Byline: Laura Klepacki

NEW YORK — There is no age limit for women when it comes to desiring younger, healthy looking skin.
Yet, according to L’Oreal executives, the bulk of anti-aging products currently available have been designed for women between 30 and 50, with little meeting the specific needs of those 55 and up. That is, aside from general moisturizers.
So, continuing its quest to build a portfolio of skin care products to meet the needs of women of all ages, L’Oreal will introduce Age Perfect, a new Plenitude subbrand. Age Perfect includes a day cream and night cream, both designed to provide anti-sagging and hydration benefits. There is also Age Perfect Skin Illuminator and Age Spot Diffuser, a treatment for face, hands and chest. Each is priced at $15, the highest price yet for L’Oreal skin care. The items will be in-store by April.
The key ingredient in Age Perfect is dermo-peptide, a yeast extraction said to firm fatigued skin. It also contains beta hydroxy acid to aid cell turnover and exfoliation, and scutelleria and mulberry extracts for skin brightening. The day cream also contains SPF 15.
“Women 50-plus have been overlooked by mass market brands,” said Carol Hamilton, L’Oreal senior vice president and general manager. And for manufacturers this group provides an opportunity for growth, because of their vast numbers and spending power, she added, noting that there are currently more than 40 million women aged 50 to 70.
Dr. Lydia Evans, consulting dermatologist to L’Oreal, said that postboomers have an independent and somewhat skeptical mindset. “They don’t necessarily want to change the way they look, but they do want to soften the changes they see,” she said. “These women have already been through the wrinkle phase. The issues that now concern them are sagginess, loss of firmness, noticeable brown spots and other mottled dispigmentation, as well as dryness.”
What causes skin to lose its firmness is the thinning of collagen and elastin fibers, which can be worsened by sun exposure. Age Perfect products have been designed to help tighten the networks of the skin, according to marketing materials. L’Oreal recommends when using products together, the Skin Illuminator should be applied first, followed by either the day or night cream.
Michael Tanguy, senior vice president of marketing for L’Oreal Retail, believes that beginning with Age Perfect, women in the 50-plus age group are being addressed in a new way. “In the past [products for older women] only looked at moisturization, ultra-hydration,” he said.
Even the product name is very “uplifting and very celebratory. It says you are perfect at any age,” remarked Hamilton.
Print ads will get placement in general audience women’s magazines and also in age-targeted books like More and Modern Maturity.
Outerpackaging touts the items as being “For Mature Skin.” Hamilton said while there was once sensitivity in addressing issues of aging, “Times have evolved. If it is factual. ‘Here is what you are facing.’ Women appreciate the honesty.”
According to L’Oreal data, the skin care market reached $1.2 billion last year. Its Plenitude lineup captured 11.2 percent of those sales, representing $107 million, up 10 percent over 1999. Fueling those gains were the introductions of Hydra Fresh, a skin regimen for women in their 20s; Line Eraser Eye, and Revitalift Slim, a toning-firming solution.
Hamilton thinks skin care is in its infancy, projecting the category could expand 70 percent over the next five years based on favorable age demographics. Compared with Europe, U.S. skin care usage is low and she expects to see increased use of moisturizers, along with a growing acceptance of facial cleansers and treatment items.