Creating A Clean, Green Comfort Zone
A skincare revolution is taking place in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, where beauty brand Comfort Zone is meeting ambitious goals in scientific research and sustainability, enhanced by inimitable Italian style.
Famed for its architecture, art and music as well as its delicacies including Parmesan cheese and Parma ham (prosciutto), Parma is also home to one of the most sustainable and game-changing beauty brands in the world, Comfort Zone. The picturesque north Italian region is the perfect location for the brand that has the beauty of the planet and its people at the core of its philosophy. What started as a family-run haircare brand in 1983 has evolved into a beauty brand that is not only showing how the beauty industry can lift its game, but also how business can be run without costing the earth. Davide Bollati, President of Comfort Zone explains, “The next 10 years are fundamental to reverse the current economic and social paradigm that has become unsustainable. ‘Economy’ and ‘Ecology’’ have the same etymological matrix: we must return to their right interdependence and balance to regenerate our planet and society.”
Bollati certainly walks the talk when it comes to systemic change towards sustainability, starting in 2005 when the “Carta Etica” was written to provide a transparent vision of their work ethics. They started using electricity from renewable sources in 2006, becoming completely carbon neutral in 2017. Going one step further, the newly released Sacred Nature collection is carbon negative, with the company removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it is generating for the production of the range. This is due to choices made in design and production, as well as to the proprietary EthioTrees CO2 compensation project and through participation in the 1% For The Planet initiative, with a percentage of profits donated to support environmental and social sustainability projects.
In 2016 the Group obtained B Corporation certification, and throughout the world they run various sustainability projects including restoring the forest ecosystem in the Tembien highlands in Ethiopia and being involved in a carbon neutrality plan for the whole of Parma. “I am convinced that a major commitment to the transition to the green economy or, even better, to a regenerative economy, is not necessarily the solution to all our problems, but is the best possible strategy for our species today if we want to maintain, and possibly improve, our future quality of life,” says Bollati. Together with over 100 other companies and organisations, Comfort Zone has also signed the Recovering from the pandemic with a New Green Deal in Italy manifesto to re-establish and relaunch the ambitious European Green Deal project that promotes an advanced, decarbonised, circular economy.
THE HOUSE OF SUSTAINABLE BEAUTY
Comfort Zone is not about a product, or a brand. It’s about a way of life, which starts at the home of the brand – the Davines Village in Parma, Italy. Designed by worldrenowned architect Matteo Thun, the Davines Village is a place where ethics and aesthetics co-exist in harmonious balance. Built in 2018, the complex covers about 11,000m2 (20% of the total area) and includes spaces dedicated to offices, training, Research and Development laboratory, production plant, warehouse, and a large central greenhouse used as restaurant and co-working area. The remaining spaces (80% of the total area) have been allocated to green areas, designed by the renowned landscape architecture studio, Del Buono Gazerwitz. They include different gardens, a scientific vegetable garden in which are cultivated some of the plant species used in their cosmetic formulations, and Green Kilometre, a strip of vegetation whose function is to protect the area from the emissions coming from the nearby motorway. The Green Kilometre, an initiative conceived by Davide Bollati, is based on the studies of Professor Stefano Mancuso, Director of LINV (International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology), University of Florence, and its aim is to inspire other companies in the area to replicate a green belt along the 11 kilometres of motorway that cross the Parma area.
The Scientific Garden, encircled by a laurel hedge and espalier plane trees is an on-site open-air laboratory and home to more than 6,000 plants from around the world including medicinal and aromatic plants, as well as vegetables and fruit trees. It’s the starting point for all product research and development to grow, harvest, extract and test plant-based ingredients for the phyto-nutrient performance and potency. “The idea of a botanical garden dedicated to scientific research has always been in my mind,” says Bollati. “Science and nature – the two souls of our brands – can co-exist, enabling us to offer sustainable, clean beauty.” The selection of the varieties is the result of cooperation between the Davines Laboratories and the University of Florence – together they identified the properties of the various species that were relevant for the
“THEY STARTED USING ELECTRICITY FROM RENEWABLE SOURCES IN 2006, BECOMING CARBON NEUTRAL IN 2017.”
development of products by Davines, Comfort Zone and Skin Regimen – their brands dedicated to haircare and skincare. Priority was given to species with antioxidant properties, such as the cornel tree and osmanthus plants; anti-inflammatory properties, such as hibiscus; and boosters of micro-circulation, such as yarrow. They also have an arboretum with trees of the countries where their brands are distributed, to celebrate the interconnection they have with their partners and their local landscapes and communities. Bollati instructed the landscape studio to include areas dedicated to specific plants, according to their function – such as cosmetic, edible or ornamental – in a harmonious, distinctive and beautiful layout.
