Looking for sustainability marks in beauty products

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Garnier Marketing Director Isabel Falco on sustainability practices and products to add to your beauty and skin care regimen.

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For established businesses, the decision to adopt sustainable practices is an expensive one, as every replacement has to be done at scale. That’s why it’s important to set commitments — covering everything from sourcing to manufacturing and packaging.

This is the idea behind the Green Beauty initiative of global beauty brand Garnier, described by its Marketing Director Isabel Falco as an “end to end approach to sustainability.”

“By 2022 we want to aim for 100% of our renewable ingredients to be sustainably sourced… by 2025, 100% of our industrial sites will be carbon neutral... and 100% of our products will be made with zero virgin plastic.”

With fourteen years of experience, the veteran marketer — who also leads L’Oreal Paris Excellence — is behind two of the fastest growing beauty brands in the country.

“Everyone, as you would have heard, calls me Falqi,’” she says with a laugh. On a call with CNN Philippines Life, the head of digital, media and consumer intelligence for L’Oreal Philippines walks us through some global standards, her personal regimen, and wins worth celebrating at work.

Look for the bunny

Earlier this year, Garnier was officially certified as cruelty-free under the Leaping Bunny Program for cruelty-free cosmetics, personal care, and household products globally.

"You know it’s actually been over thirty years, since 1989, that Garnier has been committed to a world without animal testing. And as the next step in our sustainability journey, this 2021, we are now officially approved by Cruelty Free International, under the Leaping Bunny Program. The Leaping Bunny is a globally recognized gold standard for cruelty-free products in terms of cosmetics, personal care, and household care. We really see it as a stamp of reassurance… and this is because the Leaping Bunny requires brands to really investigate their entire supply chain, which includes all of the suppliers, starting from raw materials. For Garnier, this really meant working for over the last eighteen months — with over 500 suppliers who source over 3,000 ingredients for our products worldwide, to really get all of the declarations and documentation that there is no trace of animal testing all throughout the supply chain.

One of the alternative methods [of testing] that L’Oreal has actually pioneered is using reconstructed human skin models, which we call “Episkin.” Our loyal scientists started working on this technology as way back as 1979, and now we have three Episkin centers worldwide in Lyon, France; Shanghai, China; and in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Sustainable Sourcing

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water Pink (For Sensitive Skin), ₱99 (125 mL), from Garnier Philippines

The way we define sustainable sourcing in light of Garnier’s Green Beauty program is if you can trace the origin of the ingredients. So it has a known origin; you can trace it all the way through its supply chain; it meets the most critical sustainability standards: Does it respect human rights in line with standards from the International Labor Organization? Does it respect biodiversity and conservation? Does it respect social development?

One of our star products is micellar cleansing water and we have a variant which is Micellar Cleansing Water and Argan Oil. It’s a bi-phase product that’s very good for both cleansing, as well as nourishing the skin, with argan oil as a star ingredient. The argan oil that we use is sourced from Morocco. There’s a collective there of local women whom we have an agreement [with] to have sustainable sourcing.

Another example: We launched a limited edition of our Sakura White Serums last [Quarter 4 of 2020] in e-commerce. The star ingredient there, which is the sakura flowers, is actually sourced from locally contracted farmers in Japan, where we have a similar sustainable community arrangement. I guess the good thing about having a global brand is you can leverage the scale as well, to really get the sourcing from these locations.

Packaging adds up

Made in partnership with Indonesia’s SainBag, Garnier’s new packaging can be melted, composted, or simply thrown away, and it will decompose within 90 days.

I think we’ve all lived it in 2020, which is this massive consumer shift to e-commerce, given the lockdown that we’ve all had to live through. This was a key pivotal moment for Garnier. On the one hand, I do think we've successfully made that agile shift to e-commerce. You know, we ended up ranking in the top five skincare brands during the past 11.11 sale. So on the one hand, I think it’s been really good for Garnier to have that achievement.

Now on the other hand, I think the other achievement that we’ve been really, really proud of is that we've also been able to achieve both the business results, as well as our sustainability initiatives hand in hand. Last year in October, we actually launched [Garnier] Green Parcel in Shopee. Because we do know that with the rise of e-commerce, there's also the rise of the packaging material — which is predominantly plastic.

With the Green Parcel, we were able to come up with a zero-plastic alternative. Instead of the plastic bag, we were able to partner up SainBag to come up with a bag that’s primarily made of cassava. It has zero plastic and it’s fully biodegradable within 90 days. And then instead of the plastic bubble wrap inside, we partnered with EcoNest to instead use 100% kraft paper, using the Geami Honeycomb 3D die cut solution. It’s also going to be packaged in Shopee’s reusable carton box. So it’s 100% plastic-free. We estimate that that will actually help save us about a ton of plastic per year, just for Garnier alone.

Zoom-ready glow-up

In the Philippines, the Light Complete Vitamin C Serum (for dark spots) (₱499, Garnier Philippines) was Garnier’s top selling product in lockdown.

With the pandemic, we saw a shift among consumers to have increased preference for skincare. Because they were at home, they had more time to really invest in a more multi-step skincare regimen. And of course, the pandemic and the lockdown came with its own set of impacts on people’s skin with the increased mask-wearing. So, there was this need among consumers to take care of their skin a bit more — plus they had the time to do it.

There was also, you know, this heightened usage of digital to really research skincare products. Before we launched the vitamin C serum, serums had been predominantly more in the premium mass luxury segment. [Whereas] the [Garnier] vitamin C serum is priced at ₱499. The key benefit is that it feeds dark spots in three days. Its star ingredient is of course vitamin C, which is very good at lightening dark spots and addressing dull and uneven skin. So, you get that nice, bright glow.


Kiehl’s Calendula Alcohol-Free Toner (₱2,425, Kiehl's Philippines). L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Crystal Micro Essence Toner with Salicylic Acid (₱799, L’Oreal Philippines). Garnier Light Complete Vitamin C Serum (₱499, Garnier Philippines). L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer Serum for Face (₱374, L’Oreal Philippines). Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate (₱2,950, Kiehl's Philippines). IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream Oil-Free Matte with SPF 40 (₱2,560, Sephora Philippines). L'Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Pressed Powder Foundation (₱599, L’Oreal Philippines).

I definitely start with cleansers. And then I do use toner, which is the Calendula Toner from Kiehl’s. And afterwards I use L’Oreal Paris’ Crystal Micro-Essence to prep the skin and to balance [its] pH [level], because I do have combination skin.

I do use Garnier’s Vitamin C Serum in the morning, and then at night I use L’Oreal Paris’ Hyaluronic Acid Serum. But I also use Kiehl’s midnight oil, because the lavender scent is very relaxing at night. And then of course sunscreen!

Right now, I use another L’Oreal Group product which is IT Cosmetics, the CC Cream for oily skin. It’s the matte version, and it has 50 SPF. It’s a CC cream and sun product in one. My top up when I get oily is L’Oreal Paris’ Infallible Pro-Matte, which is a great matte product.”