Wednesday, 17 October 2012

World’s first DNA skin test for personalised anti-ageing at Organic Pharmacy

Image: The Organic Pharmacy

There are so many active ingredients in skincare products, so how do you know which will be most beneficial for your skin’s own needs? geneOnyx, a provider of genetics analytics for cosmetics, may have the answer, with the launch of a world-first on-the-spot DNA skincare test.

Launching as an in-store treatment at The Organic Pharmacy, Kings Road, London, the geneOnyx DNA skincare test is designed to help consumers identify the most beneficial anti-ageing products for their skin, by identifying variations in the gene that relates to collagen breakdown – the process that causes skin to age.

Unlike most DNA testing, it requires no lab, no skilled technicians and no time: a swab of saliva is simply taken, which is then injected into a DNA microchip for analysis. This microchip is plugged into a USB device to provide test results within 30 minutes. The geneOnyx database will then provide a list of active ingredient recommendations that are directly related to each person’s skincare requirements.

This service doesn’t come cheap at £295 for a one hour consultation, but if it really works then it could save women a fortune in expensive skincare products that don’t live up to their claims. And given that the technology is also being used to improve genetic research, testing and treatment for diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s, the geneOnyx DNA test has some pretty hefty credentials behind it, too.

Would you invest in a service like this?

Boots Little Me Organics ad banned by ASA - the murky waters of organic labelling

The beauty industry is no stranger to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) banning adverts because of misleading communication, but I was surprised by the reason for a recent Boots Little Me Organics advert being banned.

Following a single complaint that said “claims that the product was ‘organic’ were misleading because they implied it met an independent organic standard,” the ASA upheld the complaint and has said it mustn’t appear again in its current form.

However, rather than the judgement being based on something that was said within the advert, the ASA took issue with the actual brand name ‘Little Me Organics’ misleading the consumer into thinking the products either met a defined organic standard, or used a high proportion of organic ingredients (when in fact, the product had less than 5% organic ingredients).

Rather than this directly being related to text used within an advert as is the usual realm of the ASA, this delves into the much murkier waters of organic labelling and the fact that there is no legal definition of what constitutes a beauty product to be organic.

As it stands currently, beauty products are allowed to be called organic if there is any organic ingredient within the product – so although consumers think they are buying an organic product, it could actually contain just 1% of organic ingredients.

But while there is currently no legal criteria for calling a product ‘organic’ - something the natural beauty sector has long taken issue with, it seems that brands who use the word ‘organic’ on an advert – even if it is just within the product name, now risk being punished by the ASA instead.

With organic certification being so costly to brands and often confusing to consumers (because different organic certifications have different standards), surely it would be a lot easier for everyone involved if the law was just changed to set a certain legal criteria for organic beauty labelling? After all, for foods to be labelled as organic, under EU regulations at least 95% of the ingredients must come from organically produced plants and animals, so why can’t the same be done for the beauty industry?

What do you think?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The new face of Chanel No.5 is a man… and Brad Pitt no less!

Using a celebrity to represent a fragrance is nothing new, of course, but now Chanel has made the bold move of using a man to represent its iconic women’s fragrance, Chanel No.5, as it is revealed that Brad Pitt will be the new face of the perfume.

Launching next week, it is the first time that Chanel has used a man to front a women’s fragrance campaign. “To keep a legend fresh, you always have to change its point of view,” Andrea d’Avack, president at Chanel Fragrance & Beauty told WWD. What a fantastic quote! Chanel No.5 is indeed a legend in its field and continues to outsell its rivals more than 90 years since its launch. So it’s a brave – and expensive – leap by the fashion and beauty giant, whose investment in Brad Pitt alone will be in the millions.

Could this be a new page in an industry that is well known for its use of female celebrities within its marketing campaigns? It will be exciting to find out and I’m sure Chanel’s peers will be watching the impact with great interest.

If you can't wait until next week, here is a little teaser campaign, complete with Brad Pitt's husky tones. Enjoy!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Beauty Bazaar, Harvey Nichols - a new beauty concept store

It seems retailers can’t get enough of beauty at the moment – following my recent articles on Marks and Spencer’s new beauty hall and BeautyMART at Harvey Nichols, along comes the launch of Beauty Bazaar, Harvey Nichols.

Set to open in late autumn 2012, Harvey Nichols has gone all-out crazy for beauty and dedicated a whole stand-alone store to its Beauty Bazaar, spanning a whopping 22,000 sq ft over three floors. With the aim of ‘redefining luxury beauty and being the antidote to the commoditisation of beauty’, Beauty Bazaar, Harvey Nichols will be a one-stop-shop for your every beauty need – and then some.

The ground floor will be packed to the rafters with more beauty products than you can shake a stick at, including the usual suspects such as Chanel, YSL and Crème de la Mer as well as new and niche beauty brands. 

Step on up to the first floor and you’ll find a whole host of beauty treatments on offer from pedicures to brow bars and everything in between. It will also be home to a Champagne and Cocktail Bar which hopes to become a destination in its own right. 

The second floor is committed to privacy to ensure comfort for more discreet treatments such as waxing and tanning and a range of high-tech medi-treatments.

