“In the plant kingdom, there is an answer for everything.”
In 1954, medical student Jacques Courtin opened his beauty spa on rue Tronchet in Paris offering a variety of treatments and massages. Along with the massages, he began to develop his own creams containing essential oils which increased the effectiveness of the massages. Word spread and his customers enjoyed the results so much that they asked to purchase his formulations for home use.
Right from the start, Jacques Courtin-Clarins set his company apart from the competition by insisting that Clarins use only natural, plant-based ingredients rather than the artificial chemicals that were prevalent in skincare and beauty products of the time. His first product was the Masvelt Body Shaping Cream, designed to streamline the body contour and help eliminate cellulite.
It’s a testament to the quality of his original products that many of them are still sold today. For a product range to exist after all this time is unique in the industry.
Along with effective products, Clarins developed comprehensive application methods for every part of the skin, so that women could get the same results at home that they had enjoyed in the spa.
Today, Clarins offers comprehensive video libraries on their sites showing the massage and application techniques that customers can use at home to maximize the effectiveness of their Clarins products.
“For us, just formulating a product is not enough. We have to create a home-application technique to optimize its effectiveness.”
The actual Clarins name was a kind of “good luck charm”, born out of Jacques Courtin’s days in school theatre productions. He once played the part of a character who cared deeply for human and animal welfare. Courtin liked the character so much that he adopted the name for his company, and in 1978 he added it to his family name, thus becoming Jacques Courtin-Clarins.
Knowing this about the founder, it comes as no surprise that Clarins was the first French beauty company to abandon testing on animals. Clarins has always shown responsibility in fair trade and environmental awareness, long before it was common or fashionable. And the commitment continues with their participation in many charitable initiatives such as The Courtin Arthritis Foundation, (founded by Jaques Courtin Clarins in 1989) and partnering with the FEED project which provides school meals to hungry children through the United Nations World Food Program.
Jacques Courtin-Clarins was always fascinated by how plants managed to protect and safeguard themselves. Clarins was the first brand to document the effects of pollution on the skin. Their research originally observed plants growing beside highways and took note of which ones were most resistant to pollution.
For instance, based on this principle of observing nature and how it adapts to different natural and man-made conditions, some Clarins formulations use Ginkgo Biloba — a plant which was the first to regrow after Hiroshima.
“The inspiration of life is to respectfully look at what is happening in nature and see what applications we can apply to cosmetics.”
In the cosmetic world, Clarins keeps its customers informed and educated about the various plant ingredients used in Clarins’ products. They maintain a vast glossary of plants and terms that customers can access on their sites:
It’s part of their commitment to dialog and honesty with their customers.
On a global scale, Clarins supports scientific knowledge and research into plants. Much of the research is guided by the principle of helping to improve human health through the use of medicinal plants. This is seen in their support of the Jardins du Monde project which promotes traditional plant-based medicine in health care — a viable alternative for those who do not have the means to access Western medicine or pharmaceuticals.
With his early adoption of aromatherapy, his research into plant-based ingredients and his respect for women and the environment, it’s clear that Jacques Courtin-Clarins was light years ahead of his time. Today Clarins continues to promote the core values of holistic skincare, honest marketing and environmental sustainability that their founder began in 1954.
1954 – Jacques Courtin-Clarins opens his first beauty spa on rue Tronchet in Paris
1962 – The first Clarins product: The Masvelt “Body Shaping Cream” is sold to women
1968 – Clarins created the customer card, which was inserted in the packaging of Clarins products as a means of listening to and soliciting feedback from women — a core value of the company that continues today
1974 – Christian Courtin-Clarins (one of Jacques’ two sons and a business graduate) joins the company. He is instrumental in distribution of Clarins products to over 128 countries
1984 – Clarins is listed on the Paris Stock Exchange
1990 – Dr. Olivier Courtin-Clarins (Jacques’ other son, an orthopaedic surgeon) joins Clarins and develops products and spas worldwide
1991 – The first Clarins makeup collection launches with the motto: “You, even more beautiful.”
1992 – Clarins acquires a stake in Thierry Mugler Couture and the “Angel” fragrance is born
2002 – The ClarinsMen skincare line debuts
2010 – Virginie, Claire, Prisca and Jenna Courtin-Clarins (daughters of Christian and Olivier) join the company as brand ambassadors and advisors. The family tradition continues.