Company Checkup: L’Occitane en Provence
Along with a few others, L’occitane is probably one of the biggest cosmetic companies who describe themselves as natural, at least here in Europe. Maybe (probably?) because of this, my preconception of L’Occitane was that they are greenwashing and not nearly as natural as they claim, even though I have no idea of what their products actually contain.
Seeing as I fly quite a lot these days (yes, bad, bad me), I see L’occitane often, passing them in the Tax free section. Several times I approach the shelf, thinking I should buy something – how come I always get in the mood of buying stuff when I’m in a tax free shop, even things that I think aren’t natural? But when looking at the products (right before going “… naah ..” when I take a look at the price) I noticed that they actually do contain a lot of vegetable oils and other truly natural ingredients as their main ingredients. This is why I wanted to do my second Company Checkup about L’occitane en Provence – to see if they are better than my prejudice.
THEIR OWN WORDS
I sent out the questions in Swedish so this is a rough translation of the replies.
L’Occitane makes skin care products based on aromatherapy and phytotherapy. We use these principles to get the most out of the healing and nurturing properties of herbs and plants which improve our wellbeing by speaking to our senses.
We use essential and vegetable oils, do not perform animal testing and no ingredients from the animal world, save for those that are produced in a beehive. If there is a natural alternative we always use that. Most of our basic ingredients are organic: verbena, immortelle, lavender and so on.
Since the founding of L’Occitane we have followed our three core values: Sensorality, Authenticity and Respect. Authenticity means the authencitiy of our natural and often organic ingredients. Sensorality means that our products should appeal to the senses and be esthetically pleasing; the natural ingredients smell nicely, they feel good on the skin. Respect includes respect for the human race (our charity work through L’Occitane foundation), respect for animals (no animal testing) as well as respect for nature (we use natural ingredients and recycled plastic and paper in our packaging.
We use many natural ingredients and recycled material in our packaging and are very concerned about the environment.
L’Occitane has never tested any products or ingredients on animals.
L’Occitane tillverkar hudvårdsprodukter som är baserade på aromaterpi och phytoterpi. Vi använder oss av dessa principer och tar vara på örters och växters läkande, vårdande effekter som också ökar vårt väbefinnande genom att vädja till våra sinnen. Vi använder oss av eteriska och vegetabiliska oljor, gör inga djurtester och använder inte heller ingredienser från djurvärlden förutom det som kan produceras i en bikupa. Om det finns ett naturligt alternativ som ingrediens använder vi alltid det. De flesta av våra grundingredienser är även ekologiskt odlade: Verbena, Immortelle, Lavendel etc. Sedan L’Occitane grundades har vi följt våra tre grund värderingar: Äkthet, sensorialitet och respekt. Med äkthet menar vi äktheten av våra naturliga ofta ekologiskt odlade ingredienser. Med sensorialitet menas att våra produkter skall vara som sinnesförnimmelser de ser estetiska ut, de naturliga ingredienserna doftar gott, de känns fina och sköna på huden. Med respekt menar vi respekt för människan (vårt välgörenhets arbete genom L’Occitane foundation), respekt för djuren (inga djurtester), respekt för naturen ( vi använder naturliga ingredienser och åtevunnet plast och papper i våra paketeringar). I och med att vi använder så mycket naturliga ingredienser och återvunnet material för förpackningar så är vi väldigt måna om naturen. L’Occitane har aldrig testat våra produkter eller ingrdienser på djur.
L’Occitane doesn’t have any ingredient lists on their website, so I asked my contact to send me a few product inci’s that I could look at. I received photos of 4 products which were a bit hard to read, so I googled them to get the listings (plus, I wouldn’t have to write them down by hand).
ECOCERT (Organic ingredients: 20.7%)
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride**, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Dicaprylic Carbonate**, Octyldodecanol, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil*, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil*, Helichrysum Italicum Extract*, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil**, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract**, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil**, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil**, Decylolivate**, Squalene**, Tocopherol**, Limonene**, Linalool**, Citronellol**, Geraniol**, Citral**.
