June 28, 2021BRANDS
L’Occitane is one of the most recognisable beauty and skincare brands in the world. One of its best-selling products is its miniature hand creams, which you’ll find on every beauty editor’s must-have list. The brand is synonymous with its Provence origins and its focus on the idea of taking inspiration from the world around us. While L’Occitane is a brand with a rich heritage, it’s also got its eyes fixed on the future with a commitment to sustainability and protecting our natural environment.
If you’ve stumbled onto this guide, it’s likely that you’re thinking of making a purchase from L’Occitane or that you want to get the know the brand better. We’re taking a deep dive into the world of all things L’Occitane to find out more about what makes it so popular and a household name across the world.
Spoiler alert: L’Occitane is one brand that you’re going to fall in love with. Grab your credit card and be ready to make a few impulse purchases!
Read on to find out more about L’Occitane and what the brand stands for, along with its sustainability commitments. We’re focusing on the sustainability and ethical philosophy that makes the brand stand out from the crowd.
The story of L’Occitane begins in the markets of Provence, France. It began as a small truck and was founded by 23-year-old Olivier Baussan who began to distil rosemary essential oil to sell locally from the truck. He used his knowledge of plants to create natural products, including oils and soaps. Baussan took his inspiration from the Provenance countryside and the natural beauty of the world around us.
The origin of L’Occitane continues to influence the brand’s development and story. It’s committed to showing off the very best of what Provence has to offer. Everything that L’Occitane does is to help preserve the natural environment that acted as the original inspiration behind the brand.
L’Occitane’s philosophy is built on the idea that “nature matters, people matters” with sustainability and ethical supply chains at the heart of the brand’s production.
When it comes to talking about a beauty brand, it’s only right to deep dive into the ingredients that they use. At L’Occitane, the brand is committed to using high-quality natural ingredients that are traceable. The brand uses over 200 different botanical ingredients, with a quarter of them being organically certified. They hand select their ingredients based on their effectiveness and the way they react with your skin.
Every ingredient is used at its ideal concentration, practising natural ingredients wherever possible. Instead of using petrochemical-derived oils, the brand uses vegetable oils that work better with our skin. All of the ingredients used by L’Occitane are ethically sourced and chosen with care.
L’Occitane is one brand that is involved from the ground level up, getting to know their raw ingredients and suppliers from the inside out. They’re actively involved in everything from the basic seed through to the finished formula and product.
The brand works directly with over 130 French farmers and 10,000 pickers who are located everywhere from the lavender fields of Provence to the fields of Corsica to secure high-quality and sustainable ingredients.
L’Occitane has four commitment pillars that drive everything that the brand does. It sees nature as the model behind its brand, drawing inspiration and using it as a means of driving innovation. When choosing ingredients, L’Occitane focuses on its four pillars of traceability, sustainability, fairness, and quality.
Traceability focuses on knowing exactly where the ingredients have come from. L’Occitane works with local producers wherever possible, in order to reduce and regulate their carbon footprint, while also helping to support local businesses and promote the social fabric of the Provence region. The brand gives priority to the small networks that bring added value to the producer and allow L’Occitane to fully trace the ingredient from being a seed to being in the finished formula.
Sustainability is a focal point of the brand’s work. They’re committed to making no compromises when it comes to protecting endangered species or the communities that work with them. L’Occitane carry out effectiveness tests and experiment with combining ingredients that meet the cosmetic needs of the market.
Fairness is another pillar for L’Occitane. The brand is focused on building partnerships, including through multi-year contracts with its producers. L’Occitane guarantees its partners a minimum purchase volume and a fair price. Several of the brand’s suppliers for ingredients like shea butter, argan oil, and orange blossom floral water are fair trade approved. The brand also donates a percentage of the purchase price for these products towards local development projects.
