With a new wave of skin­care prod­ucts hit­ting shelves, you no longer have to choose be­tween ef­fi­cacy and gen­tle­ness.

VOGUE Australia - - Contents -

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.


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.


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