The Power of the White Orchid

2 min read
Photography by Studio Ton Kinsbergen/Beateworks/Corbis

Photography by Studio Ton Kinsbergen/Beateworks/Corbis

The orchid has been celebrated as a symbol of nobility, beauty and love throughout history. Now Guerlain is harnessing the orchid’s unique brightening and soothing properties in the latest age-defying beauty technology.​

By Natalie Trevis

Confucius once said, ‘The orchids grow in the woods, and they let out their fragrance even if there is no one around to appreciate it.’ These beautiful and noble flowers have long been appreciated for their sculptural qualities and refinement. Not only are they exquisitely attractive, but these rare blooms have unique botanical properties that have been harnessed for healing since ancient times, their leaves containing plant pigments called anthocyanins which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties similar to super foods blueberries and acai. The orchid is a staple of traditional Chinese medicine (used to help cure coughs and lung illnesses) and the oldest Chinese pharmaceutical text, Shen Nong’s Materia Medica, references orchids including the Bletilla and Dendrobium species. The ancient Greeks associated orchids with virility and the Aztecs were said to drink a mixture of the vanilla orchid and cocoa to foster power and strength. As the modern beauty industry seeks to tap into the power of nature and all things organic, it seems a natural step to incorporate the cosmetic properties of the orchid into innovative new beauty formulas. Guerlain in particular has taken its own orchid quest seriously; its whimsically named research centre, the Orchidarium, devoting 12 years of study to the flower in its natural environment. Beautiful and functional, the orchid is queen of the florals.

Guerlain's Orchidée Impériale range harnesses white orchid extract

Guerlain’s Orchidée Impériale range harnesses white orchid extract

One of Guerlain’s research centres is at the TianZi Exploratory Nature Reserve in Hunan, China. It was here that an extremely rare and endangered wild species, Vanda Coerulea, was discovered by Guerlain biologists in 2007 containing phytoalexins, which play a crucial role in the internal longevity protection mechanism. A South American orchid now steps into the frame for the beauty house, Brassocattleya Marcella, a pure white natural hybrid that contains unique brightening agents. Its extract is the key ingredient in Guerlain’s Orchidée Impériale White range, whose formulas inhibit pigmentation, improve luminosity and sooth inflammation. Our skin is visibly rejuvenating just thinking about it. And the results are instant upon application, even improving over time, with 92 per cent of women reporting the fading of all dark spots within a month. This is one range that fulfils its promise. 

The Orchidée Impériale White Serum in particular, revitalised for 2015, tackles pigmentation caused by sun damage as well as ageing (this combination proving a new development in the beauty world) and is as smoothly luxurious on the skin as might be expected. After cleansing and before moisturising, we applied the velvety serum with continuous circular movements, working outwards from the middle of the face, pressing down lightly on muscle attachment points on the forehead, above the lips and along the chin for a mini-massage that energises tired skin. A little extra pampering day and night goes a long way. Hydrated and illuminated skin (with redness a thing of the past) is well worth an extra minute or two in our daily beauty routines. Converts to the power of this exotic blossom, the orchid takes centre stage on our dressing tables as our botanical ally in the pursuit of beautiful skin.