I have always been a firm believer that green beauty can and should be elegant and luxurious. A new French brand, albeit one that is built on a foundation of over two hundred years, Buly 1803, happens to be both of those things, as well as exclusive, gorgeous and just plain delightful.Nestled on the elegant Rue Bonaparte in the Paris neighborhood of St. Germain, Buly looks as though it had once provided skincare to Emperor Bonaparte himself (or at least his Empress Joséphine), yet it has been open for less than six months. The brand is a revival of a centuries old Parisian business of Jean-Vincent Bully, who was a celebrated maker of perfumes and scented vinegars (I guess that was a thing in the early 19th century – maybe it warded off wig lice?) and who died penniless and inspired a novel written by Honoré de Balzac.
The new owners of Buly, who are also responsible for the stunningly elegant revival of the Cire Trudon candle brand, dropped one of the “l”s in the name as a nod to modernity, but, thankfully, that is where the modernizing ended. The Buly products are resolutely natural and pure. I am also pretty sure that the (sexily Parisian) sales girl told me that the products were EcoCert certified, but it’s not mentioned anywhere in the brand literature (probably because to do so would be dreadfully gauche, darling).
Buly is a DIYer’s paradise: its shelves are lined with heavy, glass jars, filled with every oil, distillate, floral powder and clay a green girl’s heart could possibly desire, from the purest jojoba to the exotic pataua and from rose petals to Japanese Yunohana salts. Buly also carries a fabulous selection of perfumes, luxurious candles and incense, as well as handcrafted, beautiful and blindingly expensive beauty tools like combs, hair, body and tooth brushes and pumice stones. As far as I am concerned, however, nothing can rival its line of body care and dental products in terms of sheer luxury, quality and beauty.
I ended up buying the Pommade Concrete – a rich, heavy hand and foot cream that will be perfect for my winter-chapped hands, the Huile Antique – the dry body oil that comes in one of the most luxe bottles I have ever seen, and the delightfully named Opiat Dentaire – the toothpaste with the most intoxicating apple scent. I am in love with all three. The gorgeous, vintage-looking bottles and metal tubes, the hand-written label with my name on the box for the oil, the beautiful, yet light and natural scents: these products are perfection. And should you ever have to find the perfect hostess gift for the most elegant and demanding of hostesses, Buly’s exquisite soaps will leave her speechless. I did not buy any, but am seriously considering making a brief run to Paris on my way back from Europe just to get one or two of those perfumed gems.
Now, here is the thing: I am picky about my ingredients and I would be hard pressed to claim that the Huile Antique, for example, is a particularly sophisticated or complex formulation in terms of ingredients or that the oils used in it are especially rare. Yet, there can be more to beauty and self-care than precious oils or powerful actives. There is something about picking up an exquisite bottle that looks like it belongs on a queen’s vanity that can lift the spirits and make a soul sing: and a happy spirit can sometimes be a much more powerful beauty tool than the fanciest cream or foundation. So should you ever find yourself in Paris, do stop into the church-like calm of Buly and pick a precious something for your vanity (or the edge of your bathroom sink). It’s all, but guaranteed to bring you joy.
Disclaimer: Buly is rather cagey about its ingredients. Aside from the Huile Antique (the ingredients of which are listed on the bottle and are faultless), I was not able to find the complete list for either the hand cream or the toothpaste. I was told, that the toothpaste is SLS-free and it does not contain fluoride, but now that Buly has an e-commerce site, I discovered to my disappointment that it does, indeed, contain SLS (no fluoride though). Additionally, the Buly brochure states that all products are free of parabens, phenoxyethanol and silicons and are completely natural and looking at the site seems to bear that claim out.