Premium Beauty News - How did you deal with this transformation towards more natural makeup?
Cécile Lochard - We worked hard to apply to makeup what we had managed to do with skincare. Makeup lagged behind for several reasons, the most obvious being that replacing certain ingredients too hastily prevented us from preserving the sensoriality typical of Maison Guerlain. But we had anticipated: for example, it took us over five years to find the right waxes for KissKiss Shine Bloom. It is definitely the trickiest category when it comes to ingredient substitution, but the cosmetics industry has made great progress. Now, we aim to apply this process to all our innovations, in both skincare and makeup. This speeding up consists in developing ever-more high-performing and natural products without compromising on sensoriality, safety, and health.
Premium Beauty News - It is a very technical segment. Does the high performance expected make the challenge even more complex?
Cécile Lochard - We do not want to talk our customers into accepting the fact that their Terracotta is no longer the same on the grounds that we pushed naturalness as far as possible. At Guerlain, we need performance and sensoriality to meet expectations, including with these new formulas. That is why the search for ingredients involves many steps: we need to obtain properties equivalent to our synthetic materials’. We have worked hard with our partners and historical suppliers. Guerlain had never invested so much in innovation in “natural beauty”. That is how we managed to make these three iconic launches. Besides, Candice Colin, the founder of the Clean Beauty application, integrated our External Ethics Committee as soon as she created the app, three years ago. She challenges our ecoformulation approach as a whole and supports us with this launch.
Premium Beauty News - What about ecopackaging?
Cécile Lochard - We work on the packaging and the formula eco-design at the same time. But we do sometimes make progress step by step. Again, for Terracotta, the formula goes far beyond the 90% of ingredients of natural origin we had aimed for, since we obtained 96%. But we were not ready to develop a new case: we need to take the time to make analyses and find out what will be most environmentally “profitable”. As far as makeup is concerned, the ecopack parameters vary. For Guerlain, it makes more sense to choose refillable solutions for heavy products, like our ultra-premium ranges, and to favour new materials for lighter creations. Although we are not done yet with eco-design for these three product possibilities, we did not want to put a halt to the advances achieved with the formulas.
Still, it should be said that at Guerlain, every new pack corresponds to an environmental performance index and should obtain a higher mark than the previous pack. So, there are changes in terms of materials and weight, only they are not always visible.
Premium Beauty News - Could you tell us about the achievements obtained with the Bee Respect platform intended to provide transparent information about the composition of Guerlain products?
Cécile Lochard - Bee Respect was launched in January 2019. First, we presented our skincare products, then our makeup products, and then gradually, our perfume catalogue. At the end of 2021, 100% of our products will be traceable. We launched it in France first, but we will have more precise and relevant feedback when the platform is launched on the Chinese market in late 2021.
However, we were pleasantly surprised with our customers’ curiosity. Traffic is increasing. The site is very well-perceived by the people who know about it. Guerlain was a pioneer in this field: we anticipated the huge transparency expectations in the luxury segment. Obviously, the sanitary crisis strengthened the demand for more transparent, traceable, and natural products. It was a catalyst, although Maison Guerlain had been long committed.
Premium Beauty News - What are your projects as Maison Guerlain’s new Chief Sustainability Officer?
Cécile Lochard - We need to go even further. Our new President, Véronique Courtois, aims to go even faster with ecoformulation and ecopackaging. Sustainable development is taken into account on a daily basis in our innovation processes. She really wants to embrace this issue. And she is also committed to speeding up awareness of bees’ preservation, since the bee is the emblem of Maison Guerlain and of biodiversity. We are going to work on education about our totem and explain why it is vital to preserve biodiversity.
I think Guerlain is unique in that it has drawn inspiration from Nature for almost 200 years. To us, it is important to work on this relationship through sustainable, natural ingredient sourcing and local audits on honey, orchids, royal jelly, but also neroli, ylang, roses, etc. We audit both the environmental and social aspects for continuous improvement. It may not be the most appealing criterion for consumers, but to me, luxury does not exist without biodiversity.
It is a very upstream, sourcing-oriented strategy which makes our products qualitative. Of course, we can share beautiful stories, but above all, we need tangible evidence.