Byline: Cara Kagan

NEW YORK — In an industry where major treatment launches rarely occur more than once a year, Clarins USA is waiting less than six months.
In February, it will launch Perfecting Cream Mask, an alpha-hydroxy acid product and the company’s second major treatment launch since September when Clarins introduced Multi-Active Night Lotion, a nighttime anti-aging moisturizer designed to combat free radicals.
Clarins had sidestepped the acid phenomenon while other companies were profiting from the booming category.
“We avoided getting into fruit [alpha-hydroxy] acids for the last two years because our whole positioning is based on non-irritating products that are safe for even the most sensitive skin types,” said Joseph Horowitz, president of Clarins USA.
“Fruit acids have been proven to pose risks of irritation,” he continued. “We were and still are also uncertain of the long-term effects of daily exfoliation on the deeper layers of the skin. With Perfecting Cream Mask, we feel we have addressed both of these concerns.”
Fears of causing irritation were voiced during the last two years by other French-based companies, including L’Oréal SA, which hesitated before finally joining the alpha-hydroxy crowd. Even then, the first L’Oréal alpha-hydroxy product, Plénitude’s Excell A3, contained only a low level of fruit acid.
Clarins is expecting Perfecting Cream Mask, which will be priced at $35 for a 1.7-oz. jar, to match the first-year sales of Multi-Active Night Lotion. Each item is expected to increase Clarins’s skin care business by 5 percent, Horowitz said, adding that sales of Multi-Active Night Lotion are on plan.
While he declined to elaborate, industry sources estimated that this year, skin care will represent 78 percent of Clarins’s estimated $60 million wholesale volume in the U.S., or about $47 million.
Perfecting Cream Mask and Multi-Active Lotion would then each have estimated volume of over $2 million in the first year.
As with Multi-Active Lotion, Clarins will reportedly back Perfecting Cream Mask with close to $1 million in print advertising. The campaign is scheduled to break in February and run through the spring.
For the launch, Clarins is amending its traditional advertising strategy. Typically, the company introduces new products with two-page spreads in seven magazines, Horowitz said. Perfecting Cream Mask will be advertised with single-page ads in 13 publications.
“We are hoping to broaden our consumer base by extending our advertising reach,” he said.
Sampling will also be part of the marketing mix. The company is planning to distribute five million samples this year, roughly 10 percent more than it did last year.
Roughly 250,000 of those will be trial sizes of Perfecting Cream Mask.
The new product, which will be distributed in Clarins’s 1,000 doors, contains what Clarins is calling “controlled” fruit acids.
According to Horowitz, these fruit acids are treated with a substance that prevents them from penetrating to the deeper layers of the skin, as most traditional fruit acids do. Their exfoliating action is limited to the skin’s surface.
“This way, the fruit acids are less irritating and invasive to the skin,” Horowitz said.
The new cream also has Bio-Ecolia Complex, a compound that is purported to balance the skin and protect it from the exfoliating process, while creating a healthier environment for the development of new skin cells.
“The idea behind the product is to remove the dead cells, while creating a nurturing environment for new cells to develop,” Horowitz said.
As its name implies, Perfecting Cream Mask was designed as a dual-purpose product. It can either be used daily with a moisturizer, which the company maintains will help to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, or twice a week as a mask, which supposedly will help diminish signs of fatigue.
“I expect that in the future we will continue to introduce products like Multi-Active and Perfecting Cream Mask into our treatment business,” Horowitz said. “While we have been rounding out our other businesses with new items in color, sun and fragrance, treatment is what we have built our image on and what people expect from us. It is also a way of building a loyal consumer base.”

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