For Sylvie Chantecaille, founder of the eponymous botanical skincare and makeup brand, Chantecaille, roses intertwine generations. As a little girl growing up in France, she and her mother spent hours caring for the roses in their garden. “I woke up to the scent of roses every morning,” she says.
You could say it was her lifelong love affair with the flower that led to the sweet smell of success. More than twenty years ago while Sylvie was driving around Grasse, France with her daughter Olivia, the line’s co-founder, she stumbled upon a field of Rose de Mai, a rare kind of rose that blooms only in the month of May (hence the name). “We were looking for jasmine fields, actually. We stopped, walked through the field, met the farmer, and discovered more about the skin benefits of this highly nourishing rose and its particular harvesting process,” Sylvie says.
In fact, the petals are so delicate and precious, the flower must be harvested by hand at dawn, at the moment of first bloom so that it remains at its freshest state before it gets distilled.
“We quickly fell in love with the heavenly aroma and realized it was an untapped skincare secret, too,” Olivia says.
And soon, an idea was born: to use Rose de Mai, not for fragrance—as it had traditionally been utilized—but as the basis for a skincare line. We caught up with the pair to talk about the skin-loving benefits of Rose de Mai, their own beauty secrets, and how their extraordinary mother-daughter bond helped them build an inventive beauty brand.
What exactly are the benefits of the Rose de Mai for our skin?
Sylvie: The Rose de Mai has powerful anti-aging properties. It is rich in vitamin C and renowned for its brightening, toning, soothing, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties—it’s also incredibly uplifting for the spirit.
How do you use the roses in your skincare collection?
Olivia: The flower is distilled in pure artesian well water in France right after harvest and the entire Rose de Mai plant—from the petal to the stem—is used to harness its full potential. Rose de Mai is the only rose that dissolves completely upon first distillation. We use the extracts in all of the Rose de Mai Collection products, so they’re all boosted with the benefits of this rare, potent rose.
What are some of the hero products in the Rose de Mai collection?
Olivia: Rose de Mai Cream, a lightweight everyday moisturizer, boosts radiance to keep skin bright. It has a mixture of plant and flower stem cells that are rich in anti-aging benefits and effective for all skin types. Rose de Mai Cleansing Balm was created specifically for sensitive skin—we have always been inspired by the soothing and calming properties of this rose. The balm cleanses skin deeply yet softly, and it leaves it moisturized and restored.
Sylvie: I was inspired by actresses in old black-and-white movies who sat at their vanities and removed makeup with a balm. I wanted to modernize that concept with scientifically-proven ingredients like botanicals, plant stem cells, and hyaluronic acid—and make it very Chantecaille by adding our Rose de Mai.
The Rose de Mai Face Oil promotes supple, dewy-looking skin with botanicals that help visibly smooth and clarify skin’s appearance, creating a radiant glow. Formulating it was a true labor of love. Formulating it was a true labor of love. The ingredients had to be perfect; I wanted not one rose, but many roses—it’s crafted with extracts from five different roses, and there are 1,000 Rose de Mai petals in every bottle.
What is your latest launch?
Sylvie: Rose de Mai Eye Lift, a silky gel cream, is launching in May. This product opens your eyes right when you wake up or just need to look more awake. It’s not just for under the eyes; it also helps lift your upper lids and brow bone and brightens all around for an awakened sparkle. I have hooded eyes and don’t look awake until I do this. The texture is silky, and the formula is gentle but mighty.
Tell us about your mother-daughter bond.
Sylvie: We have always been connected. We love to travel around the world together; we love to explore together—ever since Olivia was little, really. Launching Chantecaille together was very bonding. I can’t believe it has been 24 years since those early days of the brand! We are both very clear on the vision and style for the company and for every product we make. We have an understanding and an unspoken language.
Olivia: Growing up in a creative household with a very inventive and entrepreneurial mother, I was constantly drawing, painting, and making art, and my mother always encouraged me to explore my creative side. Our shared love of art, colors, textures, and aesthetics is a passion we share—almost like our secret language.
How has your relationship impacted the brand?
Olivia: My mother has taught me not to be afraid to try things—especially when it comes to beauty. She always told me to be curious, explore, dive in, and have fun with beauty. That approach has been key to our success in always discovering new ingredients and formulas.
Can you spill a few of your family’s beauty secrets?
Sylvie: I learned from my mother to depuff my eyes in the morning using tea. She always had a massive pot of tea and would dip cotton pads in the leftovers, then set them on her eyes. I do this almost every day now for two minutes each morning—the caffeine wonderfully depuffs my eyes right away. I have passed this habit on to my daughters, too. It really works. My mother also taught me the ingenious trick of spraying fragrance onto a hairbrush before using it. My mother and aunt always wore silk scarves over their hair while cooking to prevent it from smelling like garlic. Then, once dinner was prepared and before guests arrived, they’d run a fragrance-spritzed brush through their hair. Voila!
Which Rose de Mai product would you recommend as a Mother’s Day gift?
Sylvie: We’ve launched a limited-edition bottle of Pure Rosewater to celebrate Mother’s Day, and it’s the perfect gift. Trust me, I know—I use about 12 bottles of it a month. I spray it nonstop, all day. I spritz it on my hair before I dry it for control and smoothness, in the middle of meetings to relax, and at night before bed. It refreshes your skin, mind, and spirit and gives you and your skin exactly what you need at that moment—whether it’s energy, peace, calmness, or even just setting makeup or adding an extra layer of hydration.
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