slows with age.

During his presentation, Gooris said that the tripeptide and waltheria combine to accelerate the synthesis of collagen as effectively as retinoic acid, and stimulate synthesis of fibronectin anchors, thereby increasing firmness of the skin and luminosity. Katafray extract and a double-weight hyaluronic acid was included to stimulate the keratinocytes skin cells, promoting hydration. Cochlearia officinalis is a pioneer plant added to cleanse the layers of skin of oxidized protein and help prevent changes in complexion.

The company points to test results, showing that after two weeks of use, dark sports are reduced by 71.2 percent.

The $85 cream is expected to be on counter in Clarins’ 1,000-door U.S. department store distribution by late August or early September. While the company did not give projections, industry sources point to NPD Group figures showing Clarins with a $120 million total treatment business in U.S. sales, and it is expected that the new product could generate around 5 percent of that figure. That would translate into approximately $5 million to $7 million in U.S. sales.

It will be promoted with heavy magazine sampling and outdoor advertising. “This is a key product launch that from an innovation standpoint can catapult us to the next level,” said Maria Dempsey, executive vice president of marketing. She did not reveal budgets, but industry sources speculate that $3 million will be spent on advertising alone.

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