SOUTHWEST CONTINUES TO CLIMB WITH AN EMPHASIS ON SIMPLICITY

Byline: RUSTY WILLIAMSON

DALLAS — The Southwest skin care scene keeps on singing — and acids, botanicals and products containing sun protection are turning up the volume.
Store executives said treatment is ahead 10 to 20 percent over last year, adding that the category has typically been outdistancing color and fragrance.
Simplicity seems favored by customers, as pared-down regimens of four products or fewer that cleanse, tone, exfoliate and moisturize are favorites. Items such as eye balms and lip treatments remain popular, though.
Skin care business is planned up at least 20 percent this year at J.C. Penney Co., Plano, Tex., according to buyer Kathleen Langley.
“Women are more aware that beauty starts with treatment,” said Langley. “You can only camouflage so much.
“Acids and products with high SPF factors are still key sellers,” she added. “Anything that calms the skin, especially products for sensitivity problems, is also hot.”
Langley said customers are very enthusiastic about Charles of the Ritz’s new BioChange Replacement Therapy, priced at $30 for a 2-oz. supply. It bowed in February at 600 Penney’s stores, and sales have beat plan so far.
“It doesn’t just treat the dry skin, but the cause of dry skin,” explained Langley. “It helps skin retain water.”
Besides Charles of the Ritz, other best-selling treatment vendors at Penney’s include Payot, Iman, Fernand Aubrey and Frances Denney.
Payot reportedly will launch a new treatment line in September for combination, dry and sensitive skin, and Penney’s plans to carry the collection.
“Iman has really taken off,” Langley said of the supermodel’s line for women of color. “The moisturizers and eye creams are really popular.”
Langley said she’s noticed younger customers migrating to treatment counters, where they typically pick up a moisturizer and eye-makeup remover.
At Neiman Marcus, treatment sales are excellent, said John Stabenau, though he wouldn’t disclose numbers.
Bobbie Brown, which Neiman’s launched in February in its 27 stores, is already a hit, specifically the moisture lotion, at $38, and the eye cream, at $32.50.
Other top-dollar lines are Estee Lauder, La Prairie, Sisley, Prescriptives and Clarins.
“We’re doing a big business with products containing AHA’s,” said Stabenau.
At the Village Pharmacy here, the skin care clientele includes not only baby boomer women, but also teenage girls, older women and men, said Wilhelmina Von Heflick, cosmetics manager.
“Treatment customers are buying their first products at a younger age,” noted Von Heflick. “They want to get a head start on taking care of their complexions. And older women are conceding that the basic jar of cold cream just isn’t going to cut it. Men are buying moisturizers, facial scrubs and shower gels.”
Treatment sales are up 10 percent so far this year at Village Pharmacy and are projected to maintain that pace through the end of the year, Von Heflick said. Business finished ahead by 15 percent last year.
Acid-based skin care has yet to be eclipsed, said Von Heflick. “There are still many people who aren’t informed about acids,” she said. “The products continue to entice new and repeat business.”
Dougherty’s Airway Pharmacy, based here, has enjoyed a 15 percent rise in treatment sales already this year and expects the pace to continue, said Kelly Cowman, cosmetics manager.
“Customers seem to have more confidence in the economy, and they’re spending more money on themselves,” said Cowman. “Products with fruit acids are flying out the door. They really do work.”
She said customers are going for total regimens that typically include a cleanser, moisturizer, toner and hand and body lotion.
Customers are into botanicals and acid-based skin care goods at Stanley Korshak, a designer store here, said Barbara Wentworth, cosmetics manager. Treatment sales are planned to be up this year by 10 percent. The best-selling brands at Korshak are Chanel, La Prairie and Lancome.
“Customers with sensitive skin and who are environmentally conscious like the products containing botanicals, which are calming to the skin and take the red out,” said Wentworth. “The hottest thing in treatment, though, is still the [alpha-hydroxy] collections.”