It was evening in the bustling city of Beijing, China, where we were poised to meet the founder of luxury French skincare, Sylvie Chantecaille. Her namesake beauty brand Chantecaille, is not only a champion of premium natural skincare, but an advocate of wildlife conservation through its many philanthropic efforts.
Greeting journalists from Singapore, Sylvie, dressed in a tailored white tweed jacket and matching skirt, appeared weary from travel but with a brightness in her eyes, full of enthusiasm and curiosity. At 71, most people would’ve eased into a retirement pace, but Sylvie showed no signs of stopping. Perhaps the fact that Chantecaille is a fully family-owned business, with her daughters Olivia and Alex as the Creative Director and Vice President of Sales and Promotions; son Phillippe as the director of Media Productions and husband Olivier, the Chief Financial Officer – Sylvie and her family has to work extra hard to deliver cutting-edge skincare with sustainable ingredients, all without compromising on quality.
With over 40 years of experience in the beauty industry, Sylvie has worked for Estée Lauder Companies and was a key figure in the launch of the brand Prescriptives. Sylvie shares, “I was very interested in science when I was working for Prescriptives, it was a brand that was the most advanced scientifically, but there were a lot of reported allergies. When I started my own company, I told myself that I wanted to create a brand that is really good for women.”
Even though the concept of natural skincare is common these days, back when Chantecaille was first created, the idea was unheard of. They were the first to base all their products on botanicals, with rosewater as a key ingredient found in most of Chantecaille’s skincare products.
Focus On Products
Sylvie also had a “product first” approach when it comes to her brand. “I knew that when I started, I would put a lot of money in the products, and that was not always the practice for other brands within the industry,” shares Sylvie. “They would spend a lot of money on packaging or advertising but not on the product.” As formulating good products often take several iterations and can rake up research costs, the end product might take longer to materialise, but Sylvie is proud of every single product launch.
Heart Of Rose
At the heart of most formulations in Chantecaille lies rosewater, often used in place of regular water, creating an extraordinary base for the product as it is soothing and rich in antioxidants like vitamin C. Formulating products with cutting-edge technologies proved difficult at a time when there was little research on natural skincare, but Sylvie persisted and the fruits of her labour came through with products harnessing the powers of plant stem cells and other powerful botanicals.
Why Go Natural?
Skin is the largest organ of a human body, and naturally warrants the utmost care and attention. Commercial skincare products have been known to contain ingredients like phthalates, sulphates, detergents, mineral oil, petrolatum, palm oil, synthetic colours, synthetic fragrances and GMOs, which in recent researches have shown links to skin irritation and allergic reactions.
Commenting on why people should turn to natural skincare, Sylvie says, “They will see their skin changing, they will see that their skin is healthier and more radiant. I think everyone who has come to us have wondered why they haven’t started using natural skincare earlier.”
Since 2006, Chantecaille has launched several conservation efforts highlighting different wildlife and environmental causes.
The first of Sylvie’s “cause-metics”, The Monarch butterflies’ ecosystems along their migration routes have changed vastly due to deforestation, putting them on the endangered species list.
Fueled largely by Asia’s demand for shark’s fin soup, this incredible species sees a population decrease of 95 per cent in the last 40 years. Sharks play an important role in the marine ecosystems and would inevitably affect humans in the long run.
Elephants are Sylvie’s favourite animals and they’re known to be intelligent and social. The ivory trade puts them in danger, and the entire population of African elephants could be decimated by 2025 if left unchecked.
This collection pledges to plant trees in Kenya, under the Attenborough Foundation to combat the effects that global warming has on the melting polar ice caps.
TEXT: ARISSA HA / PHOTOS: CHANTECAILLE