Beauty groups shifting towards more sustainable fragrances

Estimated read time 3 min read

Translated by

Nicola Mira


Nov 15, 2023

Leading beauty groups are increasingly interested in natural and/or sustainable perfumes. L’Oréal is for example investing on its supply chain, and has recently announced an exclusive partnership with Cosmo International Fragrances, a family company specialised in fragrance production which operates a research centre in Mougins, near Grasse, in Provence. The aim is to develop a slow, water-free essence extraction method low on energy consumption and based on environmentally friendly principles, that could in future be deployed at scale.

A visual by L’Oréal – DR

The terms of the partnership, and the way in which it will work, have not been revealed, but the technology developed by Cosmo International Fragrances, which has applied for a patent, will be exclusively at L’Oréal’s disposal.
“From ingredient sourcing to refill adoption, we are innovating at every step to reduce our impact and shift towards a more responsible fragrance model. This partnership with Cosmo International Fragrances allows us to inaugurate a new era of mindful crafting for our luxury fragrances,” said Cyril Chapuy, president of L’Oréal Luxe, in a press release.

In practical terms, the new extraction technology exploits the volatile fragrance molecules of flowers, fruits and other natural ingredients without resorting to traditional distillation methods. The flowers used conserve all their qualities, and can be recycled and utilised again for extraction. The partners’ first collaboration will result in a fine fragrance characterised by the natural floral scent of the tuberose, targeted for release in 2024.

Dutch group Unilever is taking a different path, and has made its first foray in the perfume sector through Unilever Ventures, its start-up investment programme. After buying a stake in Australian haircare brand Straand, Unilever Ventures teamed up with True Beauty Ventures, a US investment firm specialised in the beauty and wellness sector, and acquired a minority stake in Canadian fragrance brand The 7 Virtues.

Perfume by The 7 Virtues – DR

The 7 Virtues, founded in 2010 by businesswoman and activist Barb Stegemann, is a pioneering brand in the clean, sustainable fragrances segment. Its perfumes are produced using fair-trade essential oils, sourced from countries recovering from conflict and war. The 7 Virtues’s perfumes are made with sugar cane alcohol, they are hypo-allergenic and contain more than 22% of essential oils.
Thanks to Unilever’s investment, The 7 Virtues is planning to open an office in New York and to expand its international retail presence with Sephora, whose perfumeries are currently selling the brand in 18 countries.

The 7 Virtues also intends to open a laboratory in Nova Scotia, Canada, where customers will be able to create their own bespoke fragrances. Stegemann remains the brand’s majority shareholder.

The 7 Virtues did not disclose its revenue, but the latter is reportedly growing faster than the perfume sector as a whole, posting an 80% rise on an annual basis in fiscal 2023.

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