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Smokey Robinson Ventures Into Skin Care

Skinphonic, the brand from the music icon and his wife addressing hyperpigmentation, is planning to premiere on infomercials next year.

Smokey Robinson is singing a skin-care tune.

The Motown legend and his wife, Frances, are spearheading the new brand Skinphonic that’s set to launch on infomercials next year. Priced at $39.99 to $89.99, its offerings are broken into two collections named for Robinson’s songs that were created to combat hyperpigmentation: My Girl for women and Get Ready for men.

The process of establishing Skinphonic began more than two years ago with the Robinson’s quest to conquer their personal skin issues. Although Frances scoured skin-care brands for solutions to the hyperpigmentation that peppered her face due to years of sun exposure, she found the options for people of color lacking and didn’t encounter a lotion, cream or serum that netted the results she sought.

“I had two cabinets full of everything you could think of. Nothing worked, not even the treatments dermatologists gave me. In fact, they sometimes exacerbated the problem,” she said. “We talked to a few dermatologists, [Skinphonic chief medical officer] Dr. [Edward] Dickinson and other people involved in the chemistry of skin care, and they begun to develop Skinphonic. It worked so well. Ninety-four percent of my hyperpigmentation is gone. My goal is not to slap on makeup everyday, but just put on maybe a little blush, a little lipstick and go with natural skin. Now, I can do that.”

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Frances roped her husband into being a guinea pig for the brand’s products, and he ended up sharing his wife’s enthusiasm for them. “I play golf, I run, and I’m an outdoorsy type of man. I travel a lot, and I’m up and down on planes. All these things aren’t good for your skin,” said Smokey Robinson. “For years, we have been using products trying to keep our skin together. Nothing ever worked like this because this is a targeted formula. We started targeting it toward people of color and, when I say people of color, I don’t just mean black people. We have come up with a formula that I feel is perfect.” He added, “I don’t endorse anything. I really don’t, but I endorse it wholeheartedly.”

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Robinson is a big fan of Skinphonic’s succinct three steps. “Men don’t like to have five to 10 things to do a day. We like simplicity, and this is very simple. You get up in the morning, you wash your face with face wash and you put on the day cream. At night, you wash your face with the face wash, and you put on the night cream. That’s it,” he said. Both the men’s and women’s collections contain morning and night treatments, and face washes. For women, Robinson noted, “As soon you finish your morning regimen by putting on the day cream, you can put on your makeup. You don’t have to wait.”

Retinol is at the root of Skinphonic’s formulas. Joining it are tea tree oil, marine plankton and algae, and almond, olive, avocado and grape seed essential oils. “We handpicked specific ingredients and worked with experts to get concentration levels and pH levels right, and we think we have put a line together that’s exceptional. We don’t see a product out there in the retail world that can perform as well with minimal side effects,” Les Riley, chairman and chief executive officer of Skinphonic, and, separately, RegimenMD, an online skin-care dispensary for physicians. He was formerly president of NeoStrata Co. Sergio Nacht is Skinphonic’s chief scientific director, and he is cofounder of Riley-Nacht LLC, a firm focused on skin-care delivery systems. Previously, he was director of biomedical research at Proctor & Gamble and Richardson-Vicks Inc.

Riley emphasized the key to the retinol used by Skinphonic is its stability. “It has to be made correctly. We go through a special manufacturing process with equipment that’s not subject to light or oxygen,” he said. “With other products, they say they have retinol in them, but you might find it’s diminished if you test them. Our products are stable and active for two years.” Skinphonic’s product assortment is expected to expand soon with a remedy for under-eye circles and a mask. Of the mask, Frances Robinson said, “I have taken it to my aesthetician to use on my face instead of the ones she put on my face before, and she loves it. When I’m through with the mask, my skin is soft, vibrant and bright.”

Available online, Riley predicted Skinphonic products could eventually enter salons and spas. Prior to the move into salons and spas, he detailed the brand will likely rely on 30- to 60-second direct-response television spots. It plans to stay away from the longer 28-minute programs that he explained are expensive to make and don’t attract the audiences they once did. Riley reasoned, “This is a line you can tell the story of pretty quickly.”