Almost 50 years after it launched – a half-century in which it has become one of the world’s bestselling beauty products, moving a bottle every 4.87 seconds – Clinique has reformulated its Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. The beauty world is in shock – not to mention loyal consumers. Why mess with such a successful product? Could this be the New Coke moment of the skincare industry? It is, literally, risky business.
“Over the past five or 10 years we have noted changes in our patients’ complexions and in the environment. Science has advanced and there are now ingredients that were not available years ago,” says Clinique’s guiding dermatologist Dr David Orentreich, whose father created the original moisturiser.
It sounds sensible. But new ingredients give products different characteristics. Historically, this doesn’t work well when applied to a brand with an international following: Coke had to revert to its original recipe.
“You can imagine how many dialogues we have had,” says Agnes Landau, senior vice-president of global marketing at Clinique. “This brand is so trusted – a position that is hard to achieve and easy to lose.” So why take the risk? “If there is a single reason to change, [it is] because it is the right thing to do for the skin,” says Landau.
It took six-and-a-half years and 100 reformulations before the solution was approved. Tests on 1,600 people worldwide showed a 50 per cent increase in day-long hydration levels – double the moisturisation of the previous formulation.
What took Clinique so long? After all, one of the new moisturising ingredients is hyaluronic acid, which has been present in skincare for a decade. “We didn’t want to change the core texture of this product,” says Dr Tom Mammone, executive director of research and development.
Should devotees be stockpiling before the launch? (July 12, UK, and August, US.) I blind-tested both and there was no discernible difference in texture and colour. It is still fragrance-free. Even the bottle looks the same, except for a “+” sign. If they hadn’t told me it was new, I wouldn’t have known.