Although concept stores of this nature usually launch in London, Beauty Bazaar, Harvey Nichols is actually debuting in Liverpool. While this makes it harder for some to be able to get to with ease, I’ve heard on the grapevine that other Beauty Bazaar stores will follow across the UK.

What do you think about the Beauty Bazaar, Harvey Nichols concept store?

Thursday, 26 July 2012

‘The Curve’ liquid eyeliner

I love it when innovation is applied to commonplace make up products – it’s all too easy to not consider the design of make up items that have been around for years and sometimes just a little tweak in design can make application a whole lot easier, and have us all wondering why someone didn’t think of it sooner.

So I was most intrigued when Wizard PR uploaded a teaser image to its Facebook page this week, showing The Curve: “an ergonomic shaped liquid liner that makes application mistake-proof.” I’ve never really questioned whether the usual pen shape of eyeliner makes application difficult, so it will be interesting to see if the rounded shape of The Curve liquid eyeliner will make a marked difference when applying eye liner.

Wizard PR is keeping its cards close to its chest as to which brand is launching The Curve eyeliner, so keep your eyes peeled!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Urban Decay and the downside to beauty’s growth in China

Image credit:
It’s no secret that China’s beauty market has experienced phenomenal growth for a number of years - in fact, China has become the fastest growing beauty market in the world over the last decade. Prestige beauty is particularly strong, with NPD Group reporting a market growth of 21% in 2011 alone. So naturally, China is now very much in the sights of many UK beauty companies wanting to capitalise on a whole new - very lucrative - market.

However, entering the Chinese beauty market comes at a price, because Chinese law states that before any beauty products can be marketed in China, the country may require the products to be tested for safety in China’s own laboratories… on animals. While this may not be an issue for some beauty companies, for any brand that bases its identity and ethos on being animal-friendly, it basically makes China a no-go area unless it manages to get granted exemption from animal testing.

A number of beauty brands have already launched in China with great success; in particular L’Oreal, which tipped over one billion euros in sales last year. But one brand’s decision to enter the Chinese beauty market has come into the firing line this week: Urban Decay. For a brand that is staunchly against animal testing and has built up huge consumer loyalty around this ethos, Urban Decay's move has prompted shock, outrage and a backlash from its consumers. Urban Decay has issued a press response in its defence, which states:
“Do we like China’s policies? No…and that is really the point. Going into China was a huge decision for Urban Decay. But, we believe that change cannot and will not happen by outside pressure alone in a closed market. Change can only happen from within. When we enter the Chinese market, we will do our part to help make those changes.
“Yes, we are a for-profit company. And yes, we would eventually like to make money in China. But we don’t stand to turn a profit in China for quite a while, partially because the market isn’t quite ready to sustain an untraditional brand like ours. If it were only about the money, we would wait a few years. But our foray into this market is also about participating in an amazing time of change in China.” (You can read the full statement here.)

Unfortunately, Urban Decay’s decision to deny they entered a booming market for financial reasons and instead did it to encourage animal-friendly practices, even though it is prepared to pay for animal testing to be done on its products in China, has only aggravated the situation. As one reader commented on Lipglossiping’s blog post: “If they don’t expect to make a profit in China anytime soon, and they know that their product doesn’t necessarily appeal to the current market, then what’s their goal? It is so presumptuous that they will enact change by their entrance to the market when human rights advocates, NGO groups, and others have yet to achieve it.”

Furthermore, the BUAV has just announced that Urban Decay has lost its Cruelty-Free certified status because of its decision to sell on the Chinese market. So whatever Urban Decay's intentions may be by launching in China, it could be at the expense of its brand credentials and its existing loyal consumers worldwide.

What do you think of Urban Decay's decision to enter the Chinese beauty market?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

M&S Your Beauty - Marks and Spencer's new beauty hall

Marks and Spencer Your Beauty new beauty hall. Image credit: Harper's Bazaar
Following the rumours that have been circulating about Marks and Spencer’s new beauty offering, the store has finally revealed its new beauty retail concept - M&S Your Beauty: The Best of Nature and Science. And it’s exciting! Launched yesterday in its High Street Kensington store, M&S Your Beauty is distinctly premium and high tech and looks set to rival the best of the department stores.

Back in 2009 M&S decided to abandon its premise of only stocking own-branded items in its food halls, and this ethos has been extended to its new beauty offering. So alongside 14 of M&S’s own brand beauty lines, consumers can also find a large range of premium and niche brands such as Nuxe, Apvita and Philip Kingsley. Keen to be a step ahead of the crowd, M&S has also bagged a handful of UK exclusives including Dr Murad (US), Roger & Gallet (France) and Skyn Iceland (Iceland… obviously).

One thing I really like about M&S’s Your Beauty concept is that its beauty advisors aren't working on a commission basis, thereby eliminating any potential pushy sales techniques, or recommending products that aren't necessarily right for the consumer.

Also in the offering is a Virtual Makeover Counter which lets consumers digitally select different shades of cosmetics across foundation, blusher, lipstick, etc. to find the most suitable colours for their skin tone. There is also an online version of the M&S Virtual Makeover Counter, from which you can upload an image of yourself to virtually try out different shades.

M&S Your Beauty: The Best of Nature and Science has also launched on the M&S website and will soon be rolling out to other stores. Watch this space!