Emmanuelle Engeli – Forêt Bleue

Emmanuelle Engeli – Forêt Bleue

The word *gourmandise* is one of those hardly translatable words that are yet so essential to understanding French culture. The concept could be described as a noble gluttony, the pleasure, and appreciation for good food. A *gourmandise* can also be something that you eat, not necessarily because you are hungry, but because you simply crave it and want to savor and appreciate its taste.

After discovering Forêt Bleue and meeting its founder, Emmanuelle Engeli, I can safely say that the Geneva-based brand is a new gourmandise. A skincare company created from the desire to craft quality products, with carefully selected ingredients, and not at the expense of the planet. Sipping juice and munching on croissants in her lovely home and lab, we talked about ecology, the industry’s hypocrisy, her favorite dessert and changing the world.

You can find my review of selected products here.

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Why Forêt Bleue (blue forest, in English)? 

First of all, I am a « gourmande » and my favorite dessert is the Forêt Noire. So, I wanted to play around this element to find an identity to my brand. Forrest for the obvious relation to nature, as one of my core values, is ecology. I also love the imaginary fairy world and I think of each of my products as a skin fairy, that’s why some of them have Celtic sounding names. In my eyes, blue represents cleanliness, water, and freshness, things you’d like to find in your products!

How did you come to create Forêt Bleue? 

I used to think that in order to positively impact the world, I had to work for the public sector and go on humanitarian missions, which I did, after my studies in international relations. As time passed, I discovered that the private sector actually held one of the keys to the development of society and could be a catalyst for positive change.

When I first started formulating the products, I did it as a way to become a conscious consumer and avoid industrial products that pollute. I also did it parallel to my work. During breaks, I would be reading up articles on cosmetics and skincare recipes and looking forward to going back home to experiment. Little by little, what started out as an individual enterprise became a brand with the support of my family and friends that showed genuine interest in my work. So, I quit my job and devoted myself exclusively to starting my own skincare brand.

I love what I do, the freedom and luxury to be working completely aligned with my values.

What are your values?

It was crucial to me that my brand would be founded based on my personal values and that they resonate with many people.

Ecology: that was actually the driving element in my personal journey, I wanted to learn how to be a better consumer to avoid further worsen the condition of the planet.

Sourcing of quality ingredients: I want to know what I am working with, the history of the beautiful matter that I will transform and the journey it took to reach me.

Health: I wanted to formulate safe products that my customers would trust and have the least amount of allergens in them. I do not use essential oils in my products for this very reason, as more and more people are becoming sensitive to it and some are even shown to be carcinogenic.

Communication, education, and information: I want my customers to be empowered with the knowledge I put out throughout the website and when they contact me. They can then become responsible consumers, further their knowledge and even apply it to other areas of their lives. I see this as my part in positively impacting the world!

Who was the customer you had in mind while developing the brand? 

That’s an interesting question because it’s something that challenged my own beliefs. Generally, women who are about to have their first child, start to look for gentler care products for their children and thus become interested in natural skincare. I thought this would be my main demographic, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that women in their 70’s and men were interested and actually liked using my products!

Lastly, any beauty tips for my readers? 

Marketing has led us to believe that we need 50 different products to have a beautiful skin. Truth be told, all skins have the same fundamental needs that are hydration and protection. Don’t expect skincare to solve your skin related issues when we now know how much lifestyle influences our largest organ. A cream, however powerful, will not solve a breakout resulting from stress!

Therefore, my first tip is to learn how to read the INCI ingredient list, then to take the time to massage the products into your skin and finally, drink lots of water!

Forêt Bleue’s products can be purchased on the website and at the time of writing, they only ship within Switzerland. They are also available at the C’BOS store in Carouge – rue Saint-Joseph 7, 1227 Carouge Geneva!