Quality is the fourth pillar for L’Occitane. They have a specific specification that all their ingredients and technical partners have to meet. Their key ingredients are primarily organically derived, guaranteeing the absence of chemical inputs. The harvesting of wild plants is overseen by the brand’s sustainable harvesting guidelines to help protect the integrity and habitat of such plants.
Some of the main headlines of L’Occitane’s four pillars include that they have:
• 30 traceable ingredient supply chains with 50% organic certificated
• 80 partnerships with farmers
• 10,000 pickers working for L’Occitane across France
The brand launched a large-scale organic immortelle plantation programme in Corsica. This initiative focuses on respecting the environment with equality and fairness. The project brings together ten different Corsican growers and distillers, using organic farming methods and contracts that cover up to seven harvests to give these communities the stability that they need.
Shea butter is one of the key ingredients for L’Occitane. The founder of L’Occitane, Olivier Baussan, discovered shea butter during a trip to Burkina Fason in 1980. It was the beginning of a joint sustainability partnership with the women in the community who produced the shea butter. Since 2015, L’Occitane have been developing projects that focus on protecting the shea tea and reducing the environmental impact of the production of shea butter, while maintaining the local skill base. Over 10,000 women are working within the local industry and sell their shea butter at a price point that is twice that of standard shea butter, thanks to these initiatives.
Another one of L’Occitane’s pledges focuses on six commitments for protecting our planet and treating people with respect.
For respecting biodiversity, L’Occitane use only traceable and sustainability sourced ingredients wherever possible. They ensure that the plants are cultivated and harvest in a way that doesn’t harm the environment or surrounding biodiversity. They’ve also developed supply chains that help to protect local plant species. L’Occitane launched the first organic immortelle plantation in Corsica and have helped to bring almond trees back to Provence, while working to protect lavender production that has been under threat by climate change. L’Occitane has an ambitions aim to protect 1,000 species and varieties of plants by 2025.
Supporting producers is the second pillar and focuses on the relationship between L’Occitane and its producers, which are based on trust and mutual respect. They have long-term and non-exclusive contracts with their producers, ensuring that they pair them a fair price and offer technical and financial support. L’Occitane aims to have a Fair-Trade relationship with all of their direct producers by 2025.
The third pledge is to reduce waste. It’s part of L’Occitane’s three Rs – recycle, reduce, and react – which focuses on the impact of plastic pollution. The brand offers a recycling service in most of their stores and have partnered with TerraCycle to tackle difficult-to-recycle packaging. They also offer refills and are striving to make their packaging as environmentally friendly as possible. The brand aims to ensure that 100% of their bottles are made using 100% recycled plastic by 2025, with 100% of their stores offering a recycling service.
Commitment number four is for empowering women. L’Occitane firmly believes in the idea of gender equality and empowering women. Through their work in Burkina Faso, they are helping women to make their own shea butter as a way of gaining independence. The brand’s Foundation has helped these women to access everything from microcredits to literacy programmes and education for children. Every year, L’Occitane sell fund-raising products to promote women’s leadership. By 2025, the brand aims to be supporting 60,000 women in their socio-economic development.
The fifth commitment is caring for sight. If you’ve ever seen a L’Occitane product, you’ll have notice that there is braille on the packaging and that they sell fundraising product to help fight preventable blindness. The brand partners with UNICEF and NGOs, along with working through their foundation, to support those who are blind or visually impaired. L’Occitane’s goal is to enable 10 million beneficiaries to have access to eye care within the next few years.
The sixth and final pillar of L’Occitane’s philosophy is about celebrating craftsmanship. The brand recognises that artisanal skill is disappearing and that it is more important than ever. L’Occitane works with local craftsmen to showcase their talents and work with them to create exclusive products that celebrate their traditional artisanal skills. The brand wants to continue to support artisans and share their skills and stories with other.
What do you think of L’Occitane? Is it a beauty brand that you’re interested in? Does its sustainability mission make you more likely to purchase from them? Let us know in the comments below!