A Word: Clarins Double Serum Generation

I was reading WWD when I came across a article on the promotion of Clarins Double Serum Generation in the United States.  Per the article, Clarins is betting on Double Serum Generation to become their “hero product” that will jumpstart skincare sales for Clarins in the U.S.  Apparently, Clarins market in the U.S. market outside of their body and suncare lines is pretty anemic compared to other luxury skincare giants.  I do not find this hard to believe.   As a skincare nut, I have not really tried their products.  I think there are several reasons for this (solely my perspective on the matter).

The biggest reason has to do with their advertising.  I don’t really see their stuff advertised that often compared to other comparable european heritage skincare brands.  While brands like Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel (the BIG 3) have skincare and cosmetic lines that draw from the incredible promotion their fashion empire receives; Clarins doesn’t have the same marketing muscle. 

Another is the fact that I associate this brand with older women.  Many of the models this brand uses appear to be significantly older than the advertised images of the BIG 3.  So, I wonder is this a beauty brand primarily focused on the older woman?  But if the brand is age-universal, then this is a problem.  No teenager to recently out of college grad is going to get with the image of an older woman selling them skincare products.  There is no relating in that experience. 

This shouldn’t be a big deal, if you are age diverse with your images but building skincare loyalty shouldn’t rely with images of models who appear to have a very dated  – circa 1980’s – beauty aesthetic.   Compare the beauty models from any major designer beauty brand to that of Clarins.  One group is fresh and relevant.  The other harkens back to the 80’s patrician look.  I always think I am looking at a time capsule when I see a Clarins ad with a model.

Another reason, and this maybe the largest personal reason for me, is that the heritage behind this brand screams exclusion – as in my “only in the new world latina” self is not welcome.  Some may like the air of exclusion in a brand (blue-blood, european, old money) and I think it is fair to say that every brand has the right to choose the message, or branding, that works for them to cater to their ideal customer.  However, if your goal is to GROW market share in the U.S., then you may want to rethink the advertising, branding, marketing in toto because there aren’t that many old money blue bloods, or new money, nouve riche, to grow the Clarins market the way they want it to.  There are just so many “society” girls who can buy this stuff. 

If I have gone against these presumptions, which I have – to purchase a Clarins Instant Light Complexion Perfector and their UV Plus HP SPF 40 Day Screen, it is only because I AM A SKINCARE JUNKIE.  Frankly, my intent was not to go to the Clarins counter but to explore new beauty products.  I ONLY went to the Clarins counter after I got bored from going to the other counters of choice and I didn’t feel like leaving empty handed.  That’s right, I purchased those two products out of BOREDOM and not wanting to walk away empty handed.  Clarins had no expectations to dash because they were never on my radar.  So the bar was set incredibly low. 

What’s ironic is that had Clarins NOT used ANY model images, and had their beauty associates at the counter been a bit more diverse, I probably would have given this brand a fair and neutral shake.  I mean I love Decleor and I do not think it is any different from Clarins, when I think about it.  Except, I don’t associate anything negative with them.  However, let us get real here.  Other than Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, their somewhat star product – which is not necessary for oily skinned girls, there really isn’t a blockbuster product in their skincare line.

Which gets me back to Clarins Double Serum Generation.  This actually does sound interesting.  This serum includes recent advances in skincare technology that combats aging skin in all skintypes by providing skin cell nourishment via a double chamber to separate the water and oil based delivery mechanism.  Asian beauty blog reviews of this product mention that the dual serum that comes out should be mixed together in the hand and massaged into the skin.  Reviews for this product have been generally positive. 

I am curious about this product and will actually visit a Clarins counter to check it out when it launches.  Whether I walk away with a bottle is another story.  But if there are essential oil components within the “lipid-delivery system,” then I am game.  I’m a sucker for oils…

Update: Speak of the devil Clarins is having a 15%- 25% Friends and Family Sale until 11/13.  Just use the code CLARINSFF12.




