Brand FAQs


Where does the palm oil come from that is used by L’OCCITANE?

L'OCCITANE is a socially responsible company that is committed to limiting the environmental impact of its actions and products.

Palm oil is used mainly in the food industry, but also to a small extent in beauty products (less than 5% of global consumption). L’OCCITANE is aware that the farming of oil palm trees encourages farmers in forested areas of Asia to replace the natural ecosystem with oil palm plantations. A round table on "sustainable" palm oil production (RSPO), bringing together growers, oil processors and NGOs such as the WWF, has been created to promote farming methods that help reduce deforestation and preserve biodiversity. In spite of the obvious difficulties associated with implementing this initiative, and the vigilance that it requires, L’OCCITANE supports the RSPO for its soap bases purchases.

Moreover, we are working to rehabilitate several existing village palm groves in Africa in accordance with the principles of fair trade and biodynamics. In the long term, we would like to go further in this network structuring approach and establish a sustainable partnership with the local populations by attesting them “fair trade”.

Our Research & Development laboratory is also working on ways to substitute the palm oil used in our candles with other oils.

At last, we have sent a letter to all our suppliers, telling them of our concerns about the use of palm oil and asking if they can suggest any alternative products.

What does L'OCCITANE do in order to sustain the production of its key ingredients ?

Natural ingredients are at the heart of the L'OCCITANE product formulas and we apply rigorous and strict quality and traceability criteria. To perpetuate the availability of our products, we are involved in efforts to preserve certain rare species. In 2003, L'OCCITANE launched the first large-scale immortelle plantation in Corsica. We also promote the revival of "forgotten" cultivations. In 2004, L'OCCITANE played an active role in a program to revive the cultivation of the almond tree in Provence, led by the Alpes de Haute-Provence administration. We contribute to promoting traditional cultivations, and particularly that of lavender. There has been a decline in lavender cultivation, and we are keeping a close eye on this situation.

What is meant by sustainable development? What does it involve?

With regard to sustainable development, our policy is based on the principle of continuous improvement of our practices, aimed at achieving a greater environmental, economic and social balance. Our concern for the environment is particularly reflected in our choice of ingredients and eco-friendly packaging: Our active ingredients are of plant origin and, when possible, derived from organic agriculture. Our packaging is made with recyclable materials and we limit the use of unnecessary packing material. This concern for the environment is also reflected through our permanent reassessment of the way in which we work, with a focus on being more environmentally responsible. For example: 95% of our goods are transported by road or sea, and we are looking for new ways to further reduce the environmental impact of our supply chain (study into combined rail/road transport). There is a company travel plan for the site in Manosque (car sharing, shuttle bus for employees). An energy-saving plan is in the process of being implemented in all of our sites (occupancy sensors, low-energy lighting, raising employee awareness of energy use). At L'OCCITANE, sustainable development is also about the company's economic and social responsibility. With regard to its suppliers: we ask all our suppliers to sign our code of ethics and we enter into a sustainable relationship with them. Sometimes, this can involve working together on a co-development project, as is the case with the women's groups from Burkina Faso, who supply us with shea butter. With regard to our employees: who can now access the L'OCCITANE capital through the company's profit-sharing scheme. Social dialogue is also very important (staff meetings, employee satisfaction surveys). There are plans for a company crèche at the site in Manosque. With regard to society: as the largest private employer in the Manosque employment catchment area, L'OCCITANE contributes to the occupational integration of disadvantaged people (people with disabilities, without qualifications, etc.). This social responsibility to society is also expressed through projects supported by the L'OCCITANE Foundation for the benefit of the visually impaired, women in poor countries, and for the preservation of the "knowledge of nature".

Does L'OCCITANE use recyclable packaging for its products? What actions is L'OCCITANE taking to protect the environment?

