Sylvie Chantecaille had been working in the beauty industry for over two decades when she decided to launch her own brand. In doing so, she had one clear vision: “to create the cleanest possible products based on plants, flowers, and introducing the newest scientific discoveries.” Some 20 years later, Chantecaille the brand continues to be at the vanguard of the industry, creating luxury skincare from botanical ingredients with a philanthropic focus and a vision to protect the environment.
“Chantecaille was founded on the basis that our products would be environmentally friendly, luxurious, effective, and good for our customers,” the beauty mogul tells The Independent.
And they’ve lived up to their goals. From its inception, Sylvie’s eponymous brand has presaged the next wave in cosmetics, bringing naturals to the mainstream and selling products that give back via philanthropic initiatives that promote wildlife conservation.
The brand has launched 32 conservation collections since 2006, including the Butterfly Lip Chic collection ($48), which supports Xerces Society – an organization that conserves butterfly habitats; Lip Veil ($49), which supports African elephant charity Space for Giants; the Future Skin Cushion Skincare Foundation ($128), which contributes to feeding orphaned baby elephants rescued by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust; and the Luminescent Eye Shades ($52), which gives back to 8 conservation groups protecting vanishing species in Africa.
Chantecaille also has a commitment to being vegan-friendly and cruelty free, having never tested on animals. “There are so many things, on so many levels, that the beauty industry can do to make a positive, rather than a negative, effect on our planet. For example, packaging, production, shipping — these aspects of the industry are creating damage to the environment and must be changed,” says Sylvie, especially when “extraordinary scientific advances over the years, advances that make animal testing unnecessary and easily avoidable."
Chantecaille products are free from sulfates, palm oil, GMO derivatives and fragrances and they have aims to go even further, with a goal to be paraben-free by the end of 2021 and a pledge to be entirely carbon neutral by the end of 2022.
Every year on April 22, Earth Day is celebrated as a global day of environmental action, thought to be the largest secular observance in the world, on which organizations and individuals from across the globe participate in action to promote a healthier environment for future generations. Chantecaille always uses Earth Day as an opportunity to highlight their conservation partners and their own sustainability goals.
With the beauty industry known for generating an enormous amount of plastic waste (the global cosmetics industry produces 120 billion units of packaging every year), how do they plan to achieve this? To start, they’re determined not to be part of the problem. The family has long used glass in the majority of their skincare products and it has been ahead of the refill curve, reducing the need for waste wherever possible.
Chantecaille’s eyeshadow palettes (from $44), and Pebble compacts ($12), are refillable, and in most countries the brand also offers dramming refills of their most popular products, such as the Pure Rosewater ($75), made from hand-harvested French Rose de Mai. The Philanthropy Cheek Shade Refills ($29), have also been recently repackaged in FSC certified paper cartons to make recycling even easier.
Of course, “being eco-friendly doesn’t just concern packaging,” as Sylvie is keen to point out. It’s also about ingredients. “All of our skincare ingredients are non-toxic, natural, and sustainably harvested,” she says. But one of the brand’s biggest achievements by way of sustainability? “How little water we use in creating our products,” says Sylvie.
A decade ago, Chantecaille became one of the first brands to utilize plant stem cells in the formula for their products – requiring nearly 30 times less water than traditional methods of sourcing plant ingredients. “When we realized how little water and earth plant stem cells took to grow such powerful, potent ingredients instead of harvesting a mountain of herbs, we understood that we had something very important in a time where water is becoming a premium in the world,” Sylvie explains.
With their self-renewing abilities, the stem cells are also the ideal foundation for a skincare range. The cells are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules and work with skin to self-renew, helping to calm any redness, reduce fine lines and moisturize the skin leaving it looking plump and glowing.
Chantecaille uses cells from a range of plants in their products, including from tomatoes (in the Nano Gold Energizing Serum, $210), bell pepper (in the Stress Repair Concentrate+ Eye Cream, $199), coffee (in the Bio Lifting Cream+, $345) and willow bark extract, which is a natural source of salicylic acid (in the Purifying and Exfoliating Phytoactive Solution, $88).
“Beauty is a great expression of intelligence, love, kindness, happiness, and generosity,” says Sylvie. “It’s about acceptance and creativity. But to me, more than anything beauty is the joy of life and exhilaration of living.” Never has a sentiment felt quite so poignant as in 2021.
Shop the full range of Chantecaille products at chantecaille.com