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Cult 51 Adds Serum to Collection

New facial product raises expectations with strong claims.

LONDON — Cult 51, the brand that made its debut in 2013 with a night cream that made a lot of big claims and had a wait list of 5,000 before its introduction, is expanding its offering with a new serum, called Immediate Effect Serum, which promises to deliver results as significant as the brand’s first offering.

The new serum is designed to show significant visible improvement to puffiness, dark circles and lines within 15 minutes, with long-term benefits seen within two weeks of continued use, and delivers on 46 antiaging skin-care claims with its multiactive formulation that claims to strengthen blood vessels, reducing the permeability of capillaries, and increase microcirculation, dramatically reducing dark circles and puffiness, while slowing the aging process.

The product came into being after Cult 51 founder Richard Mears was asked for a favor by Eileen Harcourt, the aesthetician. “She asked me for a miracle bomb, she needed something to get someone photo-ready in 15 minutes,” he said. “When she’d tried it, she dropped me an e-mail with a picture of her eyes saying, ‘You’re a swearword genius.'” Mears declined to name the celebrity in question, but rumor has it that it was Madonna. Mears declined to name the brands for which he has created formulations but sources say they include Rodial, Aromatherapy Associates and Ren.

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Mears used Aspen Clinical Research, part of Princeton Consumer Research, to perform a full and independent clinical testing on the serum versus a placebo. After six weeks, depth of wrinkles had decreased by an average of 39 percent, and skin firmness had increased by an average of 143 per cent. In visual assessments, working within guidelines set by the British Advertising Standards Authority, which uses the Glogau Scale and its four classifications of facial photoaging from mild to severe, Aspen found that skin was noticeably younger looking, with the number of subjects in the “severe” category dropping by 90 percent. Hydration increased by 141 percent after 12 hours; after six weeks, luminosity had increased by 11 percent, where a 7 to 8 percent increase in the same period would be the best result expected from a skin-care product, according to Princeton Research. The color intensity of age spots was decreased by 17 percent after 12 weeks (all percentages given are the average results).

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The 30-ml. serum retails for 95 pounds ($146.60 at current exchange) and is currently stocked at Fortnum & Mason in London, at 200 doors worldwide, online at and the brand’s own Web site.

Mears declined to make sales projections, but according to industry sources, The Immediate Effect Serum is expected to generate around $2.4 million in sales in its first year. The Night Cream made $1.2 million in its first year and is on track to turn over more than $3 million this year, market sources estimate.

When the night cream launched, it was hailed as the most expensive formulation in the world, at 110,000 pounds per ton at cost price (about $169,760 at current exchange) to produce. Comparatively, Mears said the average cost price per ton of mass-market skin-care products is between $926 and $7,716 per ton. For prestige brands like Clinique or Guerlain, Mears said the range is between $4,630 and$38,580 per ton. The most expensive formula he has created contained pure gold and cost $74,080 per ton.

At that price, one would expect the price point to be around that of brands like La Prairie or Crème de la Mer but Mears, who has created close to 3,000 cosmetics formulations in his life, said We wanted it to be accessible so even moderate spenders could afford to ‘buy in’ by stopping using the four to five products they currently use that don’t work, for one that truly does deliver.”

At Fortnum & Mason, the brand’s only bricks-and-mortar door in the U.K., annual sales of Cult 51 night cream were on a par with the annual sales of top established color houses’ entire collections. It was the highest-selling single beauty product across the store’s entire history and is constantly the top-selling brand within the beauty range, which is made up of 27 brands including Eve Lom and Chantecaille. The rebuy rate for the Cult 51 night cream is 76 percent, a remarkable figure: the closest rebuy rate at Fortnums is 50 percent for a day cream. “We have marveled at the brand’s case studies, personally enjoyed its transformative results, and it has proved to be a great success in sales on the Beauty Floor,” said Jo Newton, head of beauty buying at Fortnum & Mason.