In 1976 Olivier Baussan, at the age of 23, began distilling Rosemary essential oil which he sold in the local markets of Provence. In the same year Olivier began making soap in the tradition of Marseille soap making and so L’Occitane was born. Now in 2016 L’Occitane celebrates its 40th anniversary as it has grown from the local French market to global success while still maintaining its values of authenticity, respect and sensoriality.
From the opening of it’s factory and store in Volx, Provence in 1981 and the 1st L’Occitane Boutique on Rue Vavin, Paris in 1992 to the opening of Boutiques in New York and Hong Kong in 1996 and even the opening of the 1st L’Occitane Spa in Brazil in 2001, the brand has grown rapidly in 40 years with over 2,700 stores internationally.
L’Occitane En Provence is a true industry leader and a shining example of a successful company which does not compromise on it’s values. L’Occitane has featured braille on it’s products labels since 1997 and for 36 years L’Occitane has been sourcing one of it’s key ingredients Shea Butter from the women of Burkina Faso, Africa. In 2001 it partnered with ORBIS, an international NGO that fights blindness and in 2006 Olivier established the L’Occitane Foundation with 2 main goals: the support of the blind and the economic emancipation of women. In 2010 the foundation partnered with Aide et Action to support women’s literacy centers in Burkino Faso.
While it’s been a tough job to choose, these are my top picks from L’Occitane:
- Ok so this is actually 2 products but they are hard to separate! Containing the nourishing shea butter sourced in Burkino Faso, these are best sellers for the company. The hand cream is rich, yet rapidly absorbed while the foot cream soothes and softens feet. Sold separately throughout the year, keep an eye out for the 2 sold together occasionally in a value pack with serious savings to be made. L’Occitane also sell their hand creams in perfect hand bag 30ml sizes in various different scents with value packs also available.
2. The Almond ingredients in this range are sourced locally from Valensole in the Alps of Haute Provence. Almond benefits by nourishing and softening the skin, firming and smoothing skin texture and improving the appearance of scars and stretch marks. For me this is L’Occitanes most luxurious range and includes a Shower Oil, Milk Concentrate, Supple Skin Oil and Delicious Paste, perfect for creating an at home spa evening.
3. The Verbena Harvest Collection 1st launched in 1999 and I discovered this range when I was lucky enough to win a Verbena Hamper through a Twitter competition. I tend to gravitate towards warmer and more floral scents so it was a pleasant surprise to discover this range which I would have been unlikely to purchase otherwise. Verbena is a shrub typical to the Mediterranean with a lemony fragrance and my favourite product in the range is the shower gel. It’s energising qualities make it the perfect morning wake up.
4. Aromachology has been at the heart of L’Occitane since 1976. Olivier Baussan has a long time understanding of essential oils and the benefits they can bring to both body and mind. L’Occitane has three ranges which celebrate the art of Aromachology; Relaxing, Rebalancing and my personal favourite the Revitalising range which recharges the body and mind. The Revitalising range contains 5 essential oils from the Mediterranean – Lemon, Rosemary, Grapefruit, Mint and Orange which give the products a 100% natural scent.
5. The Cherry Tree is a typical sight in Provence and L’Occitane source their cherry blossom from the Luberon orchards. The Cherry Blossom Shimmering Lotion is a light lotion which leaves skin soft, hydrated with an iridescent shimmer. Alongside the Cherry Extract, this lotion contains Shea Butter, Sunflower & Grapeseed Oil but is non-greasy and quickly absorbed leaving skin delicately fragranced.
This is just a very small taste of what L’Occitane has to offer. One of the great things about L’Occitane is that they constantly bring out limited edition collections which contain a selection of the best sellers and most loved products and it is a great way to explore the brand.
“The sun, the products of the soil and a love of nature are the essence of my Provence. It is this essence I want to share with the world. It is what inspired me to create L’Occitane.” Olivier Baussan – Founder of L’Occitane.
Happy 40th Anniversary L’Occitane!