This is going to be a longer post, so I’m luring you in with a pretty photo of one of the dreamiest homes I’ve ever visited. You’re looking at the Notting Hill residence of Christine d’Ornano, global VP of Sisley Paris. Our second day in London was spent here and it was completely amazing. We spent an entire day… first learning more about the heritage of the Sisley brand, then the skincare, then the cosmetics… ending with makeovers by Sisley’s (incredible) makeup artist, Tania Grier.
Sit back, relax, and get ready – this afternoon’s post is all about history and science (with a side of skincare + a little makeover).
I don’t really even know where to begin. I guess the place to start is to tell you that Sisley is (and always has been, since the brand’s inception in 1976) a family owned and operated business. I really love this. It might be just because I grew up working for my parents’ family business from the day I could walk, but to me, knowing that the brand is family owned and operated feels so much more personal and tells me a few things. Mainly, there is accountability. It’s one thing to be the CEO of a publicly owned company, but it’s another to have your family’s reputation rooted in a brand. It’s also nice to not be beholden to investors. The brand can take (and does take) years to perfect a formula without any outside pressure. Lastly, it’s kind of quaint. In an era where everything is just big, big, big… it’s nice to picture the d’Ornano family sitting down at their weekly Wednesday meetings with the scientists… testing new formulas and figuring out ways to bring the best active ingredients to life.
The brand was started in 1976 by Hubert d’Ornano. Prior to founding Sisley, Hubert had also founded Orlane. It’s safe to say that beauty is in the family DNA (his father Guillame was the cofounder of Lancome)! Hubert died in 2015 (a billionaire, still owning 100% of the company) after leading the company for forty years and then handing it down to his son Philippe. His daughters Christine (Global VP, who we spent the day with) and Elisabeth also work for the company… and his wife Isabelle is still very involved.
When Hubert started Sisley, he wanted to create something really high end, based upon phytocosmetology (cosmetics based upon botanical extracts). This doesn’t sound particularly revolutionary now, but back then in the seventies it was… d’Ornano really pioneered this. He believed firmly that plant science was the future of skincare, and he was right.
Today, Sisley continues to be a pioneer in phytocosmetology. The brand uses only the very best, high-end active ingredients… all sourced from plants. Christine walked us through their processes, which I found to be really interesting. The brand’s scientists go through a rigorous selection of which plants they should use… all decisions are made based upon the highest concentration of active ingredients, the best cultivation areas, and the finest extraction + encapsulation methods. This is something I’d never even considered. You find an amazing ingredient, which is great… but then you have to figure out the best place to grow it… and the best way to encapsulate the formula.
Another thing the brand takes into account is synergistic combinations. Active ingredients react very differently with each other, so any time the brand adds a new ingredient to a formula, that ingredient needs to be tested with every other active ingredient. It’s pretty much a rubix cube when you think about it.
Another thing I found interesting was that Sisley was one of the first luxury brands to incorporate essential oils into their products. I’ve been using Sisley for years and (rather ignorantly) thought that they were for fragrance purposes. Alas, I was wrong. The essential oils actually help to transport the active ingredients into your skin.
Christine and her team walked us through all of the products, but I wanted to spotlight four of my personal favorites.
ONE // All-Day All-Year: This is the ultimate day cream and one I’ve just started using since returning from London. This contains filters (encapsulated so that they last a full eight hours) that capture 90% of UVA/UVB rays all while hydrating and providing anti-aging benefits. It’s not for sitting in the sun, but great for city life. It glides on seamlessly and immediately sinks right into the sun… not even a tiny bit greasy
TWO // Express Flower Gel: This is an old favorite of mine and positively wonderful for travel. The brand actually sent us a tube prior to the trip with the express purpose of taking it on the plane with us… #spoiled. For everyday use, you just apply a thin layer, leave on for three (!) minutes and tissue off… but on a red eye I will actually apply it like a sleeping mask. It leaves skin so so soft and helps prevent dehyration.
