Although flowers have featured in beauty potions since time immemorial, modern science continues to isolate and harness their most powerful properties. Here are the latest advances in skincare research on our favourite blooms, report Nafeesa Saini and Yanni Tan.
Chanel: The Camellia
A hundred years have passed since the inception of the Chanel No. 5 and in that time, the maison has earned a reputation for harnessing the crème de la crème of flowers for its skincare. Its latest blockbuster beauty collection – the No. 1 De Chanel – serves as further proof of this. At the heart of the range is the camellia, the brand’s emblematic bloom and Gabrielle Chanel’s favourite flower.
Since 1998, Chanel has been cultivating the flower in open-sky laboratories in Gaujacq village in the southwest of France. The camellias are grown in the ground using agricultural practices that place minimal pressure on the environment. The project is a collaboration with camellia expert Jean Thoby, whose botanical conservatory garden is home to the two mother plants of Camellia Japonica Alba Plena.
Chanel’s research uncovered the benefits of the red camellia extract from the “Czar” species of the Camellia Japonica. The odourless flower possesses an enduring quality demonstrated by petals that remain unaffected by water or the cold. Hand-picked at full turgescency, they contain protocatechuic acid, a powerful and nutritive molecule unseen in the camellias previously analysed.
More specifically, this species shows a remarkable ability to support skin vitality, and this attribute has been translated into the No.1 De Chanel range that addresses the first stage of skin ageing. Rich in antioxidants, it rejuvenates skin and preserves its youthfulness.
The collection’s formulas feature up to 97 per cent natural and renewable ingredients, of which 75 per cent of them are camellia derivatives. To reduce wastage, various parts of the plant are incorporated in the formula and packaging. The extract is used for its renewing properties while the camellia water functions as a soothing aid. The oil, obtained by pressing the seeds, maintains the complexion’s moisture, while the seed shells are used in the Revitalising Cream’s packaging.
The range comprises nine products, including the new Powder-To-Foam cleanser that becomes creamy upon contact with water. Other skincare products include a pore-tightening lotion, a revitalising serum, a smoothening cream and an accompanying eye cream to target dark circles and puffiness.
As for makeup, red camellia oil is infused into the hydrating foundation, and lip and cheek balm. The Léau Rouge Revitalizing Fragrance Mist keeps skin fresh all day while also functioning as a fragrance. The camellia is odourless, but its scent is reimagined as a floral bouquet of jasmine, orange blossom and rose.
Guerlain: The orchid
A cult beauty elixir for over 15 years, the luxurious Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Cream is synonymous with the most advanced skincare research on orchids. Endowed with extraordinary longevity, these blooms offer many powerful cosmetic anti-ageing properties. The latest R&D from Guerlain’s Orchidarium has unlocked the secret of infinite longevity – found in the deepest roots of an extraordinary duo of orchids chosen from over 30,000 species.
The first is the Gastrodia Elata, which is a legendary herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and grown in the mountainous regions of Yunnan and parts of China. Apart from its exceptional regenerating properties, a precious fraction extracted from its roots is found to immediately fight a lack of cell oxygen and have a protective effect on skin cells. The second is the Dendrobium Fimbriatum, which lives on the surface of tree trunks or branches, and has an extraordinary survival ability. It incredible aerial roots, in particular, synthesise a wide variety of molecules.
The regenerative power of the roots of both orchids is now concentrated in the cutting-edge Orchid Totum technology. Composed of a wide variety of molecules, this molecular extract helps to regulate cell respiration, fight hypoxia, and for the first time, target a longevity enzyme, PHD3, that can dramatically reverse the visible signs of ageing. The discovery of the enzyme was the result of Guerlain’s collaboration with the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
Apart from the Orchid Totum, this 2022 re-edition of the Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Cream also boasts an exceptional sensory feel infused into a formula made up of 96 per cent naturally derived ingredients. Ultra-fine, soft and emollient, rich and plumping, the cream offers all-day hydration. After seven days’ use, study subjects aged 18 to 72 were found to have skin that looked three years younger, based on the comparison of dermis density using around 6,000 skin ultrasounds. Clinical evaluation by dermatologists also reported a marked improvement in the visible signs of ageing, from a boost in radiance to reduction in wrinkles to increased hydration.
Designed like a precious jewel in its case, the jar of the new Orchidée Impériale Cream has been carefully conceived to minimise its environmental impact: It is refillable, recyclable, and made from 40 per cent recycled glass and 100 per cent recycled plastic. Its weight and volume have also been reduced to lower its carbon footprint. The cream is also complemented by the Micro-Lift Concentrate, and the Eye and Lip Contour Cream.
