From 1952 to 2012: 60 years of skin biology expertise
They’ve come a long way since 1952 when a visionary young woman, Jeanine Marissal formulated a trio of products based on an unusual ingredient – thermal plankton – marking a breakthrough in skincare.
Starting life as a little-known skincare company dedicated to the regenerative properties of plankton from the thermal springs of Molitg-Les-Bains, they joined the world’s largest cosmetics group and became one of the best-loved beauty brands, ranking sixth in the selective market.
In 1952 Dr Jullien meets a young cosmetician, Jeanine Marissal and her husband Georges Marissal. Together they realize the enormous potential of thermal plankton as a skincare ingredient. And Biotherm is born.
Formulating and testing each product herself, Jeanine Marissal creates a trio of products: La Crème Triple Usage, ‘One cream, 3 uses’, to respond to the skin’s essential needs for cleansing, protection and hydration; Biotherm Cure, a treatment to nourish skin during the changeover of the seasons and each time the epidermis needs extra care; and Bio-Main a protecting, hydrating hand cream.
The Marissals make an unusual decision – to sell their new creams primarily in pharmacies, as opposed to the perfumeries and department stores favored at the time. Customer feedback inspires the development of Savon Crème Thermale, a cream makeup remover in a tube, revolutionary for the time when cleansers were simply bar soap. By 1955, word crosses the Atlantic, when The New York Times writes of a French beauty brand with an unusual natural ingredient: ‘Plankton Is Used As Aid to Beauty’.
In 1957 they developed La Crème Hydrothermal – hydration as a core expertise.
While the Fifties lay the foundations for facial hydration among core brand expertise, the Sixties herald a new wave of technical products targeting specific needs and specific zones of the body. Their first sun cream, La Crème Solaire is developed in 1961, their first slimming cream, Biotherm A-R, an anti-cellulite cream, containing a botanical extract native to Burma follows in 1964 and a worldwide first, Bio-Buste Suractive, the beauty industry’s first firming cream for the bust goes on sale in 1968.
Exports begin for the first time in 1967, when Biotherm products are introduced in Belgium.
In 1970 L’Oréal acquires Biotherm, still a very French affair sold in only two other countries, Belgium and Canada.
Under L’Oréal’s stewardship, Biotherm goes on sale in 27 new countries over the following 20 years.
In 1972 Biotherm develops the world’s first anti-wrinkle suncare product. The year also marks the creation of Lait Corporel, their Anti-Drying Body Milk, which became a cult product.
In 1975 Biotherm develops Crème Amincissante, the world’s first clinically-tested slimming cream proves visible effects on cellulite in just 2 months. Its success propels Biotherm to the n°1 bodycare line in selective doors in 1975, with French women spending 27 million Francs on the brand’s products which now include 13 for the face, 6 for the body and 5 for sun protection.
In 1985 Biotherm becomes the first beauty brand to develop a premium skincare line for men. The four products include Actif R, the first men’s anti-wrinkles cream, while another world first, the first self-tanning moisturizer follows in 1986.
With the promotion of Elen Fitoussi to general manager from international marketing director in 1984, Biotherm becomes the first brand within the L’Oréal group of companies with a woman at its helm. The brand signs its first official spokeswomen, top model Maria Hanson, in 1981, Elle ‘the Body’ Macpherson joins Biotherm in 1985, shifting focus firmly to the bodycare category.
In 1985 Spécial Rides, Biotherm’s clinically-proven anti-wrinkle cream and Amincissant 15 jours, a patented slimming formula, mark a new generation of treatments for specific problems with results proven by clinical tests. In 1987 Biotherm Biologics marks another worldwide first as the first beauty line with three different formulas targeting women of 30, 40 and 50-years-old. By the end of the decade, Biotherm skincare is available in 40 countries.
After almost 20 years of research into isolating the purest part of plankton via bio-fermentation, in 1990 a team of Biotherm’s biologists, led by Aubert, manage to obtain Pure Thermal Plankton Extract, the most active part. Production begins by growing Vitreoscilla filiformis according to a patented continuous process.
Biotherm’s best-selling Aquasource moisturizer is developed in 1998. Their first skin-nourishing fragrance, Eau Vitaminée is developed in 1997. Today there are five in the collection. Their first whitening line, White Detox, developed for customers in Asia, goes on sale in 1999.
Biotherm’s show commitment to helping ensure a clean water supply for people without this basic right via an international partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF in 2002.
The ‘Life Springs from the Source’ campaign to build wells and sanitation facilities begins in Benin and Cambodia and goes on to include villages in China, Korea and Argentina. For every jar of Aquasource moisturizer sold, UNICEF receives 1 euro. Around 500,000 euros is donated to UNICEF Water Programmes.
Biotherm’s first anti-fatigue moisturizer range, Skin.Ergetic, signals a new generation of fresh cosmetics.
Their biologists develop a range inspired by gene science to target visible signs of aging. Skin Vivo, the first reversive anti-aging skincare contains record doses of Pure Thermal Plankton Extract to stimulate MnSOD plus Reverserol SV, an extract from leaves of the candle bush plant (Senna alata), which has the capacity in vitro to rejuvenate the skin through the defence of DNA. 8 patents are filed to protect the innovation.
2010 to Today
To celebrate its 60th anniversary, at the turn of 2012, Biotherm inaugurates its new blue biotechnology platform, ‘Beauty From the Deep’, dedicated to delivering next-generation molecules from aquatic ecosystems, using in particular the most modern, sustainable methods of biotechnological engineering. A microorganism production unit at their Biotechnology Center in Tours, France, collaborates with leading scientists and key raw material providers to study, isolate and cultivate these marine and freshwater microorganisms, micro and macro algae. Using extracts of these life-forms, they will create tomorrow’s highly-efficient skincare and source a new territory of inspiration for their unmatched textures and scents.
More photos you can find here.
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