Immortelle: Inside the L'Occitane Research Laboratory

Over an interview, two L'Occitane experts explain their research work around the Corsican Immortelle flower. A key ingredient of the Divine range, it is endowed with amazing anti-aging properties.
By Mélissa Darré

How did you discover the properties of Immortelle?

Jean-Louis PIERRISNARD, Scientific Director and Research & Development expert: Everything started with a request from Olivier Baussan, founder of L'Occitane, and his encounter with a Corsican producer who had explained the virtues of this plant, on lesions in particular. He had burned himself making essential oil and after applying Immortelle, there was no scar. Its effect is similar to that of arnica, but more powerful.

We worked on it with a cosmetic dimension, comparing several species. In 2001, we demonstrated its anti-aging properties around three cornerstones that have enabled us to develop a patent: stimulation of micro-circulation and collagen production, and an anti-oxidizing action, that is to say its effectiveness fighting free radicals that destroy cell membranes.

How is the Immortelle flower used?

Jean-Charles LHOMMET, agricultural engineer and director of the sustainable services department: The flowering tips are used, composed by flowers and a small portion of the stem. What interests us most is the essential oil, produced by the fresh Immortelle flowers. There is also a small secondary utilisation: we dry out the organic material, which is then used in macerations. 

Why does Corsican Immortelle have more concentrated anti-aging properties?

J-L P: We have demonstrated that the efficacity is primarily related to a molecule present in the essential oil of Corsican Immortelle, neryl acetate. This is an important marker present at strengths of between 30% and 40% in Corsica, whereas the composition is not the same in Italy, Bosnia, Croatia or Greece, for example. In Corsica, it is 4-8 times more concentrated than elsewhere.

How long is the transformation process?

J-C L: The seeds are selected in the wild. It is important for us to preserve this Corsican tradition in order to respect the particular quality of the terroir. When cultivated, Immortelle can not be harvested until the second year, in the best case scenario. During the first year, it must be left to develop. The harvest is carried out in June-July followed by distillation of fresh flowers, which is to say on the same day, in order to preserve its properties.

Then we pass to decantation and filtering, before putting in barrels. The production of the essential oil takes place in July before reaching Manosque in August, where it undergoes various compliance tests. In September, we combine all the essential oils from the different producers to form a single batch, so that the mixture is uniform in both composition and color. The scientific team then begins formulating different products based on Immortelle, which will appear several months later in store.

The properties of Immortelle
The properties of Immortelle

A key ingredient of the Divine range, it is endowed with amazing anti-aging properties

© L’Occitane en Provence
Immortelle: Inside the L'Occitane Research Laboratory
Immortelle: Inside the L'Occitane Research Laboratory
Over an interview, two L'Occitane experts explain their research work around the Corsican Immortelle flower
© L’Occitane en Provence

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