Amid a field of roses in Grasse, the south of France, a hushed silence has descended. I am watching, rapt, as Antoine Leclef, Lancôme’s head horticulturist, deftly grasps onto an exquisite blossom. “The way to pick them correctly is to place two fingers underneath and one finger inside the centre of the rose,” Leclef elucidates. “Roll it and brace it forward. You know you’ve done it correctly when you hear this sound. It’s a good sound.” His statement is punctuated with a crisp snap. Gently, he leans forward to place the delicate configuration of petals into my palm. It is plush and pliant against my skin, feather-soft. “And there you go,” he finishes. “It is that simple.” Simple is relative, in this case. Standing in Lancôme’s Domaine de la Rose—the French label’s sustainable horticultural site devoted to brand development and biodiversity conservation—I am reminded of the extensive work that goes into the production of a simple pot of moisturiser. Admittedly, the Absolue Soft Cream is hardly a conventional point of reference. Its breakthrough formulation alone reads like a labour of love.
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Within its dense, silky cream lies Lancôme’s Absolue Perpetual Rose, a flower hand-harvested in Valensole, France, that took 10 years to create. Roses are harvested at dawn and hand-delivered to the Lancôme atelier so they are able to undergo green extraction. The aloe vera found in its ingredient list, on the other hand, is organically grown and sourced in Mexico, while the shea butter utilised comes exclusively from the kernels of shea trees from West Africa, specifically Burkina Faso.
Lancôme’s philosophy: longevity as a lifestyle
The attention to detail and consideration that goes into the development of each product is a given at Lancôme. And yet, there is something about the Absolue collection that sets it apart. One might think that it has to do with it being the brand’s first foray into premium luxury, but it is clear to see over my time at Domaine de la Rose that there is more to it. The Absolue Soft Cream—and the full Absolue range, by extension—serves as the epitome of the company’s belief in beauty that endures. An encapsulation of the brand’s pursuit of immortalising an individual’s optimum skin state.
“Our research has found that the secret behind longevity is 20 percent genetics and 80 percent to do with your environment,” states Dr Annie Black, international scientific director at Lancôme. “Nutrition, exercise and skincare all play a role in preserving an individual’s well-being and youth. Ultimately, we at Lancôme believe that a healthy life is equally important as a long life, which is in our hands.”
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Indeed, the brand’s astute interpretation of this shines through in my itinerary. The menu comprises perfectly seared slivers of fish, asparagus and pastries topped with chunks of fresh fruit and vegetables. Osteopathy and yoga sessions are hosted regularly. Customised skin screenings and facials are available, whereupon a skilled therapist identifies your key complexion-related concerns and recommends a line-up of Lancôme products to address said issues.
To that end, my visage is photographed from a variety of angles and scrutinised against a stringent set of parameters to determine areas of improvement. “Hydration and brown spots,” my therapist declares. Naturally, the Absolue Soft Cream—designed to provide intense plumping, densifying and moisturising for skin—is a focal point of my new regimen. It does, after all, incorporate formidable actives and substances to grant radiance and smoothness. Its biggest triumph, however, lies within a protein complex that forms the foundation of the Absolue range.
The science behind a significant innovation
“Think of AMPK as a longevity switch that acts on four youth functions,” Black points out. “What it does is infuse your skin with cellular energy through mitochondrial control, cause cellular detoxification, as well as dispense an antioxidant and anti-inflammation effect.” The Absolue Perpetual Rose serves as its catalyst, kick-starting this complex so both are able to work in tandem and deliver on potent revitalising and softening.
Results are to be expected in four weeks, though I did observe increased radiance in a mere two weeks. Its weightless texture and efficacious moisturising capabilities have earned it a place in my exhaustive routine, alongside a newfound fondness for roses. As I slather on a generous helping each morning, a deep inhale of its fragrance brings me back to the fields of Grasse, suspended in a precise moment where we stand before a row of Absolue Perpetual Roses; a surprise gift in homage of our visit to Domaine de la Rose. My rose tilts towards the sun, incandescent in the light, primed for harvest and set to release its full potential.
The September ‘Feel the Heat’ issue of Vogue Singapore is available for sale online now and on newsstands from 31 August 2023.