Sleep it off

Woke to the dam­ag­ing ef­fect fa­tigue has on our com­plex­ions, a her­itage skin­care com­pany rises to the chal­lenge. By Remy Rip­pon.

VOGUE Australia - - VOGUE BEAUTY -

Con­sid­er­ing it took three forms of trans­porta­tion – a boat, three planes and a mini­van – and over 30 hours to ar­rive at the birth­place of plant-de­rived skin­care brand L’Oc­c­i­tane in France’s Provence re­gion, I need lit­tle con­vinc­ing that lack of sleep shows up on the skin. Half-moons of dark, sal­low skin frame my eyes and my over­all com­plex­ion ap­pears drawn and a lit­tle off-colour, like it’s lost its zing. But while a deficit of sleep shows up in­stan­ta­neously (hello, jet-lag face), the cu­mu­la­tive ef­fects of on­go­ing sleep de­pri­va­tion, in con­junc­tion with en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors that also stress the skin, have been found to af­fect ev­ery­thing from col­la­gen pro­duc­tion to the cre­ation of fine lines and loss of over­all glow.

“It’s an in­ter­est­ing fact to know that we are sleep­ing two hours less than in the 60s,” says Bene­dicte Le Bris, re­search and de­vel­op­ment gen­eral man­ager for L’Oc­c­i­tane. “It’s be­com­ing a health is­sue, and it has an im­pact on your skin.” Re­searchers are now as con­cerned about the ill-ef­fects of per­pet­ual tired­ness on the skin as they are about pol­lu­tion, stress and even sun dam­age, pre­cisely be­cause they all have one thing in com­mon: the abil­ity to al­ter the way our genes are ex­pressed (the study of which is know as epi­ge­net­ics). “The key for this prod­uct and how we build our in­no­va­tion was around epi­ge­net­ics,” says Le Bris on the im­pe­tus for the brand’s lat­est in­no­va­tion to curb the ef­fects of fa­tigue, Im­mortelle Re­set Oil-in-Serum.

While most of us learnt in high-school sci­ence classes that the DNA we’re born with can’t be al­tered (most def­i­nitely still the case), Le Bris ex­plains that even though ev­ery­day ex­po­sure to the el­e­ments won’t go as far as al­ter­ing the ge­netic code of our skin, it may tweak the way our genes be­have. “The gene gets locked be­cause of the ag­gres­sion and they don’t per­form as well – the sig­nal to the cell to pro­duce what it needs to, say col­la­gen, is blocked,” she says. “Epi­ge­net­ics is the sci­ence that found that it’s not by chance or by ac­ci­dent that it hap­pens, but it’s be­cause of ag­gres­sors.”

In the sim­plest sense, she ar­gues that our skin’s abil­ity to re­gen­er­ate, su­per­charge col­la­gen and elastin, dial up hy­dra­tion, and pre­vent age spots and a host of other con­cerns can be, over time,

‘switched on’ with the for­mu­las in our beauty cab­i­net. It’s also why, for the launch of Im­mortelle

Re­set, re­searchers at L’Oc­c­i­tane are more broadly ad­dress­ing skin fa­tigue – a col­lec­tive term for many fac­tors in­clud­ing stress, sources of pol­lu­tion and lack of sleep – and have iden­ti­fied the evenings, when the like­li­hood of be­ing bom­barded with these en­vi­ron­men­tal tor­men­tors is re­duced, as the op­ti­mal time to nix it.

“When it’s time to go to bed, there is a nat­u­ral in­crease in the hor­mone mela­tonin, and cell turnover slows down, so it’s eas­ier for cos­metic prod­ucts to pen­e­trate the skin,” says Le Bris.

Ad­her­ing to its own cor­po­rate DNA, L’Oc­c­i­tane turned to na­ture, iden­ti­fy­ing a trio of ac­tive in­gre­di­ents to ‘wake up’ the genes. “We’re very close to na­ture,” says L’Oc­c­i­tane global skin­care di­rec­tor Raphaelle Ar­cham­beaudSi­cot, ges­tur­ing not only to our prox­im­ity to the brand’s vast Provençal farm­land, where it part­ners with lo­cal farm­ers to cul­ti­vate plant-based in­gre­di­ents such as al­monds and laven­der, but to the for­mu­la­tion.

