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How Does A Beauty Brand Stay True To Sustainable Practices? We Asked La Bouche Rouge

In 2021, the rates of excessive consumption have never been higher. The beauty industry is worth billions and everyday a newer product promising to help us reach the current standard of beauty is released and quickly forgotten about as the next one comes along. One of the biggest marketing tools for the beauty industry is aesthetically pleasing packaging – which is held with just as much importance as the ingredients of a product – but all that packaging results in a rather sizable pile of consumer waste.

Every year, 120 billion units of cosmetics packaging are produced, and mostly for one-time use. Empty containers are often too small for recycling, and mixed-material items end up going straight to a landfill – but there is one brand that is challenging the status quo of the way in which beauty is sold to us.

La Bouche Rouge is the French cosmetics brand that creates quality products whilst preserving the environment – demonstrating that it is entirely possible for the beauty industry to be conscious and sustainable.

The first beauty brand ever to mindfully eliminate the use of plastic at every step of their production process, the chic French brand, noted mostly for their lipsticks, strives to maintain a pure and micro-plastic free development and production strategy. Their highly coveted lipsticks come in leather cases hand made by local artisans in France, and are refillable without a single use of any type of plastic. Moreover, the products are also free of petrochemical derivatives, silicones, beeswax, and animal fats making clean luxury beauty accessible to a halal / vegan market.

La Bouche Rouge is by far the only French sustainable luxury brand and spoke to the brand’s co-founder and conscious visionary, Nicolas Gerlier about its mission and the importance of being eco-friendly.

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For those that are unfamiliar with La Bouche Rouge, tell us what it is…

La Bouche Rouge is the first French, environmentally-focused makeup brand to propose clean skincare serum formulas in refillable, personalize-able cases, free from plastic. Our vision is to create a new form of luxury – one that creates the desire to consume in a more sustainable manner, thanks to beautifully designed objects that endure. By merging traditional French craftsmanship, clean formulas with up to 91% active skincare ingredients and an unwavering commitment to sustainability, we are transforming the realm of beauty.

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What makes LBR stand out in a highly saturated and competitive beauty market?

We were the first brand to commit to eliminating plastics at each possible step, from formulation, to manufacturing, packaging and sales. Our formulas, created in our laboratory in France, are pure and microplastic-free. Our leather cases, handcrafted by artisans following traditional French savoir-faire, are refillable and plastic-free. Today, we are still the only French sustainable luxury brand.

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What challenges do you face as a beauty entrepreneur and how do you find yourself adapting to the current industry status quo?

The beauty industry is the 3rd most pollutant in terms of plastic, and it is essential we tackle this before it’s too late for our planet. 83% of the earth’s water is polluted with microplastics. It is extremely harmful for the environment and toxic for the body, yet remains present in most beauty products. There has been greater awareness around this these last few years, but not enough is being done. That’s why La Bouche Rouge is committed to avoid the usage of plastic from our products to our packaging.

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What made you put sustainability at the forefront of LBR's brand philosophy?

I had been working in the beauty industry for over 10 years, and over this period of time, I saw it evolve, transform and fluctuate. It came to a point where I felt there was an overwhelming number of fake claims and promises with regards to plastic use by brands. As a result, I decided to create my own model, adhering to a single conviction: to merge luxury and sustainability.

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Tell us more about your packaging/refilling concept...

All our products are refillable, and in our packaging, the materials we use are infinitely recyclable or compostable. Our Sérum Noir is the first mascara to be encased in 100% recycled glass. It features the world’s first micro-plastic free mascara wand, conceived from castor plant fibers. Our Poudrier is composed from 100% recyclable metal, is infinitely refillable and houses our highlighter, bronzer and eye shadows. And our lipsticks, of course, are made without plastic, using upcycled or vegan leather.

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Clean/halal beauty is something that is important to the Middle Eastern region, what makes LBR a clean beauty brand?

Clean beauty pertains to ingredient safety and sourcing, which is one of our primary commitments. La bouche rouge makeup is free from petrochemical derivatives, silicones, beeswax, animal fat and microplastics. The ingredients we use are selected for their quality, efficacy and origin. We enure that they are cultivated with respect for the planet, in a traceable manner, as locally as possible.

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French beauty is often perceived as being effortless and all about embracing one's natural self. How has this notion influenced LBR's philosophy and product offering?

LBR is all about enhancing women’s natural beauty, to help give them even more confidence. It’s not about covering or transforming. French beauty, as you mentioned, embodies this notion. All it takes is beautiful skin and a bold, red lip to convey elegance and confidence. Yet a “bouche rouge” (red lip) – aside from being very French in aesthetic – also translates to “using your voice.” This is very important to me – to affirm this revolutionary spirit.

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The brand is best known for its red lipstick - why was that simple product your starting point?

It goes back to my grandmother’s beauty essentials. Several years ago, I uncovered an old, beautiful object of hers that had been purchased over a century prior in Paris’ Place Vendôme. I was fascinated by the quality and durability of the piece.

That was my introduction to beauty, and when I discovered industrial beauty, I was a bit repulsed because it’s truly not the same. We did not invent refillable lipsticks at La Bouche Rouge. We reinvented and updated the refillable, plastic-free lipstick, but our grandmothers and women at the turn of the century already had refillable and metallic lipsticks that they changed throughout the seasons.

Industrialization pulled us away from these everyday objects by transforming them into single-use plastic products, and as a result, nearly a billion lipsticks are thrown away each year and a continent of waste is forming in our oceans.

Realizing the impact they had on the planet, I became obsessed with the idea of reintroducing true luxury into our daily lives. I wanted to create an object that would become a lifelong treasure.

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What more can we expect from LBR's product offering?

Following the introduction of our Métiers d’Art line in spring 2021, which is dedicated to the eyes and complexion, we will be complementing this collection with new creations. Throughout it all, we are committed to following the Kaizen spirit – becoming better each step of the way. We think about our Maison’s long-term vision, and we strive to improve with each passing day. Our goal is to continue to diminish our environmental impact while engaging the maximum number of people – which means we are continuously innovating our product offering.

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Where can we find LBR in the Middle East?

La Bouche Rouge’s collection can be found at Ounass a concept by Muse which is a pop-up in Riyadh Park Mall and Harvey Nichols set to open soon.

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