A couple of weeks ago I was invited by Chanel to discover their latest skincare products and makeup collection with Armelle Souraud, International Director of Scientific Communications for the brand. Among the new and exciting things Chanel has launched, we were introduced to the latest makeup palettes and products by Lucia Pica, such as the new Rouge Coco Glosses (which I’m really pleasantly surprised by!); the latest addition to the Hydra Beauty family, the refreshing and gelatin-like Micro Crème; and last, but not least, the Blue Serum. Inspired by the Blue Zones—places in the world where people live the longest and healthiest—Chanel has created a universal serum using a trio of active ingredients from three of these intriguing locations: green coffee from Costa Rica, olives from Sardinia and mastic gum from Greece. I spoke with Armelle to find out more of what was behind the inspiration and development for this much-anticipated product from Chanel Beauty.
How did the idea for this product come about?
Longevity is something that we wanted to explore for many, many years. When we speak about ageing—we don’t want to speak about [how to] combat [ageing] anymore. It’s a more positive approach to ageing. It’s more something you’ve got; a sort of potential, a beauty capital. You want to preserve and you want to prolong; you want to cultivate [it] in a long-term way. We know that each woman has really a key role to play in—to nourish a youthfulness and a healthiness, and that’s why I think it’s interesting, because it’s really part of our DNA; of the vision of Mademoiselle Chanel. She created the first [Chanel] skincare product in 1927. At this time it was extremely modern. It was based on her vision of women and inspired by simplicity, freedom and comfort. But she also had a holistic approach to beauty. Which means that beauty is not only taking care of your skin but it’s a more global approach of a woman as a whole. And she really did love lifestyle products. So this product is an extremely good illustration of when we speak about a holistic approach to beauty. This product was really built as a new approach to ageing. More positive, that includes healthiness, wellness and usefulness. It’s also a way to say to women: if you want to be beautiful, to feel beautiful, you have to take care of yourself in a more active way, starting with the right beauty products but also adding specific health suggestions in your way of life.
According to the research of the Blue Zones, there’s not just one thing you can do. It’s a combination of these things.
Yes. The Blue Zones were really the source of the inspiration because they are longevity hotspots where people live longer, healthier lives. We saw that those people have a specific lifestyle, but specially a healthy diet based on locally sourced food ingredients. Because we have a lab dedicated to the creation of natural active ingredients, we’re always interested in analysing lots and lots of plants that could make sense for [a product]. We were really interested in the food and the plant ingredients that are part of the food of the people living in these fascinating areas. So we selected the green coffee, the olive oil and the mastic gum. It’s interesting how Chanel can transform them to create very pure and powerful concentrates that we then put in our serum. At the end, this product is healthy food for your skin. 20% of ageing is linked to your DNA, but 80% is linked to the way you’re living. So if you want to take care of yourself you have to add some essential products to your beauty routine.
How long was this product in development?
From the first time that people were interested in developing the product, I think it took four years of development. Because at the beginning you’ve got very interesting plants and ingredients that you’ve found, but you also have to master and control the harvest of the plant. Then you have to develop the specific technologies just to extract the quintessence of each plant. We don’t want all the molecules of the plant, we only want to keep what’s essential, what the skin needs. Then we formulate the product, test the efficacy and safety of the product. All these steps take around four years.
That’s really interesting—to be able to look ahead in terms of marketing for a beauty product… Serums right now are really big but they weren’t maybe four years ago. And this idea of ageing with grace is also really big right now with all the runways and campaigns having models of all ages. Was this shift in strategy from anti-ageing to longevity the reason behind the Blue Serum?
It was part of the concept of the product we wanted to develop. We wanted to develop a product that could make sense for women who want to have healthy looking skin, first. Then we were inspired by these longevity hotspots. And also, we didn’t have a universal serum in our range and it’s something that women from all around the world are looking for; a serum that is a must-have in your beauty routine that you use as a first step and can really boost any product you apply after. For the young woman who wants to have a very short beauty routine it can, for example, boost their moisturising cream. The woman that has a more sophisticated beauty routine and wants to target some specific needs can use this serum in combination with other serums, but this serum has to be the first. It was designed to be applied first because it’s very fresh, very light and very quickly absorbed.
So it’s for every woman. You can be 18 and start using this, or 30, 40, 50, doesn’t matter.
Yes. That’s what we wanted to create with this product. You get visible results. If you’re looking at the first signs of ageing, for example some wrinkles, you can see visible results. But if you want to preserve, to protect your capital, you can use it as well. And after, for women who want to target signs of firmness, of ageing, it works. We tested this product on different women of different ages, different skin types coming from everywhere in the world to be sure that it met the needs of women everywhere; for it to be a universal beauty product.
An inclusive beauty product…
For Chanel, there is no age to be beautiful. Time is beauty. The concept here is that we don’t have one definition of beauty; one age to be beautiful. The objective is to say to women, to guide them to reveal their natural beauty, not to correct or to transform. It’s really a more positive, holistic of approach to ageing. To say to women just to be themselves. We all want to be ourselves, only better. Whatever your age, you can be beautiful, you just have to be true to who you are. So we guide women to build that personal beauty routine, whatever their age and whatever their way of life.
If you had to define each decade of a woman’s life with one Chanel beauty product, what would each one be and why?
It’s difficult because we don’t really speak about age when we speak about our products. Because depending on the way you’re living at 25, for example, and depending on your DNA, at 30 you can have a lot of wrinkles and sometimes at 50 you don’t have any because you’ve always protected your skin, so it’s difficult. But, for me, perhaps, what is key for younger women is to moisturise your skin, to protect your beauty capital and preserve it. This makes sense for the modern woman today because we’re living in a very aggressive environment and our skin is the barrier. So even if you don’t smoke, even if you protect your skin we know that there’s a lot of stress, a lot of things that you have to live with so it’s always better to help your skin, to coach your skin in the right way at the beginning. And then, after, it’s more about knowing yourself better. With age, you know a little better how to balance who you are and what you look like. Some wrinkles you want to live with but others, maybe they make you look angry and that’s not who you are. So at the beginning, it’s more “I know that I have a potential that I want to protect and preserve” and after, it’s “I just want to fine tune [my skin] to be sure that it’s really truly connected with myself”. For younger women, you capitalise on cleansing efficiently, hydration and UV protection. And with time, you develop a very singular and personalised evening beauty routine with the right products, to help your skin repair and regenerate.
Coco Chanel lived to be 88 years old, which in 1971 at the time of her death, was above average for someone born in 1883. Do you believe she shared some of the more abstract lifestyle characteristics of the people living in Blue Zones? Purpose, spirituality, social connection?
When Mademoiselle Chanel created her first skincare product she was really inspired by her vision of the woman and the fashion she created. It was really about simplicity and freedom. But, concerning her approach to beauty, she really had a holistic way of thinking about it. She really spoke about discipline; you have to take care of your mind and body, you have to sleep. She spoke about exercising regularly, she had a positive attitude, and a healthy diet was also part of her convictions. It was very modern. When we speak about a holistic approach to beauty, it makes sense because it was really part of our DNA and the vision of Mademoiselle Chanel.
It’s also very sincere. It’s very honest for a beauty brand to say “skincare is not the only thing you need”. You need to take care of yourself.
Yes. Everything you do to take care of yourself has an impact on your beauty.
“At 20, your face has been given to you by nature; at 30, your face has been fashioned by life; at 50, it is up to you to deserve it.”