Why Christian Courtin-Clarins Calls Sustainability “Common Sense”

President of Clarins Supervisory Board Christian Courtin-Clarins also evaluates his daughter Virginie’s efforts to steer the company’s CSR.

Why Christian Courtin-Clarins Calls Sustainability “Common Sense”
Image: Clarins

Christian Courtin-Clarins is a man who walks the talk. Since joining his family’s beauty brand in 1974, he’s steered it from strength to strength. Well-loved for its plant-based formulations and esteemed as a purveyor of responsible beauty, Clarins looks to the post-pandemic future with an eye on “making life more beautiful, passing on a more beautiful planet”. We find out more from the President of the Clarins Supervisory Board.      

How did your love for nature come about?

When I was young, my father Jacques Courtin-Clarins — he founded the company in 1954 — used to take me to the National Museum of Natural History in Paris and share with me his passion for botany. Fascinated by biodiversity and biomimicry, I made these concepts key sources of innovation for Clarins’ research. When you work so closely with plants, you must love and protect them and respect those who grow them.

Why is it crucial for the beauty industry to adopt the mindset of sustainability?

Beauty companies have to care about our ecosystem. Sustainable development is a matter of common sense. Clarins for our part has strived to be exemplary for over 30 years and the awareness of the sector cannot be disputed. The question I regularly ask myself is, now that I know, what do I do next? Clarins is a trustful brand, a naturally responsible and engaged company, one steered by a long-term vision with solid commitments and a double promise of “caring for people, caring for the planet”.

Tell us more.     

I came to understand the concept of biodiversity in 1985. That year, my elder daughter Virginie was born. It was also the year Pro-Natura International was launched in Brazil with the aim of to protect biodiversity, prevent climate change and promote rural development. They show that farming can be carried out with respect to nature – and we have tried to adopt that into our approach.

Christian Courtin-Clarins, with his daughter Virginie. As deputy CEO and head of CSR, she is poised to acclerate the French beauty brand’s sustainable commitments.Image: Clarins

So together with Alp Action, which was created in 1990 to preserve the rich biodiversity in the Alpine region, we initiated a long-term partnership with Asters, which manages natural reserves such as Aiguilles Rouges and Les Contamines-Montjoie Passy in France. In 1999, I felt the urgency to stop using plastic bags. So 18 years before it was required by law in France, Clarins stopped giving out plastic bags. That was a first for the beauty industry! And in 2014, I made the decision to stop using plastic beads in our exfoliating products – several years before that became mandatory by regulations.         

Clarins went carbon neutral in 2020 and aims to achieve plastic neutrality in 2025. What strategies have you put in place?

We are working towards using plastics that are recyclable and setting up an offset programme to compensate for our impact. By 2025, Clarins’ packaging will be 100-percent recyclable. In some of our boutiques in France, you can refill empty bottles of Clarins Eau Dynamisante and Tonic Body Oil. This is a great step towards the circular economy. By 2025, too, 80 percent of plants used in our products will be organic — double what we use now.

Your daughter, Virginie, now steers the company’s CSR efforts as deputy CEO. What do you make of her performance?

Virginie rose through the ranks to become head of CSR with passion and humility. She’s set out a comprehensive plan…to hand future generations a more beautiful world. It’s a very noble goal, an ambition and ideal that pushes us to move forward, to progress, to do more and to enjoy doing so. I am proud of her.

More on your favourite Clarins products here.

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