THREE // Black Rose Cream Mask: This is one of my all time favorite Sisley products, I know I’ve mentioned it here before… but if you try one thing from the brand this maybe should be it. It’s the #1 face mask in France, so that tells you something. The story of this one coming into fruition also goes back to the family/scientist principles… the scientists discovered Black Rose, finding that it is very nourishing + possesses anti-aging benefits. Christine’s mother really wanted a velvety, luxe face mask… and this product was born! The brand also has a black rose facial oil which is incredibly luxe. It’s a bit heavy for my personal liking but it is amazing for super dehydrated and/or mature skin.
FOUR // Gentle Buffing Cream: The first time I tried this product, I did it all wrong. I thought it was a face scrub, so I applied it to wet skin, massaged it in, and washed it off. I was disappointed by how it worked. And then I got a facial at the brand’s West Village outpost and learned that I had been doing everything all wrong. This, you apply like a mask. You leave it on until it dries, and then gently “roll” it off (think of Elmer’s glue). As you roll the product off, you peel off dead skin cells, dirt, sebum, etc… revealing the glowiest skin ever. It’s a phenomenal product.
Next up, we’ll chat about Sisley’s cosmetics. Prior to the trip I was already using the lip and eye twists, and I also really love the brand’s bronzer and their new mascara… but I didn’t know a ton about the products. The cosmetics are a bit more playful than the skincare line (that fun zebra packaging was Christine’s mother Isabelle’s idea) but the important thing to note is that the products all contain the same active ingredients so you are getting the treatment benefits of the products. This makes their formulas really excellent for sensitive skin (hand raised).
The goal behind the cosmetics is to provide easy makeup, with professional results. I’ve always been more interested in skincare than makeup and if you are like me, these products are for you. They’re idiot proof! Once again, the treatment benefits are paramount. Some examples: the concealer contains Arnica (which is great for bruises) to help with dark circles, the mascara contains castor oil + peptides which help to strengthen and lengthen lashes from the root. Anytime you put one of their color cosmetics on your face, you are also doing something wonderful for your skin.
The lip twists (pictured above) are a favorite of mine. (They’re also a global favorite… eight are sold every minute!) The goal of the brand was to create something as colorful as a lipstick, as shiny as a gloss, and as hydrating as a balm. The result is something really pretty that immediately gives you smoother, softer lips. (My personal favorite of course is Poppy, a vibrant red/orange.) Litchi is also a very nice neutral – I’m wearing it in the photo below.
Here are the results of my little makeover. I wanted a subtle smokey eye and a neutral lip, and Tania did just that… using the brand’s eye twists in Topaz and Pearl.
One of the biggest product takeaways for me from the trip was how much I love the eye twists and how versatile they are. Prior to the trip I was using them like a liner, but you can use them like a shadow too. The formula is completely waterproof, so you have to blend it immediately before it sets, but once you do it, it will stay on all day.
To create my (ridiculously easy) smokey eye, Tania used just a few products. I’ve been doing this on my own and was surprised how easily I could recreate the look on my own. Here’s the step by step:
ONE // Apply the Topaz eye twist all over your lid and blend with your fingers.
TWO // Take the Pearl Eye Twist (this is a new shade, coming soon) and apply it directly to a brush. Dot it in the center of the lid, just above the iris of your eye… tap it below the brow bone (use your fingers for this) and apply to the inner corners.
THREE // Dot the Amber eye shadow in the outer corners of your eyes and blend.
FOUR // Line your eyes with brown liner, and apply two coats of the mascara in brown.
*I also picked up a little contouring trick for you that is easy to do… and subtle! Tania recommends applying a peachy bronzer like a check mark, just below the apple of your cheek.
A word about the new mascara. It is not out just yet but it is incredible – expect a longer post about it later! It makes my lashes so much stronger and thicker. Another fun tip: try applying a coat of blue over a coat of black to catch the light. So pretty!