Byline: Laura Klepacki

NEW YORK — A lipstick that can withstand a kiss is good. But one that remains on lips through dinner is even better — and Procter & Gamble says it’s got one.
With a new technology called PermaTone, the consumer products giant believes it has created a formula that lets lips breathe while providing color that doesn’t fade or crack. It is food, oil and water resistant.
The technology will appear this fall in a new Max Factor lip gloss called Lipfinity, slated to make its debut in Europe and Asia. It is expected to hit North American markets next year.
It is designed as a two-step system. First, a liquid lip color is applied, which dries to a matte finish. That is topped with a clear glossy coat that comes in a solid stick. To freshen the lips throughout the day, the moisturizing clear coat is reapplied. The level of shine can be adjusted according to the amount of clear coat applied. Lipfinity can be removed with petroleum jelly, baby oil or oil-based makeup removers.
Despite the abundance of products promoted as offering long-wear benefits, P&G felt there was still an unmet need — particularly because one criticism of long-wearing lip colors has been that they dry out the skin.
Gerald Cantey, lead global scientist for PermaTone, based in P&G’s cosmetics headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md., said PermaTone adheres to the skin better and claimed it was “a step above all of the [long-wearing] cosmetics in the market.” He described the formula as a “flexible mesh” that “adheres and moves with the lip surface.” Academy-award winning makeup artist Michele Burke, who consults for Max Factor, said PermaTone “raises the standard” of long-wearing makeup products.
“It’s ideal for movie makeup artists like myself and for women everywhere who now will have the luxury of applying makeup once and having it last all day.”
Lip color is only the beginning for PermaTone, which probably will be used in other Max Factor color products, as well as across P&G’s other cosmetics brands — Cover Girl and Oil of Olay.
A formula described as “breakthrough technology” by P&G being introduced under Max Factor could come as a surprise to U.S. retailers, who have watched the brand’s sales fall about 17 percent since last year to $102 million, according to Information Resources Inc.
But around the world, Max Factor is one of P&G’s hottest beauty properties, according to Marc Pritchard, vice president of P&G cosmetics for North and South America. With its Hollywood roots, the brand maintains a following of makeup artists and consumers who like to experiment, he added.
Internationally, the brand ranks fifth among the company’s beauty brands, with Oil of Olay and Pantene. But it is probably the most widely available, with distribution in about 60 countries. “It is about the most global brand in our cosmetics portfolio,” noted Pritchard.
And Pritchard said that while Factor’s U.S. market share has slipped, its profitability has risen. Two years ago, nearly half the brand’s stockkeeping units were cut to make it more productive. Now it has “some of the best margins in the industry. For the second straight year, Max Factor has turned a nice profit for P&G and for our retailers,” he said.
Pritchard believes Factor’s sales decline has flattened, and expects market share to hover around its current 3 percent to 3.5 percent. The goal now is to “build it steadily on a sustained basis, year and year, with new initiatives, with a focus on face and lip segments.” Face is still Factor’s strongest category. Its Pan-Stik and Lasting Performance are its top-selling foundations.
Commenting on Lipfinity, Pritchard said, “One of the nice things about this technology is, it really is a new way of using lipstick. And Max Factor has a heritage of bringing breakthrough innovation.”
This spring, the brand is introducing Seamless makeup, in liquid and stick forms, intended to eliminate a visible foundation line. It is an ultralight micro-bead formulation that is said to disperse on skin, “virtually blending itself,” according to P&G marketers. It comes in six shades.
While Lipfinity is planning for its U.S. arrival, the Max Factor Gold collection, launched in the U.K. last year, is not expected to cross the Atlantic anytime soon. “We decided to pass on the Gold line,” said Pritchard. Instead, P&G will stick to supporting the core line by introducing new technologies and developing its consumer base.
P&G intends to maintain marketing programs that appeal to women interested in films, actresses and the “makeup-artist world,” said Pritchard. It’s a direction the brand has been moving in for nearly two years. And a new brand manager, Chad Waetzig, has been brought up through the ranks, assuming the role from Todd Magazine, who left the company last year.