Brand Background: The History of Clarins

When the Clarins brand first appeared in the 1950s, it had a slightly unusual beginning - not only was the founder not a woman, his last name wasn’t Clarins, either. So how did everything come together to create one of France’s most celebrated cosmetics brands? Well, it all starts in Paris!

Clarins: A Brand For Women

Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser flatlay with pieces of cotton

Credit: ClarinsOfficial/Instagram

Jacques Courtin, born in 1921, realised that the women in his life (mainly his mom, his sister, and her friends) often wanted to feel more - more beautiful, sore slim, more happy. 

As a nine-year-old, he overheard his sister and her friends talking about how much they wanted to change their bodies. Excited to help, he turned to the pages of a popular fitness magazine at the time and helped them find exercises that would ‘fix’ whatever perceived issues that the girls had. 

Courtin was driven by the idea of helping women feel like women, and that once happy with their beauty routines, they could do anything. However, it would be a while before the Clarins brand would be founded - his plans of becoming a doctor were pushed back by WW2. Once he was eventually able to study medicine, the foundations for Clarins were set.

Clarins Toning Lotion with Camomile product image on white background

Clarins Toning Lotion with Camomile | $60
This ultra-gentle toner rebalances pH and sweeps away any last traces of debris for flawless, clean skin. 

As a medical student, he noticed that hospitalised female patients were generally happier when they could maintain their beauty routine while in the hospital. I’d say that Courtin was one of the first to recognise skincare as self-care, to be honest! He noticed that mood improved, even with just one item - face cream.

This gave Courtin an idea - combining medical knowledge with the simple desire to be beautiful could go a long, long way.

I know what you’re thinking now - so, how come the brand is named Clarins if his name is ‘Courtin? Clarins was a Roman character that Courtin played in a school production. Courtin felt such a connection to the name (and that Clarins was a lucky charm for him) that he named the brand Clarins and later changed his name to Clarins-Courtin. His family still carries the double-barreled surname today!

Clarins Cleansing Milk product image on white background

Clarins Cleansing Milk | $45
A gentle cleansing milk formulated with Moringa and Gentian to nourish and provide anti-pollution benefits to skin. 

The Clarins Institute

Clarins Hydra Gel Essentiel on a bed of leaves

Credit: ClarinsOfficial/Instagram

In 1954, the first Clarins Institute was founded at 35 Rue Tronchée, Paris. It was at this location that clients could receive beauty treatments, as well as buy skin care to take home to ensure the best results for their skin. Some of Clarins’ earliest products included plant-derived body oils - some of which are still popular today. 

Thinking back to when he helped his sister come up with exercises for her figure, a Body Sculpting cream was also developed - perhaps one of the first of its kind. 

Alongside developing fantastic skincare, Clarins developed application and massage techniques to ensure that his products were even more effective. Using Clarins products became an art and a ritual in of itself - something that boosted his brand’s popularity among French women.

 Clarins Extra Firming Body Cream product image on white background

Clarins Extra Firming Body Cream | $82
This ultra-nourishing, rich body cream moisturises and firms for a svelte, sleek figure.

Like Sisley, Clarins was one of the first brands to experiment with adding plant-derived ingredients to skincare for their unique benefits. Clarins sources potent plant-based ingredients from around the world - from as close as the French countryside, to as far as Madagascar. However, he also had the foresight to ensure that all plant-derived ingredients should only be used if it was sustainable. 

Clarins was also one of the first beauty brands to stop testing on animals - they’ve been cruelty-free since 1987.

Clarins remains an innovative brand today, harnessing the power of botanical ingredients to create some of the most luxurious skin care in the world - shop Clarins and get your beauty affairs in order today!

Need some help putting together the best skincare routine for your skin type? Try our skin quiz!

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