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Lancôme Adds Stem Cells to Absolue

Lancôme is getting ever more high-tech with its newest skin care offering, Absolue Precious Cells, which targets women in their 50s.

PARIS — Lancôme is getting ever more high-tech with its newest skin care offering, Absolue Precious Cells, which targets women in their 50s. It’s due to be launched by the L’Oréal-owned brand this fall.

The “precious cells” part of the moniker refers to stem cells. In adult bodies, they maintain organs and — when needed — regenerate tissue.

Odile Roujol, president of Lancôme International, called Absolue Precious Cells “a revolution.” That’s because it helps “the self-regenerating power of the skin,” she said.

Stem cells, existing from the earliest stages of embryonic development, are unspecified, self-renewing cells that spawn daughter cells. These proliferate and differentiate to make each cell type in a body. While embryos develop, they contain embryonic stem cells. After embryonic development, human bodies have adult stem cells.

“Only 0.1 to 1 percent of cells are stem cells [in an adult’s basal layer],” said Michelle Rathman-Josserand, director of prospective research for stem cells, life sciences at L’Oréal Advanced Research Laboratories. In the epidermis, it’s 0.001 percent to 1 percent.

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The number of adult stem cells and their daughter cells doesn’t diminish in skin during a lifetime. However, as skin ages, it slowly loses its ability and potential to regenerate. L’Oréal Advance Research Laboratories studied why this is and found that certain components in stem cells’ environment in the basal membrane, between the dermis and epidermis in the skin’s deepest layer, impact their activity.

“The idea is to restore the physiological environment that we had when we were younger,” said Rathman-Josserand.

L’Oréal developed the Basal-Reconstruction System complex, based on cells extracted from the Malus domestica tree’s fruit. “We use a cellular extract in order to provide our skin cells with a blend of nutrients,” said Véronique Delvigne, scientific director of Lancôme International.

In Absolue Precious Cells, the Basal-Reconstruction System is combined with Proxy-Lane, the patented L’Oréal antiaging molecule, to reshape, restore and reconstruct key elements of the environment surrounding stem cells and their daughter cells so they proliferate and densify skin.

Some visible differences causing skin to look younger can be noticed after about 28 days using Absolue Precious Cells, said L’Oréal executives. Following two months’ usage, numerous signs of aging — including lower lip wrinkles and chin texture — are reduced by approximately 20 percent to more than 30 percent, according to L’Oréal’s scientific studies. In vitro, substantial changes are noted after just six days.

Lancôme executives would not discuss sales projections, but industry sources estimate Absolue Precious Cells will generate $110 million in retail revenues worldwide, with $20 million coming from the U.S., next year. Those sources expect the Absolue franchise to register $360 million at retail in same period, allowing it to remain Lancôme’s second-largest skin care franchise after Rénergie.

Absolue Precious Cells will be introduced starting in September in most markets. It is to be launched in the U.S. in October and in Asia in January 2010.

In the U.S., Absolue Precious Cells advertising will break in at least 10 women’s fashion and lifestyle magazines. There is also to be major sampling and in-store promotion, according to Serge Jureidini, president of Lancôme USA.

“[Absolue Precious Cells] will continue to solidify our leadership position in the antiaging category,” added Cheryl Vitali, Lancôme USA’s senior vice president of marketing. Jureidini, citing NPD statistics, specified Lancôme has more than 20 percent market share in the U.S. anti-aging moisturizer segment year-to-date.

Absolue Precious Cells’ 50-ml. day cream with SPF 15 will cost $145; the 50-ml. night cream, $145, and the 15-ml. eye cream, $95, in the U.S.