This anti-aging night serum contains a lot of vegetable oils. I can’t find any suspicious ingredients, except for GERANIOL
which is one of the 13 most allergenic fragrances according to the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP). The product is eco-certified, but only 20% of the ingredients are organic. The Ecocert certification
only requires 10% of the ingredients to be organic.
BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII (SHEA BUTTER)*, TOCOPHEROL**
$40 for 5.2 oz of shea butter? Go to Mountain rose herbs
and buy the same amount for $4.75. Tocopherol is (plant-derived) vitamin E and totally fine as an addition.
When I tried to google the following two products, to get an INCI list, I actually came across several different inci lists that were completely different. The ones that were the same as the INCI I had received from L’occitane were very difficult to find. My guess is that they have different ingredients depending on where they sell the products, and the one I received was the european version and the one that google gave me was the american version. I’ll include all versions here.
ECOCERT (Organic ingredients: 32.95%)
Aqua/Water , Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil , Glycerin , Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter , Alcohol , Glyceryl Stearate Citrate , Cera Alba/Beeswax , Mel/Honey , Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil , Xanthan Gum , Silica , Lauroyl Lysine , Lactic Acid , Levulinic Acid , Tocopherol , Sodium Levulinate , Sodium Benzoate , Sodium Hydroxide , Terpineol , Parfum/Fragrance , Linalool , Limonene , Geraniol.
Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Lippia Citriodora Flower Extract, Glycerin, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol, Macadamia Ternifolia, Seed Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Tocopherol, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance (Huiles Essentieles 100% Essential Oils), Cetearyl Glucoside, Potassium Sorbate, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Linalool
The first one: Contains synthetic FRAGRANCE
which is potentially toxic for the outside as well as the inside. Unfortunately there’s no way of telling if the fragrance in a specific product is harmful or not as they only have to list “perfume/fragrance” as the ingredient. Another ingredient here is alcohol, but as it is noted to be plant-derived, it should be safe.
The second one contains BENZYL ALCOHOL
, antoher of one of the 13 most allergenic fragrances according to SCCP.
Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Betaine, Decyl Glucoside,Hordeum Vulgare Extract, Sodium Chloride, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides Citrate, Coco-Glucosides, Glyceryl Oleate, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Trisodium Sulfosuccinate, Xylitol, Sodium Benzoate, Levulinic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Sodium Levulinate, Terpineol, Tocopherol, Pafum (Fragrance), Linalool, Limonene
Water, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocoglucoside, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, sodium chloride, rosemary leaf extract, lavender oil, PEG-120 methylglucose dioleate, methyl glucose dioleate, phenoxyethanol, fragrance, citric acid, methyl/butyl/isobutyl/propyl/paraben, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone.
Aqua/Water/Eau (Water), Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Extract (Bitter Orange), Lauryl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Decyl Glucoside, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil (Lavender), Coco Glucoside, Disodium Cocoyl L-Glutimate, Glyceryl Oleate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Perfume (Fragrance), Sorbic Acid (A Preservative), Linalool, Limonene
*Ingredients issued from Organic Agriculture.
**Natural origin ingredients.
So. I don’t know how come I found so many different ingredient versions of the Lavender product series but it had me really confused. And even to begin with I’m always sceptical when brands don’t write out their ingredient lists, especially when they (like L’Occitane) have an online shop as well, makes me feel like they have something to hide.
Still, all in all, I was positively surprised by their ingredients. I had expected them to have more products where there was only a few drops of essential oil wrapped in a bunch of chemicals, but several of their products seem okay. In some ways, I think it’s pretty cool that they sell pure shea butter, but like I said, it’s almost ten times the cost of the same product in a raw material shop. Another thing downside was how low the percentage of organic ingredients were. I hadn’t realised that EcoCert only required 10% of the ingredients to be organic to get their certification, it sounds like very little.
So unfortunately, even though I think some of the products seem okay, all in all I wouldn’t recommend L’Occitane.