Well, surprise – Forêt Bleue

Well, surprise – Forêt Bleue

Well surprise, surprise, surprise

Yeah surprise, surprise, surprise

Well surprise, surprise, come on open your eyes

And let your love shine down

Bruce Springsteen – Surprise, Surprise

After our chat with the Forêt Bleue founder, Emmanuelle Engeli, I picked up some products to try as I was high on empties in my stash! I was more than happy to shop at a local business and have the extra luxury of having personalized explanations.

I immediately fell in love with the luxurious minimalist packaging. The creams come in glass jars (she provides spatulas for scooping) and long practical plastic bottles for the shower products.

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My Forêt Bleue “haul” – from left to right SHOLYN body butter – AVELEEN apricot face sap – LINEN shower cream – GINSENG toning mask.

Although I enjoyed using all products, I definitely had a *coup de coeur* for 2!

First of all the GINSENG MASK – ingredients:  Argila, Ginseng Powder, Lemon Powder.

As soon as I saw it in the shop, I knew I had to have to it. It contains ginseng which, she explains,  is a known ingredient to tone and firm the skin, a mix of clays to cleanse and mattify the skin and lemon powder, rich in vitamins has astringent and purifying properties.

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I use it 2 to 3 times a week. I scoop 2 teaspoons of the powder that I mix with approx. 2 other teaspoons of water and let it sit on my face for 10 min. I usually do this mask at night: after taking it off, I have such a luminous and healthy looking skin, but it is after a good night of sleep that I appreciate its powers. For the next few days, my skin feels less irritated and brightened.

Last and definitely not least is a product that is one of my 2017 highlights :AVELEEN   APRICOT FACE SAP – ingredients: Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil*, Carthamus Tinctorius Safflower Seed Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter*, Cetylanum, Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil*, Cocos Nucifera Oil*, Cera Alba, Parfum. * From organic farming

When formulating the product, Emmanuelle was thinking of a way to provide the full power of oils to people who are afraid to put it in its liquid form on their faces.

By adding beeswax, she hopes to help them feel more comfortable with the concept of oils.

I use it mainly in the mornings, sometimes in the evenings if my skin is feeling particularly dry. At first, it has the consistency of a balm. I scoop some with my spatula and then apply it on my palm. After rubbing it melts down to delicious oils that I massage for 2 minutes and it leaves my skin so smooth! What surprised me the most is, because I have dehydrated skin, whenever I use oils it tends to sit on my face, not doing much. But with this, I truly feel and look hydrated, moisturized and healthy! I have been wearing for a month straight and it is definitely something I would recommend for all dry skin people or anyone looking for a good winter protection!

I am more than happy with my purchases and will be repurchasing at Forêt Bleue for 3 reasons :

  • I am supporting a local enterprise;

  • The composition and textures of products are superb;

  • It is a value-based company!

The 18-ities or living a value based life

The 18-ities or living a value based life

In personal development, you learn that one of the most fundamental principles is living a life that is value-based. Those values have to be timeless and universal and something that you aspire to live in each waking moment and will constitute your legacy to the world.

I stumbled upon the 18-ities of Swami Sivananda one day and loved the gentle yet firm approach used in those 18 values or life principles. I share them here hoping they will inspire you to live a more aligned and peaceful existence.

1. SERENITY

Be tranquil within. Let that inner peace and joy radiate through a serene countenance. A serene countenance is peaceful, smiling and serious and does not betray any violent emotions. It is like the surface of a still lake.

2. REGULARITY

Be regular in your daily habits, and in your work and spiritual practices. Get up at a particular time. Be clock-like in your daily activities. You will be free from worry, fear, anxiety, haphazard and shabby work. You will do the right thing at the right moment.

3. ABSENCE OF VANITY

Do not boast of your birth, position, qualifications and spiritual attainments. Praise others. See good in all. Treat even the lowliest creatures as your equal and with respect.

4. SINCERITY

Let your words agree with the thoughts; let your actions agree with your words. Let there be harmony among your thoughts, words, and actions.

