Interview with a founder: talking to Michèle Evrard of Cosmetics 27

For those of you unfamiliar with what has become one of my favourite skincare lines, Cosmetics 27 (AKA increasingly, C27) is a French brand based in 'Clean Science' that focuses on skin regeneration, health and longevity. Its insanely chic packaging draws you in, before the brand’s high performing formulas get you hooked for life. The star ingredient in every C27 product is Centella Asiatica (also known as Gotu Kola), a potent antioxidant rich in amino acids that I was personally drawn to given my skin’s history of rosacea and sensitivity, both of which it addresses with aplomb.
The other guiding principle of Cosmetics 27? Doing more with less. “Our routines comprise on average of three to four products daily,” says brand founder Michèle Evrard – a qualified pharmacologist, “all other products are, of course, interesting and useful, but not necessary.”
Given that I am SO on board with all of the messages above, when I was given the opportunity to interview Michèle over coffee at Hotel Britomart, I agreed in a heartbeat. She was as preternaturally stylish, refreshingly candid and funny as I hoped she would be, and an absolute joy to spend time with…

You have a background as a pharmacologist, including working in product formulation for major cosmetics companies – is that right?
I trained as a pharmacist, but worked exactly one week in a pharmacy as I’d rather be selling clothes than drugs! I was always fascinated by the chemistry side of things though, the making of formulas from scratch. At the time, 1985, cosmetology was very new and the cosmetics business wasn’t what it is today, but I was desperate to get into a lab and start creating.
I left for an internship in the USA, where I stayed for seven years. I worked with Max Factor, then a L’Oréal subsidiary, then Ralph Lauren fragrances. I came back to Paris to work for Christian Dior in fragrance development, another big name as there just wasn’t the universe of indie brands that there is now. It was all about the big boys.
I then left the industry completely and had a manufacturing plant for dolls as I thought it was a way to create my future, but it was hell. I don’t want a manufacturing plant ever again (laughs)! Also the toy industry is cutthroat – if you thought the cosmetics industry was difficult, it’s got nothing on toys.

So how did you get from there to Cosmetics 27 (or C27 as the brand is increasingly known)?
I went back to my love for skincare formulation and during that time, had a skiing accident that developed into a bone issue. I fell a second time and shattered my leg, resulting in a huge scar that I wanted gone. I was trying to find a way to heal the scar and became fascinated by Centella Asiatica, which my sister’s husband – a doctor – suggested might help.

That is an ingredient largely associated with Korean beauty, am I right?
Yes, and it’s widely used in China and Japan, and in Ayurvedic medicine as well. It’s a regenerative plant, a philosophy which is integral in those cultures. I put a formulation with it on my scar and within one month there was nothing there.
I became obsessed by the plant and its possibilities in skincare as scarring and ageing share similar elements – when a wound happens the skin regenerates, and the effects of ageing are due to inflammation of the skin which is also a kind of wounding. It’s all about repairing the skin and helping it to be at its healthiest.

And where does the name of the brand come in?
It comes from the original baume, the product that started the brand. We worked on a complex that took cica extract – AKA Centella Asiatica – to whole new levels, and the name simply came about because I chose the 27th version of the formula that the lab produced! There are also 27 key ingredients in the baume, so that became part of the story too.

The baume was a huge success, did you envisage having a full line?
For the first 18 months I had that single product, I had no intention of launching a line. At the time the industry wasn’t what it is today and I knew how hard it was to be in the market, the investment it took.
I started working just with doctors only, those who repair the skin like surgeons and dermatologists, but soon found that they weren’t as intrinsically ‘interested’ as much in the health of skin as I thought. So I decided to enter the cosmetics world and added a cleanser and essence, and to me they were the three essentials to use. Again, I had no intention of creating a line! Cleansing is fundamental to me, even if you don’t wear makeup. The Essence delivers hydration and then add the Baume and you have everything you need.

But the collection grew…
It did, as we don’t all live in a stress-free, pollution-free climate, and that can aggravate the skin and cause it to age faster. This is where additional products are needed to repair the skin from various types of damage depending on where you are and what your skin is going through.
We are at 17 products now and we’re still all about skin regeneration, but have added hydration, correction, repair and control.

And your newest release, Concentré 27, directly addresses pigmentation.
Yes, a problem that effects people all over the world due to things like the excessive use of peels, exposure to the sun, hormones, acne scarring and more. The new Concentré 27 is an integrative formula that treats and prevents symptoms while preserving the integrity and regenerative capacity of the skin. Naturally effective, clean and respectful of the skin, this will find its place every routine!
Concentré 27 acts on the release of melanin, with a combination of targeted active ingredients that inhibit the activity of Tyrosinase. But it also contains two heterosides of Centella Asiatica, the C27 regenerative and antioxidant signature plant, which stimulate collagen synthesis, repair skin irregularities and thus slow the appearance of age spots.

Can anyone use it?
Yes. Non oily and for all skin types, it can be used daily as a serum before any daily/night treatment, bringing out your own glow and making you look instantly rested – I love it for travel for this reason.
For an intensive, precise and targeted treatment of pigmentation, it is to be used as a cure for a minimum of two months on the entire face or applied directly to the spots.

Lastly, you worked in the fragrance industry prior to skincare, would you ever be tempted to create a clean fragrance line of your own?
No, definitely not – skincare is difficult enough, creating a clean fragrance is even harder to get right! It’s a totally different business and I would probably create something unsellable that no one could afford (laughs).

I wear a lot of Ellis Brooklyn fragrances, a name that I have found is synonymous with clean but also long-lasting and beautiful scent. Have you heard of that?
Yes, I know that brand! I was given one of their woody fragrances that I loved, but when he left, my ex-husband stole it from me! They do a beautiful job.

For more about Cosmetics 27, visit them at MECCA here.


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