Confessions Of A Shopaholic Part 4 : Guerlain’s Orchidarium Research Platform


The Guerlain Orchidarium consists of 3 centres from one corner of the world to the other – the Experimental Garden in Switzerland, the Basic Research Laboratory in France, and the Exploratory Nature Reserve in China. At these centres, top international experts continuously exchange their expertise, research and the results of their applied experiments, to uncover the secrets of longevity of the orchid.

In the very first basic research unit dedicated to orchids at the University of Strasbourg, studies focus on the biological properties of in the New-Generation Imperial Orchid Molecular Extract (IOME) – the powerful secret of longevity at the heart of the Orchidée Impériale range.

Two tropical species with excellent longevity potential were selected by the Guerlain Orchidarium based on agronomic tests conducted in the Experimental Garden, Geneva. These species, which went on to be studied further, were Vanda coerulea and Vanda teres. In 2007, this work led to the first registration of a patent for the use of Vanda teres extract in a cosmetic application and in the New-Generation IOME.

With the objective of refining the biological understanding of orchids, the Guerlain Orchidarium invited a researcher studying for a doctorate from the Basic Research Laboratory, Dr. Charlotte Simmler, to carry out her research within the framework of a thesis entitled: “Orchids: from the phytochemical characterization to the exploration of the biological and cosmetic properties of extracts”.

Charlotte Simmler succeeded in providing an in-depth characterization of the specific chemical composition of the two Vanda orchids. The first person in the world to describe them, she identified and purified metabolites, each of which have a unique structure. She took her studies further by determining, with precision, the biological activities of these metabolites on cell models associated with the fight against skin ageing. She succeeded, through in vitro tests, in scientifically proving the mechanisms through which the two Vanda species studied could unite their properties in an exceptional skincare product.

The studies conducted on Vanda coerulea by Guerlain Research, within the Orchidarium, showed:-

  • the essential role played by phytoalexins – the plant’s defence and survival molecules – in the mechanism that “turnsback cellular time”*,
  • that the Vanda coerulea extract stimulates mechanisms that help the skin to restore its intra-epidermal moisture levels*. These results have led Guerlain Research to register a patent for the hydration properties of Vanda coerulea.

Vanda teres promotes epidermal renewal by allowing for the optimal formation of the stratum corneum. By reinforcing the barrier properties of the epidermis and increasing its internal moisture content*, this “indestructible” species dramatically improves the skin’s resistance to water stress and damage.

*in vitro tests