  1. Hi! I am a brand rep for Clarins in Boston MA and have been with the company for a few years now. I really enjoyed reading your article and hearing your thoughts about the brand and soon to launch Double Serum Generation 7.
    Hopefully I will be able to clarify some of your thoughts about the brand, and of course, answer any additional questions you may have 🙂 I look forward to an open dialogue

    First and foremost, it is true Clarins does not spend a lot of money on advertising. In truth, we have almost NEVER used a celebrity spokesperson to shill the Clarins brand either. The result being that money spent on advertising, and especially famous celebrity faces, cost a lot and are a huge expense that do not directly impact the consumers skin or beauty health. It is an expensive advertising move that takes money away from other areas where that money would be more usefully spent for the customer, being it research and development of good skincare, better packaging materials to ensure the safety of the products inside, or being able to create many many samples so people can try the product before purchasing. Clarins has always used the philosophy that the core of the company is skincare, not hype. In France, where the brand was born, French women are less likely to be impressed by hype or trends, and perhaps the method of advertising is more catered to a Western European client and could be better adapted for an American consumer. But I always thought that the logic was right, and made sense, especially as a consumer who does not want to spend money to put in Julia Roberts or Nikki Minaj’s pocket.

    I remember the first time I tried Clarins. I wasn’t even working in skincare at the time. In fact, my husband’s mother was the one who introduced me to the line. She was over 40, and I was in my 20s at the time, but she seemed like such a distinguished and poised woman who I hope to be like one day as I matured (and so did my skin – eventually we all get older, right?). I think that Clarins wants to be associated with the aunt, mother, grandmother who’s tried & true skincare regimen is part of an identity to a woman’s beauty routine she shares with other women. Rather than just having trendy packaging or products (remember when Bare Minerals was the only foundation girls were wearing, but then as soon as Tinted Moisturizers came out, they ditched the powder, and now that’s happening again with BB creams… next up, CC creams….??) I think Clarins wants to position itself as a classic brand that does not give in to skincare “hype” but rather to something all woman can relate to and look up to as they do to their mothers and female mentors. Although, recently I have noticed that the company is hiring younger models and from different cultural backgrounds… which I applaud and hope to continue to see. All women should feel embraced by the brand when they come to the Clarins counter. At the counter I work at, there are women of all races, backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities working there. And through that diversity we are all able to relate to different customers and learn a thing or two about eachother’s different skin types.

    Finally, I am really looking forward to trying the Generation 7 of the Double Serum. It has gotten a lot of attention on both sides of the ocean so I can’t wait to try it.
    I have combination skin, and I love the 100% pure plant face oils for days when my skin is really acting up. In fact, I encourage you to try the Lotus Face Treatment Oil for Oily-Combination skin. It’s 100% pure plant extracts, zero preservatives or fragrance and designed specifically for oily skin to kill the bacteria and restore the skin natural sebum production.

    If you’re ever in Boston, please let me know, I will be more than happy to offer a skincare consultation and make-up application (our foundation colour range expands more and more every year due to demand). Until then, I look forward to hearing from you. All the best, sincerely, Amanda M.

  2. Hi Amanda. I want to thank you for taking the time to write such a well thought out response to my post. It says much that you would take time from your day to respond to a blog post for a product, or brand, that you strongly believe in. My experience with Clarins is limited to the department store experience, although in recent years I have noted that Sephora has started carrying certain products from the brand. Marketing and advertising are very important in the increasingly crowded beauty market. In the absence of marketing and advertising, there is word of mouth, or hands on experience. On both fronts, Clarins registers pretty low. I understand putting more money into product development and production than into advertising. One of my all time favorite cleansers has never been advertised and comes in an ugly, cheap plastic bottle, yet I keep repurchasing it and it has a large following within the oily skinned community (male and female), and it is not exactly cheap.

    Clarins still has an image problem in the sense that it doesn’t really register beyond a certain age or ethnic demographic. I am sure there are pockets of exceptions. I live in one of the most diverse cities in the U.S. and when I observe the Clarins counter, what I see are half a dozen (middle aged white female) associates milling around with not much to do, while counters for Clinique, Lancome, and Estee Lauder are flooded with young and old, and a multicultural shmorgisborg. The only other counter that is more desperate looking is the Elizabeth Arden counter. I honestly don’t even know how these two counters can even survive unless it’s from older customers who just phone in bulk orders and pick it up at a later time. I am not one to buy into a brand because everyone else is, or to avoid one because no one else is, but despite my skincare obsession, I have a certain branded image of Clarins (derived from my experience with the counter AND Clarins advertisments) that feels a tad unwelcoming.

