The invitation to preview Chanel’s top-secret new skincare range was a welcome one. In her email, the communications manager explains that it’s the brand’s sustainable new line, many years in the making. She thought it would be of particular interest to me given Beauticate’s recent launch of Go Green, our sustainability section. Mais oui. It most certainly is! I swiftly tap back my affirmative reply.  

Preview day arrives and I turn up to Chanel’s office in North Sydney CBD. Entry into the building is as secure and high tech as one would hope with impressive facial recognition software and elevators that already know where they’re going.  Once inside the hush of the waiting room, it’s all white on white décor with crisp black accents. 

I’m welcomed into a gleaming boardroom by the PR team and skin expert Melanie Grant, who talk me through the new range, titled “No 1 de Chanel.”  It’s Chanel’s most planet-friendly range yet – from the packaging right through to the ingredients, of which 97% are of natural origin.

At the heart of the line is the camellia flower – which also happens to be an enduring emblem in the house of Chanel, being Gabrielle Chanel’s favourite bloom.

Chanel scientists have spent the last 17 years studying the skincare benefits of camellias, honing in on the red camellia or camellia japonica. This beautiful bloom is able to withstand frosts and sleets with no cellular damage: a quality scientists put down to an ingredient called protocatechuic acid, along with a high level of antioxidants. 

All the products in the No 1 de Chanel range contain some form of this red camellia flower, and the entire flower is utilized including the petals, water, oil and seeds. It was important to the brand to have a circular approach to production and that nothing goes to waste. 

The First Thing I Notice

… is, of course, the packaging.  Although every element of the design was considered from an eco-standpoint, Chanel has not compromised on quality or aesthetics. It’s still an experience of utter luxury.  I’m pleased to note that they have done away with the plastic wraps and paper inserts (eschewed in favour of clever QR codes). 

Most of the packaging is in recycled glass (which has been reduced by either half or third of its weight); the printing is in organic ink and the lid of the Revitalizing Cream has even been created from bio materials including camellia seeds and wood shavings. Not that you could tell. It still feels satisfyingly durable in my hands. 

Once home, I put the products through their paces with my evening routine, starting with the Red Camellia Powder-To-Foam Cleanser.  Waterless products are big news ATM as they are more concentrated, lightweight (taking less energy to transport), are less likely to go mouldy (so don’t require as many preservatives) and they don’t use the precious resource of water unnecessarily. 

The lid has a clever design. It twists to reveal a little opening that allows you tap out a small amount of powder (all that’s needed!) without making a mess. Simply add a few drops of water and it foams into a most satisfying creamy cleanser. It whisks away my eye makeup with no sting and leaves my skin feeling comfortable yet squeaky clean. So far, so impressed.

A couple weeks later

I’ve grown quite fond of my evening routine. Particularly the sensorial elements: the smell and the way it makes my skin feel. And, let’s be honest, I also love the look of the red, white and black packaging on my bathroom counter. 

The Red Camellia Revitalising Serum, which contains the most concentrated amount of Red Camellia extract, is like a splash of cool water, refreshing, thanks it its lightweight gel texture. Again, the packaging does all the work for you. Twist and the lid pops up with the perfect amount apportioned into the dropper. It contains Camellia Water, which adds to the sense of a quick hydration hit.  

My favourite skincare product from the collection is definitely the Red Camellia Revitalising Cream. A thick, whipped buttercream texture, it melts on contact with the skin. I’ve noticed throughout the night and, even when I wake up the next morning, that I can still feel it springy and moist on my skin.  Bonus points that the jar is refillable. 

A month after starting

This line is designed to address the first signs of aging: from tone and texture right through to fine lines. The main thing I notice in my month long trial is that my hydration levels are at an all time high. I can tell because I don’t get that tight feeling around 3pm anymore. I can still feel the moisturizer working the next day, which is mostly unheard of with my other products. My skin feels nourished in a way that it hasn’t for quite some time.

Thanks to all the hydration, my skin also looks glowier than usual. To amp that up I’ve taken to giving it a decent misting with the Red Camellia Revitalizing Serum-In-Mist, a bi-phase spray that you can use over makeup to top up hydration during the day. 

I’m also head over heels in love with the Red Camellia Revitalizing Foundation: it’s dewy and creamy but also lightweight. It has JUST the right amount of coverage for how I want my skin to look at the moment (like MY skin, just better) and it’s the perfect partner to show off my lit-from-within complexion. 

The verdict

The overall feeling I have from using the range was of my skin being nurtured, and if there was ever a time when we need our skincare nurture us, it’s as we enter our third year of pandemic-related challenges. 

I’m so pleased that Chanel has come to the global eco-party with sustainably-minded packaging and naturally-derived no-tox formulas. I’m thrilled one of my favourite brands is now not only good for me but it’s also kind to the planet.


Story by Sigourney Cantelo; Photography by Alice Mahran; Hair & Makeup by Jessica Diez.

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