L’Occitane, Molton Brown, Crabtree & Evelyn along with Aromatherapy Associates have established themselves as leading international natural cosmetics brands, most of them with a focus on products inspired and made of natural ingredients.
But how natural are these products ? Is natural synonim to bio or organic ?
Each of the brands uses these terms on most of their products, yet, a more attentive review of the labels, one would notice that none of these products are entirely natural, bio or organic. Why ? – the answer of the producers is the need for preserving products and the need to extend expiration dates. Aromatherapy is the only of the four brands to include specific indications on which ingredients are organic. In their case, most of the organic ingredients are the essential oils.
Another issue which comes up in any review of such products is the exclusiveness and the extent to which they can still be considered luxury. One of the aspects is the availability of these products: most of the brands are widely available in thousands of hotel rooms worlwide. Crabtree & Evelyn at HILTON Hotels, Aromatherapy Associates at MANDARIN ORIENTAL, Molton Brown at KEMPINSKI and other chains, L’Occitane at FOUR SEASONS Hotels.
First the presence in these hotels was for some of the brands especially L’Occitane and Aromatherapy Associates like a launching pad internationally reaching a very wide audience, mostly five star hotel travellers, especially considering the hotel chains were not restricting usage of their name too on the products. However, with the growth of each luxury hotel chain, the presence of these brands has been increasing geographically but also bringing drawbacks. For instance, for L’OCCITANE to be present in certain Four Seasons locations has accepted for its products to be ”made in” other countries than France, its French origins beging part of the core value of the brand. In other cases, such as Crabtree and Evelyn, the size of the Hilton chain worldwide has brought the cosmetics brand into many four star rated hotels, therefore losing its ”five star” status.
As for the quality of the products, the only brands which has managed to maintain its level of quality despite the production in large volumes is Aromatherapy Associates. For how long ? – it remains to be seen. The other brands, especially L’Occitane have been increasing their production to such levels year on year, that it makes it very difficult to believe its products are hardly natural, not to mention their Provence (South of France) origins.
In the case of Molton Brown, since the take over by a large Japanese cosmetics two years ago, has been slowing down its expansion, therefore limiting availability. This could have been a strategic decision or a situation created by the international crisis. The biggest asset of Molton Brown remains its origin in the U.K., the brand being widely recognized and known as being British.
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