    My post was inspired by a WWD article about Clarin’s new product. I realized that despite my general excitement for new product announcements (probably strange), I did not feel the same way about Clarins new product, even though on its face, it should be right up my alley. When I exclude the Clarins branding, it sounds interesting. when I add it, it removes some of the interest. I wondered why. My post was an exploration as to why I did not feel the general excitement. It was upon further analysis that I realized that I associate Clarins with a blue-blood, old money image that feels exclusionary to me. I found this surprising considering I hold no similar associations with Dior, Lancome, ect. So I delved deeper. Ultimately, people will gravitate or be repelled by a brand for any variety of reasons some of which can’t be controlled by marketing or advertising. This post was an exploration of why the Clarins brand did not resonate with me, despite having similar skincare idealogy to other brands I do use.

    I do appreciate you taking the time to provide your own perspective on the brand. All points of view are welcome as the lens we individually see through is never truly objective as various experiences and associations may cling to it influencing our perceptions.

  3. Hi Fairy Tales and Coffee,
    Thanks for your thoughtful response.
    I wish I had more leverage in the company’s advertising and promotional campaigning. Alas, I am just an Account Specialist and really only deal with day-to-day sales for the company. You do make a good point that it could reach more audiences.

    I don’t know what area you are residing, but in very central cities, like Boston, New York, Chicago, LA, I know that Clarins does well among all ages and backgrounds, mostly through word-of-mouth and store events. But who knows, every counter is different, and perhaps where you have seen the brand the women there are significantly older and appeal less to you and your skincare needs.

    I do wish there was something I could tell you to get you excited about the brand the way you feel about others. I know that for me, I am 32 years old, having been familiar with Clarins since I was 25 and have gotten many friends onto it because I was so passionate about it. I can tell you why I love the brand so much, perhaps it might inspire you 🙂 either way, it’s been great hearing your perspective.

    1) They are through and through the most authentic French brand in skincare out there. The brand is still privately owned by the Courtin-Clarins family, which originally was founded by the grandfather Jacques Courtin-Clarins in a tiny apothecary in Paris in 1954. It was one of the first skincare brands to use pure plant and botanical extracts in order to deliver skincare benefits to womens’ skin. The quality and extraction of these extracts is extremely pure.

    2) To this day it is still the number 1 selling skincare brand in Europe because of the way they have marketed to European women in the sense that they know mothers and grandmothers pass down their skincare secrets to their daughters. Perhaps that is the ‘heritage’ image you mention. Very similar to what mothers do in America by taking their teenager to the Clinique counter for their first skincare regimen. It continues the purchasing cycle for the company. Clarins only came to America in the 80s and perhaps did not have a leg-up in that department. They have expanded the range to meet all skin types of all ages, but the website http://www.clarinsusa.com does a much better job at detailing the differences than I ever could.

    3) All of the plant extracts and ingredients Clarins use come from natural sources, grown in natural and sustainable communities around the world.

    4) Do not test on animals, and do not use animal by-product in ingredients.

    5) Packages all of their products in one location in Paris, in a suburb called Neuilly. Since the company is privately owned, perhaps they have more vested interest in the integrity of the products, and by packaging it themselves they ensure the quality and integrity of the products no matter where a woman purchases it in the globe. For example, L’Oreal sells the same product in a few locations, but in order to save on shipping costs, they deliver the ingredients list to be manufactured in the host country, and also leave the host country to create the language specific packaging, therefore the product really is not the same at all between 2 countries.

    6) They have an unlimited budget for Research and Development. Did you know the word serum was invented by Clarins in the 60s? Its true. The very first Double Serum when it was launched used to be sold separately and women would purchase each of the 2 serums separately and mix it at home themselves.

    I really should state that I am communicating with you for my own interest and not working for the company in terms of communication. I am really looking forward to the Generation 7 of Double Serum because its supposed to be a huge launch, maybe the company has a few surprises up their sleeves in terms of the marketing campaign. I do know that it is being advertised to women of all ages above 25 years old. It’s meant to restore the skins natural water and oil balance, brighten, tighten, even out skin tone and contains natural stem cells to strengthen the skins collagen and elastin production. I received my avant-premier from the company a few days ago and I’m looking forward to see how my skin reacts.

    Since I started working for the company 2 years ago I have seen many different types of women (and men!) come to the counter to learn more about the brand. I am always open and excited to start dialogues with people with why they might want to give the company a try. I am not a very good writer so please excuse that I may no be communicating with my best skills. I really just wanted to start a conversation with you. I’m glad I learned a few things about your opinions and hopefully we can be in touch regarding any future experiences should you choose to explore it.


  4. Well thought out response and I appeciate your advocacy. It is rare to hear anyone plug a brand with passion and even rarer by an employee – no really. I do envy the fact that you work for a company that you believe in. All the best this holiday season!

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