Our concern for the environment has led to the use of recyclable, environmentally friendly packaging (cardboard, glass, recyclable plastic, aluminum) and a minimum amount of unnecessary packing material. We strive to use paper or cardboard based on an ecological approach: kraft paper produced from the cleaning up of the Landes forest, paper bearing the Ecolabel, recycled paper produced with seaweed from the Venice lagoon, and recycled paper or cardboard. We also encourage our customers to recycle our packaging. This way, we can all work together to save on natural resources by reusing waste products and reducing the amount of landfilled or incinerated waste. The "Green Dot" logo on our labels indicates that L'OCCITANE participates in European programs for disposal and recycling of all of its packaging materials.

In which country are you developing a fair trade program?

For over 20 years, we have sourced our shea butter from Burkina Faso, Africa with a fair trade approach. Relulting in: we have established a partnership with more than 11 000 women we purchase shea butter that has been processed in situ - which makes it more financially rewarding for these women than purchasing the unprocessed shea kernels For the year 2007 we purchased over 330 tons of shea butter, i.e. 75% of the shea butter produced for the beauty industry and exported by Burkina Faso we provide 80% prefinancing for our orders (fair trade requires prefinancing of 30%) so that these groups have the means to equip themselves and purchase supplies of shea nuts we regularly monitor production and the needs of these cooperatives by visiting them each year.

What support programs is L'OCCITANE involved in with local producers from its region?

For 30 years we have supported local traditional production methods and sourced supplies directly from local producers: cooperatives in Haute-Provence for AOC lavender essential oil from Haute Provence, the oil mill in Gard for almond oil, the mill of Haute-Provence for organic AOC olive oil, and a distiller-producer in Corsica for immortelle essential oil. The AOC controlled origin label is used for the product of a specific region or place, whose quality or characteristics are essentially determined by this geographical area. It results from the combination of a production method and a terroir, expressed through man's know-how.

Why is there Braille writing on L'OCCITANE products?

We have taken action to help the visually impaired, which includes: the use of Braille labelling on our products since 1996 so that the visually impaired can have access to them, and in English so that it is understood by the greatest number of consumers the creation of the association "Provence dans tous les sens" (All the senses of Provence) by the employees of L'OCCITANE, which introduces visually-impaired children to the world of fragrance creation our financial support for ORBIS (www.orbis.org) - an international non-governmental organization that fights blindness in developing countries through training, prevention and care.

Are L'OCCITANE products tested on animals?

L’OCCITANE does not and never has tested its products on animals and guarantees that the active ingredients and raw materials have never been tested on animals at any point in the product development or manufacturing process. L’OCCITANE has long been committed to the suppression of animal testing for beauty products, along with associations including One Voice and PETA. It was one of the first companies to be admitted to the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) in 1997. China’s policy is to test cosmetic products which are to be sold in the Chinese market in order to safeguard consumer safety. These tests are conducted by external laboratories in China. In December 2011 the BUAV decided to remove their accreditation from all companies operating in China. PETA followed suit this year. Since December 2010, L’OCCITANE has been meeting with representatives from the Chinese authorities and in February 2011 the company took part in a colloquium in Beijing - together with the BUAV and the Chinese authorities - which aimed to implement alternative tests to animal testing, recognised by these same authorities. L’OCCITANE is fundamentally committed to the abolition of animal testing of beauty products worldwide and by working with the Chinese authorities and promoting our products, which are not tested on animals during the product development and manufacturing process, to Chinese consumers, we believe we are more likely to encourage positive dialogue and prove the case for the removal of animal testing for beauty products. L’OCCITANE continues to work alongside the BUAV as one of the main beauty brands represented on its China Taskforce. This group works with European and Chinese groups in order to promote alternative testing methods. The last meeting took place in May 2012 and regular meetings ensue. To this end, the Chinese authorities have recently launched a new program to investigate alternative testing protocols and L’OCCITANE continues to proactively participate to push for these alternatives to be implemented as soon as possible.

Are L'OCCITANE products effective on the skin?