5. SIMPLICITY

Be artless. Be simple in your speech. Do not twist words and topics. Be plain; avoid diplomacy, cunningness, and crookedness. Be simple in your dress. Be simple in your food.

6. VERACITY

Be truthful. Stick to your promises. Do not exaggerate. Do not twist facts. Think twice before you speak. Speak truthfully. Speak sweetly. Be precise in what you say.

7. EQUANIMITY

Be calm. Bear insult patiently. Bear injury, suffering, failures, and disrespect calmly. Do not be elated by praise, pleasure, success, and honor. Look upon both with equal vision. Behave alike towards friends and foes. Never let anything disturb your inner peace.

8. FIXITY

Remember that you cannot achieve anything if you are fickle-minded. Choose your goal or ideal and remember it always. Never let it go out of mind even for a moment.

9. NON-IRRITABILITY

Irritability is the precursor of violent outbursts of anger. Watch carefully for the disturbance in the mental equilibrium. Watch for the ripples of anger that might rise in the lake of the mind. Quell them then and there. Do not allow them to assume greater proportions. Then you will attain peace.

10. ADAPTABILITY

Understand well the nature of people with whom you come into contact. Adjust your mode of approach to them. Adjust yourself in such a way as to be pleasing to them. Joyfully bear with the eccentricities of others. Always react in a harmonious manner. Serve all and love all. Have the feeling that the Lord dwells in the hearts of all as the Self of all.

11. HUMILITY

Respect everybody. Bow with folded hands before all. Do not talk in a loud voice before elders and venerable persons. Look at the toes while you walk. See the Lord in all and feel that you are His servant and so the servant of all. Consider none as inferior to you.

12. TENACITY

This is the natural friend of fixity. Once you have fixed your aim and chosen your path, stick to it. Do not waver. Be steadfast. Never compromise on your fundamental principles. Have the attitude: “I may give up my life but I will not swerve from the path; I will not break my vows.”

13. INTEGRITY

Develop an integral personality. Tie all the loose ends of your character. Become a man of high moral principles. Lead a life of righteousness. Let righteousness waft its sweet fragrance from you. Everyone will trust you, obey you, respect you and revere you.

14. NOBILITY

Shun mean-mindedness as dung and poison. Never look into the defects of others. Always appreciate the good qualities of everyone. Be dignified in bearing. Never stoop to ignoble thoughts, words, and actions.

15. MAGNANIMITY

Take a broad view of things. Ignore the faults of others: Be great and noble-minded in whatever you do. Avoid silly talk and childish prattle. Let not the mind dwell on little things and insignificant things.

16. CHARITY

Give, give and give. This is the secret of abundance. Radiate thoughts of goodness and love. Forgive the faults of others. Bless the man who injures you. Share what you have with others. Disseminate spiritual knowledge to one and all. Use the material wealth, knowledge and spiritual wisdom that you possess as a divine trust.

17. GENEROSITY

In whatever you give be liberal. Have a large heart. Do not be miserly. Take delight in the joy of others, in making them happy. Generosity is a sister-virtue of charity. It is the fulfillment of charity, magnanimity, and nobility.

18. PURITY

Be pure at heart. Eradicate lust, anger, and greed. Be pure in your thoughts. Think of God always. Think of the well-being of all. Be pure in your words; never utter harsh, unkind words. Be pure in body. Keep it clean and healthy. Let the dress and surroundings be clean. Observe the rules of physical, moral and spiritual hygiene.

more on the 18-ities here.

Is beauty only skin deep?

Is beauty only skin deep?

They say that beauty is only skin deep

And they say it’s in the eye of the beholder

I don’t know, I just can’t agree

Dr. Feelgood – Best in the world

We have witnessed in the last decades in the rising of consumer awareness regarding the food industry. From one scandal to the other, consumers’ organizations rose to denounce the practices and preach for alternatives: awareness-raising, promotion of organic products, consumer guides and publications of all sorts.  The momentum brought policy changes at a national and international level. Sustainability in the food industry was to be part of the Sustainable Goals Development, therefore making the States responsible for implementing necessary actions. The logic behind all of this is very simple: we should be careful of what we put inside our bodies.