“The dream was to make it easy for the experts from our R&D team to access it, while also being restorative and inspiring for members of our team, who can walk or work there,” says Bollati. “I also envisioned it as an enjoyable, educational experience of wellbeing and recharging that we can offer guests.”
In true Italian style, everyone is welcome to the Davines Village, and if you’re able to visit you’ll join the team in a three-course lunch in the on-site restaurant with seasonal menus by a Michelin-starred chef made from produce grown at the Village. Nature, sustainability, community and wellbeing are the key words characterising the village, seen through the choice of materials and design, as well as the sustainable technical and building choices.
The new complex is focused on sustainable energy, waste reduction, optimisation of natural resources, and saving of non-renewable ones. The energy needs of the Davines Village are completely met by 100%-certified renewable sources, such as photovoltaic panels, a solar thermal system, an air duct system, and a geothermal system that can work all year round by exploiting an underground aquifer, whose water is then returned to the ground, maintaining a constant level. The use of special filters guarantees very high quality air in the production plant, whose requirements are very close to those demanded by the pharmaceutical industry. Microbacteriological contamination is also kept at bay with an effective osmosis system. The complex also has 10 charging stations for electrical vehicles and a dehydration system for organic waste to be used in the garden. To minimise waste, only reusable cups, glasses and cutlery are used, and there is a ban on coffee pods and drinks in plastic bottles.
DOING BUSINESS FOR GOOD
In 2016 the Davines Group joined the family of B Corporations with the purpose of improving their positive impact on people and the planet. As a B Corp-certified business, the Davines Group meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability. When it was certified in 2016, the company achieved an impressive score of 99.3. For recertification in 2020, this jumped again – to 117.4. “We have achieved this milestone over three
years of ongoing commitment, during which we have involved all company departments in a wide-ranging joint effort to increase the Group’s environmental and social sustainability,” explains Bollati.
“The company has chosen not only to invest in actions with a direct sustainable impact, such as the use of machines that are sanitised with steam rather than chemicals, or the creation of benefits to increase staff wellbeing, but also in actions with an indirect impact, focusing on the education and involvement of each collaborator in order to recognise everyone’s tangible contribution.”
The company has ambitious goals to further improve their practices and reduce their ecological footprint. “Our production processes will constantly improve and set a benchmark in the cosmetics industry, becoming even more innovative and respectful of the environment and people. Our carbon footprint will decrease to net zero,” says Bollati.
CARBON NEGATIVE SKINCARE
A product’s positive impact on the environment is determined by many factors that arise throughout the course of its life, from its creation to its production, distribution, use and, finally, disposal. Many products claim to be sustainable, because of one ingredient or one part of the process but at Comfort Zone the goal is to be sustainable in every aspect of the product and business.
“We need to rewrite the progress,” explains Bollati. “A product has to be part of the solution, instead of part of the problem: this means to embrace regeneration and revolutionise the way we formulate, select the ingredients and design our ranges.” At Comfort Zone, a product’s sustainability is measured at every stage of its life cycle, using two different assessment methods: the Strategic Life
Cycle Assessment (SLCA) for a qualitative assessment, and the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for a quantitative assessment. Best possible practices are also used for production, packaging, distribution and disposal.
The company also selects environmentally friendly ingredients that are safe, effective, high quality and sustainably sourced. The launch of the new Sacred Nature capsule collection is a game changer when it comes to sustainable, ethical and bio-regenerative skincare. The product range is not only carbon negative, it is also vegan, Cosmos Organic, EWG VERIFIED and free from silicones, parabens, mineral oil, artificial colorants and SLS. All with independent clinical testing for proven efficacy to deliver results. Using bio-fermented, organic ingredients grown in Italy, the range supports regenerative agriculture, biodiversity and local communities.
The range is also combined with additional specific biotechnological actives for each individual formulation to defend the skin against environmental aggressors, stimulate cell renewal and optimise skin balance and resilience. “I believe every company can find meaningful ways to protect nature, to support re-forestation and the use of clean energy, as well as ensuring the people who work with and for them are educated to respect and benefit from it in a sustainable way,” says Bollati.
The Italians are certainly showing the industry how it can be done.
While hormonal imbalances, environmental factors and harsh chemicals, as well as low-quality skincare can have adverse effects on our skin, diet and nutrition can play a huge role in how our skin functions. mindfood.com/ditch-these-foods-for-glowing-skin
“A PRODUCT HAS TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION, INSTEAD OF PART OF THE PROBLEM.”
DAVIDE BOLLATI, PRESIDENT