Homeward Bound

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | February 7, 2014

High-tech devices can improve skin or remove unwanted hair and the consumer never has to leave her home. These new tools of the trade continue to capt

More consumers are taking matters into their own hands, literally, when it comes to improving skin’s appearance and removing hair, thanks to a generation of skin care devices designed for the comforts of home rather than a doctor’s exam room.

Created to cleanse, tighten and tone skin or remove unwanted hair anywhere on the face or body, the technology on store shelves today seems light-years away from devices of years’ past, say experts who spoke with Happi.

Revlon offers this skin care brush.
“I think the at-home device market has been long in coming,” said Dr. Tina Alster, founding director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery.
According to the Washington, DC-based dermatologist who is La Mer’s global skin care advisor and has served as the consulting dermatologist to Lancôme, Clarisonic and other cosmetic and laser companies, consumers “are getting to know and trust [devices] again as there were many in the past that didn’t work. Consumers had a jaded eye, which is realistic.”

This current generation of devices is capturing more than just consumer’s attention; topical beauty and skin care executives are interested too, evidenced by L’Oréal’s acquisition of Pacific Bioscience, maker of Clarisonic in 2011.

More deals have followed. Most recently, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Solta Medical, Inc. The $250 million deal, which was announced in December 2013, will put the maker of energy-based medical device systems for aesthetic applications into the Valeant portfolio sometime this quarter. 

Solta’s products include professional devices like Thermage, Fraxel, Clear + Brilliant and Liposonix, as well as Claro, which is billed as the first FDA cleared over-the-counter intense pulsed light (IPL) device for acne.

J. Michael Pearson, chairman and CEO of Valeant, called Solta’s devices a “natural fit with Valeant’s facial injectables, professional skin care products and physician dispensed products and will establish Valeant in a strong leadership position as we continue to build our presence in the aesthetic market.”

Do Try This at Home
Acquiring an established aesthetics device maker could prove a savvy move for beauty companies eyeing the at-home device sector, according to Karen Doskow, industry manager, consumer products, at Kline & Company. The Parsippany, NJ-based market research and analysis firm is digging into myriad factors shaping the skin care device category for a new study that’s due out this quarter.

One of the newest at-home skin care devices is the Tria Anti-Aging Laser.

The Unilever-Syneron JV Iluminage Beauty touts the Me smooth hair removal device.

According to Kline, US sales of beauty devices (at the manufacturer level) in 2012 were approximately $550 million. Retail sales topped just over $900 million, up 19.4%, fueled by growth at firms like Clarisonic. And although growth has been tempered a bit this past year, according to Doskow, Kline is forecasting healthy growth of 11% each year though 2017.

Unilever wants a slice of this growing sector. Late last year, the CPG giant closed a deal with aesthetic device maker Syneron Medical, creating Iluminage Beauty, a JV to sell home beauty devices. Iluminage’s roster includes the Me smooth device, which debuted on QVC last April, and is now stocked at prestige beauty retailers including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Ulta, Sephora and Space NK.

In mid-December, the Me brand of home use devices received an expanded indication for use from the US FDA for permanent reduction in hair growth, a clearance that company officials perceive as an important step in future growth.

“The additional indication for permanent reduction in hair growth for the Me home-use hair removal system is another positive milestone in the application of our proprietary ‘elos’ technology in the home-use market,” Shimon Eckhouse, CEO of Syneron Medical, noted in a press statement. “It builds on its position as the first and only FDA cleared consumer hair removal technology that is approved for all skin tones, further differentiating it from the competition.”

Fabian Tenenbaum, CEO of Iluminage Beauty, added, “The expanded indication, along with our new joint venture, will position us to continue increasing awareness of the Me system among consumers and partners.”

The Me brand is looking to win over customers in the increasingly competitive category. There’s a wide range of methods to get the job done, from more traditional grooming tools like razors to epilators to home waxing to heat and light therapies from companies including Radiancy (no!no!), Remington/Spectrum Brands (ILight Pro) and Home Skinovations (Silk’n), to name just a few. In addition, there’s P&G’s Gillette Venus Naked Skin, an intense pulsed light hair removal system, which has yet to reach the US market.

Cleaning Up
The largest application in the device category is cleansers, which represents a healthy 35% of the market, according to Kline. Here, Clarisonic remains the clear leader, but more mass marketers are joining the fray.

