A celebration of nature and ethics


  • Style
  • Tuesday, 28 Oct 2014

Clarins, past, present and future: From left, back row: Christian and Dr Olivier; middle row: Virginie, Serge Rosinoer (loyal adviser), Prisca and Jenna; seated on floor: Claire.

Women have been an endless source of inspiration for luxury French spa and beauty brand Clarins which turns 60 this year.

KNOWN for its lavish spa therapies and signature red packaging, Clarins was founded in 1954 by Jacques Courtin-Clarins. When the French brand was being developed, Jacques believed that “it’s not enough to formulate a product, you also have to develop the right application method to increase its effectiveness”.

He then introduced the “Clarins Method” – a manual massage technique based on the science of touch – which became the foundation for the set up of Institute Clarins.

Clarins offers an extensive range of skincare products for women and men, make-up and luxurious spa experiences through The Spa by Clarins concepts, located in more than 50 locales.

The brand celebrated its 60th anniversary this year with an exhibition and gala dinner in Shanghai.

During the celebration, it paid tribute to The Touch through a new face and body treatment called The Art of Touch, combining a new treatment protocol and a new ClarinsPRO formula, Pure Melt Massage Body Butter.

With Jacques’ passing in 2007, this family-run business is now led by Jacques’ sons, Christian Courtin-Clarins, currently the president of the Clarins Group supervisory board, and Christian’s younger brother, Dr Olivier Courtin-Clarins, managing director of the Clarins Group, and their family members.

“When my father first created Clarins, the results were not scientific. He relied mostly on customers’ comments. But today, we have advanced equipment in our lab and scientific proof supporting our findings. Also, the number of plants we research on have increased, and the market is a lot bigger and more competitive,” said Dr Olivier.

Clarins’ signature Double Serum used to come in two bottles (left and centre) but it has since evolved into one bottle (right) for ease of application.

“Our father used to tell us that the Clarins Double Serum has an amazing story. Initially, it came in two jars, and he said we had to finish the oil and water at the same time. So he demonstrated by counting three drops of water and three drops of oil, to ensure that this product would finish simultaneously.”

Today, the Double Serum Complete Age Control Concentrate – combining hydrosoluble and liposoluble anti-ageing ingredients – comes in one bottle for easy application and is the brand’s most iconic product.

Founded in 1954, Clarins celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

Clarins’ key products contain 100% pure plant oils for face and body, and include the Contouring Facial Lift, anti-UV and anti-pollution skincare, and its newest eye care, specifically for Asian women.

According to Dr Olivier, the most important thing he and his brother learnt from their father was “to respect people, customers, employees and nature, and to always listen to what people had to say. The most horrible trait is arrogance”.

To illustrate Clarins’ core values of showing respect to nature and people over 60 years, the brand held a remarkable exhibition at The Bund 3 in Shanghai, featuring five zones: The France Origin, The Garden, The Lab, The Spa and Responsible Beauty.

Media members and guests were invited to discover the world of Clarins through interactive displays ranging from understanding how ingredients were researched in labs, experiencing the different hand pressures during a spa treatment to understanding the brand’s clarion call to “responsible beauty”.

Responsible beauty

The brand embraces one golden rule: if a synthetic ingredient and a plant are equally effective, choose the plant.

Whenever possible, the environmentally ethical brand prefers to use wild plants, rich in active substances and in line with its belief that “plants are precious and must be treated with the utmost care and respect”.

More than 250 different plant extracts are used in the formulation of its products and even after six decades of researching botanicals, Clarins’ researchers believe that these plants have not revealed all of their remarkable riches.

To ensure that these plants are tapped for their finest qualities, there is ongoing innovation, exacting standards of efficacy, and state-of-the-art development and evaluation tools used.

Clarins, past, present and future: From left, back row: Christian and Dr Olivier; middle row: Virginie, Serge Rosinoer (loyal adviser), Prisca and Jenna; seated on floor: Claire.

The brand’s adoption of good laboratory practices has led to Clarins Laboratories being awarded A-rated accreditation in 2007, the highest status awarded by the French Agency for Safety of Health Products.

Among its innovative skincare achievements is the patented Aroma-Phyto, which describes the alliance of aromatherapy and phytotherapy, or the fragrance and action of plants.

In what was claimed to be its first intelligent anti-atmospheric pollution complex, it offered advanced protection against all forms of modern pollution, from atmospheric pollution to stress.

Two decades ago, Christian signed an agreement to preserve natural environments and rural development, alongside Pro-Natura International, an association founded in Brazil linking the fight against poverty to the conservation of biodiversity.

Respecting nature also involves protecting populations, so for plant ingredients used in its products, whenever possible, they are purchased according to fair trade rules to guarantee the local population of an existence worthy of human dignity.

Some of the company’s initiatives include safeguarding biodiversity in Mongolia; supplying drinking water and educational manuals in Madagascar; nature conservation in its home ground, France; and regenerating social and environmental ecosystems in China.

It has been a remarkable 60 years for Clarins, and it all started with a man who listened to women to find out what they really wanted.

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