Dior: The Longoza
The secret behind Dior’s Capture Totale range is the longoza flower, grown in the maison’s garden in the heart of the Indian Ocean. The island country of Madagascar is home to a biodiverse ecosystem that boasts 13,500 endemic flowers, of which 75 per cent is unable to grow elsewhere.
In the Ranomafana area of the rainforest lies a dedicated Dior garden, which combines traditional hand-harvesting with a rigorous method of extraction. For 30 years, the house has been studying the legendary longoza. The scarlet flower, which means “eternal” in the Madagascan language, never dies and grows back when cut, earning its nickname as the “Phoenix flower”.
The longoza is able to revive itself in the most uncompromising of environments. As an extract in skincare, it offers a mighty regenerative quality in the face of cellular fatigue – a condition where cells struggle to renew and absorb nutrients, and the complexion becomes vulnerable to visible signs of ageing. The extract comes to the aid of the skin’s mother cells, resetting them with powerful nutrients to restore radiance to the complexion.
This year, after five years of research, Dior unveils its breakthrough development of the Longoza-Ferments Blend – a first in the Capture Totale range. The bio-technology solution is created through a 10-step flash multi-fermentation process, during which the flower is put into contact with 10 ferments for 10 days. In its natural state, longoza seeds contain 50 active molecules. This innovation maximises their active molecular content, triggering an optimal efficacy and ability to be absorbed by skin.
The newly launched Capture Totale Intensive Essence Lotion contains a 75 per cent infusion of this potent blend. This high concentration helps the skin cells to achieve the house’s pillars of skin quality that includes clearness, moisture and strength. With daily application in the morning, skin is reset for the day. Plumpness and radiance are restored, while signs of fatigue and stress are visibly reduced.
The lotion is also infused with a hyaluronic acid duo of high and low molecular weights. Together, these hydrate skin from deep within and on the surface. Lightweight with an ultra-fresh and quick-absorbing texture, it is best applied before the Capture Totale Super Potent Serum for a powerful pairing that smoothens wrinkles and firms skin.
Clé de Peau Beauté: The rose
Inspired by detoxifying spa treatments and backed by cutting-edge science, the Synactif collection of Clé de Peau Beauté was launched in 2004 and sits at the pinnacle of the luxury Japanese beauty brand’s offerings. It targets skin’s natural processes of removing impurities and supports skin’s self-beautifying system for a youthful, radiant, sculpted beauty.
A complete and holistic regimen, Synactif delivers a combination of efficacy and experience – and the latter is in part endowed by a key ingredient: the Synactif Rose. Cultivated by France’s renowned Delbard nursery, it was first commissioned in pursuit of a fragrance that would embody the relaxing, harmonious and purifying qualities of the Synactif line.
So perfect was the result that the rose won the Best Fragrance Award at the Bagatelle International Rose Competition. In fact, the fragrance is inspired by the moment the flower blooms, releasing its precious scent for a mere few hours in the mornings of May. It was then incorporated into each step of the Synactif regimen to offer the ultimate sensorial experience.
Last year, Clé de Peau reformulated the range by adding new ingredients, but the objective of the Synactif routine remains the same: to improve skin tone, texture and contours by targeting the lymphatic capillaries in the skin. Lymphatic capillaries, which function like a drain, run throughout the body to collect fluid and impurities that cannot be carried away through the veins. And recent research at Clé De Peau’s lab has found that our lymphatic capillaries lose their ability to purge toxins from our bodies as they degenerate and transform with age.
To halt this process, Clé de Peau has infused its Synactif line with a new Purifying Beautifer, an innovative complex made with extracts from mulberry white bark, lamium album leaf and cinnamomum cassia bark to prevent the loss of lymphatic capillaries while repairing damaged ones.
The Purifying Beautifier is showcased across the entire six-step Synactif routine, which features the Soap, Lotion, Daytime Moisturizer, Nighttime Moisturizer, Cream and Eye Cream. The Lotion’s new formulation also boasts a rose extract to attract and lock in moisture, along with intensive brightening ingredients – the total effects of which impart the skin with a dewy radiance, enhanced clarity, improved tone and texture, and more resilience.
(Main and featured image: Camila Bustamante)
This story first appeared in the March 2022 issue of Prestige Singapore.