In August, for example, P&G rolled out the new Pro-X by Olay Microdermabrasion + Advanced Cleansing System, which offers both treatments in one unit and performance that P&G says rivals more pricey procedures.

Pro-X by Olay Microdermabrasion + Advanced Cleansing System delivers two treatments in one device.
The Olay device has three speeds; the first two allow for daily gentle cleansing or daily deep cleansing and can be used with the Facial Cleansing Brush and Pro-X by Olay Exfoliating Renewal Cleanser to renew skin’s texture for a more even complexion. The third speed is designated for a microdermabrasion foam head and a topical Thermal Crystal Polisher. This setting can be used up to two times a week (on non-consecutive days), according to the company. For enhanced tone improvement, P&G suggests users incorporate the Pro-X by Olay Tone Correcting Protocol, a three-step regimen that includes moisturizers for day and night, Anti-Oxidant Sunscreen Sheer Daily Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 35 and Brightening Cream, and a specialized treatment called Spot Fading Treatment.

Revlon, too, has a new device, adding a silicone facial brush kit to its Revlon Spa Collection. The Revlon Silicone Facial Brush kit has a non-invasive cleansing method designed to clean pores by drawing out impurities deep below the surface. The silicone bristles are gentle to the skin and clean without causing irritation. In addition to the silicone brush there are five interchangeable attachments designed to clean, exfoliate and promote circulation for luminous and toned skin, according to Revlon, which is selling the unit at Ulta for $24.99. 

Additionally, Conair has rolled out True Glow, a new collection of professional-quality beauty care appliances that includes a Sonic Face Brush. The brush head operates at 300 oscillations per second, and is gentle enough to be used as part of an everyday cleansing regimen, according to Conair. The set includes two brush heads for face and body, and the device features an automatic timer that tells users when to move to another area of the face.

The True Glow device, which costs about $100, is available at Walgreens, and some industry observers believe its presence at the pharmacy chain will serve as a litmus test for the viability of less expensive, but still somewhat pricey skin care devices at mass outposts.

According to Doskow, the direct sales remains the strongest channel for devices.

“The direct sales channel dominates the market here in the US,” she said, noting that devices often require a lot of information at point of sale to close the deal.

As lower priced options look to chip away at Clarisonic’s leadership position in the cleanser space, company officials in Remond, WA are leveraging the Clarisonic brand name in other areas.

Market-leader Clarisonic has brought its sonic technology to the pedicure category.

“Clarisonic is dedicated to continuously innovating products backed by clinical evidence to provide skin care professionals and consumers transformative results in office and at home. We are always looking to deliver products professionals and consumers need, and there will be some exciting developments on the horizon,” Dr. Robb Akridge, co-founder, SVP and global general manager of Clarisonic, told Happi.

The firm’s newest product is the Clarisonic Pedi, which Akridge said “extends our patented sonic technology beyond cleansing and facial care to provide a state-of-the-art treatment for the feet with a true performance gap that can’t be achieved by manual treatment.”

Launched last Fall, the Pedi system has been designed to transform rough, dry heels and toes into sandal-ready feet via a $199 kit that includes the sonic device, brush head, foot smoothing and softening treatments and a foot renewing peel. 

According to Akridge, clinical trials support the immediate and long-term effectiveness of the system, “making it the ultimate regimen to provide at-home foot care as well as professional pedicure maintenance.”

Specifically, the system delivered 10 times smoother feet than manual buffing, 80% of women felt more confident barefoot and 91% of women said their feet were rejuvenated, according to the company.

“It gently exfoliates and removes dead skin cells, smoothes rough patches and helps keep dry flaky skin from building up to extend the life of a professional pedicure as well as at-home foot care,” said Akridge.

Anti-Aging Applications
Extending the life of a professional treatment is a key benefit of an at-home device, according to in-the-know dermatologists who have relied on professional technologies to deliver anti-aging benefits to their patients. And as seen across the entire beauty category, anti-aging claims are heating up in at-home devices.

One of the newest anti-aging devices in the marketplace is the Pure Rayz by Baby Quasar, a FDA-cleared light therapy tool that debuted on HSN back in December. Designed to treat wrinkles with “collagen-building” technology, it uses four distinct wavelengths of light—610nm (amber), 640nm (red), 660nm (super red) and 850nm (near infrared)—according to Quasar Bio-Tech, which has been manufacturing and selling LED light therapy devices for eight years to both consumers and professionals.

