The make-up line La Bouche Rouge from Paris proves that a red lipstick can be eco-friendly, irresistible and a design object at the same time

„Do you realize that a billion lipsticks are thrown away every year in the world?“, asks Nicolas Gerlier right at the beginning of our interview. The French entrepreneur does things differently: In 2017 he founded the lipstick brand La Bouche Rouge, offering the perfect shades of red and reconciling luxury with eco-responsibility.

The elegant, refillable cases are not made from plastic but from vegan leather (created with the expert advice of Stella McCartney) and the formula itself is free from any harmful ingredients. Furthermore, a remarkable lineup of LBR ambassadors creates new shades, from make-up artist Wendy Rowe to fashion icon Chloë Sevigny. Reasons enough for us to sit down with the founder and ask him a few questions about sustainability in the beauty industry, his obsession with red lips and upcoming projects.

Anna Bok Nicolas, what motivated you to launch La Bouche Rouge?

Nicolas Gerlier I have been working in this industry for more than ten years and I saw it gradually evolving, transforming, fluctuating. I’m convinced that my generation can’t continue to think, produce and consume like previous generations. Do you realize that a billion lipsticks are thrown away every year in the world? An eighth continent of waste is ready to implode! I believe that it is impossible today to create a new Maison Beauty without thinking of the environment, without giving meaning and becoming part of a socially responsible project. In a word, the idea matured until the day I decided to launch my own model. Almost three years ago on the 9th of September 2016, my encounter with Ezra Petronio was decisive: Ezra is responsible of the design and the creative Direction of La Bouche Rouge. He is the House’s eye and hand. Our lipstick is called the Rouge 9.16, as a symbol of our collaboration.

AB Are you obsessed with red lips?

NG I do love red lips. I think they represent a sophisticated and effortless elegance. For me, lipstick is a manifesto object. La Bouche Rouge means “red lips” in French, but it also stands for having a voice and sharing a message. It represents our revolutionary spirit. The color red is more than a color to me – it’s an energy that encourages to speak out and defend a point a view. Red is the most important color: It’s the color of femininity, passion, expression… it’s the color of life. Red ignites the imagination.

AB Are the ingredients of your formula 100% natural?

NG Our ingredients are carefully selected. They are clean, pure and non-toxic – but they are not 100% natural. Natural ingredients aren’t always the answer for clean products. For example, minerals are natural but they can be dangerous for your health. We manage to eliminate PMMA (note: a plastic filler used in cosmetics), as nobody wants to eat microplastics. We have replaced preservatives with a natural anti-oxidant, free from animal fat, parabens and paraffin. Our products are not tested on animals and we recently decided to remove beeswax from our formulas, as bees exploitation in the cosmetic industry is not acceptable.

AB Can you tell us more about the tradition of refillable beauty products in France? When did it start?

NG Women used to carry refillable makeup objects – such as powders, lipstick, mascara etc. – already in the last century. As jewels, they would go the most elegant boutiques in Paris to refill their engraved Rouge à lèvres each season. For example at Place Vendôme in Paris, which was a place for all finest beauty and fashion boutiques and craftsmanship.

AB Beauty and fashion icons such as Wendy Rowe, Anja Rubik or Chloë Sevigny have already developed a lipstick for LBR. Who is still on your wishlist?

NG We collaborate we people that are inspiring us in a very spontaneous way. It depends on who we meet, who we love and who wants to create something with us. So I don’t have a particular wishlist to share. Mostly I look at people who believe in our positive economy project and are willing to change things.

AB Are you planning to launch other refillable beauty products in the future?

NG Yes. Our next step is to create and develop other beauty products and objects as beautiful and sustainable like our lipstick. But this takes time and our whole team is working on it.

AB Let’s come back to the red lipstick once more. What is your first memory of it?

NG The real striking one was in a small Polaroid exhibition by Andy Warhol in the 90s in New York. I was young, but I stayed really obsessed by these pictures and the red light on it. I found the same strength in the Ezra Petronio Polaroid. For me, lipstick is the light on a face. It’s hypnotic.

AB The famous song Lucky Lips from the 1950s has been popular in Germany under the title Red Lips should be kissed. That’s so true. Can you tell us a trick how red lipstick doesn’t rub completely off during kissing?

NG I don’t know any tricks – it’s the magic of kissing and leaving a mark!

La Bouche Rouge is available via


Interview ANNA BOK