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Orveon CEO Pascal Houdayer on the Pure Beauty Paradigm

July 14, 2022
July 14, 2022

The industry is at a crossroads when it comes to the clean beauty debate, with some settling on the side of all natural, others on the side of synthetics, and others in the tried-and-tested traditional camp. With such divisive mindsets in place, is cohesion within the industry even possible? Pascal Houdayer certainly hopes so.

With over three decades of working in the beauty and personal care industry, Houdayer is undoubtedly a man of professional experience. Previously occupying leadership positions at industry heavyweights such as Procter & Gamble, Naos, and Henkel, his latest mission is “creating the future of the face” with cosmetics ecosystem Orveon. Its starting roster of brands is BareMinerals, Buxom, and Laura Mercier—the first, pioneered mineral makeup; the second, results-oriented cosmetics; and the last, iconic base products. At first glance, an unlikely trio. Upon second consideration, Houdayer may be assembling a brand army focused less on affiliation with a certain genre and more in alignment with category innovation. Furthermore, the chosen companies need a firm grounding in Orveon’s core pillars of innovation, sustainability, and positive community impact.

The company hopes to pave a new industry ethos that moves the conversion away from “clean” beauty and towards “pure” beauty. In the interview that follows, Houdayer speaks to BeautyMatter about what he envisions with this paradigm shift and the specifications of this new beauty standard.

“Clean beauty is dead” is quite a definitive statement—why do you think this is the case?

Clean beauty is a term that originated from BareMinerals in 1995. The original concept focused on traceability of ingredients, vegan formulations, and non parabens, essentially products made with the best ingredients in nature that are both clean for your skin and health. Over time, the term has gone from a positive “made with x, y, z ingredients” to a negative “not made with x, y, z ingredients.” Today, it has been co-opted as a marketing term with much less meaning than it once held. Each brand has its own version of clean beauty—there is no definitive meaning across the industry—and it can contribute to poor industry practices, such as misinformation and consumer confusion, to slip by unnoticed.

What inspired you to coin the term “pure beauty” and how would you define it?

The term “pure beauty” is simple, direct, and impactful. Purity as a concept is simpler than the ambiguous “clean”—it defines products that are exactly as they say, from exactly where they say, end to end. We only use ingredients that are absolutely needed in the formula—nothing more. As we launched Orveon, we knew that we were looking to redefine what quality and innovation mean for the beauty industry. That meant revisiting what has become “standard” and figuring out how to improve it. Pure beauty is the next step in true advancement in beauty standards.

How can the chasm between clean beauty and the rest of the industry be closed?

By shifting toward pure beauty instead of clean beauty, we can set a standard that is absolute across all brands rather than something that is open for interpretation by each brand. Pure products should be pure from start to finish, rather than ingredients where potentially harmful pieces were removed to get to a “clean” end product.

"After years of complicated terms and questionable practices, the industry must show real impact and change to earn back consumer trust."
By Pascal Houdayer, CEO, Orveon

What would be a solution to the widespread misinformation with not just consumers on social media but even within the industry?

In order to ensure consistent and credible information sharing across the industry, companies (large and small) across the board need to establish a standard for quality terms, claims, and more. Pure must mean something and have a set of qualifications and values tied to it.

How can the industry reinstate consumer trust amid green- and bluewashing?

After years of complicated terms and questionable practices, the industry must show real impact and change to earn back consumer trust. Companies need to ensure they’re not just leveraging buzzwords like “clean” and “sustainable” for marketing purposes, but instead taking action and making it a key part of the brand vision. At Orveon, for example, we're focused on sustainable sourcing and even exploring upcycled ingredients—we consider how recyclable both the primary and secondary packaging of our products are, and we encourage our employees to do their part on an individual level as well. We have a corporate standard for our products that must be adhered to if we use certain terms, and we stick to those.

What made the three brands that were acquired suitable to create the foundational portfolio of Orveon?

All three brands are standouts and disruptors in the beauty industry both in terms of branding and products. They each define unique qualities that fit into Orveon’s evolution from beauty to more than just beauty, to holistic health and wellness.

How are you working with current brands under the Orveon portfolio to align them with your vision of pure beauty?

We want to move away from the non-distinctive positioning around clean beauty. We have created a set of criteria that will define our goal of building products with “sustainnovation” in mind, and we plan to review the entire portfolio for each of these brands to assess how we can move products and processes closer to “sustainnovation” and away from old-fashioned practices. All the products we launch will meet a rigid set of sustainability criteria. We want to ensure we keep what consumers love most about each brand, while ushering them into the future of the beauty industry.

Looking to the future, will there be more acquisitions, and will you incubate brands?

We’re always looking for brands that fit into our vision of being sustainable face care experts while delivering something different from our current companies.Our focus as a new company is to align our three current brands and work toward our vision of how pure beauty comes to life for each.


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