What about what we put on our bodies?

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It seems like a sensible question to ask for 3 reasons :

  1. Everyone uses goods from the beauty industry;
  2. The beauty industry is a billion dollars one and growing rapidly across the globe;
  3. Health concerns related to ingredients in some formulations, some even linked to breast cancer. I will devote a whole article to debunk some myths around “toxic” ingredients and present the actual scientific evidence we currently have;
  4. The social impact of ingredients sourcing.

When it comes to regulating the beauty industry, things get blurry. Apart from the occasional outrage towards an offensive marketing campaign and the demonization of some ingredients, little seems to affect the exponential growth of the sector.

I think one the problem that prevents the industry from being held accountable is the failure of seeing the bigger picture. While it is easier to imagine and even find out where potatoes are made, how much they cost at production, how much they are retailed for and why the same process is nearly impossible with an eye cream. Have you ever looked at your vanity and zoomed at a product and wondered: what are the ingredients, where do they come from, who are the formulators, what are the overheads and what is the impact on the planet? And if you did, did you go and look for the answer? You most probably just came with a fragment of an answer, if that. Industry secrets and the complex process would be the very first elements an industry insider would point out to justify the opacity of the process. Should the complexity of a process be an excuse for lack of accountability?

Should the complexity of a process be an excuse for lack of accountability?

Greenwashing practices have been used by some companies to silence potential concerns and cater to misinformed consumers. “Natural”, “local”, or even sometimes “organic” labels have very little to do with the actual formulation, impact or effectiveness of a product.

That is not to say that sustainability is not on the agenda. There is a summit dedicated to the topic, publications and industry consumer organizations discussions but there seems to be a real gap between those discussions and its communication to consumers. It is a gap that could be a loss in benefits in some cases because there are companies, even big corporations doing great things but communicating them quite poorly. 

I don’t think the future lies in the creation of smarter PR strategies that would twist or straight out fabricate facts. Companies need to invest in sustainability not only because it is good but because they have to, that’s where the future lies. Solutions exist at a macro and micro level.

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As customers, we can positively influence how industries behave by being more conscious about what we are buying. Just as we are concerned by where our carrots come from, we should have a basic understanding of skincare care formulations.

 

One way is of course to do your research, but an easier and more entertaining way is to reach out your local cosmetics creators and ask them about the products and their motivations. While some skeptics will fail to see the impact of such actions in the short term, it is my conviction that this kind of change in behavior and consumer education will lead to better decision making that will lead to better and more responsible consumption of cosmetics.

No “Ordinary” Love

No “Ordinary” Love

 

This is no ordinary love

No ordinary love

When you came my way

You brightened every day

Sade – No Ordinary Love

 

ABOUT THE BRAND

How the brand presents itself :

Clinical Formulations with Integrity.

The Ordinary is an evolving collection of treatments offering familiar, effective clinical technologies positioned to raise pricing and communication integrity in skincare. The brand was created to celebrate integrity in its most humble and true form. Its offering is pioneering, not in the familiar technologies it uses, but in its honesty and integrity. The Ordinary is born to disallow commodity to be disguised as ingenuity. The Ordinary is “Clinical formulations with integrity”.

All DECIEM products, across all brands including The Ordinary, are free of parabens, sulphates, mineral oil, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, animal oils, benzalkonium chloride, coal tar dyes, formaldehyde, mercury, oxybenzone. If you have questions about any ingredient that we use, please reach out to us and our lab will provide a response.

DECIEM does not test on animals and does not pay others to do so. For this reason, none of our brands are sold in mainland China since such sales require animal testing for registration purposes.

I had actually first heard of The Ordinary through Wayne Goss’ videos on Youtube. He seemed so passionate and enamored with the brand that I got a bit curious. The claims of clean formulations at a very reasonable price made me go have a look, and boy was it love at first sight!