The company recommends users also incorporate Baby Quasar “Enhancers”—the Active RX Cleanser, Anti-Aging Serum and Hydraplenish Collagen Crème—with the Pure Rayz.

“Topical products promise ‘instant’ or ‘visible’ results, but must be applied daily. Some results may seem instantaneous, but for the effects to continue, the products must be a strictly regimented part of your beauty routine. In contrast, Pure Rayz has a specific initial treatment time and after eight weeks, only minimal touch-ups are needed to sustain the results,” noted Alex Webster, VP of internet sales and marketing.

Nu Skin, which contends it is a category leader in home skin care devices, generating $500 million in revenue in 2013 business globally, is looking to go bigger in the category too, although it has reportedly pulled the Galvanic Spa Facial device from the US in preparation for an upcoming launch of an FDA-approved version, according to Kline.

In fact, the Provo, UT- based company late last year received FDA clearance to market a facial spa device for over-the-counter cosmetic use.

“We have seen great demand for our innovative spa products throughout the world which has helped us to become a global leader in the home-use skin care device market,” said Joseph Chang, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, upon news of the FDA’s decision.

Speaking at the company’s Nov. 21, 2013 Investors Day, Dr. Chang revealed early details about NuSkin’s “ageLOC Epsilon.” It is billed as “breakthrough” home use skin care device that will provide daily spa-quality anti-aging treatments every time a user washes her face.

For now, industry observers are keeping tabs on a new anti-aging device that’s rolling out from Tria Beauty. The company’s Age-Defying Laser was recently cleared by the FDA for the treatment of multiple signs of facial aging and is appropriate for all skin types and tones.

Clinically proven to treat multiple signs of facial aging as well as comparable dermatologist treatments, it delivers superior results compared to traditional at-home anti-aging regimens, according to Tria. It uses a proprietary version of the same non-ablative fractional laser technology that’s used in-office by dermatologists and plastic surgeons, according to the firm, which also offers laser hair removal and light-based acne treatments for home use.

“This new product launch represents a key growth milestone for Tria—our entry into the anti-aging skin care category, the largest and fastest growing segment of prestige beauty. Continuing to launch transformative skin care products like the Age-Defying Laser and expanding distribution with key partners like Sephora will ensure Tria continues its year-over-year, double-digit growth and further cements our brand’s leadership position in the skin care category” stated Nicole Landberg, VP/GM, Americas and Europe, Tria Beauty, in a release announcing the launch.

According to Tria, in clinical studies, 95% of study participants saw significant improvement in overall appearance, 92% agreed the Age-Defying Laser is more effective than creams and serums, 85% reported more radiant, youthful looking skin and 76% experienced significant reduction in fine lines and wrinkles with the Age-Defying Laser.

Impressive data for sure, but the device—like others in the category—isn’t cheap. Tria’s anti-aging device, which debuted at triabeauty.com and this month hits counters at Barneys, Bloomingdale’s and Sephora, has a retail price of $495.

And therein lies the rub when it comes to the future of the at-home devices category. Which consumers are willing to shell out that kind of money for a home-use device?

Doskow said that’s been a big part of the consumer research underway at Kline in preparation for its upcoming market brief on beauty devices. It’s imperative, she contends, for all stakeholders to understand who are the current users of devices, who are potential buyers, and which channels of distribution might be best.

After all, while companies like Clarisonic have skyrocketed, not every device company has been as successful. For example, Zeno, best known for its acne clearing device, ceased operation in 2012 and its assets were acquired by Lumatherm, Inc. Sources told Happi that the assets have since been sold again.

Need vs. Want
According to Dr. Alster, there is a viable market for at-devices, but she isn’t worried about them impacting her business.

“Most people who are going into the market will never be seen by me for a treatment,” she said, noting that her patients may purchase a unit as an adjunct to their regular appointments, or may even buy it for a spouse or boyfriend to use.

Dr. Mary Lupo, a dermatologist in New Orleans, LA, agrees that at-home devices are best for “supplementing the procedures done in a doctor’s offices to maintain the benefit longer, especially the blue and red light devices, and laser hair devices.”

But do consumers really need these tools?

“Need? Likely no,” answered Dr. Lupo. “Want? Likely yes—to keep the skin at its peak.”

Sounds like good news for the category.