Yes. We invest in research and test the effectiveness of our active ingredients. The results of this research are patented. We evaluate the effectiveness of our formulas through in vitro tests or tests on volunteers, as well as through use tests for face care formulas.

How do you obtain your essential oils and extracts?

Our essential oils are obtained through steam distillation of the plants (stems, flowers, roots, barks, etc.). During the distillation process, steam passes through the plant material. When it cools down, it releases the essential oil and floral water (also known as the hydrolat or hydrosol). Our extracts are obtained through different extraction processes (maceration, infusion, etc.) by processing the plant in a solution, which can then be reduced to the desired consistency, liquid or dry, through evaporation.

How are your fragrances formulated?

Our fragrances are composed around a heart of natural essences and comply with restrictions on synthetic components (notably phthalates) and allergens.

What exactly is an organic ingredient?

An organic ingredient is one that is derived from organic agriculture and which, under European legislation that took effect in 1991, must comply with certain basic rules, including: respecting the ecosystem by using cultivation and breeding methods that strive to maintain natural balances, using no chemical fertilizers and pesticides or synthetic herbicides, using no genetically modified organisms (GMOs), mandatory inspection by organic certification bodies - this applies to both the producers and processors of organic products, traceability back to the source area of the plant, whatever the country of production. In parallel, on an international scale, the NOP (National Organic Program) regulations were introduced in the United States in 2002, while the JAS (Japan Agricultural Standard) was introduced in Japan in 2000.

What is the percentage of organic ingredients in your organic beauty products?

An organic beauty product must comply with strict regulations defined by European and American certification agencies, including Ecocert, BDIH, USDA, the Soil Association, Nature et Progrès, etc. L'OCCITANE's organic products comply with Ecocert regulations, adhering to a list of authorized ingredients and mandates on: a minimum of 95% natural ingredients or ingredients of natural origin; a minimum of 95% of total plant ingredients certified organic; a minimum of 10% of total ingredients certified organic.

What is the difference between organic and natural? What exactly is an organic beauty product?

Cosmetic ingredients of natural origin are derived from elements found in Nature and not from chemistry. An organic beauty product must comply with more stringent standards than the conventional regulations on cosmetic products. These standards guarantee respect for the environment throughout the production chain, respect for the consumer, and a positive emphasis on natural substances of superior ecological quality. Our organic cosmetic products comply with the specifications of the Ecocert "BIO" organic label, which sets the highest quality standards for cosmetic products made with natural substances. Ecocert is an independent certification body that has produced a list of authorized ingredients in this case and insists on: a minimum of 95% natural ingredients or ingredients of natural origin a minimum of 95% of the total plant ingredients certified organic a minimum of 10% of the total ingredients certified organic Synthetic fragrances or colorants, silicones and mineral oils are not permitted. Only certain essential synthetic ingredients are authorized when no natural alternative is available.

Why doesn't L'OCCITANE make all of its products organic?

Our approach to organic beauty products is a realistic one. We would like to develop this offering in collaboration with Ecocert, while also taking into account existing constraints: the availability of resources from organic agriculture, the ability to maintain a product's cosmetic and sensory qualities, and obtaining the most effective formula. Our entire product range will always live up to the highest standards in terms of performance, quality and safety.

Are organic products hypoallergenic?

Certified-organic formulas most often contain a certain number of potentially allergenic substances, due to their high concentration of essential oils and floral waters. Therefore they cannot be termed hypoallergenic.

Are organic products more suitable for sensitive skin?

Certified-organic formulas most often contain a certain number of potentially allergenic substances, due to their high concentration of essential oils and floral waters. As a result, they may not be suitable for all skin types. This is why organic formulas must undergo a barrage of rigorous tests to ensure that they are completely safe.

What is the percentage of natural ingredients in L'OCCITANE products?

