Byline: Chantal Tode

NEW YORK — L’Oreal SA took its first step toward infiltrating the U.S. mass market sun care category this week.
On Monday, the company reached an agreement with Dermtek Pharmaceuticals of Quebec, Canada, to acquire Ombrelle, a drugstore-oriented sun care brand that L’Oreal plans to introduce in the U.S. in the near future.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
According to Dermtek executives, Ombrelle is the number two sun protection brand in Canada.
L’Oreal already has a presence in sun care with brands such as Lancome and Biotherm in the prestige market and Ambre Solaire in the European mass market. The purchase of Ombrelle provides a way for the company to enter the growing U.S. business for mass market sun care, said Jim Nixon, executive vice president of Cosmair, L’Oreal’s U.S. subsidiary. He wouldn’t say when the first products would be available here.
Ombrelle’s formulas contain Parsol 1789, which the FDA authorized just this year as a sunscreen filter. It has been widely used throughout the rest of the world for UVA protection.
In Canada, Ombrelle is marketed to dermatologists, and L’Oreal probably will take the same approach here, said Nixon.
“When you are getting into highly technical products, there is always a question of whether it is a cosmetic or a drug,” said Nixon.
“Aligning with the medical community has a lot of advantages.” He added that L’Oreal’s research and development team has existing technology that can be applied to the brand.

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