Dior Captures new ground in skincare
By Martin Moodie
Dior Scientific Communication and Environmental Director Edouard Mauvais-Jarvis welcomes me warmly to the new Dior offices at 190-192 Avenue Charles de Gaulle in Neuilly Sur Seine, Paris. He’s casually dressed in an open-necked shirt, in keeping with his unassuming academic manner.
But don’t be fooled by the low-key, measured persona. Mauvais-Jarvis plays a critical role within the Dior beauty empire. Science underpins everything the famed Parisian house does, and it is he who oversees all scientific and technical developments – and serves as the brand’s technical spokesperson. As Environmental Director, he also takes charge of all matters related to Dior’s scientific and environmental affairs.
I’m in Paris to talk to him about the latest incarnation of one of Dior’s oldest and most valuable franchises, Capture Total – the new scientific breakthrough Capture Totale C.E.L.L. Energy.
I’ve studied the lengthy press material and the extensive technical and scientific background, but it is highly complex stuff and I’m keen to learn in layman’s terms what Capture Totale C.E.L.L. Energy is all about.
So, before we get down to specifics, I ask Mauvais-Jarvis how big a landmark the development represents in the long and proud heritage of Dior skincare.
“It’s going to be a perfect storm in Dior skincare in terms of strategy and objectives”
Edouard Mauvais-Jarvis, Dior Scientific Communication and Environmental Director
“It’s going to be a perfect storm in Dior skincare in terms of strategy and objectives,” he replies. “Capture Totale is one of the oldest franchises in the company. We launched the first Capture serum in 1986, more than 30 years ago.
“So [before the Capture Totale C.E.L.L. Energy launch] it was already something that was based on science and the transposition of big scientific medical discoveries into the world of cosmetics.
“Capture was the first cosmetics product to integrate liposomes… we use this technology to bypass the skin barrier and go deeper in the skin.
“For the past 30 years we’ve been studying aging. And almost 20 years ago we started working on stem cells, first learning the basics and since then more and more through different partnerships with institutions such as the University of Modena, Stanford University and, of course. with lots of French universities such as the biggest one, the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale.”
Over the past two years the Dior team has been working on technologies derived from the discoveries of Professor Shinya Yamanaka, a renowned Japanese physician and researcher. Yamanaka was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become ‘pluripotent’ (i.e. capable of giving rise to several different cell types).
Dior took Yamanaka’s discovery as the springboard to reprogramme stem cells from young and older donors to establish whether there was a difference in what occurred during the process of aging. The findings were startling. For individuals between 20 and 40 years old, the team discovered that stem cells lost around 50 percent of their energy potential, “which is huge”, Mauvais-Jarvis points out.
“It was a very interesting discovery. We went back to Professor Yamanaka’s team with our discovery, saying this is what we have found using your techniques. We asked, ‘Have you ever seen something like that?’ They said, ‘No. We’re interested in digging into it with you.’”
A scientific game changer
Capture Totale C.E.L.L. Energy was created thanks to the expertise of Dior researchers at Hélios, the LVMH Group Perfumes and Cosmetics Research Center
The discovery was so revelatory that it allowed the Dior scientists to talk on a peer-to-peer level with the Japanese Nobel Prize-winning researchers about stem cells. That led to what Mauvais-Jarvis dubs the “defining moment”, when the team visited Professor Yamanaka’s team in Kyoto in December 2018. “It was then we knew that we had something really big as we started working on it to develop a product,” he recalls.
The Dior discovery opened the door to a formal partnership in September 2019 with The Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University. This was when the creation of a new product range really gained traction. “It moved on from an interesting finding to being able to announce a named discovery because we had this validation from maybe the world’s best team in this kind of research,” Mauvais-Jarvis recalls.
When Dior and CiRA signed their ground-breaking alliance, they hosted a joint press event that attracted national TV coverage in Japan. The surprise discovery that stem cells did not decrease in number with age but only in vitality was big news, a scientific game changer. And from a commercial perspective, it is likely to prove equally so.
Stem cells create all other skin cells, explains Mauvais-Jarvis. If that stem cell is a fully potent energetic cell, it effectively creates vitality in all the surrounding tissues. But if it is, say, half as potent, its ability to pass on vitality is commensurately limited. “This is probably one of the main factors in the aging process so it’s very interesting.”
The US$64 million question was how Dior could leverage the discovery commercially. “It can be a big idea but if you have no solution as to what to do with it, then it simply stays an idea,” says Mauvais-Jarvis. From the Yamanaka team’s standpoint, the solution could be developing efficient medical treatments using stem cells. For Dior, the pressing challenge was to find a cosmetics solution.
“We wanted to find a way to recover or to restore part of this energetic potential. So we screened all the natural flower ingredients that we have in our database. That’s almost 1,700 ingredients and we found a combination of four [Madagascan Longoza, Chinese Peony, White Lily, Chinese Jasmine -Ed] that when combined cover the whole energetic chain in the mitochondrial metabolism [which produces the energy currency] in cells and particularly in stem cells.”
With the four flowers identified, Dior conducted what is known as a proteomic study [a large-scale analysis of proteins -Ed], which assessed the spectrum of the proteins that were activated by each of these vegetal extracts.
Again, the findings were extraordinary. “We discovered a perfect complementarity between these four flowers to activate all these energetic and vital functions in cells down to stem cells,” says Mauvais-Jarvis.
“So now, we had the target,” he comments. In translating the findings to the skin, Dior developed a new vectorization system which, when combined with the four flowers, effectively created the bio cellular technology integral to Capture Totale C.E.L.L. Energy.
“When it reaches the cell, it’s able to restore 27 percent of this energetic potential. Of course, we cannot go back to 50 percent. But, little by little, we can either block the system if you address it on a young woman in, say, her thirties, and we can restore part of it in others.”
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