Growing up in Paris, I relished my mother’s visits to the pharmacy. While she picked up prescriptions, I’d browse the beauty products packaged in clinical, unadorned boxes that promised radiant, healthy skin. To me, they encapsulated the no-nonsense skincare regime so many French women practice.
Garance Doré, the French style blogger, wants to bring this approach to the U.S. In May, she launched a new beauty brand called Doré, with her longtime business partner Emily Yeston, that’s focused on creating versatile, multifunctional products that use gentle, hydrating ingredients. At a time when the beauty industry is flooded with dozens of flashy new brands, Doré believes that a simple, pared-down aesthetic will capture people’s attention.
Doré, 47, grew up in Corsica, an island off the coast of France. In 2011, she moved to New York City and blogged about street style, did photoshoots for brands, created videos, and wrote a monthly column for French Vogue. She helped pioneer the kind of multi-hyphenate career that would eventually be copied by fashion and beauty influencers on Instagram and TikTok. But as the landscape of fashion influencers became increasingly crowded, Doré wanted to pursue a new venture. Two years ago, she and Yeston decided to launch a beauty brand.
The beauty industry is crowded: Currently worth $511 billion globally, it’s predicted to hit $716 billion by 2025. But even with so many competing brands, Doré believes there’s a lot of demand from consumers, who are eager to try new products. And while many brands try to capture people’s attention with elaborate packaging and big promises about how they’ll transform your skin, Doré wanted to do the very opposite. Her new line has austere containers and focuses on the basics of skincare: cleansing and moisturizing.
Doré was inspired by the French pharmacy brands she saw growing up. “There was this sense, among some French women, that they were too smart to give into the overblown marketing of the big beauty brands,” she says. “They knew that the real secret was in these everyday products that were multifunctional and performed well.” She’s referring to simple lip balms like Labello that some women used to moisturize other dry spots on their body, or inexpensive creams like Nivea that are used as everyday moisturizers.
Having spent years embedded in the fashion industry, Doré has tried many beauty products on the market. A decade ago, when she shared her beauty routine with the blog Into the Gloss, she mentioned everything from Murad’s Intensive Wrinkle Reducer eye cream to Kiehl’s Creme de Corps body lotion to Fresh Sugar face scrub. But over the years, she’s found these products taxing on her skin. “They’re packed with too many ingredients that have ultimately made my skin dry and irritated,” she says. “The thing about French pharmacy brands is that they focused on the essentials, which really means keeping your skin hydrated. Most don’t even have any fragrance.”
Doré and Yeston partnered with a French lab to create three products for launch, none of which have any added fragrance: a moisturizer ($36), a balm ($12), and a cleanser ($24). Doré wanted to create products that could achieve multiple things at once. The cleanser is an effective makeup remover, and the balm can be used anywhere you need extra moisture. Yeston says she uses them on bug bites to reduce itching.
While the French pharmacy brands of her childhood tended to use scientifically driven ingredients that were designed to be ultra-effective, these days, consumers are looking for safe, nontoxic ingredients. As Doré and Yeston were creating their products, they partnered with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which certifies products to be free of chemicals known to be toxic. “What we liked about the EWG standard is that it isn’t focused on natural or organic ingredients, but rather any ingredients that are known to be safe,” says Yeston. “Some synthetic ingredients are very safe and effective.”
Over the years, other fashion and beauty influencers have launched beauty lines as well; notably, Emily Weiss, who founded Into the Gloss in 2010 and then launched Glossier, a DTC beauty brand, several years later. (While the company was valued at $1.8 billion last year, it recently laid off a third of its staff.) The brand became iconic for its millennial pink packaging and marketing that resonated with younger consumers. Doré says her brand has some notable differences from Glossier. “We’re less focused on marketing to a single generation,” she says. “Our products are designed to appeal to a broad swath of beauty consumers, who might use our products alongside others that they love.”
When it came to the design, Doré wanted to be as minimalist as possible. The collection comes in green recycled tubes and jars. This stands in contrast to the elaborate packaging you might see at Sephora from brands like SK-II, whose latest collection comes in bottles that look like dolls, or Guerlain, with its glamorous gold bottles. “I definitely like having Guerlain bottles on my counter because they are so beautiful,” says Doré. “But for the products I use everyday, I’m more interested in what is inside the bottle.”