Édouard Mauvais-Jarvis, Environmental and Scientific Communication Director at Dior on the future of skincare and science
Édouard Mauvais-Jarvis, has been a key player in the developments of the House’s skincare innovations since 2007. As both the scientific director and the internal scientific and technical spokesperson for the Dior House worldwide, Mauvais-Jarvis is a key player in developing new and innovative skincare products that will carve out the future by addressing issues such as anti-ageing and environmental factors that affect the skin. This year has been challenging for all, and the lifestyle changes have also had an effect on our skincare choices and what women (and men) are looking for from their products.
One of the most recent developments from the brand is the newly renovated edition of L’Or De Vie La Crème. Nine years since its initial inception, this iconic cream has been redesigned with a new formula that offers even better results on the skin. A new super-concentration of Yquem sap, a youthful elixir for the skin and key ingredient in the product, allows for signs of ageing to be visibly reduced and the firmness of the skin to be restored. The precious and key ingredient of Yquem Sap occurs naturally and is a powerful antioxidant capable of targeting more than 200 longevity factors. Its action on the multiple enzymes and mechanisms linked to ageing and cellular oxidation give it extraordinary anti-ageing powers. By harvesting vine shoots at the beginning of spring when the sap is at peak concentration, Dior Science has succeeded in tapping into unprecedented molecular richness. Now present in super concentrated levels, its molecules provide extra protection from oxidation and fight against visible signs of ageing like no other Dior Skincare product has done. To find out more about the latest launch, as well as the future of science in skincare, we talk to Édouard Mauvais-Jarvis.
This year has been quite different, do you think the approach of women towards skincare has changed at all with differing lifestyles throughout 2020?
What we have been observing worldwide since the beginning of the crisis it that there has been a refocus on skincare. It’s a matter of going back to basics. People want to be safe and safety means comfort and the notion of aesthetic appearance has become secondary to health and taking care of our skin. There is an increase in the consumption of skincare products worldwide in all countries and this is something understandable, especially due to the fact that we are all wearing face masks. Wearing face masks can be aggressive on the skin and it means that our faces are subject to more humid conditions. This humidity also triggers a reaction that produces dryness and there are rubbing points on the face where wearing masks can cause irritation. So people are adapting to this increased need for comfort and soothing products that will treat and care for their skin.
What in your opinion, is the new normal for skincare?
It’s quite different. We have always had this notion of skin types and of using a different product in summer and winter because of the climate. But the “new normal” of wearing a mask throughout the day means that this idea of the outside air being cold or hot is not so relevant. So we are actually, when it comes to our face, going to see a more equatorial climate throughout the year. It’s more like being in a tropical climate all year round. One thing we are noticing is that people might like to have a more light-textured product around the mouth but the rest of the face can still be subject to drier or colder conditions. So the new normal is quite different in terms of our skin ecosystem.
We also need to look for formulas that protect against the rubbing that face masks are causing. Many years ago I worked on a product for feet – you might think it’s quite different from skincare for the face – but when you are working on foot products you are looking at a part of the skin that is enclosed in a sock or shoe all the time, so it’s not breathing and is enclosed in more humid conditions. This triggers dryness as well as rubbing points that get irritated. So interestingly this can be applied to what we are seeing now with face masks and having to deal with products that offer comfort and repair as well as avoiding rubbing points.
When it comes to make-up it’s going to be a matter of looking for non-transferrable products. Interestingly while lipsticks are not doing so well, eye make-up and brow products are exploding. Eye skincare has had a huge increase in purchases too because as much more focus is put on this area, it increases the visibility of our eyes. It is the part of the face from which we are now reading the emotions and intentions of a person, as we cannot see their mouth. So a lot more details that previously would have gone unnoticed are being seen and that is causing customers to be more conscious and protective of the eye area.
What do you think is the future of the perception of beauty and what will customers want from their products moving forward?
I think they will want simplicity and even more sustainability from their products. My vision or dream perhaps, is that instead of selling jars of products we will be selling a service: we tell the customers “we are going to sell you one year of youth”. We send them a jar of product and once it’s empty, they send it back to us and we send them another full one. So the concept of packaging disappears. We will simply be selling cream, not selling jars. And it can be the same for fragrance or makeup. For me in the future, we need to see the idea of throwaway packaging disappear.
Tell us about the newly renovated La Crème L’Or de Vie – why did you decide to redesign this cream and how are the results better from the product with this new concentration?
We had two objectives when we decided to renovate this cream. We wanted to make it more efficient and at the same time, we wanted it to be much more natural and able to be more infused with the skin’s structure. So we had to completely reinvent the texture, changing the real backbone of the structure of the formula and we had a very important increase in naturality. Despite completely changing the formula, we had to stay in the same kind of signature so that we do not lose our loyal customers. Essentially, we have maintained the signature but with different ingredients. It was difficult – but in the end, we have something that’s more compatible with the skin’s structure, meaning it’s penetrated better into the skin, it’s more nourishing and more easily absorbed, so it feels lighter on the skin’s surface. And this is exactly what clients are looking for today.
What can you tell us about the new super-concentration of the key ingredient Yquem Sap, and the results it has on the skin?
