L’Occitane: handmade hand cream :)

Last part. First part, second part, third part.

So, here we are, my friends – I’m finishing up my Provence story 🙂

It might sound surprising but with more than 1800 stores worldwide L’Occitane still supplies all of them with the help of only one factory. A factory located… yes, that’s right…in Provence. The factory grew bigger and bigger according to the company’s needs and is still growing today.

It’s not allowed to take pictures of the inside so here’s the whole factory building.

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There wasn’t enough space for all the countries so we were welcomed with two stands 🙂

For that reason, here you won’t see any huge containers (there’s 5 of them there, the biggest one weighing about a ton), conveyor belts or warehouses with boxes of cosmetics. Instead, you will see a recorded process of making hand cream with our own hands under the supervision of the company’s R&D directors. It was allowed to take pictures inside the laboratory so we took the opportunity. By the way, the ladies who work there create an impression as if they were in an ordinary office with an ordinary coffee-and-gossip working atmosphere, only with strange devices around and white aprons on 🙂

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I, of course, threw myself at all the jars with my camera – in the picture above someone obviously had been working on the make-up line.

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Next to it there are the instructions for young chemists: how much of which ingredient to use and in what order. By the way, they say that on press-tours like ours journalists usually get to make immortelle concentrate but this time it was decided that it would be too boring so we got to make the more complicated hand cream.

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And so, the process began – a brave Brazilian journalist weighed up the necessary amount of shea butter.

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Then, other ingredients were added to it.

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The mixture needed to be heated up to a certain temperature and further ingredients were added on the way (which everybody participated in; every now and then you could hear the words — «Oh God, I’ve poured in too much, what do we do now?! — Our hand cream is ruined because of you!”

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A brave Brazilian lad is playing a chemist, too. I got to add the most vicious of all the ingredients – an antioxidant – of which only 0.15 gramme was needed. One drop exceeded that twofold 🙂

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In the meantime, in another part of the laboratory, in a special “oven” water was heated up together with some other ingredients – they were mixed at 80 degrees Celsius in order to create an emulsion.

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Then, everything was mixed together in something similar to a blender (“Making a cream is the same as making mayonnaise,” – the main chemist told us :))

We had to wait a while for the mixture to cool down so that we could add to it an aroma of our choice. I took the time to walk around the laborary and take pictures of…well, yeah…jars 🙂

For instance, a huge jar of roll-on deodorant…

… and not less huge – of lip gloss…

…and blush…

Tinted moisturizers!

Now that’s interesting! Pre BB Cream?… I’m intrigued!

Leave-on conditioner and other hair wonders…

Finally!

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The ready mixture was poured into jars for everyone.

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And this is it – the result 🙂

At the end, I asked our chemical guru which product is the most difficult one to make. “Anything with a sunscreen – she said and even wrinkled her nose – It’s very difficult to add sunscreen, the entire formula can get ruined.”

To end with – the museum of L’Occitane…

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That’s the distillation machine that Olivier Baussan bought over 35 years ago – it marks the beginning of the brand.

Having obtained his first essential oil, Olivier thought about what to do next. “I had to choose between going into aromachology, for which I would have needed a degree in medicine – he said – or cosmetics. So, I chose cosmetics.”

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