Some of our products use 100% ingredients of natural origin (the Very Precious Regenerating Concentrate with immortelle essential oil, shea butter, Mom & Baby Balm, etc.). The great majority of our products contain over 90% natural ingredients or ingredients of natural origin. Our ingredients of natural origin are indicated on most of our packaging by two stars ** in the product composition section.

How can we claim that products are natural when synthetic ingredients are used in them?

We always strive to use natural, traceable, high-quality ingredients (AOC controlled-origin, organic agriculture), which we source from local farming networks or sustainable development programs. However, to create a product that provides the highest level of safety and performance, we may use synthetic molecules (while always erring on the side of caution) when no reliable and effective natural alternative is available.

Can a product have no preservatives? If so, how do you maintain shelf life and purity?

Preservatives are molecules that prevent microbiological contamination of cosmetic formulas. Formulas that contain no water such as pure shea butter, mum & baby balm or bath and massage oil do not need any preservatives. Formulas that contain water need preservatives so that they can be used in normal conditions (kept in the bathroom, everyday contact with the user's hands, etc.). Our shea cotton line for sensitive skins is preservative free. For this range we limited the number of product ingredients, and selected raw materials specifically for their purity or their preservative properties (glycerin, liquorice, bisabolol…). Protective bottles also guarantee maximum protection of this formula.

What are Parabens ?

Parabens are preservatives, At L’OCCITANE, we have always used parabens in very low doses (between 0.3% and 0.5%) in conjunction with active essential oils, to prevent the proliferation of bacteria. International legislation allows a maximum of 0.8%. As a company that always errs on the side of caution, we replace parabens whenever possible with other preservatives whose toxicological risks have been fully investigated. Since 2005, the majority of our new products have been formulated without parabens. Today, approximately 80% of our products are paraben-free.

What is your approach to parabens and preservatives?

Preservatives are molecules that prevent microbiological contamination of cosmetic formulas. All formulas need preservatives so that they can be used in normal conditions (kept in the bathroom, everyday contact with the user's hands, etc.). We always proceed with caution, using preservatives in doses lower than those authorized by legislation in all countries and, whenever possible, including essential oils with antimicrobial properties in our formulas to help preserve the products. At present, parabens are under scrutiny since a controversial British study revealed a potential link between parabens and cancer. Therefore, with regard to this subject, we ensure that we keep abreast of the latest studies and the position taken by the world's bodies responsible for cosmetic regulations. As a company that always errs on the side of caution, we replace parabens as far as possible with other preservatives whose toxicological risks have been fully investigated.

Are L'OCCITANE products safe for the skin?

To ensure that our consumers can use our products in the very best conditions, we give a use-by date on sensitive products, i.e. products for babies or organic products. Other products, with a durability of over 30 months, are not required to carry the use-by date. In this case, the "Period After Opening" (PAO) symbol appears on the product and indicates the number of months within which the product can continue to be used with optimum effectiveness, after opening, under normal conditions of use. This symbol does not appear on products where there is no risk of deterioration (eau de toilette, samples, etc.).

For how long can I keep my L'OCCITANE product?

To ensure that our consumers can use our products in the very best conditions, we give a use-by date on sensitive products, i.e. products for babies or organic products. Other products, with a durability of over 30 months, are not required to carry the use-by date. In this case, the "Period After Opening" (PAO) symbol appears on the product and indicates the number of months within which the product can continue to be used with optimum effectiveness, after opening, under normal conditions of use. This symbol does not appear on products where there is no risk of deterioration (eau de toilette, samples, etc.).

Can I keep my products in the fridge?

You can keep your products in your refrigerator if you wish; in this case they will last even longer. Moreover, since the coldness of the product improves skin microcirculation, it will boost the penetration of the active ingredients so that it has an instant effect. However, products that contain plant waxes or oils may become cloudy in temperatures lower than 10°C. This should not be a cause for concern: at room temperature they will become clear again and the properties of the formula will not be affected.

Why do my products become cloudy?

