Dr. Fulton also patented vitamin A propionate, a less irritating alternative to Retin A that is widely recognized as the most effective retinoid available without a prescription. And he was the formulator whose work forms the basis of the Vivant Skin Care line, a company with high-performance treatments for aging, acne and hyperpigmentation that is getting a makeover. Dr. Fulton passed on in 2013, but his work lives on through Vivant, which remains a family owned business and at the forefront of cosmetic research.
“His life's mission was dermatology and to help people afflicted with acne,” said Richard Arregui, head of marketing and sales at Vivant Skin Care. “Unless you have dedicated yourself to using only water and pastes made from hand-foraged herbs to care for your skin, you’ve likely used a product that contains ingredients originally developed by him.”
In 1965, just out of med school, Dr. Fulton was working his residency at the University of Pennsylvania and found himself on a small acne research team headed by Dr. Albert Kligman.
For a young resident who’d struggled with acne and personally tried every acne treatment available at the time, including sulfur drying lotions, tetracycline antibiotics, ultraviolet light burning, freezing with dry ice, painful extraction and x-ray treatments, the prospect of finding something that actually worked was exhilarating.
The turning point came in 1967, in the form of a bottle containing a yellow liquid: vitamin A acid. Others had given up on on tretinoin because of its tendency to cause excessive peeling and redness. Recognizing its potential for a dramatic impact on skin, Dr. Fulton understood the promise of the material. With Dr. Kligman as his mentor, Dr. Fulton pressed on, experimenting, revising and improving the drug’s formulation until, in 1969, they perfected the formula now known as Retin A.
Benzoyl peroxide, topical erythromycin, vitamin A propionate and other developments followed.
Dr. Fulton’s wife Sara, a noted researcher and chemist herself, was equally obsessed with the science of skin care. The two met at the University of Pennsylvania. They married in 1970, during their lunch break and returned to their respective labs the same afternoon. It was Sara Fulton who envisioned a line of skin care products based on Dr. Fulton’s groundbreaking work, and set about making it a reality. In 1990, Vivant Skin Care emerged as a specialty line designed for skin care professionals.
In the 27 years since its debut, company executives have put science ahead of marketing to become one of the most trusted brands among skin care professionals. Aestheticians travelled from around the country to train with Dr. Fulton and learn more about the products. His book, Acne Rx, became the skin care bible. But after Dr. Fulton passed away, Sara, grieving the loss of her husband, pulled away from the business leaving the future of the brand in question.
Daughter Susan Fulton-Arregui stepped in as director in 2014. With a background in business, plus a strong sense of design, Fulton-Arregui brought a unique vision and a new direction for the company that included an expanded focus on the consumer market.
Over the last year, the team has given the brand a complete facelift, revamping voice and visual style. New website, new blog, new packaging, new energy, and a renewed commitment to bringing the Vivant brand and Dr. Fulton’s legacy to the forefront where they belong.
The renewal effort extends to the product line. Vivant has recently introduced antioxidant-rich Skin Nourishing Toner formulated to provide soothing hydration and protect against environmental stressors without drying even the most sensitive skin. Additionally, Vivant is replacing the micro-beads in its exfoliating products with renewable, bio-degradable beads. More new products are in the pipeline, according to Arregui.
The Vivant Skin Care line spans from cleansers to toners to serums. Online at www.vivantskincare.com, consumers can shop by ingredient—vitamin A, mandelic acid, benzoyl peroxide, algae, green tea, kojic acid and others—or get a skin care consultation online.
The company remains family run. Founder Sara Fulton has returned to the helm as president. James Fulton Jr. has joined as head of education and lab production. Fulton-Arregui’s husband Richard, whose father co-founded the first Hispanic advertising agency in South Florida, brings his marketing expertise to the mix at this updated classic.
With the next generation firmly entrenched, Vivant’s future is positively vibrant.