Oils have long enjoyed cult beauty status. Analysis of ancient Egyptian cosmetic jars reveals they employed over 21 different types of vegetable oils with the historically complexion-conscious Cleopatra favoring olive and sesame oils. Face oils have enjoyed Olivia Rodrigo levels of popularity throughout the last decade, sales of prestige skincare oils reached 58.5 million and grew 22 percent in 2015 according to market research company NPD. You can trace the trend to Linda Rodin’s jasmine-infused Olio Lusso and Josie Maran’s argan-oil based brand both founded in 2007. A second wave of intensely popular oils in recent years include True Botanicals, Vintner’s Daughter and In Fiore all sharing very clean consciously-sourced ingredients as their unifying factor.
Not all facial oils are equal, especially if they are naturally-derived. Not only do the chemical components differ based on varying botanical species but where the plant is grown, the conditions in which the plant is farmed, how and when it is extracted and then formulated; these all affect the properties and efficacy of the plant oil.
Today’s increasingly conscious consumer cares deeply about such details not only because they impact product performance but also our planet. One young face oil company that seems to be ticking all the boxes and meeting this particular sustainability moment is Le Prunier. Founded by three sisters who up-cycled organic plum by-products from their fourth generation family farm and created an astonishingly simple oil that’s truly a skincare wonder. The proprietary blend of plum varietals is an excellent source of antioxidants, polyphenols, fatty acids and vitamins. It’s highly absorbent, and weightless on the skin.
At first glance, it appears like most any other lovely oil that’s on the clean beauty market, but once you open the bottle and smooth a bit on your hand you realize it’s in a league of its own. After using it for a month, I can attest that the oil reduces fine lines and imparts a luminous quality I usually can only achieve with a bit of highlighter. The heavenly scent that recalls Spanish turrones is a huge plus.
Thanks to the quality of the product and some big time social media buzz, this female-founded brand is poised to do some big things. We sat down with co-founder Allison Taylor to chat Le Prunier’s sustainability practices (it involves goats), brand expansion, family dynamics and more.
What do you think sets Le Prunier Face Oil apart from other face oils?
Our oil is grown, harvested and pressed entirely on our 100-year-old family farm in Northern CA, which operates as the world’s largest grower of organic plums. We’ve devoted years of research/clinical studies to exploring the undiscovered benefits of plums and we’re able to oversee the entire lifecycle of our ingredient at the farm which makes the end result very special. Our proprietary blend of oil is a natural UV sunscreen booster, it’s 8 and 6 times stronger than Argan and Marula Oil at defending against hydroxyl radical damage and is extremely rich in antioxidants so it helps to fortify the barrier of your skin. We like to say it’s gentle yet powerful and perfect for even the most sensitive skin types.
Can you detail the brand’s sustainability practices for me?
Our family has been committed to eco-friendly farming practices and sustainability for decades. In 1985, our family made the decision to shift to organic farming practices so my sisters and I were raised to value these principles and always knew we would carry this into our business when we launched Le Prunier. Our Plum Beauty Oil is made from 100% upcycled plum kernels which were previously a waste product on the farm. We utilize a revolutionary waste water filtration system called BioFiltro which helps us recycle water for irrigation. We also use cover crops to enrich the soil and promote biodiversity, and then at the end of harvest we allow 2,000 goats to roams the orchards and eat down those cover crops rather than rely on heavy machinery. All of our facilities have been solar power operated for the last 15 years and we’re very excited to be offering carbon neutral shipping now on our website along with 100% recyclable packaging.
What challenges if any did you face due to Covid-19?
In Nov 2020, we experienced a huge increase in sales essentially overnight thanks to a certain celeb/influencer posting on her IG account. The post occurred organically and without warning, so within a few short weeks our business had grown by 10x as we were fast approaching the holiday season during a global pandemic. While this was incredibly exciting especially during a time where things felt so uncertain, it also presented challenges as we were forced to rapidly scale. We quickly increased our manufacturing capabilities at the farm by investing heavily in machinery, switched fulfillment centers to accommodate for the volume of orders and expanded our team to better manage the overall work load. In the midst of this, we had sold out around the world and amassed a DTC waitlist of 25k+ people which I’m pleased to say we were finally able to fulfill. The last 6 months have felt like a pretty surreal rollercoaster but it’s been the most amazing period of growth for the brand and we feel incredibly grateful to be in this position.
Are their plans to scale up production or expand the line?
Yes, absolutely! We’ve been very focused on scaling production over the last few months at the farm and are set to launch our next product this summer which took nearly 5 years to develop. We can’t wait to share it!
Favorite part about working with family? What do each of you bring to the the table? Any challenges?
Favorite part has to be the level of inherent trust that exists and of course, there’s no one we’d rather celebrate our wins with other than family. We’re a small team so there’s a lot of overlap but Jacque handles R&D/Product Development, Elaine oversees Operations/Customer Service and I handle DTC/Sales/Marketing.
What other sustainable/organic beauty companies do you feel are contributing unique offerings to the clean beauty space?
I’m a huge fan of ingestible beauty companies such as Seed and Moon Juice as I’ve always felt that’s how you truly get to the root of most skin issues. I definitely think that’s the future of beauty. Credo is also always paving the way as well for innovation and higher standards within the clean/organic beauty world which we greatly appreciate.
Other products you feel work well with Le Prunier?
Our oil plays well with so many products because it’s a single ingredient and is extremely lightweight/gentle! We love adding a few drops to our moisturizer for added benefits and/or applying it directly onto cleansed skin then using a jade roller to further penetrate into the skin. It’s extremely versatile and we always recommend applying as the last step in your routine on top of other serums, etc.