Some products containing a high concentration of plant waxes or oils may become cloudy when exposed to a temperature below 10°C. They become clear again at room temperature and the properties of the formula are not affected in any way.

What does "hypoallergenic" mean? Are L'OCCITANE products hypoallergenic?

A product is said to be hypoallergenic when it has been formulated to minimize the risk of an allergic reaction. This is the case with our Shea & Cotton range and for some other products, such as the Mom & Baby Balm.

Are L’OCCITANE products "vegan" products?

Yes, since we do not use any animal products or by-products, except for beehive products such as honey or royal jelly.

Is the organic shea butter unrefined?

Our shea butter undergoes a physical filtering process that complies with the standard requirements of Ecocert and preserves all the properties of the butter.

Why do some face care products contain mineral-based sunscreens?

For several years, L’OCCITANE has been conducting research into using mineral sunscreens rather than chemical sunscreens, with the aim of providing effective sun protection, reducing the risk of allergic reactions and finding the safest possible solution. Mineral pigments form an invisible shield on the surface of the skin that deflects the range of harmful rays while still allowing skin to breathe. They provide protection from the sun by physically reflecting UV rays. They differ in this way from the chemical filters (molecules that absorb sun rays). The primary advantages of mineral sunscreens are: photo-stability (inert pigments guarantee protection that does not diminish over time) optimal cutaneous tolerance immediate protection upon applying to skin (provided by physical coverage) The Precious Protection formula contains mineral-based sunscreens for effective protection against sun damage.

What is the difference between sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate? Why are these ingredients used when they are seen as dangerous?

SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate): Ethoxylated compounds are not dangerous. The controversy surrounding SLS is linked to the process that is used to produce them, which involves a highly reactive gas called ethylene oxide. However, by controlling all processes, as well as the purification stage, any traces of this intermediary substance in the finished product can be eliminated. Ethoxylation offers the advantage of producing a more gentle surfactant than an identical, non-ethoxylated version. SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate): If used alone on the skin, this highly detergent surfactant has a drying and irritating effect. However, our shower gels and shampoos are created using sophisticated formulas and include several types of foaming agents, including TEA Lauryl Sulfate – another form of Lauryl Sulfate. This combination with other gentle surfactants makes these products more gentle on the skin and hair.

Do L'OCCITANE deodorants contain aluminum salts?

L'OCCITANE uses aluminum salts as well as essential oils in two of its roll-on deodorants: the Aromachologie and L'Occitan roll-ons. A recent study by a group of expert oncologists (published in September 2008 in the Bulletin du Cancer journal) refuted the hypothesis raised in recent years of a link between the aluminum salts in deodorants and breast cancer. But we also offer alternatives without active aluminum salts, such as the Stick déodorant des Baux and the Pierre d'alum, which is made of natural, chemically inert crystalline powder. The Pierre de Cristal de L'OCCITANE, a 100% alum stone with astringent and purifying properties, acts like a natural deodorant.

What is alum stone?

Alum stone is a natural crystalline powder derived from alumina and alum shale, which are aluminum oxides and hydroxides. They are chemically inert (i.e. non-reactive), so there is no risk of the alum releasing aluminum. The L'OCCITANE Crystal Deodorant Stone is 100% alum stone and acts as a natural deodorant thanks to its astringent and purifying properties.

Why have you stopped selling this product ?

Since its creation, L’Occitane en Provence is intent on offering its customers the best products in terms of innovation, performance and naturality. Faithful to these three values and led by an approach of constant improvement, our brand is always launching new products and tries to satisfy the well-being and efficiency needs of most of the women. But in order to innovate and launch new products, we sometimes have to give up some products you particularly like. These choices are not easy and that’s why we are trying as often as possible to replace these discontinued products by products with similar cosmetic qualities and high-performance. Moreover, in order for you to buy these products we are still selling them on our website in our "Last Chance" section

When should you start using a skincare product to fight the first signs of aging?

