The founder of the sustainable beauty brand “La Bouche Rouge” talks about what in common between Japan and France?

The beauty brand “La Bouche Rouge” was started by L’Oréal veteran Nicolas Gerlier in 2017. Launched in Japan in 2019. Initially, only lips were available, but in December 2020, make-up items were released in Japan as well.

The biggest feature of the brand is sustainable manufacturing. Lips are free of commonly used microplastics, preservatives, parabens, paraffin and animal fats. The case is not made of plastic, and the lip body is refilled in a leather case, which also uses scraps from the production process of luxury bags. Such an attitude toward manufacturing has gained a lot of support in Japan.

New items were released in December 2020; Lip Care Set (9300 yen), Le Khôl Noir Eyeliner (3600 yen), Le Sérum Noir Mascara (5100 yen), Mascara Leather Case (6300 yen), La Terre Natural Bronzer (3700 yen), La Lumière Natural Highlighter (3700 yen), The Universal Compact (8400 yen). It’s also planned to be available eye shadows in the future, further expanding their lineup. In the beauty industry as well, with “sustainable” becoming the keyword, we conducted an email interview with the founder Nicholas.

Commitment to craftsmanship is common to both Japan and France.

—— While there is an increasing number of cosmetic brands conscious of sustainability, what are La Bouche Rouge’s unique strengths?

 Nicolas:French beauty has historically been appreciated for its know-how, and today, it drives 70% of the beauty industry worldwide. In addition to being rooted in this French expertise and craftsmanship, “La Bouche Rouge” is the first brand that has decided to avoid the use of plastic from beginning to end. This is all part of our focus on Blue Beauty – not just integrating clean formulas but also clean, refillable packaging. Creating beauty that is good for you and the planet. 

—— “La Bouche Rouge” launched in Japan in November 2019. How is it doing in terms of performance?

Nicolas:Though we cannot communicate on our figures, we can confirm that we are already in discussions to expand our corner in Isetan and negotiations to open new doors soon.

——What do you think the characteristics of the Japanese consumer? Do you feel there are any differences between Japan and France?

Nicolas:We have more in common than we have different. One key, the shared element, focuses on craftsmanship; both in France and Japan, we have a passion for heritage and know-how and focus on using it to create the future. Japanese consumers are passionate about craftsmanship; they love the soul and meaning behind the object. Japanese design is based on the culture of precision. As such, Japanese clients love our simple minimalist aesthetic. As a brand, we love the idea of making continuous improvements, which is completely aligned with the “kaizen” tradition. The only items in our collection that do not come from France are our brushes, made in Japan.

—— So far, you have only sold lip products in Japan, then now it’s launched a lip care set, eyeliner, mascara, highlighter and bronzer. Apart from being microplastic free, what are the other features of the products?

Nicolas:We are introducing the very first 100% recyclable, glass bottle mascara. In addition to being beautiful and sustainable, its formula is comprised of 99% natural origin ingredients. 

All our natural powders and shadows – La Terre, La Lumière and Les Ombres – come in a single, refillable compact case, Le Poudrier. Infinitely refillable, plastic-free and composed of a 100% recyclable metal alloy, its production releases few carbon emissions.

Our natural powders are crafted with skincare-infused formulas containing up to 95% natural origin ingredients, without talc. They are enriched with hyaluronic acid for long-term hydration, rice powder, and mica, sourced from the Responsible Mica Initiative.

Each of our lip pencils is made of cedarwood and has an infinitely recyclable metal cap. Their 88% to 99% natural formulas, made with castor oil, squalene, Vitamin E and Bisabolol, glide on your lips and allow for precision and ease in application.

Soon we will also be launching our eyebrow line with a green caviar-serum eyebrow gel. A fantastic routine, including the eyebrow gel, eyebrow pencil and eyebrow brush, at the level of the statement of the brand.

—— You are also very particular about the case; what are the main points of strength?

Nicolas:Our lipstick cases are infinitely refillable and can be used with all our lipstick and lip balm refills. We draw on traditional French craftsmanship to make each of these fine leather cases by hand, using the final remaining meters of leather produced by the prestigious Tanneries du Puy in France. In doing so, we can eliminate waste while creating a beautiful object that endures. 

——Do you think that the new Corona has changed the way people think about make-up? If so, how do you think it has changed?

Nicolas:Corona is shaping the 21st century and allowing us to become increasingly aware of how small the planet is and how interconnected we all are. Something that occurs 5000 km away now can impact you directly, soon after. This makes it evident that we cannot consume, produce and travel as we did before. The beauty industry is a predominant contributor to plastic pollution. Because beauty has become an integral part of people’s daily rituals worldwide, the resulting impact is tremendous. But we now know that, together, with a single daily shift inhabits, we can be a force for change and help reduce plastic pollution. Corona has provided us with a better understanding of our interconnectivity. The world has become a village. We must work together as a community, for if we don’t respect nature, nature will aggress in an attempt to restore itself.

——In the end, can you share with us about upcoming products? 

Nicolas:My skin has never been smoother than it was in 2020, and I hope to share some good news regarding this in 2021.

Translation Elie Inoue

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Atsushi Takayama

Born in Osaka Prefecture.Graduated from the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Literature, Doshisha University. After working for a video production company, He Joined INFAS Publications in 2013 .