I loved the nerdy feel of the website, loaded with explanations and whys and how-tos of each product and even a breakdown by ingredient! A blessing!

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Because we focus on the *Who* and *Why* on this blog, I researched the man behind the brand.

Brandon Truxae a handsome young man, is the founder of DECIEM the umbrella company for other sister brands to The Ordinary, namely NIOD, HYLAMIDE, CHEMISTRY BRAND, STEMM, FOUNTAIN etc…

When asked about the motivation behind his brand creation, his answer was :

I had no interest in beauty products when I was studying computer science; in fact, I used to lather soap bars in my hand to form a shaving “cream”.

I had a co-op term as a software developer at a beauty company’s laboratories and, quite bluntly, became angry at how dishonest and unscientific everything in beauty was. In the world of software, everything is black or white, 0 or 1 quite literally.

In the world of beauty, everything seemed and seems like a grey promise. A combination of anger and passion from that experience has brought me here.

Furthermore, what struck me in other interviews I had read of him was his wish on educating the public on what they were putting on their faces, and this is something very well communicated throughout their website and Instagram page. Though intimidating at first, I think anyone can quickly adapt and understand the theory behind each product and better comprehend how it interacts with the skin. Their skincare regimen chart is fantastic to help you figure out the order of your routine (what goes when), product by product.

What is not to love? A functional, no-nonsense approach to an industry that has been confusing and straight on deceiving people for decades.

I feel good about buying The Ordinary’s products because the alignment in values is clear. Not only do they provide good clean products (seriously, there’s not much to say about their ingredients lists) but they also make their content information-heavy to educate us more about what we are putting on our beautiful skins. I particularly love their message on acids which is, in short, do not abuse it. Yes, acids as exfoliants are exciting because they do give results but are very easy to abuse of and the damage they may cause would be worse than what you were trying to manage in the first place.

ABOUT THE PRODUCTS

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Well, as you can see, I have many of the Ordinary’s products. In general, I think The Ordinary’s products are a hit or miss. Of course, what works for me won’t for you and vice versa, veni, vidi, vici etc…

I live in Switzerland and have ordered twice from the website. It took about 2 weeks to get to me. Fortunately for me, my brother was in Toronto when the Toning solution was (again) out of stock so he bought them for me over there. On the picture above, I have selected my favorite ones, from the bottom and clockwise.

  • Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution: This is a watery exfoliating toner. When I first started using it my skin tingled a lot. After 3 months of use, I can positively say that this product has changed my skin for the better as it provided excellent gentle exfoliation. It has a very mild *plant/root* scent that could be from the ginseng in it. I use it 4 to 5 times a week after cleansing my face. Will repurchase 100%.
  • AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution. Holy mother of exfoliating acids. DO NOT, I repeat, D O N O T use this if you have never experimented with acids before or have sensitive skin. The brand itself repeatedly warns about the danger of over-exfoliating as I have said previously. It is so seriously concentrated that it is not sold in some countries, seriously! But Oh my Lord it works like magic. The first time I applied the peeling, I was almost in tears because of how tingly it was and thought that it was burning my skin. A sheet mask, camomille tea and mommy hug later though I was calmed enough to notice how smooth my skin looked, this was nothing compared to what I woke up to. I woke up to the smoothest, plumpest, cleanest looking skin I had ever seen on myself. I use it once every two weeks. Apply on dry face after cleansing, leave it for 8 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water. I always follow with a soothing mask (usually aloe vera derived). Will repurchase 100%.
  • Niacinamide 10% Zinc 1%. I was initially very skeptical towards its claim to address hyperpigmentation as I was very disappointed by the Alpha Arbutin serum.  The main ingredient, niacinamide (or vitamin B3) is a well-used ingredient to address hyperpigmentation. Zinc, on the other hand, balances the production of sebum. After using it for 3 months though, I can really see the results as my PIH has cleared and my skin tone is closer to being unified! You get 2 serums into one with this one as it also delivers a good dose of hydration. Even though I did enjoy it, I am not sure about repurchasing because so many products in my routine already have niacinamide and do a good job at fading my PIH.
  • Buffet serum. Hydrating and full of beautiful peptides to combat signs of aging. Since using it, my dehydrated, cracked and crunchy face has blossomed into a baby bottom. So full, so smooth. Will repurchase 100%.