From the age of 25 your skin starts to become weaker. At this age, we recommend that you use skincare products with a preventative action. The products in the Almond-Apple range have been specially developed for this purpose. They contain a unique combination of active ingredients, enhance the beauty of your skin, and help provide effective protection against the first signs of aging.

Is it important to use a specific skincare product for the eye area?

The skin around the eyes is finer, more fragile, and becomes marked more easily than the skin of the rest of the face. Because of this, it is preferable to use a skincare product that has been specifically formulated for the eye area, such as the Olive Express Eye Treatment, the Immortelle Eye Balm or the Shea Butter Ultra Rich Eye Balm. These products are fragrance-free, colorant-free and ophthalmologist tested.

Is it really that important to use a night cream?

Night-time offers a favorable environment for your skin. During the day, your skin is in defense mode and exposed to harsh environmental elements (pollution, smoke, UV radiation, changes in temperature). At night, this is no longer the case and the skin is more receptive to skincare products, so it can work to protect its beauty.

Which beauty products are recommended for pregnant women?

During pregnancy, the skin becomes drier and is subject to unusual mechanical stress that, in 60 to 80% of cases, can lead to stretch marks. To keep the skin smooth and prevent stretch marks from appearing, it is essential to use products that nourish and firm and improve skin suppleness. In this case, the Shea Butter Mom & Baby Balm or certain products from the Almond range are recommended. Products that contain pure essential oils or a high concentration of menthol, camphor or eucalyptol are not recommended during pregnancy. When products should not be used by pregnant women, this is indicated in the precautions on the product label.

Which products are recommended for women who are breastfeeding?

The skin of the bust requires daily care to keep it supple, so it's important to use a nourishing product such as the Shea Butter Mom & Baby Balm. Simply avoid applying products before feeding, and don't apply products to the nipple or areola. As for using products that contain essential oils, the recommendations and precautions are the same as those that apply to pregnant women.

Which products can be used on children?

The "sensitive skin" products in the Shea Butter Mom & Baby range are ideal for protecting and nourishing the fragile skin of children, which cannot fully defend itself against the physical and chemical damage to which we are exposed every day. Precautions are listed on the labels of our products that should not be used by children such as certain products made with essential oils.

Can men use L’OCCITANE products?

L’OCCITANE has developed a range of products for men that is adapted to their skin and specific needs: the CADE range. Products in this range can, of course, be used with other L’OCCITANE products. All of our products are very gentle on all skin types – even the most sensitive.

I have sensitive skin: what skincare products can I use on my face?

The ultra-comforting shea range, with products for a complete skincare routine (cream, mask, cleansing milk, etc.) has been specially formulated for sensitive skin. It soothes the skin and reduces redness.

Are L’OCCITANE perfumed candles and incense sticks safe to use?

Yes they are. Detailed information and precautions for use are given on the packaging to make sure the products can be used both easily and safely. Products for the home have recently been in the news due to worries about the risks associated with burning them. With this in mind, L'OCCITANE has spearheaded a project in conjunction with other home-fragrance companies in the region, as well as perfumers and a university research laboratory. This should conclude with the creation of an international standard regarding the smoke produced by these products.

What does this symbol mean, used on home fragrance products?

In accordance with European regulations on home fragrance products, this flammability symbol is used to indicate that the product must not be placed near a source of heat. A raised symbol is used so that the blind and visually impaired are also informed of the precautions that should be taken.

On home fragrance products, what does the raised triangle mean?

Much like the "flammability" symbol, this triangle is a tactile warning that informs the blind and visually impaired that precautions must be taken when using this product. It is provided in addition to the information given in Braille on our packaging.

Why do the labels on beauty products not contain the same phrases as those on home fragrance products?

Home fragrance products and beauty products are not governed by the same regulations. Since these products are used in different ways, they are not subject to the same labelling requirements.