NEW YORK ­­— It took only one look at Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s baby, Shiloh, to see that lips are back in style. A new company, Advanced Beauty Labs, is licking its lips over amplifying that trend in the mass market.

The lip category has been rather thin on sales growth in the last three years — victim to a lack of new items after the meteoric rise of long-wearing, transfer-resistant formulas.

According to data from ACNielsen, lip color sales slid 2.5 percent for the 52-week period ended May 20, 2006, to $562.8 million from $577.5 million. That was less of a decline than in the period before, when lip sales plummeted 5.8 percent. Now there are rumblings it’s time for the lip category to plump up again.

That’s welcome news to a new company making its debut at the Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing meeting, scheduled to kick off July 18 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. At the show, Advanced Beauty Labs will launch Lipology, a high-tech treatment line.

Unlike many mass market lip products, which focus only on color or plumping, Lipology brings solutions to common lip care problems and taps into the popular beauty-with-benefits trend.

The collection consists of about 140 stockkeeping units with noninvasive treatment benefits infused in serums, lip renewal systems, line reducers, lip exfoliators and conditioners, glosses, lipsticks and balms. The items fall into three general classifications: volumizers, antiaging and protection.

For women who are open to nonsurgical remedies, Lipology brings spa or medical procedures to the home, mimicking the growing offerings of at-home skin care treatments such as microdermabrasion.

“Technology drives cosmetics, and that’s been missing from lip,” explained Stu Dolleck, senior vice president for Advanced Beauty Labs.

Also, many true enhancements for lips have been available only by medical intervention. “For consumers a little reticent about resorting to mainstream medical procedures and spa treatments, scientifically advanced Lipology offers instant access to safe, effective lip enhancement without leaving home,” said Donna Italiano, vice president of marketing.

She said most consumers want shapelier lips or a reduction in frown lines and softer, smoother lips. But many aren’t willing to risk lasers, collagen injections, lip fillers or implants. “Lipology is a real alterative to the rush for these procedures without the price tag,” she added.

This story first appeared in the July 7, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Each item features complexes to deliver remedies. “Advanced Beauty Labs’ two years of solid research and development has given birth to such products as Glyco Protein Collagen Booster,” said Dolleck. Used in the Anti Aging Complex, the Glyco Protein Collagen Booster is said to work beyond the surface to stimulate the lip’s production of fibronectin, a glycoprotein responsible for helping to smooth, renew and reverse signs of lip damage. It’s billed as an alternative to costly collagen implants.

Among the other items falling under the antiaging banner are Lip Renewal System and Lip A Tox Relaxer. Volumizers include the NutraFusion Volumizing Complex, an Overnight Plumping Serum and the Visible Volumizing Lip Gloss. Protective items range from Outrageously Gloss Ultra Glossy Sheers with breath fresheners to On Demand Protection with advanced UVA/UVB-activated lip protection safety shields.

Lipology products are priced up to $10 each and will be available early in 2007. To help introduce women to the surgery-free lip remedies, the company plans to advertise in leading women’s publications for spring 2007.

Since Lipology brings sophisticated formulas to a mostly self-service environment, the company has created an interactive in-store merchandising unit complete with a formula guide for product selection. The full fixture spans three feet of peg wall space. With a shakeout looming with major brands, Advanced Beauty Labs hopes there will be some shelf space up for grabs at major chains.

Industry consultant Allan Mottus commented, “Retailers such as Sephora have made lip an item business, and with a $10 price tag, this offers a better price point than Sephora.”

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