With a new wave of skincare products hitting shelves, you no longer have to choose between efficacy and gentleness.
It was once the case that, when it came to skincare, you sat in one of two camps. You wanted the most active, pore-zapping, skin-sizzling ingredients that incited results (often with a side of redness or irritation) within a matter of days. Or you wanted only the most natural, plant-infused creams and tonics, which, to be completely honest, sometimes fell short when it came to measurable results. Now, thanks to savvy formulations and forward-thinking companies, the two seemingly binary opposites of plant-based ingredients and ultra-actives can happily co-exist in our skincare.
Christian Courtin-Clarins, president of the supervisory board of French skincare powerhouse Clarins, has made it something of a personal crusade to better utilise plant-based ingredients and make it a “golden rule” of the storied company. The proof is in the brand’s reformulation of its lynchpin product, Double Serum Complete Age Control Concentrate, the eighth iteration of the wonder product that originally launched in 1985 and has become as recognisable outside of France as the brand itself (the seventh formulation is currently the best-selling Clarins product in Australia). When I met Courtin-Clarins a few years ago in Australia – by then the five-year reformulation would have been in development phase – he was giddy about his recent purchase: a entire farm in the Alps so the brand can continue to sustainably access these plant-based star ingredients.
“EVENTUALLY I STARTED TO LEARN WHICH INGREDIENTS WERE GOING TO BE GOOD FOR MY SKIN”
Today, on a bright, spring day in Paris, the brand’s singular motive is unwavering. “It’s always important,” says Dr Olivier Courtin- Clarins, managing director of Clarins Group who, together with brother Christian, inherited the brand from their father and company founder, Jacques. “We bought a farm in Europe, in the Alps, to put more plants in our products, but also to research the quality of the ingredients.” The eighth instalment of Double Serum still embraces the brand’s unique dual-chamber of oil-soluble and water-soluble ingredients, the two neatly fusing together on application. Where it differs from its predecessors is in its 20-plus high-performing plant extracts.
“We continue to study how it’s possible to improve the five vital functions of the skin and we only relaunched because it’s more efficient,” says Olivier, who deems regeneration, oxygenation, nutrition, hydration and protection as the pillars of skin health. In collaboration with Belgium’s School of Medical Studies, Clarins found a link between skin ageing, plant-based ingredients and lipid microdomains, which control the skin cells’ ability to “chat” to other cells. It seems, during the ageing process our cells lose the ability to communicate as well as they once did, which outwardly shows up in dullness, loss of firmness and more visible pores. This is down to the fact that lipid microdomains are found in cells integral to the skin’s barrier function and those that promote a youthful complexion. Uniquely, of all ingredients, plant-based and otherwise, Clarins found turmeric (a hot topic in skincare) enhances skin cells’ communication abilities, a breakthrough in preserving the skin’s barrier function. Consider turmeric extract the skin cell’s best friend. It not only advocates communication between cells, it also promotes “listening”, prompting better two-way messaging and therefore healthier functioning skin overall. Meanwhile, a handful of organic ingredients such as quinoa, goji berry and ginger lily have antioxidant properties and boost the skin’s overall energy.
With the reformulation of Double Serum, Clarins is tapping into the epicentre of today’s wellness movement. Consumers are increasingly clued in to exactly what they’re putting in their bodies and, evidently, on their skin. A 2016 study found more than half of women in the US, and nearly twothirds of millennials, read the ingredients list of beauty products before they check out, with skincare being the top category of beauty that women plan to purchase allnatural products. Everyone, it seems is a backseat dermatologist, knowing what should and, more importantly, should not show up in their skincare.
Tiffany Masterson is evidence of this. The Texan mother of four and self-taught skincare guru drilled down on the ingredients of products and set out to create a skincare line that focused on clean, essential, high quality ingredients. The distinctly named Drunk Elephant marries synthetic and natural ingredients (happy bedfellows, it turns out) while eliminating what it deems “ubiquitous toxins, sensitisers and irritants”. “It’s authentic, the logo, colour, packaging, formulations, the brand message,” says Masterson of the brand, which in just five years has garnered a cult following for its no-nonsense approach. “I haven’t looked at other brands: I’m not competitive with other brands, but I knew there was a point of difference by just living my life.”
Like Masterson, one friend went on her own personal crusade to ensure her beauty regimen was both efficacious and packed full of natural elements. She Googled obscure ingredients (her benchmark: anything she couldn’t easily pronounce), and tossed those she understood offered no benefit to her complexion. “It was difficult at first, but eventually I started to learn which ingredients were going to be good for my skin, and I’m beginning to see and feel subtle differences,” she says. Her skin, after an initial adjustment phase, is projecting its newfound health via overall brightness, uniformity and plumpness. Modern brands, it seems, are seeing the difference.
CLARINS DOUBLE SERUM COMPLETE AGE CONTROL CONCENTRATE, 50ML FOR $135.