Byline: Laura Klepacki

NEW YORK — It’s back to its roots for Almay.
With the debut of an anti-aging skin care collection that derives its key ingredient from green leafy plants, Almay intends to shore up its market position as a beauty brand dedicated to delivering healthy benefits using gentle formulas.
The launch of the seven-item collection called Kinetin — the name is taken directly from the exclusive ingredient — signals an aggressive push by Almay to sizably expand its skin care business which had been deemphasized over the past few years.
For the first time, Almay is taking a skin care collection to retailer HBC aisles, rather than merchandise it on the wall with color cosmetics as its does with its Time-Off products. It is also the brand’s first global launch.
Almay executives declined to comment, but sources project the Kinetin line could achieve sales of $30 million its first year, with an advertising budget estimated at $10 million to $15 million.
Vanessa Solomon, executive vice president and global manager for Almay did say that the company has already exceeded sell in projections. “We had projected 23,000 doors and we are already over 26,000.”
Last June, Revlon, Almay’s parent announced a licensing agreement with Senetek PLC, affording it exclusive use of kinetin in mass market beauty products globally, except for certain regions in Asia. Kinetin, described by Senetec as an “essential plant growth factor” has been available in skin care products dispensed by dermatologists in the U.S. for at least four years.
Dr. Patricia Wexler, a New York dermatologist who has helped create skin care collections with Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, was signed as a consultant to Revlon last year. She says Kinetin is an ingredient that can be used by women with all skin types because it does not irritate like some AHA and retinoid products.
“The reason we [dermatologists] started using it is that 50 percent of our patients had problems with retinol, vitamin C, AHA or beta acids,” said Wexler. “So we looked for alternatives to treat photo-aging.”
While Wexler sees results from kinetin-based products, she wouldn’t necessarily switch a patient to it if her current AHA or retinol regimen was working. “This can be used by people with sensitive skin,” she said.
Vanessa Solomon, executive vice president and global marketing manager for Almay, said the launch will be supported with TV and print ads and “a huge sampling program.” Ads for Kinetin will be the first campaign conceived for Almay by its new agency Deutsch.
Solomon believes packaging for Kinetin, silver boxes with green accents will stand out on drugstore shelves. “It is very luxe, very department store, but at mass prices,” she commented. Items range from $8.50 to $18. The items begin shipping in May with ads breaking by July.
Like other anti-aging products on the market, kinetin claims to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, diminish age spots and improve skin clarity. What it does not do, stressed Solomon, “is make skin sun-sensitive.” After using kinetin, she noted, “women do not have to wait to go into the sun.”
Kinetin penetrates the skin and is absorbed by cells and is said to speed the cell renewal process. Widely found in plant leaves, it also naturally occurs in human DNA. It is not an exfoliant.
Julio Russ, senior vice president, cosmetics and skin care research at Almay, explained that kinetin, “acts to protect the cells and prevent cell damage.” He said it also serves as a barrier to retain moisture.
He said it was a challenge to create the Kinetin lineup — which includes an eye treatment, daily lotion with SPF 15, daily cream with SPF 15, skin cleanser, night concentrate, a booster serum in a rolltop bottle, and a neck and chest treatment — due to Almay’s stringent requirements. Almay has approved the use of only 500 of the some 10,000 ingredients approved by the FDA for use in beauty products.