PARIS — Clarins’ new Vital Light antiage day and night creams are billed to protect and restore skin vitality for women over 50.

This story first appeared in the June 18, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Isabelle Herbreteau, president of Clarins, said people often speak of skin’s “glow,” which younger women can generally get simply by exfoliating.

“With age, it’s no longer a superficial problem when we speak of luminosity,” said Herbreteau. “Less than 10 percent of [visible] light is spontaneously reflected by skin; 90 percent penetrates in the dermis and epidermis.” In the dermis, reflecting structures (primarily the network of collagen and elastin fibers) bounce light back toward the exterior.

“According to their quality, they allow the reflection of this light with more or less ease,” she said. When the fibers’ reproduction is constant, there’s optimal light reflection.

Post-menopause, due to hormonal changes, the process becomes increasingly difficult, since it’s harder for skin to eliminate cellular waste, such as altered fibers or oxidized cellular proteins, causing a blockage, and skin cells are unable to function correctly. Other negative contributing factors include uncontrolled melanin production and weak microcirculation.

“Our product revives the skin’s self-cleaning functions and allows it to regain profound luminosity,” said Herbreteau. Vital Light is also said to work on skin’s lines and firmness.

Vital Light’s formula contains extracts from Cochlearia officinalis, Waltheria and Spergularia, “pioneer plants” called as such because they flourish in the most desolate regions.

Vital Light marks a new, more modern look for Clarins’ product packaging, which will be introduced progressively through the brand’s lineup until 2012, according to Herbreteau.

In France, 50-ml. jars of Vital Light day cream and night cream will retail for 86 euros and 91 euros, or $106.30 and $112.50 at current exchange, respectively.

Company executives would not discuss sales projections, but industry sources expect once the full, six-unit Vital Light line is introduced by the end of 2011, it will generate 60 million euros, or $74.2 million at current exchange, at wholesale yearly.

Vital Light will be launched in the U.K. at the end of August. All other markets except Asia are to introduce the products in September and October. The U.S. debut will begin in early September with a one-month exclusive at Bloomingdale’s, according to Maria Dempsey, senior vice president of marketing at Clarins Groupe USA. In early October, the rollout will expand to the full 1,000-door distribution there.

Jonathan Zrihen, Clarins’ U.S. president and chief executive officer, said the in-store strategy keyed on achieving maximum impact through use of visual weeks. “The emphasis will be on making a statement,” Zrihen said. Education is also important. Clarins plans to hand out 500,000 samples and train all of the company’s beauty advisers on selling techniques. Personnel will perform 5,000 mini-treatments in-store weekly.

Executives wouldn’t discuss numbers, but sources indicate Clarins hopes to build Vital Light into the company’s top-selling line in the U.S. within two or three years. To do that, the entry would have to eclipse Clarins’ Super Restorative brand. It would need to generate $20 million at retail.

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