No-downtime face time

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In 1983, ex-Procter & Gamble Co. executives launched LensCrafters in shopping malls with on-site optometrists and the promise of "perfect lenses in about an hour." Nearly two decades later, former Revlon USA President Kathy Dwyer looks to go one better: Perfect-or at least vastly improved-skin in about half an hour.

In September, Ms. Dwyer launched Skinklinic, part spa, part clinic, tucked into a quiet space at 61st Street just off Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Her goal is a national, even global, chain where nurses and nurse practitioners, under physician supervision, rub, peel or inject away wear and tear from aging baby boomers and Gen-Xers on their lunch breaks.

Skinklinic's menu ranges from $75 for a 30-minute facial to $300 for botox, in which an injection of modified botulism toxin is injected to immobilize muscles that produce wrinkles around the eyes, forehead or mouth. Chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser hair removal and collagen injections are among other offerings, many of which can be done in 20 to 30 minutes, Ms. Dwyer said. Most customers come in during lunch or immediately before or after work-when dermatologist offices are often closed.

"I call it the lunchtime, no-downtime way to take care of your skin," Ms. Dwyer said. She's hired Brand Buzz, a New York-based unit of WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, for a viral and media marketing campaign that includes e-mail, magazine and outdoor advertising.

Opening one week before the Sept. 11 attacks wasn't exactly opportune, but she said Skinklinic's business bounced back by the third week of September, perhaps in part because people were looking for a respite from their troubles. By mid-November, customer counts were close to initial projections, she said. But even in a sinking economy, a Skinklinic $300 botox injection is a bargain compared with dermatologist-administered shots, which can cost from $350 to $500 nationwide.

Ms. Dwyer sees Sklinklinic creating a category that can expand a skin-care industry whose sales of products and services she estimates at $15 billion to $17 billion. The idea is to reach the 70% of the 95 million people in the U.S. ages 35 to 64 who now wish they could restore that youthful firmness and glow to their aging skin.

While Skinklinic has been dubbed by some "the Starbucks of skin," the Lenscrafters analogy may be more apt. Both are part of a growing class of trade that carves retail service businesses out of lucrative medical or dental procedures once confined to small professional offices. Similarly, chains of Lasik laser vision-correction centers and Britesmile tooth-whitening centers-in some cases with affiliated professional practices linked via national ads and toll-free call centers-have crisscrossed the country.

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