 

IN CONCLUSION

I haven’t been this enthusiast about a brand for a long time. I believe in DECIEM’s alignment with their values and I think it does show in every step of their work. I have not found information on sustainability impact of the brand yet but I guess part of it can be explained by its relatively recent incursion on the market. Communicating on this aspect, as well as presenting the teams behind the products’ developments,  would be an excellent way to bring even further their message of excellence cosmetic at a fair price for everyone.

TO BUY AND WHY?

I definitely recommend buying the Ordinary’s products because the vision of the company has human respect at its core by providing clean formulated and fair priced products to the market, with no gimmicks.

Weleda, you understand me

Weleda, you understand me

“Cause you get the message

yes, you get the message

no, you know exactly what I’m dreaming

when stars are brightly gleaming

like no one in the world

the whole wide world

you understand me”

Sam Cooke, You Understand me

That’s how I felt the day I discovered Weleda.

After living ignorant and almost ashy for 10 years in Switzerland, I discovered Weleda. For the sake of this blog, we will focus on the cosmetics, but Weleda also carries a health-related line that I will not comment on since I haven’t used it.

How is the brand perceived and what drives the buyers to … well, buy ? I believe it’s the values, the promises and the quality. Weleda sells Good goods.

Let me explain.

The brand has managed its image so well that when one thinks of natural Swiss made cosmetics, it is the first thing that comes to a Swiss mind. From the website design, the product lines,  to the packaging, simplicity and self-care are what is being emphasized.

One other element is the emphasis on YOU. You the customer feel empowered to be a part of the Weleda family because you share the same values, you feel good because you are making the right choice by buying and using such good products, you are contributing to a better world!

Many brands will claim that they cares about their customers, but what they would really mean is that they care about your wallet.

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My Weleda loves. From top left : Almond Sensitive body milk (winter Holy Grail product), Almond Sensitive Skin Facial Lotion, Evening Primrose Age Revitalizing Body Lotion, Wild Rose Deodorant, Tonique Capillaire Revitalisant, Rosemary Conditioning Hair Oil, Sage Deodorant, Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream.

I am not naive enough to think that Weleda is a philanthropic company putting out good product for the sake of peace in the world, but it has truly managed to convey the image of a value-based company, focused on people (inside and outside of the company).

It actually becomes clear why the human plays such an important role when you know that the founder of the company, back in 1921, is Rudolf Steiner who is also the founder of the anthroposophical movement. Anthroposophy is a philosophy that postulates that the human being can understand and apprehend reality using senses, reason and spirituality. It is a conception of life that has a social objective that aims at societal wellbeing and harmony.

I went through their 2016 sustainability report and was amazed to see the emphasis put on people inside the company and the social responsibility objectives.

 

By now you might have understood that I am a Weleda fan. Even though I do not only use their products, it is one of the only brand that I will truly trust to spend my money on knowing I am actually bettering lives.

I have found in Weleda a brand that reflected my idea of social sustainability, self care and clean formulation of products!

Products breakdown

 

I will not do an in-depth review of the products I have used but I will give a general idea.

Cost : Weleda products are not extremely expensive, yet not cheap. Average product price would be 15.- ( or 17 to 20 USD).

Availability : In Switzerland, pretty much everywhere. Otherwise, on their website.

Effectiveness : surprisingly effective for a “natural” brand, does exactly what it promises with the  added promise of caring for your body and the planet.

Commitment to sustainability : social and environmental.

Grade : 9/10.