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Nanotech Puts New Wrinkle in Skin Care

The company is not yet two years old, but the results of products that blend skin care elements on the molecular scale reaped an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey television show in November.

Company President Paul Ferron left numerous telephone messages for Winfrey's makeup artist, Reggie Wells, earlier in the year. He offered Wells samples of the product and testimonials from customer Ananda Lewis of syndicated television show "The Insider." Wells finally tried the Beyond Skin Science Eternalis line and recommended the products on Oprah.

Wells extols the Beyond Skin Science Eternalis line on the show's Web site along with cosmetics from various companies.

Beyond Skin Science estimates its telephone and Internet sales jumped from 50 to 100 a week to 50 to 100 a day, Ferron told the Orange County Register. The company has sold product to about 50,000 customers thus far, the majority of sales occurring after the Oprah Winfrey show, he said.

The Oprah segment re-aired in April. The Orange County Register featured the company in a December column.

Beyond Skin Science is negotiating with a national mass retailer, but Ferron declined to identify the party. He and the Corona firm's co-founders, Alan Peterson and Mary Ellen Thomas, are optimistic their personal investments of roughly $500,000 in startup costs will pay off.

Beyond Skin Science garnered about $50,000 in sales last year and expects 10 times that number this year, Ferron said. While the company expects rapid growth, it is not yet planning to add employees. The company plans to continue selling over the Internet and by telephone and does not plan to open storefronts.
The company's products are created through a nanoscale ingredient formulation process called nanochem. The company licensed the technology from Alex Cripchuk, owner of NanoChem Formulation Technologies in Corona and a consultant for manufacturers of brand-name products.

A year ago Cripchuck submitted a letter of intent to apply for a patent. He plans to submit samples of emulsion particles used in the nanochem process to researchers at the University of California, Riverside. Cripchuck will use their findings for the patent application. The patent process could cost as much as $50,000 if it involves patent attorneys, he said.

Before launching Beyond Skin Science, all three worked for contract packaging and formulation companies that customize skin care washes, moisturizing creams and other products for marketers.

Around the mid-1970s the skin care industry began producing high-performance products aimed at erasing stretch marks, wrinkles, cellulite and other imperfections.

Several years ago some manufacturers began making products using nanoscale special ingredients within a widely used emulsion base called stearic acid, which is animal fat. However nano-sized ingredients are swallowed up by the base emulsion, preventing rapid absorption, Ferron said. For example, the ingredient particles are like the size of a pin and the cream particles are like the size of a grapefruit, causing a barrier to absorption, he said.

Eight years ago, Peterson and Thomas, a formulation chemist, began experimenting with the cream emulsion, or delivery system at the molecular level. Their goal was to merge the molecules of the delivery system with the molecules of special ingredients. "They unlocked a way to get the ingredients to work with the cream on the same scale," Ferron said.

Following the advice of public relations specialists, they attended celebrity parties for the Oscars, Golden Globes, MTV awards to talk up their products and seek star endorsements.

The company's flagship product is its anti-aging line of skin cleansers, night creams and day treatments called Eternalis.

Beyond Skin Science founders pooled their personal finances and in June 2004 incorporated the company. They began selling products over the Internet and through referrals. Most of the startup investment paid for a nanotechnology research and development lab in Rancho Cucamonga, Ferron said. He moved from Irvine to a less expensive home in Corona and invested the difference in Beyond Skin Science.

Beyond Skin Science contracts with a manufacturer in Carlsbad. Ferron declined to identify the company. The Corona company takes over the plant once every couple of months to blend its proprietary ingredients and package their skin potions.

The company's application of nanotechnology to cosmetic skin treatments has garnered interest from academia. The University of Wisconsin is considering using its products to study uses of nanotechnology, Ferron said.