NEW YORK — Black Opal is doing an about-face by focusing on smoothing and evening skin tone on the body, a departure from its usual target: the face. The ethnic makeup and skin care brand is ready to launch two new problem/solution body care systems, one with a formula to fade skin discolorations, the other with exfoliating properties to maintain treated skin.

The Advanced Fade Body System includes three items to help decrease the appearance of hyperpigmentation in as little as two weeks. There’s a Foaming Body Polish, which exfoliates and prepares dry skin patches for the Body Fade Creme Extra Strength, a fade treatment. The cream is formulated with maximum-strength hydroquinone, a bleaching agent, and is designed to fade and moisturize skin. A natural version of this item is offered, Body Fade Creme Botanical, which uses citrus extract and lightening agents such as polygonum and licorice.

Polygonum is a popular ingredient used in Japanese fade creams, said Cheryl Burgess, M.D., co-founder of Black Opal, a subsidiary of BioCosmetics Research Labs in New York. The natural version is aimed at the 2 percent of people who are allergic to hydroquinone, she said, noting that the body items can also be used for mosquito bites and eczema.

To preserve and maintain treated skin, there’s Daily Body Care System, consisting of a body wash, an exfoliator and a body butter, which are formulated with papaya enzymes.

Black Opal estimates that the skin care market for women of color exceeds $200 million dollars, 40 percent of which comes from the body care segment. The company’s first-year goal for the new products is between $4 million and $8 million.

Both collections will begin shipping to mass retailers and beauty and barber supply stores in April. Prices range from $6.95 for the Daily Papaya Body Wash to $7.95 for the Body Fade Creme Botanical.

Black Opal will tap the top 15 urban markets in the U.S. with sampling efforts and radio spots, Burgess said, to help promote the new body care products.

This story first appeared in the March 10, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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