Lancôme’s First Sustainability Initiative Elevates Women and Protects Endangered Species

Biodiversity and social inclusion pave a new way forward for luxury skincare brand Lancôme.

In the wake of parent company L’Oréal’s bold sustainability initiatives, Paris-based Lancôme is launching its first sustainability effort, called “Caring Together for a Happier Tomorrow.”

The three-pronged initiative includes commitments to protect biodiversity, helping people make sustainable choices, and empowering women.

“Lancôme is a brand that has long had a ‘caring’ facet,” Françoise Lehmann, Lancôme global president, told WWD. “It has always been very close to women and their concerns.”

Protecting Biodiversity

“Bring the World to Bloom” is focused on protecting biodiversity, namely through innovative agricultural efforts, eco-conscious formulations and packaging, as well as implementing greener tech and biotechnology in product development. This mirrors efforts by L’Oréal, which include green science as a means to phase out petrochemical products historically difficult to replace.

“We are researching new extraction methods with green chemistry to create high-performing ingredients,” said Lehmann. “Thanks to biotechnology, we create nature-derived ingredients, which contribute to limiting the use of raw vegetal materials.”

Already, 99 percent of the roses used in Lancôme makeup and skincare products are organic; the company says it will hit 100% by 2025. By 2030, all raw materials be recycled or sustainable, the company says. At least 70 percent of the brand’s ingredients will be from renewable sources by 2025; 100 percent of its major raw materials will be sourced both sustainably and socially responsibly by 2030.

“What inspired us a lot for this worldwide operation was the acquisition of the domain in Grasse,” Lehmann said. The Grasse location grows Centifolia roses and other plants in the South of France for Lancôme products. It purchased the estate last year.

“The more we dig into this domain, the more we find great things and inspiration for other initiatives,” she said. “It has all what we have in mind in terms of best practices.”

The company is also taking a unique approach to protecting plant species in the formation of a three-year partnership with France’s National Museum of History. It will work to help protect 24 endangered plant species. It will collect seeds of endangered plants, sending the seeds to seed banks and working with experimental gardens.

“The Live Responsibly” initiative will focus on orienting people to more sustainable habits at the consumer level. This includes more options for refillable, rechargeable, and recyclable opportunities.

“Next year, we are going to extend this recharge/refill program with the launch of refillable fragrances, and other big pillars in Lancôme’s range will also be refillable,” said Lehmann.

By 2023, half of Lancôme’s products will be refillable or rechargeable. In China, it’s already recycled more than 2 million units.

Elevating Women

Much of Lancôme’s success, according to the brand, lies in generations of women sharing product with their children, their grandchildren, their friends.

It’s now taking that same approach in empowering its customers through the “Write Her Future” program. While it launched in 2017, it remains a core focus in its sustainability initiatives to empowers women through philanthropic efforts focused on literacy, mentoring, and entrepreneurship. It expects to more than double its beneficiaries by next year to 50,000.

“It is to give women self-confidence,” Lehmann told WWD.

“There is this idea of approaching the future [with the desire] to leave something better to the next generation, which is also this idea of Happier Tomorrow and doing better with less,” said Lehmann.

Now, as L’Oréal and Lancôme are scrutinizing their products from conception to distribution, every facet of the company is changing. Lehmann makes it clear: “care and happiness are in the DNA of the brand.”

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