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As both a beauty and shopping editor, I've tried my fair share of brands over the years, but admittedly had not—until recently—tested French skincare brand Biologique Recherche's coveted range of products. Beloved by celebrities like Iman, Rosalía, Demi Moore, Victoria Beckham, and more, the culty skincare line has previously been available to shop only at select spas and retail locations, and recently launched its own members-only commerce platform last November.
"Biologique Recherche is famous primarily in the U.S. because of P50—it's this cult product that just exploded," general manager Margot Humbert tells BAZAAR.com. "Of course, the product is sold by our partners and clients, but there were limited places in this country where consumers could discover Biologique Recherche."
While the brand is thrilled with P50's juggernaut success, it also understands the importance of conveying to shoppers that Biologique Recherche is more than just a single product. "Brands often showcase their DNA through product distribution, online platforms, and stores, for those that have them. And I think we're at a point where we're ready to help people understand that BR is more than just P50—there's actually a long history behind the brand, with a full understanding of the skin," Humbert says.
Originally founded in the late '70s by biologist and physiotherapist duo Yvan and Josette Allouche, Biologique Recherche cemented its reputation for effectiveness with a customized and active-forward approach to skincare. The idea to build the brand's Ambassades—which are presently in countries like France, Asia, and now the United States—was conceived by Yvan as the physical embodiment of the Biologique Recherche experience, similar to a country's embassy. The brand's first Ambassade location opened in 1992 in Paris on the Champs-Élysées and continues to serve as the model for each subsequent location.
"The demand for our brand on the West Coast is quite high," says Dr. Philippe Allouche, Biologique Recherche's research and creative director who is also the son of the brand's founders. "Our growth in this country in the beginning was very slow—creating an Ambassade [in California] and locations around the world was a decision of the brand partners to build up awareness and maintain quality control, which is very important to us."
The stylish two-story Los Angeles outpost features stunning design details, like a gilded front desk and warmly illuminated glass display cases, modeled somewhat after one of Philippe's former Parisian apartments. "The interior designers are good friends of mine, and one of them asked, 'Remember when I came years ago to a party at your apartment?'" he describes. "I tried to re-create that feeling I had taking in the high ceilings and marble work. So the space is influenced by a little bit of designer Europe with some Los Angeles flair."
Aside from clear opulence and prestige, the Biologique Recherche experience is also based on a unique, three-step methodology—the Assessment Stage, Initialization Stage, and Treatment Stage—which equally help tailor the brand's popular treatments for hair, skin, and body to each customer. "Going step-by-step and in order is serious for us; we use great technicians to provide a full diagnosis for our consumers," Philippe continues. "Biologique Recherche is not a story of product, it's not a story of trends, but a story of skin, period."
During my visit to the Los Angeles flagship, I experienced one of the brand's personalized facial treatments from beginning to end, starting with an analysis of my skin by Biologique Recherche expert and aesthetician Elizabeth Lampell. After completing a short series of questions about my complexion's conditions using the brand's signature Skin Instant Lab, a five-tool diagnostic assessment that monitors particulars like hydration and sebum production, Lampell moved on to the Initialization Stage, where she and Philippe recommended a number of products (including Lotion P50W) suited especially for my combination skin's needs.
While the Treatment Stage was probably my favorite phase of the entire brand experience, I appreciate the time and effort Biologique Recherche takes overall to ensure long-term skin health and vibrancy. "I've been in beauty my entire life and worked on brands that followed trends right away and just ran after everything," Humbert says. "The very different message from Biologique Recherche is that consistency is what actually provides the best results. I think that's an essential component many people have forgotten, because we're so bombarded by new products and the thirst of getting the next exciting thing."
Like its thoughtful approach to its treatment options, Biologique Recherche takes the same care and consideration into crafting its line of products from the very beginning. "When we discover what could be the next active ingredient to use in a product, we have a court of around five or so people who decide whether the ingredient passes or not," Philippe explains. "Then, the court comes to me with each side of the argument, and I have the final say. I had to redo the P50, because I felt that the original P50 1970 was too harsh," he notes of Biologique Recherche's culty treatment.
"Every brand has quality control, but I can say that we're on another level with control and decision-making," Philippe continues. "We usually follow the physiopathology pattern of products—what's happening, what the skin care problem is—and try to enhance each angle. This is how our products are made, with an attempt to align different aspects for the most optimal results—we're obsessed with results."
Now that Biologique Recherche is readily more accessible to new and existing customers in the United States, Humbert has high expectations for the brand's continued success. "People who live in the neighborhood have walked in from off the street to let us know that they've seen the scaffolding and awning, and are so excited," she says. "People that know the brand never thought that we would open our own location here. For now, we're receiving mainly loyal customers and those who know the brand, but we're hopeful the Ambassade will make it easier for others to discover it as well."
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