Luxury beauty brand Clarins courts Asian customers

Luxury beauty brand Clarins courts Asian customers
The new Clarins White Plus Pure Translucency Tri-Intensive Brightening Serum
PHOTO: Clarins

There's been a major pivot in the beauty world to pander to Asian customers of late.

Not only that, beauty products especially skincare are now tested on Asians.

This was unheard of earlier when Asian consumers would just buy a foreign brand, never mind if the skincare was suited to a cold climate or the make-up applied to fairer skin tones.

So, it's not only a timely pivot, it makes sense.

One of the first brands to see this was Clarins, the French cosmetics empire with a heritage in the spa business.

Clarins created the Shaping Facial Lift and White Plus ranges specifically for Asians.

In April last year they created their first eye cream for this market, based on genetic differences between Asians and Caucasians.

In Kyoto last December they launched their newest Clarins White Plus Pure Translucency Tri-Intensive Brightening Serum.

"With this new serum we wanted something to meet Asian women's needs," says Dr Olivier Courtin-Clarins, managing director of the Clarins Group.

"We found Asian women use a lot of skincare products, by layering them. So, it's important to create a lighter texture for layering," Courtin-Clarins explains.

In a nutshell the new Clarins White Plus Pure Translucency Tri-Intensive Brightening Serum gives women spotless, fair skin with a healthy glow.

Courtin-Clarins says he is very proud of this new serum as it's a real breakthrough in skin brightening care, thanks to a scientific discovery.

This scientific discovery was made through Clarins Research' collaboration with the Institute Curie, which spearheads studies on melanocyte, the cell responsible for skin pigmentation.

Mastering melanin behaviour

In whitening skincare, brands have been focusing on melanocytes - the only cell that produces melanin responsible for skin pigmentation - says Marie-Helene Lair, international scientific communication director.

"But it doesn't operate alone and is stimulated by other cells. Our latest discovery is really a breakthrough in terms of whitening," she stresses.

"We discovered a new pathway, a new means of melanogenesis together with Institute Curie."

"They research on a specific type of skin cancer; melanoma and that is why they decided to work with us on melanin behaviour and the effects of UV exposure," Lair explains.

"Clarins Research has discovered a new cause of hyperpigmentation through the mela exo system."

"The skin's environment depends on permanent communication between melanocytes and keratinocytes."

"When skin is exposed to excessive UV rays all keratinocytes (the major cell of the epidermis that forms a protective layer on skin surface) instruct melanocytes to deliver more melanin."

Exosomes or messages by keratinocytes order the melanocyte to substantially overproduce melanin and this major synthesis is in addition to the direct stimulation by UV exposure.

"This significant discovery allows us to go further in controlling the melanogenesis process," she sums it up.

This ability to decrease the intensity of dark spots dramatically by acting on the new way of stimulation has been published by an independent scientific publication.

"Our clinical study of this serum on 42 Asian women found a decrease of 60 per cent of melanin production," Lair says.

The key ingredient in the new Clarins White Plus Pure Translucency Tri-Intensive Brightening Serum is the acerola, a fruit known for its high content of natural vitamin C, its whitening benefits and safety.

The "Tri-Intensive" feature works on three areas: contrast, colour and clarity of the skin, with the help of acerola, Lady's Mantle, Sandspurry extract, vitamin C and biotin.

Can this serum help with severe pigmentation? "It can prevent dark spots. To remove dark spots, to be honest, it works through a biological mechanism and requires at least three weeks to see erasing action."

"For removal of stubborn dark spots you need to see a dermatologist. But this serum is suitable for maintaining your skin after a dermatological treatment," Lair says.

All in the family

Heritage is something synonymous with the brand as the family members are also involved in the business.

Courtin-Clarins' twin daughters Prisca and Jenna, 29, were meeting the press for the first time. They are the granddaughters of Jacques Courtin-Clarins, founder of Clarins and the father of Dr Olivier.

Together with their cousins, Virginie and Claire (daughters of Christian Courtin-Clarins, president of the Clarins Group Supervisory Board) they are the third generation and heiresses to the multi-billion dollar Clarins' fortune.

Prisca is the international director of Retail, Spa and MyBlend for the company (see sidebar Spa, strategies and savoir-faire) while Jenna is the Prospective and New Concepts manager for the Clarins Group.

While Prisca is a brunette, Jenna is blonde. Both are slender, model-like and speak with a slight French accent.

Watching these Fendi toting sisters upclose is like a master class in French grooming. Whether dressing up or down, their style is effortless and understated, favouring basic colours.

Mirroring their interests, Prisca is more business-like while Jenna is easy-going.

Jenna's engaging personality makes you feel like you could actually hang out. But then reality sets in when you remember she is the make-up heiress, who goes skiing and yachting for her holidays, while you return to work on your stories during your "holidays"!

These gorgeous twins are off the market as Jenna has a boyfriend while Prisca is planning her upcoming wedding.

What is delightful to observe is the good-humoured and relaxed relationship they have with their father.

On having his daughters onboard, Courtin-Clarins says with a satisfied smile, "I like working with family!"

When the twins are asked whether dad gets the last say on decisions, Jenna says, "He doesn't!" and Prisca swiftly echoes her sister, while dad rolls his eyes and smiles.

Although the twins work at the company they don't see each other every day.

When they are not together, the twins say they constantly keep in touch.

With this closeness, the future of Clarins can only be as bright as it's newest skincare.

The Clarins White Plus Pure Translucency Tri-Intensive Brightening Serum is priced at RM350 (S$116) and available at all Clarins counters nationwide and Clarins SkinSpas.


Spa, strategies and savoir-faire

Prisca Courtin-Clarins, international director of Retail, Spa And MyBlend for Clarins, talks about a new spa concept, her current project and her grandfather's legacy.

What are you currently working on?

I'm working on a big retail concept where we handle our own distribution globally and offer a new boutique experience for clients.

Describe your new Spa & Lunch concept.

Food and beauty complement each other, so I've developed a new spa concept for the brand called Spa & Lunch, which opened recently in Lille. There's nutrition advice from the restaurant, beauty advice from the spa, and a retail and juice bar area. You can enjoy a healthy lunch based on edible ingredients inspired by Clarins' plant world. We are hiring a reputable chef to create a new menu for Spa & Lunch.

Why open in Lille and not in Paris?

It's costly to have a spa in a good area. We were lucky to find a couple in Lille, where the wife is a beauty therapist and the husband a chef, who agreed to help us launch our new concept.

Your grandfather says the Clarins spa is the DNA of the brand, what is so sacred that you would never change?

I would not change the application method which is unique to Clarins. He's a firm believer in never stretching the skin and always selling a product along with the application method.

What was the most important thing you've learnt from your grandfather?

He understood the importance of the right application for each product and he had savoir-faire in developing a method to maximise the product's efficacy. He's also inspired us to 'do more, do better and enjoy doing so' - which we apply to everything that we do at Clarins. In the beauty industry we stand out as we have skincare products and a spa, so we don't really have a competitor.

What's new in 2016 for Clarins' spa treatments?

We are launching the Tri-Active facial treatments, introducing new whitening activator products and new treatment methods.

Through its dual purifying and unifying action, this new treatment evens the complexion while restoring the skin's rosy, transparent glow and velvety look. Then for home use, you can continue with the Clarins White Plus Total Luminescent range.

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