Pucker Up: This Beloved French Makeup Brand Is Now Available At Faradays

By Ashleigh Cometti
The Parisian makeup brand is making cosmetics more covetable. Photo / Supplied

As the beauty industry’s waste problem continues its stratospheric rise, a select few have stepped forward to reimagine the category and ensure beauty’s bright future.

One such person is Nicolas Gerlier, the brains behind what he terms the “first luxury, sustainable makeup brand” with La Bouche Rouge  a 100 per cent organic, recyclable, refillable makeup line free from toxins, plastics and preservatives.

The Parisian maison de maquillage is known for its clean formulas and French-chic refillable packaging, which is crafted from upcycled Baranelle leather (the same kind Hermes uses) produced by family-run business, Tanneries du Puy.

“You can have clean beauty or luxury beauty, but what I want to create is high beauty. It's a nice object created by hand with craftsmanship; it's really the best materials. Quality is key as is high efficiency,” he says.

La Bouche Rouge founder Nicolas Gerlier. Photo / Supplied
La Bouche Rouge founder Nicolas Gerlier. Photo / Supplied

Even over Zoom, Nicolas’ passion is palpable  and he speaks with such conviction as he shares how he turned his ambition into action.

Like many other sustainable beauty brands, which focus on launching with a curated edit of products rather than 20-piece range, Nicolas launched La Bouche Rouge back in 2017 with just one  a lipstick.

An appropriate choice given its moniker translates to “red lips”, it took two years and countless iterations to create this single product, but Nicolas is adamant he wanted to get the formula right from the outset.

“It's important to start small, step-by-step because it's extremely difficult to invent something with high quality and high innovation. And for me, I appreciate the fact that we grow slowly but qualitatively,” he says.

Nicolas’ approach was pre-emptive, in many ways, of the eco-consciousness of the beauty industry today. He became fed up with what he refers to as the “disaster of plastic” spreading across France and Italy.

“I was obsessed by the production and quantity of plastic in the lab I was working in before,” he says, referring to his time spent at one of France’s biggest beauty conglomerates.

“It was quite shocking. The figures show that of the 1 billion lipsticks produced every year, we are only recycling 10 per cent of them. In fact, we have only recycled 10 per cent of plastics since the year 1950.”

His obsession led him to question the need for plastic, and while his concerns were met with comments about circularity, his own investigations led him to believe that these claims were far from the truth. Eventually, he quit.

Currently, the range encompasses products suited to eyes, lips and face, but Nicolas teases a skincare expansion is coming soon. Photo / Supplied
Currently, the range encompasses products suited to eyes, lips and face, but Nicolas teases a skincare expansion is coming soon. Photo / Supplied

So started his mission some six years ago, to reconsider the parameters of luxury and the tenets of sustainability to build his capsule collection of beauty products that satisfy both briefs.

A radical move at the time, Nicolas says he was faced with many challenges along the way  especially from companies he’d engaged with to remove plastic from every aspect of his brand.

“It was a new subject. Nobody was really considering it because it felt like we were asking to create more complexity in the process. But plastic today is a really negative side of our society, so my idea was to create a new object of desire, and with that the desire to change our habits,” he says.

“My ambition with La Bouche Rouge is to replace plastic with craftsmanship. To create a new relationship with an object  one with a soul so you can keep it and refill it for years to come.”

Nicolas is quick to explain that while many brands are dipping their toes in refillable skincare and makeup, he wanted to create something more elevated and desirable.

“Nobody wants to refill a product in a plastic case, or something quite basic. Refillable is becoming a new claim  along the same lines as being organic or sustainable. But now’s not the time for greenwashing  it’s time to consume beauty differently. I want to engage people to create a new relationship with our objects  to making luxury meaningful,” he says.

Rather than align his brand with green beauty, Nicolas coined the term blue beauty instead, which informs every decision he makes at La Bouche Rouge.

Put simply, blue beauty is beauty that is better for both people and planet  which for Nicolas involves eliminating plastic anywhere he can  from formulation through to distribution.

“To create a clean production process, but at the same time, a clean formula. It's simple to explain but not so easy to do because it’s the opposite of what everybody else is doing,” he says.

“We need to react. And I really believe that change is only possible when people are acting all together. If we're waiting a president of a company to change, it's not going to happen. We need to individually push the system to change. And if it is a pleasure, if it is better for you and better for the planet. For me, this is the right way to create a new approach with a new desire to engage people in your consumption.”

Presently, his design-led collection comprises an expansive range of micro-plastic and cruelty-free products intended for lips, eyes and face, including more than 30 lipstick shades; Le Serum Noir Mascara  a serum-based mascara which comes housed in a recycled glass vessel and La Lumiere  the first-of-its-kind natural highlighter laced with hyaluronic acid.

Each product features an impressive array of good-for-skin ingredients, including sustainably harvested seaweed from Brittany in France (he teases March to June is the best time to harvest) which boasts pre and probiotic qualities to support a healthy skin microbiome.

He says every product is safe enough to eat or sleep in  but jokes not to try bake a cake with them. Nicolas teases a skincare expansion is on the horizon later this year.

Six years on, Nicolas’ mission now is to cement his vision with the right retail partners. Faradays co-founder Constance Cummings was already a fan of the La Bouche Rouge brand, which she first discovered during a buying trip in Paris for the luxury department store. It was only a matter of time.

“Faradays is the right partner for us in New Zealand,” he says.

We’re ready to grow step by step with the best partner, with the best team and the best products,” he says.

La Bouche Rouge is available exclusively in Aotearoa from Faradays, 8 Faraday St, Parnell, or online at Faradays.store.

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