As we wanted to include more of the Yquem Sap, with the previous structure of the formula it was not possible as we were at saturation point. So in terms of stability, we could not add any more. This is why we had to change the architecture of the product, which allowed for more of this crucial ingredient. By doing this, we have gone one step further in terms of anti-ageing efficiency, so it has better results.
What do you think is important to women today when it comes to the ingredients of their skincare products?
They want everything, which can be difficult! People want natural but efficient. They want sustainable but natural. And sometimes they don’t realise the implications of their choices because want they want is not always realistic. Sometimes if a product is more natural it is difficult to maintain the same efficiency and being natural doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be well-tolerated by the skin. Sometimes trying to be more natural doesn’t make it more environmentally friendly, because natural ingredients might require more energy to be produced for example. So there are lots of contradictions that most of our clients do not realise, because for them it’s simple. So the hard work comes down to us! We try to have more natural formulas when we can, but while trying to maintain everything else in a balanced way. We are making a very relevant improvement in naturality to improve everything else in the formulas.
How would you explain the true science behind anti-ageing and is it something we should see as preventative or a problem that can be fixed once it’s begun?
Ageing is a continuous progressive process that occurs from around the age of 25. This is around the point that you stop growing and start ageing and it’s something that just goes on. What we have identified and is at the heart of what we are trying to do with La Crème L’Or de Vie, is the idea of “transcription factors” which are molecules that our bodies tend to produce over time that get fixated on the DNA. These transcription factors change the way the DNA is expressing itself; for example, they can change young cells into behaving the way old cells do. Within every old cell, there is still a young cell that doesn’t even know that it’s young anymore and this is because we are programmed to age. What we have found is that the active ingredients in L’Or de Vie are not only blocking some external factors such as oxidation (it is one of the best antioxidants on the market), but it’s also slowing down these transcription factors that encourage the young cells to behave like old ones. So when using this product, the cells are rediscovering that if they are told to behave in a different way they can! Of course, it is more technical at the DNA level, but this is exactly how it works. So we have found a way to address this and when you remove the transcription factors you have really good results in terms of anti-ageing because you are regaining the potential of the cells in your skin.
We have also recently found more interesting molecules that have properties linked to repair. They can enhance the synthesis of collagen and cell regeneration. With Dior L’Or de Vie La Cure, for example, we have a combined action, which helps us to have one of the most powerful anti-ageing products.
To answer the second part of your question, I think it’s better to prevent it on young skin because, at that point, you don’t have anything to correct. It’s a matter of having cells that are able to do the right thing and if your cells are behaving like young ones, they will be on the side of repair. But of course, you can use the same anti-ageing products at any age.
How important is it to protect our skin from the environment?
There are numerous environmental factors that we must be aware of – the level of moisture or dryness in the air, pollution, UV light, etc. We are submitted to many environmental aggressions daily and it’s something really important to consider. As I said, L’Or de Vie is one of the best antioxidants on the market and it’s clinically proven to be more efficient than vitamin C for example. It will not replace a UV block, however – UV light is probably the worst enemy we have, so rule number one is to avoid the sun or protect yourself. It’s crazy how irritating and dangerous it can be for the skin. When it comes to SPF, things have evolved a lot and everyone now uses a much higher SPF than twenty or thirty years ago. This has changed the way people age and there is a noticeable difference.
Another enemy is oxidative stress, caused by our way of life, lack of sleep, etc. Lack of sleep makes you age faster; when you have less sleep your skin tends to neutralise less of the oxidative stress and also you generate more information in your skin which speeds up the ageing process. Smoking cigarettes is another huge generator of oxidative stress and it destroys your skin. All of these aspects are key, but I do think there have been big changes in the last ten years and there is much more awareness of how what we do today can have a big impact on our future.
Since you began your career how has technology evolved to assist in the development of formulas?
In my industry, we are constantly looking and trying to understand what science is doing today and understanding what it can bring tomorrow. There is a complete revolution in the world of the cosmetic industry. Raw material suppliers are working very differently today on the way they source ingredients, their carbon footprint etc. and everything is becoming more sustainable and ethical. We are looking at alternatives to things such as silicone and petrol-based products and every day there are new possibilities. So I think the formulas that we will have in ten years will be completely different from what we have today. We will have many new ingredients coming – mainly nature-based – that will be completely different; and that will revolutionise the industry.
From a biological standpoint, we have a much better knowledge of how the skin is working and also a better understanding of genetics so it’s becoming easier to de-code the genetic make-up of each person. We also have the means to process it now, thanks to technology and its incredible capacities. This allows us to progress and I do believe that in the future we will have a more personalised approach. We are all dealing with the same processes of ageing but certainly not all at the same level. In my opinion, in the future, we will be able to identify different profiles of ageing and define different approaches that are more relevant to each individual. One of the big lessons of the pharmaceutical industry in the past 20 years is that the idea of having the same medicine for everyone is not always realistic. So I think we will move further down this path and have a more personalised approach that can look and adapt to the way of ageing of each individual.
Tell us one reason why we should buy La Crème l’Or de Vie?
Christian Dior’s dream was to make women not only more beautiful but happier and I think we make products that not only provide youth and beauty but also happiness through their quality and the results and I think that really makes a difference.