There is a particular way about French beauty; wind in hair, that timeless rouge, sunlit cheeks… An exquisiteness yet ease. And at the pinnacle of this impeccable beauty, we find the transformative vision of Caudalie (pronounced kô-da-lee): to create quality products, efficacious formulas, accompanied by a constantly diminishing footprint. With an origin story from leftover grape skins and a name inspired by the quantitative measurement of a wine’s quality, the iconic French beauty brand is now behind a growing line of remarkably protective and reparative elixirs — all of which harness the revolutionary antioxidant powers of grape polyphenols.
15 years from its beginning in 1995, we catch up with Mathilde Thomas, the Co-Founder of Caudalie (whom she started with her husband, Bertrand Thomas) on the brand’s radiant story, its own league of green “cosm-ethics” and why she doesn’t always believe in price tags.
1. Tell us more about your backstory and professional background!
I was passionate about fragrance and always knew I wanted to work with perfumers. When I was younger, I would guess the fragrances of every single one of my mother’s friends. Their faces would redden as they asked, “Did I put too much on?” The answer being no, I just had a great sense for fragrance!
I didn’t know what part of beauty I wanted to pursue professionally. But I knew from a young age I had a passion for fragrance, texture and natural skincare. Growing up in Grenoble since young, my grandmother taught me recipes revolving around natural ingredients and the importance of antioxidant-rich skincare. Professionally, I started out with an internship at French perfumer, Cacharel, when I was about 15. It was amazing to work with such like-minded people. And today, when I create products for Caudalie, the scent remains an extremely important element.
2. How did Caudalie come to be? What inspired you to start your own skincare brand?
“Do you know that you are throwing away treasures?” This sentence changed my life. It marks my meeting with Professor Vercauteren during the 1993 grape harvest in the vineyards of Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Then, he revealed the amazing anti-oxidant powers of grapevine and grape Polyphenols. Thereafter, Caudalie was born. I created Caudalie with my husband Bertrand in 1995, and we still run this wonderful company with the same passion and conviction as on the very first day. And it is still family owned.
3. What sets Caudalie apart?
Caudalie has a true story. It was born in Bordeaux at my family’s property, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte. It’s the nature that surrounds me and the « art de vivre » of this region that inspires me every day, making Caudalie a very unique brand with a beautiful heritage. The philosophy behind Caudalie is really simple: effective products that are problem solvers, highly green formula and refined textures and scent.
4. Tell us more about “cosm-ethics”!
I believe in green and rational cosmetics. I wanted to offer a new type of cosmetics, offering the right balance between effectiveness, naturalness and sensoriality. We try to get as close as possible to 100% natural ingredients, without sacrificing effectiveness and sensoriality. We never use certain suspicious or undesirable ingredients such as Parabens, ingredients of animal origin, Mineral oil, or irritating and polluting agents.
5. Why is the philosophy of “cosm-ethics” important to Caudalie? And what drives your commitment to environmental causes?
My husband Bertrand and I are really engaged. We believe that we must act to leave a better planet to our kids. This is why we joined 1% for the Planet 8 years ago. And today, it remains the biggest European contributor. We have planted almost 8 million trees in the world and counting. By funding associations that work for reforestation and tree protection, we want to give back to nature a little of what it gives us everyday.
6. Caudalie’s new Anti-Wrinkle Face Sun Care is a remarkable new player with an innovative formula. Tell us more about it, what makes it unique?
For my new sun care range, I didn’t want to compromise between protecting the skin and protecting nature. The formula combines an innovative system of filters with a new, patented antioxidant complex enriched with grape polyphenols, offering maximum protection and a powerful anti-wrinkle action. We have banned controversial filters from our formula; this includes chemical filters suspected of being endocrine disruptors, such as Octinoxate and Octocrylene. Also nanoparticle filters and the filters known to be toxic to the marine environment like Oxybenzone.
7. And finally, what do you think is the biggest skincare misconception people have?
I would say… It’s not the most expensive skincare that is the best for your skin. I would look for effective products that contain skin-changing, problem-solver molecules. The ones you know [will] work, like resveratrol, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, etc. I would also make sure that the formula I apply on my skin is clean, natural and without potential hormonal disruptors.
Celebrating 15 Years of Transformative Beauty With Caudalie’s Icons
It has been a journey marked by uncompromising dedication to formulations that accomplish on all fronts. Think incredible textures, indulgent scents, natural ingredients, eco-friendly systems and above all, proven results. From well-loved classics to new game changers, we (re)visit two Caudalie icons that encapsulate the brand’s eminence — for the boost your skincare routine needs.
Arguably one of Caudalie’s most transcendent holy grails, this potent anti-dark spot corrector illuminates, evens and combats pigmentation. Its unmatched effectiveness lies in patented Viniferine, which is an impressive 62 times more effective than Vitamin C. The serum works to alleviate the appearance (and prevent the reappearance of) dark spots, pregnancy mask, acne marks, sun pigmentation and age-related dark spots. And with inimitable Caudalie quality, Vinoperfect is formulated with 97% ingredients of natural origin, oil-free, non photo-sensitising and free from a running list of additives (including Parabens, Phenoxyethanol, Phthalates, Mineral oils, animal-derived ingredients).
The newest darling of the family, Caudalie’s Anti-Wrinkle Face Sun Care is a high-performing SPF all-rounder. Apart from providing the maximum UVA/UVB protection, the lightweight creamy and non-tacky formula also features organic grape water to comfort sensitive skin. A patented antioxidant complex supercharged with grape polyphenols also delivers anti-wrinkle properties, while omitting a host of controversial filters including Octinoxate, Octocrylene and Oxybenzone. A painstakingly clean, protective SPF that works hard for your skin without compromising marine ecosystems, Caudalie’s remarkable new sun care is also a testament to the brand’s harder work for the planet.
PS: In another green milestone, Caudalie has partnered with The Reef World Foundation to implement Green Fins (a certification programme aimed at conserving coral reefs through improved diving practices) in Antigua and Barbuda!
For your skin and the planet, with love. Discover the Vinoperfect range, Anti-Wrinkle Face Sun Care and Caudalie’s full range, now available in-stores at Sephora and on sephora.sg.