Beauty

By Erin Williams

You know that friend you have who always looks great, has beautiful skin, and a treasure trove of cosmetic knowledge (and products to boot!)? Sylvie Chantecaille is that friend to the tenth power. This New Yorker, by way of France, has most probably already been a part of your life and you don’t even know it. After starting a small cosmetic company with Diane von Furstenberg, Estee Lauder asked Sylvie to create a new line for the modern woman, and in 1979 Prescriptives was born. After 20 years of developing the custom blend system focused on the individual as well as the first antioxidant on the market (Line Preventor in 1984 for you history buffs), Sylvie decided she wanted a line focused on health and wellness with pure ingredients. She teamed up with her daughter, Olivia who stepped into the role of Creative Director. Her background is in modeling and European art history. It’s an interesting team because they bridge the generation gap as well as different areas of proficiency. The initial result was three fragrances and a new line named Chantecaille.

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Chantecaille was about exclusivity in all aspects – ingredients, scale, and sales. After a year Neiman Marcus asked for a makeup line and Sylvie asked herself, “Do I really want to say anything new?” Turns out she had a lot of things and knew the right people to make it happen. After years of researching product development all over the globe, she knew she wanted to work with fresh technology from Japan. It allowed for new pigments that were weightless and felt like you were wearing nothing at all.

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Included in a full cosmetic line, standouts are hard to pick, but I have some favorites. Real Skin is a lightweight gel foundation with an SPF of 10, amino acids, and vitamin E that increases hydration by 60% with no lanolin or mineral oils. It’s so natural that Brad Pitt and David Beckham (pause and sigh) have been known to sponge it on. For the oilier girls, or boys!, there’s Future Skin, an oil-free gel foundation with 60% charged water and seaweed. Full of yummy ingredients like soy, aloe, arnica, and green tea, this is the foundation of champions and claims to reduce sebum production by 26% after one week. Chantecaille’s foundation is held as the best in the business by all of my fellow makeup artists based on its adjustable coverage, wearability, and quality ingredients.

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But the fun doesn’t stop there! Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for eye shadows, and these are some of the most high-tech around. Available in 48 shades – yes, 48 – isn’t that lovely?, nanopigments are enrobed in ginseng and the result is a powder so smooth it meshes with the skin, never creasing, fading, or causing allergic concerns. Lips don’t get left out either – lipsticks contain beeswax while glosses have green tea, aloe, gingko Biloba, and SPF 15.

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Continuing in our history lesson, 2 more years passed and the customers wanted more from Chantecaille. Based on the quality of the cosmetics and the trust they had in the line, they wanted skincare. So the mother/daughter team decided to go the extreme route and work with small handmade batches of 85-95% botanical ingredients and essential oils. They lowered preservatives and emulsifiers, cut out fragrance, and focused on calming and balancing the skin. All of their skincare products replace water with live, pure rosewater, which acts as a rich source of hydration without clogging pores.

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The Biodynamic Lifting Cream is one of their top sellers. Created to address key problems associated with aging, the cream has 4 main functions:

1. to energize cellular activity (with biodynamic plankton from the Sahel Desert and Borage Oil) 2. lifting and hydrating (with an Australian desert plant Imperata Cylindrica that effectively doubles the skin’s volume with hydration) 3. wrinkle repair and prevention (with anti-wrinkle hexcapeptide acting as a “botanical botox”) 4. repairing the barrier functions (with tocotrienols, which fight free radicals with 50% the potency of vitamin E)

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Sylvie has a pretty specific goal with the line, “We want women to be surprised with the quality. If we don’t love a product we don’t launch it, and really, why do it if it isn’t better? Our customers are knowledgeable and they’ve usually tried it all before. We have all generations – daughter/mother/grandmother and they’re all smart.”

Chantecaille’s next venture is to extend the flower waters and delve deeper into aromatherapy so, take it from your new friend who knows, this is the next big thing. Chantecaille is available at Bergdorf Goodman (Nikki is great) and at www.neimanmarcus.com.

Originally published August 2004
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