Mar­jo­ram, a close rel­a­tive of oregano which, in an­cient times, was even placed un­der­neath pil­lows to pro­mote a rest­ful slum­ber, works like an alarm clock to rouse the genes that were muted by out­side in­flu­encers. “We didn’t know the rea­son why they did this in an­cient times, but now we know the rea­son is epi­ge­netic, be­cause we’ve been able to prove that the mar­jo­ram is pro­tect­ing 33 per cent of the cells in­volved in the ex­ter­nal ag­gres­sion,” says Le Bris.

Af­fec­tion­ately dubbed ‘na­ture’s Botox’, the for­mu­la­tion is also spiked with acmella ex­tract, which re­laxes the tiny mus­cles in the epi­der­mis that lead to fine lines when they are per­pet­u­ally con­tracted due to stress.

The plant-based duo make up the serum por­tion of the oil-in-serum for­mu­la­tion. As for the oil, over 3,000 tiny golden bub­bles are sus­pended in the serum and burst with L’Oc­c­i­tane’s hero in­gre­di­ent, im­mortelle. “Ours is the best,” laughs Le Bris of the anti-age­ing pow­er­house in­gre­di­ent, of which there are over 500 va­ri­eties. This par­tic­u­lar strand of im­mortelle, hail­ing from Cor­sica, not only pro­tects the bar­rier of the skin from pol­lu­tion, it boosts cir­cu­la­tion too.

The re­sult­ing for­mu­la­tion is proof a plant-based prod­uct is no less gutsy than its syn­thetic coun­ter­parts. A sin­gle pump of the dual-tex­tured con­cen­trate de­liv­ers a neat droplet which morphs from a gel-like tex­ture to a silky serum as the im­mortelle bub­bles erupt and set­tle into the top layer of skin.

As sen­so­rial as it is on ap­pli­ca­tion, the for­mula’s real prow­ess comes into play overnight. “It was very in­ter­est­ing for us to deep-dive into what is hap­pen­ing with the skin dur­ing the night,” says Le Bris, who teamed up with the Paris-based Euro­pean Sleep Cen­ter, which mea­sures ev­ery­thing from the du­ra­tion to the qual­ity of sleep of its par­tic­i­pants. To test the noc­tur­nal ben­e­fits of Im­mortelle Re­set, par­tic­i­pants were given a spa treat­ment us­ing the oil-in-serum be­fore re­tir­ing to bed. Re­mark­ably, they re­ported a 40 per cent in­crease in qual­ity of sleep when com­pared to the pre­vi­ous seven nights’ sleep with­out a treat­ment and the use of the prod­uct. “Even the doc­tor said to us: ‘Wow, this is im­pres­sive for a spa treat­ment,’” says Le Bris, clearly chuffed with the re­sults.

It isn’t dif­fi­cult to see why. While a spa treat­ment may be linked to bet­ter sleep, a re­cent study by North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity, Chicago re­searchers found ev­i­dence that fa­cial mas­sages may even re­duce the vis­i­ble signs of age­ing. Re­sults like these are the rea­son L’Oc­c­i­tane also sug­gests a self-ad­min­is­tered mas­sage tech­nique, which kicks off the re­lax­ation process. The goal is to en­sure the prod­ucts fil­ter into the skin, boost blood flow and calm the mind. I at­tempt the method – mas­sag­ing a few droplets clock­wise be­tween the brows, along the cheek­bones, and pres­sure points – be­fore re­tir­ing to a cloud-like bed and drift­ing off for a full eight hours. Re­set, in­deed.

“When it’s time to go to bed, there is a nat­u­ral in­crease in the hor­mone mela­tonin, and cell turnover slows down, so it’s eas­ier for cos­metic prod­ucts to pen­e­trate the skin”

L’Oc­c­i­tane Im­mortelle Re­set Oil-in-Serum, $90.

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